Business development · 2 August 2017

WhatsApp or Facebook? Britain’s top office distractions revealed

Social media apps are distracting some workers
Just six per cent of office workers feel productive for the duration of a working day, with as many as 84 per cent claiming top office distractions led them to procrastinate for more than 30 minutes, new research has found.

A fifth of UK workers admitted to procrastinating for more than two hours a day, while some claimed to procrastinate for as much as six hours on some days.

The results of a poll from Fleximize, an alternative small business lender, revealed that, with some 21.18m people working nine-to-five office jobs every day, the UK as a whole could be losing as much as nine million hours of work each day thanks to office distractions.

Social media platforms were overwhelmingly found to be the top office distractions, and reason why many of us cannot concentrate at work, with instant messaging apps now more prominent than ever.

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WhatsApp has become the most distracting platform, as the research found that 72 per cent of workers used the tool to communicate with friends at some point during the average working day. Facebook came a close second, causing 70 per cent of workers to procrastinate.

Amongst the other social platforms found to be distracting people whilst at work were Instagram (49 per cent), Twitter (41 per cent) and Snapchat (30 per cent).

Top office distractions

Social platform Proportion of workers using platform to chat at work
WhatsApp72 per cent
Facebook70 per cent
Instagram49 per cent
Twitter41 per cent
Snapchat30 per cent

Commenting on the survey results, founder and managing partner at Fleximize, Peter Turvey, said: it’s ironic that social media, which has become an essential tool for businesses, is at the same time proving a drain on employee productivity.

however, it can also be seen as an opportunity to harness the mentality of millennials. Companies could encourage all staff to gear their social media habits towards business goals, whether that’s seeking out and sharing relevant news stories, or keeping an eye on the activity of competitors, for example.

Despite their social media habits, the study revealed workers to be mostly hard-working. Some 63 per cent of workers polled said they regularly worked through their lunch hour, eating both breakfast and lunch at their desks at least twice a week, if not every day, while 71 per cent said they worked up to four hours of overtime a week.

Turvey added: If these figures mean employers should start instating mandatory lunch hours and a don’t take your work home with you? policy, it could be a big step forward for UK businesses in improving the work-life balance of teams.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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