To say that interruptions and distractions at work are common would be an understatement. On average, we’re interrupted once every 11 minutes at work. That’s more than 40 interruptions per day, 200 per week, and 8,000 per year. The problem with this many interruptions is not that they’re annoying, but rather that they have a significant impact on businesses. Distractions increase the amount of time that is required to finish tasks, decrease the quality of work, and decrease revenue for the broader business.
1) Distractions Increase the Amount of Time it Takes to Finish a Task
With all of the alerts, emails, texts, and calls we receive, it can be almost impossible to stay focused on one task. However, when you focus on one task for a period of time you actually finish it faster. While individuals claim that multitasking can improve their productivity, research shows that multitasking actually lowers the speed of each task. When you multitask, each project takes 50% longer when compared to completing tasks one by one. This means that employees are actually working longer hours, or not completing as much work as they could each day, when they are distracted.
2) Distractions Lead to Lower Quality of Work
Distractions not only make tasks take longer, but they also reduce the quality of the work that is completed. In a study in which participants wrote essays, 96% of those who were interrupted performed worse than those who weren’t interrupted. Staying focused on the task at hand allows you to make sure that your work is top notch which is critical for small and medium sized businesses – mistakes can result in lost clients. This means that for businesses distractions are not just an annoyance, they are an organizational challenge. As the number of distractions rises, employees move from working to increase the quality of their work, to fighting to maintain that quality.
3) Distractions Decrease Total Revenue
While the total monetary impact of distractions has yet to be determined, some estimates state that the US economy loses $588 billion each year due to distractions. That number may seem abstract; however, it is made up of lost revenues from all businesses across the US. This means your business is directly suffering because of distractions.
What’s the Solution?
While it would be easy to say, “remove all distractions at work”, it wouldn’t be practical or even responsible. Email, instant messaging, social media, phones, and face-to-face communication, all provide necessary modes of communication for team collaboration. They’re tools that we have become accustomed to and our work would suffer without them.
What we can do is reduce the number of new distractions that each of us encounters every day. As a communication platform, we think that working with your team shouldn’t add to the number of alerts, texts, and calls that already distract you. That’s why at Orion Labs we focus on heads up, eyes up communication. Heads up, eyes up communication means that you can talk to your team without having to look away from what you’re working on, enabling you to stay focused while collaborating. In turn, the members of your team can hear and respond without taking their eyes off their work. By staying focused everybody decreases the amount of time spent on each task, increases the quality of their work, and increases business revenues overall.