As an employee feels the manager’s presence over their shoulder; they instinctively press the Alt & Tab buttons on their keyboard in an attempt to hide whatever was on their screen – usually a website of some description.
Who they trying to kid?
It’s annoying and an obvious sign that the employee either doesn’t have a stretching workload or they are simply avoiding their to-do-list with an easy distraction.
But distractions are everywhere in the workplace. And an unsupervised workforce can easily succumb to anything that takes them away from that laborious project.
You can divide distractions simply from those that are self-inflicted such as a buzzing Blackberry or the ding of an email to those that are group inflicted.
A group inflicted distraction is when a colleague will interrupt your work flow by attempting to engage you in a business or personal conversation.
In this instance it’s difficult to appoint blame. Unless you have categorically stated that you are not to be interrupted under any circumstance, then unfortunately the likelihood is that co-workers are always likely to disrupt your working day.
Take a look at the most common 10 distractions in the office and how you could improve both your own productivity and those of your staff/team.
Office Productivity: 1. Tech Intrusion
Apparently nearly 60% of all work interruptions can be pinpointed at the internet. Whether it’s a sneaky peak at the BBC Sport website or a crafty look at a social media update on your smartphone, the web is a massive distraction.
A lot of businesses have blocked the Facebook URL on the network, only for their staff to turn to their smartphones to update their status with inane waffle about the weather, their lunch or how much they hate their job.
As well as keeping a close of eye on a user’s internet usage; including how long they spend on the web and which sites they are visiting, companies are now also putting rules in place to manage the use of smartphones at work.
Some businesses have even gone as far as having jammers that can block mobile data. This seems a tad extreme. But there are no excuses for employees using Facebook or any other social media platform for personal use during office hours. We would suggest a zero tolerance approach; after all, they are there to do a job.
Office Productivity: 2. Emails
There is nothing worse when you are in the ‘zone’ than a tempting email alert, ready to throw you off track and switch your mind from what you are focused on. However, the main distraction usually comes from a chocker inbox that never gets cleared but is constantly reviewed. Try to organisation your emails with a system of folders that will help you prioritise and don’t fall into the trap of never organising your inbox. Remember that your emails can always be seen by a manager, so be careful not to choose this method to hold a personal conversation.
Office Productivity: 3. Telephone
I’ve always found it useful to put a couple of hours aside in the day where I divert my phone to the answer machine My answer machine message is set up to inform the caller when they can be expected to be called back and a separate number to ring if the call is of an urgent nature. This gives me an invaluable uninterrupted part of the day to focus on my to-do-list.
Office Productivity: 4. Paper
A cluttered desk is often a sign of a disorganised person. If you watch somebody with stacks of paper on their desk, they will often be wading through them to try and find that one key bit of info hidden away like the Holy Grail.
In a previous company, I observed somebody on the phone talking to a client frantically scrambling through an EU size stockpile of paper trying to lay their hands on a perfectly matched CV. After a while they gave their apologies and said they would ring the client back. Ten minutes later and with the CV found they called the client back only to be told that a competitor rang 5 minutes previously with the very same candidate’s CV who turned out to be perfect for the role, costing them a missed £5k fee. Ouch.
Office Productivity: 5. Environment
We all know some people in the office love a good moan. Those moaners will find any excuse not to get on with their work and what better excuse to be unproductive than to blame the office environment?
For some, it’s too cold or too hot, too bright or too noisy; in fact, some individuals will find anything to detract them from their working day. Obviously we can control the temperature and the lighting but it’s difficult to please everybody.
Noise pollution can be very stressful. Plan the office so that employees who operate at higher decibel levels are grouped together and think carefully where loud appliances such as photocopiers are placed.
Another factor that can affect the working environment are bad smells either from repeat offenders such as cheap fake tan, halitosis, body odour or that fish pie heating up in the communal microwave.
Unfortunately you will never be able to create an office environment that will suit everyone, but the more focused members of staff will probably put up with the odd bit of noise and slightly imperfect temperature.
You can hopefully emphasise with some of the above and you’ll probably recognise a few of the traits within your own behaviour.
To read the second part of this blog and a further five office distractions, click on the link below.
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