Productivity Killers

05.01.2014
HR & Safety

Noisy coworkers cited as major workplace distraction

Ask.com recently announced the results of its Office Workplace Productivity study, which reveals the preferences and habits of American office workers when it comes to an optimally productive workplace environment.

Among the key findings: 86% percent of respondents prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity, suggesting that, while group-oriented workplace perks like foosball and bean bag lounges have become popular tools for unlocking creativity and boosting morale, they don’t always drive efficiency.

Additionally, the preference to work from home isn’t as prevalent as it may seem; a majority of respondents prefer to spend “focus time” in their personal workspace (63%) as compared to those who’d rather work at home (29%).

“This research gives us broader context when thinking about the workplace culture we’re trying to foster,” says Lisa Ross, vice president of human resources at Ask.com. “It also yielded some unexpected findings. For example, while working from home policies have been hotly debated in the media, it appears most office workers actually prefer working in an office environment, as long as companies facilitate focus time and minimize distractions.”

Too Much Noise, Too Many Meetings

Six in ten (61%) of respondents say that noisy coworkers are the biggest distractions in offices. Forty percent identify impromptu meetings from coworkers stopping by their workspace as an office distraction. Perhaps to avoid idle chatter, nearly half (46%) of respondents report they mostly communicate with colleagues through IM, email, or phone over face-to-face interaction.

In addition to cherishing alone time, it appears many office employees who have a boss need distance from their managers, with 20% saying they would prefer to have more work responsibilities than sit alongside their bosses.

Nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents signal meeting fatigue, claiming to spend more time in meetings discussing work than actually executing it.

“Face-time and group collaboration are critical to success, but it’s interesting to see the significant value placed on fostering concentration and limiting outside static,” says Ross. “It’s important for today’s employers to adapt environments to effectively strike that balance.”

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