With ongoing onslaughts of work emails, personal emails and multiple open browser windows, the workplace is becoming increasingly distracting. We’ve all experienced a colleague’s phone buzzing during a meeting or conversation, and it’s tough to get back on track following these digital distractions.
- According to a recent University of California study, there are typically only three minutes of consistent focus before an employee in an average workplace is interrupted or self-interrupts. Then, it may be as long as 23 minutes before they get back to whatever task they were working on.
- In another study, it was shown that businesses lose more than $10 million a year, or $10,000 per employee, on distractions and poorly designed technology. Of 515 people who took this survey, 45 percent reported working interruption-free for just 15 minutes or less, on average. For 53 percent or respondents, at least an hour a day was consumed by various digital distractions.
How to Fight Back
Some companies are taking conscious efforts to combat this problem by bringing back the phone call or banning devices during meetings. In order to minimize distractions, you need to manage your work environment so you can focus on achieving the day’s business priorities.
- Encourage employees to use the first hour of their day to make headway with their top priority or most difficult projects. Consider a “quiet time” policy where digital devices are turned off or set aside. Or, at least designate a conference room or other space for this purpose.
While email is invaluable, it is one of today’s most problematic work distractions. If left unchecked, your employees could spend entire days simply reading and responding to their messages. Direct and encourage them to:
- Schedule email times. Set aside specific times to check and respond to mail. This may be right before lunch and again about an hour before the end of a work shift. It may be useful for them to let their contacts know, so they can reach them another way in case of an emergency.
- Be sure that emails are turned into action items. If a person requires more than a few minutes to respond to or act upon an email message, have them turn it into a new action on their to-do lists.
- Emails should be closed — or at least, audible alerts turned off — when not in use. This eliminates the temptation to check them constantly. Most programs also will allow users to fetch new messages manually with a “send/receive” button, or to get new mail automatically at certain times, such as every three hours.
With a little thought and creative planning, you can maintain maximum productivity while allowing your team to stay in touch with their world. And technology will remain your friend and business assistant, instead of becoming a liability.
To learn more about building workplace productivity – and the team you need to get there – consider partnering with the recruitment and employee development experts at Pridestaff Modesto. Contact us today to learn more.