The 10 Biggest Productivity Killers and Distractions at the Workplace
Distractions at the workplace are an unfortunate part of life. And while they exist every day and in every aspect of life, distractions in the workplace can squash productivity and slow team performance.
Distractions come in many forms. As technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, for example, it can pull one’s attention in myriad different directions. Inefficient internal processes, on the other hand, slow teams down, leaving them more vulnerable to distractions.
And though distractions at the workplace are increasingly unavoidable, there are solutions. In many cases, first recognizing the pain point and then approaching it holistically with a strategy to rectify it is enough. In other instances, the right communication and collaboration solution can alleviate the problem.
Before any of that can happen, though, you need to first familiarize yourself with the biggest workplace productivity killers. Below we’ll not only lay out the 10 biggest, but help you fix them, as well.
So what are they? Read on to find out.
According to a study at the University of North Carolina, 65% of senior managers said meetings prevent them from completing their work, while 71% said meetings were unproductive and inefficient. Yet the average office worker still spends on average 31 hours per month in meetings.
Lack of structure and inefficient communication channels render many meetings pointless, halting workplace productivity.
The fix: Limit meetings by designating meeting-free days. When a meeting is necessary, keep it short. Have a clear agenda. Always communicate it beforehand. And then stick to it.
Real-time communication can help streamline meetings, especially in the case of remote workers.
- Before the meeting, establish a chat room to convey the meeting topic, discuss the agenda, and distribute any associated tasks and materials
- During the meeting, incorporate collaboration tools like a virtual whiteboard to provoke participation and engagement
- Post-meeting, use the designated chat room to provide a feedback channel, continue the conversation, and issue calls to action
A cluttered workspace kills productivity in more ways than one. Hunting for items which you need throughout the day a huge time-waster. And then there are the distractions at the workplace created by excess clutter which siphon the brainpower you need to focus on the task at hand.
The fix: Designate some time to organize your workspace. It can improve workflow, increase efficiency, and reduce stress.
File necessary documents and throw away what’s no longer necessary. Keep books and notebooks on a bookshelf. Wash and store food containers and coffee mugs and throw any old wrappers. Make sure your essential items are well-stocked and within reach.
If you’re working from home, the same holds true; though you’ll also want to consider your toolkit, furniture, and even surrounding decor.
Inefficient Communication Channels
Email is one of the most popular workplace communication methods. And while it provides a convenient way to send long messages or multiple copies of the same message, it can also be hugely inconvenient. Overcrowded inboxes, time spent trying to clean them up, and spam all equal productivity killers.
The fix: Consider an all-in-one team communication and collaboration solution. From quick questions to project management with unlimited size file transfers, real-time communication is a more effective way to keep teams in the loop, foster teamwork, and manage productivity.
- Use instant messaging to facilitate yes, no, and to-the-point questions, as well as ongoing, free-flowing, and real-time conversations
- Launch a voice or video chat when in-person communication is impractical or impossible, or when the nature of the conversation requires something a bit more personal
- Employ comprehensive enterprise instant Messaging tools like the ability to delegate features individually, manage contacts, and administer chat spaces to mitigate potential misconduct and hone internal productivity
Social media is a double-edged sword. While it’s both a brilliant marketing tool and valuable customer support channel, its impact on productivity isn’t always positive. In fact, employees spend more than 2 hours on average each day accessing social media – hindering productivity and increasing cases of defamation, misinformation, and loss of confidential information.
The fix: To create a healthier balance, take steps to mitigate non-work-related social media use in the workplace. No one’s advocating you to halt social media use. Besides, for marketing, branding, and customer support purposes, it’s a worthy addition to your toolkit.
At work, however:
- Consider removing browser shortcuts to social media
- Log out of your social media accounts
- Relegate social media apps on your smartphone to weekend use only, deleting them from your phone during the week
Too Much Time in the Office
Think staying at the office late or coming in early can help you get more done? Think again! While it may pay dividends today, in the long run it’ll cause job performance to slip, as well as irritability, lack of motivation, cognitive problems. In other words – burnout.
The fix: Take advantage of flexible hours. If your workplace doesn’t offer them, broach the subject with your superiors. Flexible hours offer a host of benefits, including enhanced productivity and decreased risk of burnout. Besides, a mobile team communication app can keep you connected whenever you’re out of the office or on the go.
- Give remote work a try, either continually or one to two days per week. The flexibility boost can reduce stress on the mind and body and provide more time for friends, family, and yourself.
- Take smarter breaks. Instead of surfing social media, read a book, take a walk, or do some yoga or stretching.
- Take care of your mind and body. A good night’s sleep and a healthy diet can improve cognitive function, blood pressure, and overall mood.
Lack of Delegation
Micromanaging your team members and failing to properly delegate responsibilities not only prevents them from wholly focusing on tasks, but can create anxiety regarding job performance. The result is a team that’s frustrated, confused, and underperforming.
The fix: Spend time getting to know your team personally as well as professionally, identifying the unique strengths that each team member brings to the table.
Instead of prioritizing tasks for your team, Let them learn, discover, and share knowledge at their own pace. Allow them to make mistakes and only step in when the team isn’t performing as a unit.
On the administrative side, set multiple network administrators – by team, department, project, or location, for example. Delegating admin duties not only frees up your workload, but gives each unit the freedom to communicate and collaborate in a way that suits them.
Unsecure Instant Messengers
These days everyone’s got their favorite free instant messengers. Using them in the workplace, though, can be a huge productivity killer. Each notification brings the temptation to check out the latest GIF, meme, or viral video, then reply with your own, and on and on it goes.
Your personal IMs also contain private photos, files, and conversations which can easily get mixed up when switching back and forth between private and work-related chats.
Worse yet, many free instant messengers are fraught with privacy and security issues, bugs, and ads and solicitations. Starting to get the idea?
The fix: Designate times during the workday to check and respond to private messages, like the lunch break, for example. This way you minimize not only the distraction of carrying on simultaneous work and non-work-related conversations, but the risk of mixing up these chats.
- Conduct all work-related communication via peer-to-peer channels
- Safeguard the integrity of company data and information through end-to-end encryption
- Utilize a private team network requiring individual authorization and mitigate external interference
- Take advantage of anti-virus and malware integration
Multitasking is a crucial part of any job. But large task loads, juggling tasks and tools, and inadequate focus on any one task at a time can be a real productivity killer, ultimately causing low-quality deliverables, poor performance, and eventual burnout.
The fix: Plan more effectively by defining and prioritizing tasks ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to limit the number of tasks you take on at any one time.
The right software can also help. Use a team communication and collaboration solution to organize all of your conversations, real-time chat features, and collaboration tools in one place.
Having not only collaboration IM features at your disposal – like screen sharing and remote desktop, a virtual whiteboard, and instant screenshot, for instance – but the ability to pair them with real-time communication:
- Eliminates the need for multiple costly tools and software
- Prevents any switching back and forth between email, chat windows, collaboration tools, and file sharing solutions
- Streamlines communication, task and project management, and support – all within one application and with minimal clicks, navigation, and toggling
- Enhances teamwork by increasing participation and engagement
The average person in the UK now spends 24 hours per week online, creating pressure to not only check in with friends, family, and coworkers, but check out the latest post or status update. Hyper-connectivity impacts time-management and disrupts personal and family life.
The fix: Check your most-used apps for how much time you spend on them and then try to reduce that, especially during work hours. Disconnect from your devices if you feel overloaded or when you need to focus on your task load. Taking a break from your devices can boost time and task management as well as health and well-being.
- Turn off notifications
- Customize your status to inform teammates that you’re busy or away
- Reply to emails and messages in bulk rather than one at a time
- Delete apps if you have to and only reinstall them at the weekend
Lack of Motivation
While many factors can decrease motivation among employees, feeling undervalued is one of the leaders. When employees don’t feel appreciated, their motivation suffers. They’re less committed to the company and, as a result, less committed to productivity.
Oftentimes, though, little things can help. Real-time communication, for example, provides channels for motivation and appreciation that’s consistent, timely, and also convenient.
- Use the power of chat to offer praise or just to say thank you
- Establish a chat room to recognize employee birthdays, anniversaries, or important moments, and individual and team successes
- Send broadcast messages with motivational or inspirational quotes or to announce an after-work gathering for dinner or drinks
To Wrap Up
As you can see, workplace productivity can suffer as a result of many common distractions. As different people get distracted by different things, though, this is by no means an exhaustive list.
However, taking some time to educate yourself on the biggest productivity killers can help you not only better recognize workplace distractions, but mitigate them now and prevent them in the future.