Consensus HR

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The Cost of Workplace Distractions

Published in General


Hoola Hooping MenEmployees waste 759 hours each year due to workplace distractions.

Chatty colleagues, mobile phone notifications and the view out of the window lead to the average worker wasting 60 hours every month.

A recent article in the Telegraph written by Susanna Huth showed that a third of employees are distracted at work for up to three hours a day. They blame their lack of concentration on chatty colleagues, social media and even the weather.

This adds up to 60 hours of dawdling a month, or a total of 759 hours each year, according to a survey of 2,000 people conducted by the personal financial management service Think Money.

Only half of respondents said they spend six hours or more productively working on an average day. As many as 10% of people admitted to achieving just 30 minutes of productive output per day.

Consensus HR tickWhat distracts employees?

  • Noisy workplaces were the main cause of distraction, disturbing more than three in 10 workers
  • Almost a quarter blamed slow computers or a bad internet connection
  • 23% of respondents said that looking at their mobile phone interrupts their work flow

Other frequently cited distractions include online shopping, social media, personal emailing, gazing out of the window, the temperature and sitting in an uncomfortable chair.

“Just as in everyday life, there are many distractions that cause the loss of valuable hours in the working day,” said Think Money’s Ian Williams. “Often, it’s not simply a case of one burst of text messaging or internet surfing; there can be a constant stream of dipping back in and out, so concentration is interrupted throughout the day.”

Mr Williams added: “Chatting to colleagues and having some banter can create a positive and productive workplace” but cautioned “workers just need to be careful that this doesn’t tip over into becoming an annoyance for others”.

The survey also found that women get more distracted by a chatty environment than men do, but men are more likely to:

  • Be tempted into online shopping
  • Blame clunky technology for their slow performance
  • Grumble about an overload of pointless meetings

Matthew from Consensus HR & Business states that on numerous occasions Consensus HR & Business has helped their clients with managing distractions in the workplace. He says: ”Usually, members of the team do not realise the affect their behaviour is having on the business and team.”

Distracting habits include:

  • Continually nattering around the vending machine
  • Taking a large number of breaks to have a cigarette
  • Continually checking their mobile phone for emails

Many people do not want to be seen to upset the working environment. But – for businesses to be successful both business owners and employees need to realise that this behaviour affects other people. Ultimately, employees are at work to work!

contact_usTo discuss your working environment and how distractions can be avoided, talk to Matthew at Consensus HR & Business. Contact him via or call him on 01462 621243.