February 28th by Nils Wright 0 0Workplace distractions are ever-present. They reduce workers’ productivity, increase their stress, cause injuries and lower morale. Some are the result of modern technology, but others have been around a lot longer. Following an interruption, it typically takes a couple of minutes to return concentration to work. These short interruptions and recovery periods add up to large amounts of lost productive time. There are a multitude of distractions that can affect employee safety and productivity that employers need to be aware of.
- Smartphones– Smartphones and tablet computers are a major distraction, especially in office environments. Text messages, alerts and the urge to check Facebook and news – not to mention game apps like Candy Crush and Words With Friends – can pull employees’ attention away from the task at hand.
- E-mail– Misuse of e-mail can be another productivity sapper. This includes strings of e-mails sent to arrange a time for a meeting or conference call, when scheduling software could accomplish the same thing with one or two messages. It also includes clicking the “reply all” button, sending a thank-you intended for one person to a group of ten. Again, these small interruptions compound over time.
- Old-fashioned interruptions – A co-worker who stops by to ask a quick question and sticks around to chat for a few minutes. Meetings that are held because they’ve always been held, regardless of whether they accomplish anything. The colleague who sits three cubicles away and is incapable of having a quiet conversation.
- Personal issues– In some cases, a worker’s distractions may come from himself. His job may be boring, causing his mind to wander while he uses a tool or pours a hot drink. He may have problems at home – financial difficulties, family members who are ill, elderly parents, a child going through a rough time.
- Work pressures– This includes perceived pressure to finish a job quickly. Manufacturing or warehouse employees may feel pushed to fill an order in a hurry, or construction workers may face short deadlines.
- Complacency– Sometimes, employees have done a job for too long and have grown complacent in their knowledge. This can lead to their missing crucial steps in the process, resulting in faulty work – and worse.