I sat down to write this post two hours ago. Then I got distracted. I took a phone call, that led to a couple of follow-up tasks, and then two emails came in that I could deal with in under ten minutes, so I took care of those, too. Then I had to deal with the coffee pot someone left brewing on the stove. . . (burning coffee. . and I don’t even drink the stuff.) Now, here I am, trying to get back on task while part of my brain freaks out about how late it is.
Imagine how much we could get done if we worked in a distraction free environment? Since that’s not going to happen, Ask.com distracted office workers all over America by asking them what could be done to help them achieve maximum productivity.
An overwhelming number of respondents (86%) simply want to be left alone. Almost half complained about the number of impromptu meetings that occur when co-workers stop by their desk. Six out of ten said that noisy co-workers were a distraction even when they stayed on their own side of the fuzzy, grey divider.
24% of people said they could get more work done if people would just stop holding meetings to talk about the work that wasn’t getting done.
Unfortunately, eliminating actual vocal chatter doesn’t guarantee a distraction-free workplace because 46% of people said they use email, IM and phones to talk to co-workers who sit within a few feet of them.
The best solution would appear to be working from home but only 29% of respondents said they’d prefer it. I guess the world has finally come to realize that working from home doesn’t mean lounging around in your PJs all day. It comes with its own set of issues and distractions (kids, pets, dirty dishes call you from the sink. . . . )
Traditional vs Newsroom
If you’re part of a tech start-up company, you probably work in an open room with long tables and lots of people pounding away on their laptops. A lot of creative firms such as ad agencies like to work this way, too. It’s suppose to foster idea sharing and it forces a level of energy that you don’t see in a traditional setting.
But how can you concentrate with all that visual and auditory input? Here’s what Ask.com found out:
- Despite noisy co-workers cited as a top distraction, over one quarter (27 percent) prefer an “open room” or “newsroom” setting
- Younger adults are more likely to prefer to work in a newsroom setting than their older counterpart
- Men (42%) are much more likely to want to work in a cubicle with other coworkers than women (28%)
- Those who are single/never married (43%) are more likely to prefer to work in a cubicle with other co-workers than those who are married (30%)
- More than a third of those who have a boss have little desire to work alongside their higher-ups. The findings indicate that 38% would rather do unpleasant activities than sit next to their boss, such as opt for more work on their plates, sit next to someone who eats loudly, and take on a longer commute.
Even though we have a ton of technology to help us do things faster and more efficiently, it seems like there are less hours in a work day than ever before. Maybe it’s because companies are hiring 5 people to do the work of 10. Or perhaps its because we’ve been taught that we have to do it all, all the time. Or maybe its the technology itself that’s keeping us from getting our work done (Facebook. . . I’m talking to you.) Whatever the reason, distractions cost us all time and money and they leave you more stressed at the end of the day.
What we all need, is a little breathing room. Ten minutes to clear our minds and focus our thoughts. After that it’s back to blog post, video creation, Twitter, Facebook, Skype meeting, PowerPoint presentation. . . you know. . . business as usual.