Managing Workplace Distractions

One of the greatest challenges a boss has in maintaining productivity is controlling workplace distractions. These come in many varieties: the chatty employee; drop-in visits; a major news event; office politics; workplace events; etc. Technology has increased distractions by enabling instantaneous transmission of information and communications.

In a national survey by Workplace Options, 42 percent of workers are extending their workdays by coming in early or staying late in order to avoid distractions. It is estimated that American businesses lose around $650 billion a year through workplace distractions, according to Jonathan Spira, chief analyst of consulting firm Basex, who authored a report called “The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity.” And according to the Workplace Options survey, it’s evident why: more than half of those polled (53 percent) report that distractions in the workplace impact their productivity.

So what can you do as a boss? Try to find the balance between keeping your staff focused and allowing some distractions. People do need a mental break every now and then and a brief distraction can provide the necessary respite. Let your staff know that you are flexible but also expect them to accomplish the work at hand. Being visible is a good way to discourage those who tend to want to chat or surf the internet. Be aware of who the “distracters” tend to be, and shield your staff from them.

As for trying to manage your staff’s technological distractions (e.g. internet access), implement a social media or an internet usage policy, and if you have IT capabilities, consider software that limits access to certain sites.

For more information on managing workplace distraction, note the following:

Tips for Minimizing Workplace Distractions

Managing Workplace Distractions (Wall Street Journal blog)

8 Ways To Eliminate Distractions When Working On A Computer (

Seven Tips to Get Rid of Workplace Distractions (Small Business Administration)

Simple Ways to Handle Workplace Distractions (Suite101)

Cubicle Etiquette 101 (

Technological Distractions in the Workplace

Blackberries, iPhones and Androids: Do SmartPhones Belong in Meetings? (CBS MoneyWatch)

Defeat digital distractions (PC World)

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One Response to Managing Workplace Distractions

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