Various digital workplace tools have streamlined communication and collaboration in the digital workplace. Ironically, the same apps, like emails, or instant messaging platforms can present serious roadblocks to productivity.
As one survey conducted by Workfront shows workflow can be interrupted by various digital distractions at least 14 times a day. Also, an Adobe survey on a similar topic finds that a US-based office worker tends to spend over 3 hours a day handling work-related emails.
When you consider that employees tend to check their smartphones every six minutes, you’ll gain a clear picture of the time wasted on digital distractions.
According to the same survey, the longest workers could go without disruptions is 40 minutes a day. Also, 40% of employees state that they can’t spend more than 30 minutes involved in deep-focused work.
After hearing these numbers you may ask a logical question:
How do they manage to get anything done with smartphones and social media accounts at hand?
And, more importantly, what can you do to help them resist the temptation of digital distractions at work, taking decisive steps towards higher productivity and employee engagement?
How Lost Focus Affects Employees
According to a Psychology professor at California State University, our brain needs about 20 minutes to regain focus once it’s disrupted. Furthermore, findings from the Udemy 2018 survey on this topic, state that 36% of the Millennial and Gen Z workforce spend more than 2 hours of their workday on their smartphones, while an astonishing 56% of them say they can’t imagine a day without checking their social media profiles.
Facebook leads this list of social media distractions with 86% of employees using it during work hours, which makes this social media platform a major attention-snatcher at the workplace.
This amount of various distractions waste employees’ time, affecting not only their performance but also their well-being.
Employees who get frequently distracted may feel frustrated about not reaching their goals or meeting set deadlines. This inefficiency caused by frequently interrupted workflow may easily lead to lower motivation and morale, decreased loyalty, and increased stress levels.
You may think that blocking social media and news websites on your employees’ computers can be an easy fix for this issue. But you better think again. The need for constantly checking Instagram or Facebook accounts derives from a biochemical need for pleasure mixed with a fear of missing out on a message or an experience. These feelings intensify when employers don’t allow workers to visit social media or news.
So what can you do to successfully limit the negative effects of digital distractions on your employee productivity?
Try Using Screen Monitoring Software
Instead of spending money on website blocking software, try investing in employee monitoring software to find out how your team members spend their time online. This advanced monitoring tool will track the time spent on various websites dividing them into productive, unproductive, and neutral categories.
By analyzing the data collected, you’ll gain a clear picture of potential distractions that draw employees’ attention away from doing meaningful work.
Use this information to talk to your employees and limit social media usage so that employees stay both satisfied and productive.
By limiting the “unproductive” website usage to half an hour a day, you can get better results productivity-wise than by blocking employees’ access to these websites. Once you establish these rules, continue tracking employees’ online behavior to see whether all your employees act accordingly, staying on track with their workflow.
Try Setting Productive Time Blocks
Business emails that need employees’ immediate attention and response can be overwhelming and disruptive. If you want to help your employees stay focused on complex, more meaningful work, create a clear Communication Policy. Here you can define which channels will be used for significant professional exchange and will demand immediate attention.
Then, your employees will know how to prioritize their communication tasks, leaving enough quality time for deep focus work on more demanding tasks.
Or, you can always relate to a proven Pomodoro technique. This time management method from the ‘80s involves setting timing productive work blocks interrupted with short breaks. For example, you can make five-minute breaks after 25 minutes of productive work.
Once your employees get used to this working pattern it’ll be easier for them to resist the urge of scanning their Instagram feed or jumping to check their email inbox. Knowing that the break is near will help them stay focused on their ongoing task.
Here are several more tips your employees can use when they want to avoid digital distractions and stay concentrated on their work:
- Turn off your e-mail notifications to avoid constant interruptions, drain your energy and take you away from what needs to be done.
- Close Slack, e-mail, or any other website that prevents you from focusing on meaningful work
- Set up notifications to inform other team members that you are in a “deep-focus” mode, defining the time when others can reach you.