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Once & For All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work

Employees Struggle to Successfully Maneuver Around Workplace Distractions

New Survey Reveals Layers of Workplace Distractions that Impact Employees and Businesses

Every minute of every work day employees are bombarded with distractions they must work with or around to get things done. Whether it’s the meeting that runs 30 minutes over, the Blackberry that won’t stop buzzing, office gossip about the newest employees or even family matters, there are a myriad of conflicting matters vying for employees’ attention.

According to a recent survey* by Workplace Options, 42 percent of workers are extending their workdays by coming in early or staying late in order to avoid distractions. But what happens to those who contribute to the constant interruptions? According to the survey, nearly one in four employees (22 percent) are aware of someone in their workplace who has been fired for wasting time in the office, disrupting other employees or partaking in other 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.

Results from the Workplace Options survey reveal employees are most distracted by some of the following activities in the workplace:

• Personnel (office romances, water cooler gossip, etc.): 24%
• Technology (emails, phone calls, social media, internet glitches): 23%
• Meetings /Luncheons: 12%
• Surroundings (loud coworkers, music or television noise, lack of privacy): 6%
• Celebrations (birthdays, baby showers, sports): 4%

“It’s expected that employees will be inundated with plenty of distractions throughout the workday,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options. “The important thing to remember is for employees to find a way to balance their work day and find ways to focus. For example, if employees have assistance in taking care of their personal issues and family matters, they can concentrate on work related activities while in the office.”

Other noteworthy findings from this survey include:

• 58 percent of employees feel that having a handheld device increases their productivity.
• Yet, 35 percent of employees report their handheld device increases distractions during their workday.
• And 50 percent of those who own handheld devices claim they are an increased distraction in their personal life.
• 55 percent of employees feel having access to social media at the office is either “somewhat” or a “significant” distraction.

For those who find it more difficult to balance personal issues, technology, and their office surroundings, 33 percent of workers believe it would help their productivity if employers provided work-life benefits aimed at alleviating stress caused by such distractions.

*The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, August 6-9, 2010. The survey polled 606 working Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percent. Full survey results can be viewed at http://www.workplaceoptions.com/polls_2010.asp.

About Workplace Options
Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal life in order to make their lives healthier, easier and more productive. The company’s world-class employee support and work-life services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care, legal and financial issues to stress management and wellness.

Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider. Service centers in Raleigh. N.C., London, Toronto and Dublin support more than 22 million employees in 19,000 organizations, across 153 countries. To learn more, visit Workplace Options.

Training Resource:  Time Challenged. Effective time management involves making an ongoing commitment to reviewing our actions and improving them day by day. This memorable program inspires people to turn time wasters into opportunities for increased productivity.

© 2010 Workplace Options, Inc. All rights reserved. Article used with permission.

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2 Responses to “Employees Struggle to Successfully Maneuver Around Workplace Distractions”

  1. Diego Agostini Says:

    Great Post!

  2. Cliff-CRM System and Solution Comparison Expert Says:

    Crazy! I am finding myself developing ADHD because of all of my devices. Trying to optimize my time is making me a bit nervous. Your stats on PDA usage is so descriptive of my workplace.

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