Astonishing Workplace Distractions Statistics

The relationship between technology and productivity has always been a highly successful one. It has brought about massive innovation across multiple industries. Workplace distractions statistics show that in addition to these forward leaps in efficiency, technology has also created countless ways to distract us. But there are ways to combat the bad habits we have picked up and refocus on the task at hand. 

 

Workplace Distractions Statistics (Editor’s Picks)

  • Companies spend up to 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings.
  • As many as 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety in the workplace.
  • 50% of employees say that they are distracted by their phones at work.
  • 98% of the workforce say they are interrupted at least 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Distractions can lead to committing twice as many errors as usual. 
  • Companies lose out on substantial profit and 720 hours a year per person working.
  • It takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully recover focus after a distraction.
  • 75% of staff say they are more productive after attending training for distractions at work.

 

The Most Common Distractions at the Workplace

No matter where we work, the interconnectivity of the modern world exposes us to a multitude of equally modern distractions. Workplace distractions can be costly in both time and money and are proven responsible for millions of dollars worth of losses. But which types of distractions are the main culprits?

 

Your Co-Workers

The watercooler has long been a great place to converse with your peers or staff about company goings-on and gossip. It’s no wonder then that distractions in the workplace statistics point to your coworkers as a significant factor. Up to 80% of employees say that chatty coworkers are the reason for a lack of focus on the job. Distracted employees are far less productive and need to focus without being disturbed by their colleagues.

 

Pointless Meetings

Wasting time at work statistics cite meetings as a major reason for staff becoming distracted and unproductive. Companies spend 31 hours a month in meetings with no tangible value, with 71% of staff mismanaging their time every week as a result. Of all the office distractions, meetings are among the most obvious examples of losing productivity. 

 

Being Hungry

Workplace distractions research shows there aren’t just exterior forces at play. Hunger, for example, can make you lose all sense of focus as your body tries to alert you to the need for sustenance. The trick is to make sure that you don’t buckle and get something quick and unhealthy if hunger strikes at work. If the company regularly offers healthy snacks, it will ultimately boost employee productivity. 

 

Doing Too Many Things at Once

Almost every job in the world requires a little multitasking, but managing the time given to each task can be just as tricky as managing distractions at work. As much as we would like to think our skills and experience are enough to do this effectively, workplace distractions statistics further confirm that the brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time. So while you think you are getting more done by trying to manage multiple tasks, what you are doing reduces your ability to think creatively while making more mistakes.

 

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are productivity killers in our professional life and are common distractions at work. They affect so many people in so many different ways, not only mentally but also physically. Anxiety disorders can be incredibly detrimental and damaging to a person’s career and can make it next to impossible to complete even the most basic tasks. A massive 40 million Americans deal with anxiety in the workplace almost every day, and many things can trigger it. To reduce workplace distractions, we need to be vigilant of all the ways a person can be affected.

 

A Cluttered Workspace

If your workspace is a mess, then chances are your thinking is all over the place too. The way your brain works means that the less tidy your workspace is, the more unlikely you are to focus on the tasks at hand. External distractions require you to take control of your space and your mind to overcome them. Decluttering your environment will set the tone for a more productive mindset and allow you to work better. 

 

Your Smartphone

The tools that allow us to stay connected to the world and take our work on the move are also the ones that distract us the most. Workplace technology distractions statistics put smartphones right at the top of the list of things that make us less productive, and it’s something that we all know we can handle better. 50% of emplo1yees say they are regularly distracted by their phones and spend hours each day on them. Technology distractions can be among the most challenging to address because they are part of the systems we use to stay connected.

 

Sending and Receiving Emails

Email has become one of the most integral parts of business communication and is vital in sharing important information with our peers. But the continuous checking for new mails in our inbox is a work distraction we do out of habit. Email was never intended to be a dialogue or something that requires constant attention. It, however, has become a productivity killer, with 7 out of 10 employees saying that emails have a detrimental effect on their work quality. 

 

Checking Social Media

Social media distraction statistics say 75% of Americans cite digital notifications as the reason for an inability to focus at work, with 8 out of 10 admitting to going for a social media distraction in the workplace. As many social media platforms become tools for business, this line will naturally blur, but a failure to recognize this will always result in a distracted worker. Knowing how to use social media as a business tool effectively requires the discipline to keep casual browsing to a minimum. 

 

Being Interrupted

There will always be people around who will disrupt your day with a seemingly innocuous interruption, and while they may seem like nothing at the time, these interruptions tally up. 98% of people say that they are interrupted at least 3 or 4 times a day, and half even more frequently. The effects of distractions at work can vary, but the bottom line is always the same—less focus and less productivity.

 

The Effects of Distractions on Workplace Productivity

Workplace distractions statistics can open our eyes to some contributing factors, but how do they affect a company’s bottom line? 

 

Distractions in the Workplace Can Increase the Likelihood of Errors by 100%

Some of us think that minor distractions aren’t the end of the world, while others may get visibly irritated and frustrated at the slightest interruption. Studies meanwhile show that distractions can double the chance of making an error at work. When you change your focus, even just for a second, you need to refocus when you pick up that task again. In doing so, you lose your train of thought and, in most cases, need to start from scratch. There are some good distractions too, and they can be beneficial, bringing new perspectives and creativity. The bad ones meanwhile can wreak havoc due to the stress and anxiety that accompanies an unfinished task or a looming deadline.

 

Nearly 3 Hours in a Workday Are Wasted on Distractions

Three hours worth of distractions a day totals around 60 hours a month. Individually that number is a little worrisome but across the entire workforce? It becomes downright scary. When analyzing the workplace distractions statistics, some variations put the daily hours wasted between 2.5 and 3 hours per employee. When you put that across an entire year, you get a total of 720 hours. That’s a whole month’s worth of productivity. It’s difficult to put a dollar value on the cost of distractions in the workplace, but as the saying goes, ‘time is money,’ and a month is a lot of time. Multiply that by the number of employees in a company, and it becomes a lot of money too.

 

Poor Ratio of ‘Deep’ vs ‘Shallow’ Work

Workplace distractions and productivity go hand-in-hand. Constant distraction results in what is known as ‘shallow’ work. ‘Shallow’ work refers to the menial tasks we perform in our jobs. We classify them as low-value as they usually require little cognitive application. Distractions in the workplace statistics show that replying to emails, scanning documents, and other repetitive actions don’t add immediate value to productivity. These are the tasks we insist on performing when we are distracted. ‘Deep’ work meanwhile is centered on long periods of work without distraction, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in the task at hand. We do our best work in this state. Daily distractions take us out of this productive state and ensure that we spend too much time performing below par.

 

The Recovery Time for Being Distracted Can Be as Costly as the Distraction Itself

Studies show that the average time it takes to ‘recover’ from a distraction and regain full focus stands at 23 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s almost half an hour every single time you get a notification or a tap on the shoulder from a colleague. If you drew up a list of distractions and multiplied them all by the amount of time that it takes to refocus, you can see precisely the kind of impact that can have on your productivity. Being in a state of recovery for half a day pushes back the completion of both your short and longer-term goals and the company’s by extension. 

 

Distraction Contributes to Feelings of Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace

When distractions occur at work, they have a knock-on effect on our mental state. With 18 million Americans already suffering from anxiety in the workplace, the added stress brought on by distractions can significantly affect productivity levels. Distractions in the workplace statistics further show that 50% of employees think that stress or anxiety prevents them from doing their jobs to the required standard, while 51% agree that it affects their relationships with coworkers. Workplace distractions and safety aren’t things you usually associate with one another, but the importance of professionals’ mental health can never be understated.

 

 Ways to Prevent Distractions in the Workplace

Avoiding distractions at work is tough, and there will always be something or someone vying for your attention. What’s important is how you deal with these interruptions. Remote work distractions are slightly different because there aren’t people around, but you need to stay focused independently of the traditional working environment. Work from home distractions can be just as bad as those in the office, but the same basic principles apply when acting to prevent them. 

 

Disable All Notifications That Aren’t Business-Related

Whether it’s replying to texts, answering calls, or catching up on social media, notifications are always telling us to do something. Put your phone down, turn your notifications off, and forget about it for as long as you need to finish the task at hand. Internet distractions statistics in the workplace have prompted employers to ban popular websites. But if you work remotely or your company hasn’t done so, then the onus lies on you to take responsibility and clear those tabs. 

 

Change Your Environment

Whether you experience internet distractions, electronic distractions, or physical distractions, the best way to avoid them all is to put them out of sight and out of mind. This change can be as simple as closing your door or finding a quiet room or section of the office to work in for a couple of hours. 86% of employees believe they are more productive when working alone, and even if that’s only for an hour or two, it will still improve productivity.

 

Put Plans in Place to Actively Combat Distractions

Workplace distractions statistics show that sometimes the best help for a distracted person is themselves. If you know that you suffer from a short attention span, prioritize your two main distractions and prepare to deal with them swiftly when they arise. 34% of employees admit to liking their jobs less because of work distractions, but only 66% try to resolve the situation. Tell your staff or colleagues about your plan so that you are extra motivated and they can help check in on your progress.

 

Implement Policies and Training That Keep Distractions at Bay

The onus isn’t always on staff to look for internal solutions, and there are a host of services that can be used to improve the organization’s focus as a whole. Some of the most encouraging productivity stats about workplace distractions come from employees receiving training from their companies or introducing policies that help them focus. 75% of professionals say they are more productive following these plans, while 49% say they are happier at work, and 57% report they are more motivated. 

 

Give Yourself Extra Time at Home to Keep Up With Your Workload

If your workload is more extensive than usual and distractions at work are more frequent, distractions in the workplace statistics indicate that you will end up in a vicious cycle of looming deadlines and added pressure to get the job done. Give yourself the space to complete work at home and on your own time, so that you can do it without distraction. 78% of professionals believe a flexible schedule makes them more productive, and taking your work home with you creates an entirely different environment.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the biggest distractions at work?

Smartphones (55%), the internet (41%), office gossip (37%), checking social media (37%), and coworkers (37%) are just some of the biggest distractions at work. Meetings, background noise, checking emails, and smoking or snack breaks also feature on the list.

 

How do you handle distractions in the workplace?

Have a schedule in place. Keep your workspace tidy. Turn off your phone when you don’t need it, and hold off on checking emails until you finish what you’re doing. Let people know that you don’t want to be disturbed. 

 

How do distractions affect productivity?

Workplace distractions statistics show that distractions break your focus and prevent you from spending sufficient time on a task to complete it effectively. They also severely affect employees’ motivation and can cause short-term memory lapses in some cases while also contributing to rising levels of stress and anxiety.

 

Does distraction affect memory?

Short-term memory is adversely affected by distractions. According to numerous studies, not only do distractions impair your overall performance, but they also affect your ability to retain memory and slow reaction time. 

 

How does distraction affect performance?

Distraction can affect your performance in several ways, including extending the time to complete your daily tasks, increased feelings of stress and anxiety, forgetfulness, and inability to work at a higher cognitive rate. Meaning, the work you most need to focus the most on gets done the least. 

 

Conclusion

Distractions can wreak havoc on our professional lives without us even realizing it. While the effects can have far-reaching consequences, there are ways that we can maintain our levels of productivity. Workplace distractions statistics have shown us that there is a lot of work to be done, but luckily, we also have the solutions we need to work better.

 

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