Procurement · 12 June 2017

UK employees reveal the daily workplace distractions draining productivity

Workplace distractions
Over-friendly clients and customers were cited as some of the more surprising workplace distractions

Your employees are more likely to be pulled away from work by a colleague than an electronic device, according to a new study that revealed Britain’s biggest workplace distractions.

In a survey of 2,000 working Britons, by serviced apartment provider Clarendon London, 20.3 per cent of respondents said the biggest drain on their productivity was the presence of a co-worker, with workplace gossip and repetitive questions dragging attention away from tasks.

The findings suggested office hot-desking could prevent colleagues distracting one another, giving employees the chance to “float” around the office and steer clear of disturbances.

Mobile phones followed closely, with 19.2 per cent citing their personal device as the biggest workplace distraction. Employees said this meant checking personal business as opposed to company business.

Social media was ranked third in the league of workplace distractions, as 11.1 per cent admitted short, regular checks on their Facebook and Twitter feeds had started to accumulate into significant working hours over the course of the year.

Commenting on the different workplace distractions hitting productivity, James Brockbank, a spokesperson for Clarendon London, said employers would be “surprised” so many workers cited each other as the biggest nuisance.

“Mobile phones and social media perhaps don’t come as so much of a shock,” Brockbank said.

“However it goes to show that employers need to take the time and allocate the right resources to ensure that employees don’t bend the rules too much when it comes to talking amongst themselves in work time.”

He added: “The fact that workplace gossip really does exist and can contribute to, over the course of a year, hundreds of working hours lost.”

Among other workplace distractions stealing the attention of workers were personal emails, cited by 10.6 per cent of respondents, and the discussion of off-work topics by clients and customers, a major problem for 8.6 per cent.

Almost one in 20 even believed the office radio to be their biggest distraction in the workplace.

Our expert from Office Genie gives readers five ways to boost productivity over the summer

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Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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