How to reduce workplace distractions

Distractions can be a productivity-challenge in the workplace. 

Researchers have found that after an interruption—whether caused by an outside party or self-induced, knowledge workers took an average of more than 23 minutes to return to a task. 

But distractions are par for the course, more often than not. An Udemy study found that nearly 3 out of 4 workers said they were distracted on the job, with 16 percent claiming that they’re almost always distracted. That doesn’t make for a pleasant work environment: 34% of employees said they liked their jobs less when they were in a distracting work environment, but  66% of them had never brought up the issue with their managers. When your employees are stressed out, they’re not bringing their best performance, and their wasted time is costing you extra in payroll expenses.

So how can you cut distractions and improve workplace productivity?

First, focus on providing your employees with an environment that works best for them, whether that means remote work or a quiet workspace in the office. If they’re in the office, make sure that you set limitations on when their colleagues can interrupt them. For example, rather than tapping on their shoulder, you can ask team members to send a chat message that can be responded to at the employee’s convenience. 

It’s also valuable to store your company knowledge in a centralized knowledge base, so that employees can ask and answer questions there and use it as a first port of call when they’re curious about something related to the business. The knowledge base should be searchable and have category tags, so that employees can easily find the exact content they’re looking for, with no need to interrupt their busy coworkers.

In order to truly reduce workplace distractions, you can’t just focus on your own team—it’s important to make a widespread effort to introduce cultural change. Create a community where employees can ask questions and share their own insights on their own time in a centralized dashboard, and eliminate the expectation of frequent meetings and interruptions to daily work. Collect feedback from your own team and others, so that you can make the most of any suggestions they might have to optimize productivity from there. 

By providing an open and collaborative work environment, you’ll be able to cut down on employee distractions and help them produce their best work. 

Sign up to receive helpful content and resources from Stack Overflow