Article: Office distractions that impact productivity

Employee Relations

Office distractions that impact productivity

It is no secret that distractions at workplace are aplenty, and so is our susceptibility to fall prey to them.
Office distractions that impact productivity

The human mind usually exists and functions in a constant state of flux and disarray and is hardly ever at absolute peace. A million things come up during the day that are constantly vying for our attention, and trick us into losing focus from the task at hand. In an office setting, this happens to be quite profound. Blame it on the disenchantment of the employees, the nature of the work, or the increasing number of stimulants that are easily accessible, it is no secret that distractions at workplace are aplenty, and so is our susceptibility to fall prey to them. 

Surveys like these have shown that almost half of the distractions that employees say hamper their productivity the most are technology or internet based. While reaching out for the phone to check the notifications that chime in throughout the day is undoubtedly one of the many culprits to blame, we often miss out on several other factors of distraction. We have listed a few below, which might come to attention, only if you make an effort to notice them.


Surprised? How could your professional acquaintances and even friends who work with you be a source of distraction? Several studies have shown that unassuming colleagues take your time up in gossip, idle talk, and conversations that have no real purpose. If you are in your ‘zone’, and working at breakneck speed, a simple interruption by a co-worker will not only slow you down, but it will take you a few minutes before you can regain your focus and get back to the task at hand.

Environmental Distractions

You might have grown accustomed to the constant buzzing of the photocopier, or the sound of people listening to loud music or talking over the phone, but it is bound to affect your productivity. While audio distractions are easily noticeable, if your office gives you unrestricted visuals of a place that is full of activity (say a park or a busy road), visual distractions too make your lose focus. 

Technology and Social Notifications

The big one is the easy access to virtual social connections, and their multiplicity. The compulsive need to check the various social channels, and their ability to make time go fleetingly fast, urges us to check our phones multiple times a day. A conversation which would probably take a minute or two over call with friends, stretches over ten minutes in the text format, and moreover, agitates our already overworked mind. Even email notifications heard regularly induce the need to check them regularly, thus interrupting other tasks. 

Personal Conflict

Having stress in personal life is likely to be a big distraction at work, and this distraction is likely to be the most difficult to deal with, for the source is internal, as opposed to other factors, which are external. However, it takes a conscious effort to prevent stress in personal life from spilling over into your professional one. Why this makes it to the list is because of widespread denial that people exhibit, willing themselves to believe that they are strong enough to not let personal issues affect them while working. 

Unscheduled snack/smoke breaks

When you head out for an unscheduled snack or smoke break, not because you need it, but simply because you want to avoid something or your colleagues are going, you throw your own schedule out of the window. Taking a break during work, and going out for a walk is often needed, but when you do so without reason or several times without schedule, not only is it likely to deprive you of concentration and focus, but also leave you with a lot of catching up to do. 

Mindfulness or being aware of how you spend your time is although the best and only solution to avoid distractions, but it is easier said than done. Yet, you can break down the process into several small steps, and depend on other measures to keep distractions at bay. If you have a lot of pending work, there is nothing wrong or rude in politely turning down colleagues to join them for an impromptu snack break, or an extended chit-chat after lunch. Using noise-cancellation earphones or playing white noise to drown out the other noises can actually help. Now, this might take some will, but keeping your phone on silent and out of sight will do wonders. You can also refer to other practical and simple solutions to reduce distractions while working. At the end of the day, you are responsible for how you have spent your time during the day, and you are the only one who can bring in accountability to your own self.

What are some of the biggest distractions in your office while you work, and how do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments! 

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Topics: Employee Relations, Culture

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