How to smash modern barriers to productivity

Follow this guidance to mitigate costly workplace distractions, disorganization and miscommunication.

Removing barriers to productivity

You’re probably distracting yourself from your work by reading this article right now.

That’s OK; scintillating content is just one of a thousand distractions in the modern workplace. Between notifications, meetings and “Hey, got a minute?” taps on the shoulder, it’s hard to stay on task.

Of course, technology has done wonders for work. Employees today need just 11 hours to match the output of a 40-hour workweek from an average worker in 1950. However, all this technology at our fingertips is causing what some are calling a “productivity crisis.”

Let’s review three major barriers to productivity:


Workplace interruptions cost U.S. companies about $588 billion in lost productivity every year. Stanford researchers also found that multitasking ruins your memory, and the American Psychology Association states that “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

One remedy is to keep as much as possible on one platform. The more tabs or programs you have open, the more distracted you’ll be. You might even consider The Atlantic’s “Tabless Thursdays” suggestion.

Throughout your workday, consolidate and streamline as much as possible. Using one program or platform at a time can double your productivity.


Disorganized information can be just as costly as distractions. Without a central repository for your company’s research and communication, you’re losing valuable time—and money—just searching for things.

One survey found that 57 percent of business leaders believe they lose more than six hours per week due to disorganization. That’s 15 percent of a typical workweek down the drain.

Having a user-friendly hub can save time and boost productivity, but the trick to is give your employees specific access levels tailored to their needs. You don’t want to create a cluttered digital junk drawer that’s difficult to navigate; you could end up even more disorganized than before.


Modern communication is more fragmented than traditional, face-to-face communication. There is often less context and more ambiguity, which leads to mixed messages, which in turn  can quickly harm productivity.

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that poor communication can cost a large organization $62.4 million per year.

Miscommunication can also ruin morale, create a culture of mistrust and harm employee retention.

Some workplaces funnel communication through an intranet; others rely on a robust chat platform or project management tool.

Whatever way you set about to address these crucial workplace issues, find out employees’ messaging preferences up front. Otherwise, you might unwittingly replace one productivity barrier with another.

Lesley Maea is director of customer success at GreenOrbit.

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