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employees distracted at work on mobile devices

Your staff’s 10 biggest workplace distractions

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Mobile phones have done wonders for connectivity in offices around the world, but they’re also the biggest productivity killer identified by employers.

When it comes to wasting time in the office, bosses from around the world reported in a survey by CareerBuilder that their employees are most distracted by cell phones and texting (50%), followed by gossip (42%) and the Internet (39%).

The survey of 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals, as well as 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries, found one in four workers admitted to spending at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts.

Twenty-one per cent estimate they spend one or more hours surfing the Internet for non-work-related information or photos.

Other distractions noted by employers to be the worst productivity stoppers also included social media (38%), snack or smoke breaks (27%), noisy colleagues (24%), meetings (23%), emails (23%), co-workers dropping by colleagues’ desks (23%), and people putting calls on speaker phone (10%).

And, just for fun, employers shared some real life examples of the strangest things they’ve caught employees doing in the office when they should have been working:

· A married employee was looking at a dating web site and then denied it while it was still up on his computer screen

· Employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled into work

· Employee was shaving her legs in the women’s restroom

· Employee was laying under boxes to scare people

· Employees were having a wrestling match

· Employee was sleeping, but claimed he was praying

· Employee was taking selfies in the bathroom

· Employee was printing off a book from the Internet

“While many managers feel their teams perform at a desirable level, they also warn that little distractions can add up to bigger gaps in productivity,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

“It’s important to be organised and designate times to work on different deliverables. Minimise interruptions and save personal communications for your lunch hour or break. It can help put more time and momentum back into your workday.”

More than 70% of employers have implemented some measures to mitigate productivity killers, with the main ones being to clock certain Internet sites (36%), prohibiting personal calls or personal use of cell phones (25%) and monitoring emails and Internet usage (22%).

What can employers do to help staff avoid wasting time on the job?
Rosemary Haefner suggests the below to help build worker productivity back up. 

1. Organise and prioritise – De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week. What do you need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?

2. Limit interruptions – Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break your concentration and eat up time. Block off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at your desk. Read your email at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.

3. Avoid unnecessary meetings – Don’t set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organiser.

4. Get personal on your own time – Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.

5. Communicate wisely – Don’t spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague’s desk.

6. Don’t delay the inevitable – Finding other things to do so you can put off a less preferred project will only end up wasting more time. Don’t procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.

Image: Shutterstock

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