It is no secret that employees are distracted at work. The average employee is distracted 50 to 60 times per day, and 80% of these interruptions are unimportant. In fact, several studies have shown that not only people are distracted at work, but it also affects productivity.
A 2022 survey by Industry Today discovered the following as the most common workplace distractions at work:
- Work interruptions
- To-do list
The constant distractions are not only leaving people less productive but also more stressed at work, regardless of whether they are working from home or at their office, according to a survey by Mopria Alliance. Personal communications such as text or chat, checking personal emails or surfing the web, and unplanned conversations also contribute to workplace distractions.
The inability to focus at work is creating toxic challenges for employees. Distracted employees invariably work extra hours to make up for distractions and eventually take longer work and get less work done.
So, how can employees avoid distractions at work in order to focus and improve their productivity?
Identify the distractions and take action
Minimize distractions with mobile device management
Mobile devices are one of the biggest distractions during the workday. On one hand, mobile devices make work more efficient, especially for frontline employees. On the other, employees use devices for non-job related activities such as using mobile apps and surfing the web for mundane tasks. Using mobile device management (MDM) tools, such as Scalefusion, companies can block employees from visiting certain websites.
Companies can also issue the kiosk mode feature of MDM to direct users to stay on task. For company-owned devices, administrators can allow a list of work-related apps and hide access to distraction-causing apps. They can activate the kiosk mode automatically based on location or time of day too.
Schedule short breaks
Human beings are not designed to retain attention for long hours. Encourage employees to take short breaks during the day, but with a determined end time. Deactivating and reactivating the brain allows employees to stay focused at work.
Employees can use time management techniques, for example, the Pomodoro Technique, where employees can break their workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks.
Use productive apps for focus
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure”. This quote from business management guru, Peter Drucker, is perhaps the most relevant to finding more focus at work. Productivity apps, such as RescueTime, help employees discover where time is wasted by gathering metrics on how employees spend their day.
Employees may be spending too much time in meetings, replying to unimportant emails, or simply spending twice or thrice the number of hours in building reports. Realizing where the productive hours are spent will give employees an opportunity to refocus on important activities.
Limit the number of notifications
The average employee receives 46 notifications per day. To avoid Pavlovian behavior – impulses responding to a cue – turn off notifications on desktops and smartphones. You can also use airplane mode to reduce distractions during certain times of the day.
Employees can even pick an app and choose notifications on the desired app. For instance, in WhatsApp for Android, users can choose to mute notifications for group chants but keep them on for one-to-one conversations.
Technology, multi-tasking, and the fast-paced culture at work are rapidly hindering productivity at work. Being focused at work or in a deep “flow” state of mind is more efficient. Distractions are omnipresent and make it difficult for employees to stay focused at work.
However, employing device management technologies and educating staff about good work habits could help employees maintain focus and prevent simple mistakes and errors that might otherwise occur while distracted.