Report: Distractions are workplace productivity killers

A recent study found that 36 percent of millennials and Gen Z workers spend two or more hours per workday staring at their phones.

The premise of technology is to help you do more, but too much of it can be your workplace’s undoing.

A new study from Udemy sheds light on the troubling trend of workplace distraction. Daydream dawdling and idle time on the job are nothing new, but the continuous ping-pummeling barrage of information is smothering productivity. Our smartphones aren’t helping.

Udemy’s survey found: “Thirty-six percent of millennials and Gen Z workers spend two or more hours per workday looking at their phones for personal activities.”

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Office noise and chatty colleagues were cited as the most common in-office “distractors,” but online is where the most significant chunks of time are lost—particularly, on Facebook. Respondents who identified as Boomers, Gen Xers and millennials all voted Facebook as the No. 1 “online distractor,” though you can be sure Instagram, Twitter and other channels are gobbling up plenty of time, too.

Unfortunately, distractions are not just deleterious for productivity. Getting sidetracked can take a toll on employee engagement, and constant interruptions often lead to burnout. Udemy’s report cites a UC Irvine study that found: “People compensate for interruptions by working faster, but this comes at a price: experiencing more stress, higher frustration, time pressure, and effort.”

So, what can employers do to keep workers motivated and on task?

Cut down on meetings, for one. Sixty percent of respondents said meetings are “just another distraction from the work they need to complete.” Also, you might consider designating “quiet areas” around your office.

(Image via Udemy)

As for increasing engagement, here’s what the respondents suggested:

(Image via Udemy)

Distractions, disruptions and workflow disturbances are no small matter for companies. Half of the respondents to Udemy’s survey said they’re “significantly less productive” because of workplace distractions, and 20 percent said distractions are preventing them from reaching their full career potential. Is your company doing anything to mitigate productivity-killing issues?

Read the rest of Udemy’s report to learn more about overcoming workplace distractions.

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