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How To Fight Off Office Distractions

by Edvard Berlusconi

Office space is filled with distractions. It doesn’t matter if that’s an incoming email or a loud colleague – employees letting their mind wander negatively impact your office productivity.

A research of the University of California shows that it takes around 25 minutes for a regular office employee to get back on the task after getting interrupted, but those interruptions happen every 11 minutes on average! Workplace distractions have a negative impact on employees’ performance and productivity. Ultimately, it leads to dissatisfaction and increased stress. So, how can this be avoided?

First Things First – Find Out What Is Distracting Your Employees

Research shows that over 50 percent of work distractions are related to communicating with colleagues and using social media networks. And time average office worker spends on those distractions takes up to 30 percent of their work day.

Humans aren’t machines and shouldn’t be treated as such. According to science, the human brain can stay focused for about 90 minutes, before needing a break. So obviously, distractions will happen, but there’s a way to control the amount of time spent on them.

Img source: entrepreneur.com

Encourage your employees to take breaks. They shouldn’t try to cram their workload and skip lunch, just to get out of work at 5 o’clock. It can be safely said that the quality of work done that way won’t match the one that is done with full attention.

Technology is becoming more sophisticated every day. This also stands for employee monitoring software market, that gave us diverse products which improved much over the years, from keeping track only of employee log times, to seeing their work in real time. Make use of computer monitoring software, gather all the facts and use them to create a distraction-free environment which will help your team achieve their full potential. One such software is Workplus. We recommend you to visit their website and learn more about the product.

Set Clear Goals

This is a base for every business. How can you measure your team’s productivity if you don’t know what do you strive to? Establish the company goals, but be objective – don’t set up objectives that are unlikely to be achieved in expected time manner. Use the famous  SMART model to set up appropriate goals. SMART is an acronym of five elements that every actionable plan needs: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

The next step is identifying long term and short term goals. Creating a long term goal sets up a foundation of your business – this should be your main motivation to keep going. With this big picture in mind, you can start planning smaller goals that should be achieved weekly, and used to measure your progress towards the ultimate long term ambition.


Once short term objectives are established, break them down into tasks and assign them accordingly. First, you need to decide on how many employees are required for specific tasks. If you have been following your employee’s progress on a computer monitoring software, you should have a general idea about how each employee carries out certain work, and you can assign tasks appropriately. Use that software to create tasks, appoint them to a fitting worker, and track their progress.

How does this help mitigate distractions? Breaking down tasks is a one-step-at-a-time progress towards the main goal. A lot of workers get distracted before they even start work, just because they don’t know where to begin. Splitting a project into smaller tasks helps us see a bigger picture, and completing it seems more doable, even though the amount of work is the same.

Img source: sparkpeople.com

Block Access To External Distractions

Employee activity monitoring software gives you a full report of every workers’ time spent on each activity, including those unrelated to work. Probably a majority of your workforce owns an account on some social media platform, and if the data acquired by work tracker  supports your perception that social networks are a main office distraction, it might be a good choice to block the access to them. But, since we’ve already learned that everyone needs a break after a long time of focused work, they should still have some freedom during their break. It’s best to block only those websites or applications that are being abused the most during work hours.

Employees are only human, and some get distracted more easily than others. If they get lost surfing the web during working hours, it doesn’t automatically mean they are bad employees. But they just might need that to help them restrain from wandering away while working.

Create A Policy

There is a phenomenon called “The Hawthorne effect” that shows that individuals change their behavior when aware they are being observed. This is why employee tracking has a positive effect on productivity. But be sure to use it with caution, because there is nothing as distracting as boss hovering over worker’s shoulder.

Use the information you gathered observing employees’ activity – create a policy about office behavior. Let them know that behind a faceless software is a real person who has certain expectations about what is allowed in the office and to what extent. When done correctly, computer monitoring software proves to be extremely helpful in mitigating distractions and improving office productivity.

Img source: jacquelinedujour.com

In Conclusion

People love using numbers to see what they can improve. Think about fitness trackers – their popularity can be credited to the fact that they show you data of your current status, which motivates you to try harder and reach your goals. And having small goals keeps everyone’s attention high as they see them as more achievable. The same effect can be accomplished with activity tracking software if it’s used as a feedback and not just as a critique.