Procurement · 11 March 2016

The worst office distractions and how you can avoid them

office distractions
Some 43 per of workers have headed to social networks when they should have been working
The office is a positive minefield of potential diversions recent research carried out by Office Genie found the average UK worker spends 48 minutes every day distracted on the web.

That may not sound too bad, but it works out at around 88bn in wasted working hours over the course of a year. So office distractions are clearly big news, and big money! But how can you avoid them? Weve listed the most enticing distractions, and how you might conquer them.

The web

With so many people spending so much time online there is ample opportunity to be distracted. There are all sorts of diversions out there, but the following are the worst culprits.

  • Social media: Some 43 per of respondents said they often head to social networks when they should be working so the likes of Twitter and Facebook could have a lot of wasted time to answer for.
  • Online shopping: Coming in second, 39 per cent of people admitted to shopping online while at work. The prospect of a bargain might be appealing for individuals but it could well be costing businesses.
  • News: it’s pretty hard to avoid news sites, particularly with many roles requiring at least a faint grasp of what’s going on in the world. So it’s little surprise some 34 per cent of respondents said they headed to news sites when they should be working.
So what can you do? Bosses may well be tempted to enforce more heavy-handed policies, such as monitoring their employee’s browsing history, but this rarely solves any problems and can just create an atmosphere of mistrust.

The best option is for employers to clearly outline what is expected of staff, but also be flexible. If employees want to take advantage of a limited-time sale, then offer them flexible working patterns that allows for this, whilst ensuring they can make the time up later.


To open-plan or not to open-plan? That is the question for many office designers. Depending on what you read, an open-plan office can either boost or hinder productivity. Generally they can indeed be more vocal affairs, and while this can create a buzz and boost energy, it can also be distracting.

Of course, while the traditional cubicled layout may involve fewer distractions, a lack of personal interaction can lower engagement and, in turn, productivity as well.



Peter Ames is the head of strategy for Office Genie, the first desk space marketplace in the UK under the umbrella of Genie Ventures (a digital marketing and e-commerce company). The site is responsible for letting out millions of pounds worth of space to the country's small businesses and freelancers.

Work and Wellbeing