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How to Dodge Office Distractions

What are the most common office distractions and how can you cope with them or help your colleagues cope with them? Here are the top 4, as cited by our Workplace Index respondents.

How Do You Dodge Office Distractions?

Our Workplace Index uncovered that the office is still the one place where people consider themselves the most productive, but even the office isn't a totally sacred space—just like anywhere, it's littered with distractions. So what are the most common distractions and how can you cope with them or help your colleagues cope with them? Here are the top 4, as cited by our Workplace Index respondents.

#4: Meetings

34% of people said meetings got in the way of doing their best work. Considering 45% said their meetings were somewhere between only somewhat productive to entirely unproductive, it's no surprise meetings are considered a big distraction in the office. But how can you help turn these interruptions into advantages? Respondents recommended having shorter meetings and fewer meetings, as well as making meetings more fun and choosing better locations for meetings. Tip: Creative collaborative spaces like cafeterias, breakrooms or lounge areas can be a nice alternative to the traditional conference room and can lead to more creative thinking and more engaged meeting participants.

#3: Email

When asked what gets in the way of their best work, 40% of workers tossed email under the bus. Think that doesn't impact productivity? Think again. When asked if "email overload" impacts their productivity, 64% of workers said it impacted productivity at least some of the time. But with technology and email such prevalent parts of today's workforce, how can you fight this necessary nuisance? Respondents recommended more live conversations and work collaboration tools. Tip: Working with IT to implement the right email tools, as well as chat software and other appropriate programs, can encourage savvier use of email and less wasted time.

#2: People coming over to talk

You want employees to collaborate and feel free to talk to one another—after all, that's where true collaboration and innovation come from. But with 47% of people saying their chatty colleagues are their biggest hurdle to their best work, a happy medium is absolutely necessary. Tip: Smart design can help by blending more open office layouts with semi-private or private "pods" for people to utilize when concentration and solitude are of the utmost importance.

#1: Loud coworkers

It never fails: when you're up against a deadline, your coworker across the cubes decides it's time to take a conference call on speakerphone, or to invite six of his teammates into his row to have an impromptu, no-holds-barred brainstorming session. How are you ever going to wrap up your work on time?! You're not alone, as 56% of respondents cited their loud coworkers as the biggest hindrance to them doing their best work. Blended work areas, as well as better use of collaborative spaces, can help to put noise in its proper place, but the best approach will vary from office to office. Tip: Consider using tech to your advantage with noise-canceling headphones or on-the-go laptops or tablets that let you take your work away from the noise.

With the majority of workers spending more than 40 hours a week in the office to keep caught up, it's more important than ever that the time spent at work is time spent wisely. So what are your biggest distractions in the office, and how do you defeat them?