Three more modern distractions in the workplace (and solutions)

Creative messy desk top

We’ve been thinking about the last 3 distractions we gave you, and have come up with some more. As you know, distraction is an important factor in reducing accuracy and efficiency in the office, so we thought we’d share what else we’ve found!

  1. Hunger Distractions

The condition of the body is a frequent source of distraction. Not only are the pangs of hunger themselves distracting, but good nutrition is essential for focus and concentration. If your staff try to satisfy hunger cravings with sugary or salty snacks, the secondary effects of the way those foods are digested will create additional concentration problems.

You can encourage better hunger management if you have facilities, by making healthy snacks and plenty of water available for example. In addition, employees need enough time and freedom to get the nutrition they need in order to avoid distraction.

Many companies contract with food delivery services to bring sandwiches and other easily handled food items for sale. They also stock vending machines with protein-rich food and natural low sugar beverages.

One company, featured in the Huffington Post, has instituted food- oriented workshop programs encouraging employees to bring well-prepared lunches and providing enough time for those meals to be consumed in a communal way. This encourage people to step away from their desks, eat healthy and learn something new.

  1. Noise

Many offices adopted the fashion of open office structures a few years ago, based on the notion that the open structure would lead to greater employee collaboration, stimulate new ideas, and de-emphasise the hierarchical office structure. However, it has become clear that the work of the vast bulk of employees does not involve idea generation, nor collaboration. The net result of open office structure has been noise. The open office structure damages the concentration of employees whose job involves focused work.

The most distracting noise is noise generated by other workers. Many feel that they can learn to ignore the predictable sounds of machines, but have trouble ignoring the unpredictable, lively, and potentially interesting sounds of other workers.

According to Cornell University workplace design expert, Alan Hedge, 74 percent of workers say they face many instances of disturbances and distractions from noise. Overheard conversations, high-pitched sounds, and intermittent, unpredictable noises are most distracting.

This could be resolved with a couple of ‘focused quite hours’ throughout the day, after everyone has come in and caught up with each other so those tasks requiring concentrate can be completed. Alternatively, think about creating a few breakout areas that colleagues can use rather than having meetings over the desks.

  1. Interruptions

Another thing that can be exacerbated by office layout is the tendency of employees to interrupt each other. Sometimes the interruptions are for legitimate office concerns. However, the so-called “shoulder tapping” can come at an inopportune time in the concentration of a co-worker and ruin concentration which then must be re-established.

Helping colleagues out should always be encouraged, so stopping these brief conversations which means the asker can continue with their work should not be stopped wherever possible. One solution if your staff have something they need to concentrate on with no distractions is creating ‘do-not-disturb’ signs for them to place on their desks for brief periods. Alternatively, if someone is struggling with work, rather than constantly asking little questions, encourage them to set up a 15-30-minute meeting with the colleague to ask all of their questions in one go. This will allow the expert to share their knowledge, without being interrupted every 5 minutes!

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