The 20-second solution to reduce costly work disruptions
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The 20-second solution to reduce costly work disruptions

The 20-second solution to reduce costly work disruptions

Is there a cure-all pill to office distractions? No. But 20 seconds could save $billions

  • Office workers checking their social media at work in the US costs that economy $650 billion every year,
  • 80% of people report being distracted by chatty co-workers, the number one office place distraction
  • 20 seconds can make all the difference when it comes to behavior change that lessens work distractions,

Office workers checking their social media at work in the US costs that economy $650 billion every year, says Lifehack.

Tip of the iceberg, it seems.

Sarah Fledman of Statista says that top workplace distractions involve not just your beeping mobile but also where you work, and who you work with.

Ambient Noise 

Poor soundproofing and working next to noisy construction sites and busy highways are unfortunately hard to do something about unless the business moves.

According to a new poll by Udemy and Toluna, 80% of people report being distracted by chatty co-workers, the number one office place distraction, Statista reports.

Office sounds stem from various people and machinery like printers and the like, and ranks second most cited workplace disturbance, in the poll.


Social media

According to Udemy's survey, nearly 70% admit they feel distracted when they're on the job, with the problem being biggest for Millennials and Gen Zers, with 74% reporting feeling distracted.

50% of people surveyed thought that personal social media use was a disturbance to them at work. 

RescueTime, a distributed company with members spread throughout the US, analysed 185 million working hours of anonymized and aggregated data on how RescueTime users spent their time last year. The study showed:

- 21% of working hours are spent on entertainment, news, and social media

- 26% of work is done outside of normal working hours

- We check email and IM, on average, every 6 minutes


According to Positive psychologist Shawn Achor, he believes that 20 seconds can make all the difference when it comes to behavior change that lessens work distractions, Lifehack reports.

Specifically, making tasks slightly easier or more accessible will encourage you to do them, whereas making a behavior slightly harder will decrease the likelihood that you will give in to your urges. If something – such as checking your social media – takes you 20 seconds longer to do, you’re less likely to do it.

Basically, he says, you need to make it more difficult to check your e-mail, to respond to a notification, and so forth.

“For example, move your phone so that it takes you 20 seconds longer to reach it, or disable a messaging app so that it takes you 20 seconds longer to log in and enable it again,” the recommendation came.

Less disruption = results

The Udemy report found that reducing workplace distractions increased workers productivity, motivation, confidence, and overall happiness.

Darren Shimkus, General Manager for Udemy for Business, explains: “When workplace distractions are reduced, whether through training or policies, we found that 75% of employees are more productive, 57% have increased motivation, and 49% are overall happier at work.”

Surprisingly, 60% of people surveyed said they view meetings as an interruption. Is there a fix to that?

Author
Hadi Khatib

Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it. [email protected]

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