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Is wasted time stalling the growth of your business?

Matt Holman

If your office is riddled with distractions then it may be causing more of a problem than you think

Modern technology has given businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to vastly increase their efficiency, so you would think that it would make your employees more productive than any other time in history.

You can work from absolutely anywhere with the advent of cloud-based computing, you’re no longer tied to the printer or fax machine when you want to share a document and communicating is easier, simpler and much more effective without any geographical borders.

You would think this wealth of tools has made our work much easier and made us more productive, but has it actually made us more prone to distraction?

Internet-enabled devices are everywhere now, and you can probably see 4 or 5 from where you’re reading this article from, just how distracted are we? From a range of the latest findings, Sage have compiled an infographic which makes for very interesting viewing. We’ve summed up the juiciest bits for you and compiled our top tips for getting the most out of your workforce.

64% of employees use the internet for personal matters during work time

A whopping 64% of employees access websites which are unrelated to their job whilst at work. This means that the majority of your employees have been scrolling through their social media or doing their online shopping at some point during the working day.

A recent Forbes study found that the most likely websites they’ll be visiting are (in descending order): Facebook, LinkedIn and Amazon.

Employees admit to wasting 10% of every working day

The findings concluded that roughly 21 days per person a year are lost due to distractions at work. Feel free to multiply that figure by the number of people in your organisation and prepare for a shock.

Your younger employees are wasting 2 hours of the day on the Internet

The age of your colleagues has a heavy impact in regards to how likely they are to be distracted at work. 73% of millennials admit to wasting time in the office, that’s over 10% more than all others surveyed in the research.

Unsurprisingly, the amount of time wasted at work decreased with the older people were, with baby boomers wasting less than a quarter of the time of millennials.

Smartphones are checked 150 times a day

Attention spans are shorter than ever before. The average office worker can only focus on the same task for 7 minutes before logging into Facebook, or even more likely, reaching into their pockets and checking their smartphones a staggering 150 times a day.

Tasks are being interrupted by short attention spans even more now than ever, and with the need for smartphones to be accessible all the time in the modern workplace, this does not look likely to change soon.

What does this mean for your business?

Increasingly we’re being introduced to tech that makes everything more convenient, a recent example being smartwatches, so the attention spans of your colleagues is not going to increase, as we get lazier and lazier as a society. This all culminates in a massive loss in productivity, and as technology improves, it’ll get harder to even put a finger on how much time is being lost.

Of course productivity is at the epicentre of everything your business does. This loss in productivity can result in missed deadlines, faltering quality and higher operating costs. You’re right to be concerned, here's a few ideas of how you can act:

Have a written personal use policy

The first step to improving productivity is reminding people of what they should and shouldn’t be doing at work. An easy, non-confrontational way of communicating this is through a Personal Internet Use Policy. This policy should tell people what’s okay and what’s not okay to be accessing at work. IT Donut have a handy guide to creating one.

Enforcing this policy is where it gets tricky. It’s possible to install software that limits what can be accessed on work computers, but there are always going to be ways to combat these. You could even implement phone signal jammers in your office if you want to.

The European Court of Human Rights also ruled that employers can read messages that are sent in the workplace during work hours, without infringing any privacy or employment laws. But none of these solutions are conducive to a healthy and happy office environment - a much softer enforcement policy is needed.

Regular breaks

Consider scheduling frequent but short breaks in the working day. Give employees the chance to distract themselves entirely for a few minutes, rather than periodically checking their phone throughout the day.

This technique allows your employees to mentally recharge and feel refreshed so their full focus can be on the task at hand.

Automate repetitive tasks

A great way to improve productivity is to speed up administrative and repetitive processes. These are the tasks that can be easily automated through business growth software.

If a lot of your tasks involve repeating the same process over and over, or is reliant on spreadsheets or paperwork, then you may want to investigate business growth software. It can make your core business activities faster and more efficient than ever.

Present tasks in bitesize chunks

Keeping your colleagues’ to-do lists varied and small is a great way to prevent attentions from being erroneously diverted every 7 minutes. Having lots of smaller tasks which can be completed relatively quickly are perceived to be much less daunting. So presenting work as lots of small tasks may work to improve productivity, so that focus can be continually moved to keep work fresh.


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