Aussie workers more distracted than ever before says survey.

Remote working and consolidated communication technologies can help.

An independent study, commissioned by GoTo by LogMeIn suggests that the average office worker is more distracted today than ever before. The distractions come both in their workplace environment and the number of technologies required to complete their work. Furthermore, employees are working with more people, across more locations and dealing with more meetings than just two years ago. The results come from a study of 2,000 employees in Australia, the US, UK, France, Germany, and India.

The survey revealed the problem of workplace distractions is two-fold: employees are struggling not just with environmental distractions like noise and office chatter, but also from the number of disparate tools they need just to get their work done. The results showed that more than half of Australian respondents felt their workplace lacked or had ineffective communication policies.

Environmental distractions in the office are nothing new. However, in addition to traditional distractions, office workers now also have access to any number of diversions whenever they are connected to the internet through their computer or digital devices. Australian survey respondents reported the following top workplace distractions:

  • Loud conversations (55 per cent), personal phones (43 per cent) and personal email (35 per cent) as the top environmental distractions in the office.
  • 97 per cent of respondents admit to looking at their mobile phone for personal reasons during work hours, above our international colleagues (94 per cent).
  • 64 per cent browse social media, 31 per cent have looked at online shopping, and 24 per cent have logged onto sports sites. A mere three per cent of Australians said they had ever looked at a dating site at work, while internationally, 21 per cent had done this.
  • The average employee engages in more than 17 different instances of small talk around the office every week, although the majority (53 per cent) said they only had 1-3 small talk interactions every day and most preferred for these interactions to occur in-person (48 per cent).

Beyond the more traditional workplace distractions, employees are also struggling with the number of different technologies, and especially collaboration solutions, they now utilise on a day-to-day basis. While these solutions are designed to make workflows more efficient, the reliance on multiple siloed solutions is actually having the opposite effect. Workers are stuck wasting time, swapping between different tools for different tasks, rather than being able to maintain focus and handle all of their communications from a single, centralised point:

  • Australian respondents use an average of 2.55 different tools to collaborate with co-workers in a typical work day
  • 43 per cent agree time is wasted switching between different collaboration apps while working
  • 61 per cent have at least five different computer programs, including workplace tools, apps and management programs, running on any given day

In addition to slowing down workflows and productivity, office distractions are negatively impacting otherwise small and relatively easy tasks. These distractions can also lead to some problematic (and potentially embarrassing) situations for employees. For instance:

  • 64 per cent said they’ve sent an email to the wrong person
  • 41 per cent said they’ve sent an email or chat before they’re ready
  • 7 per cent of respondents said they’ve accidentally sent a chat to someone talking bad about them, although this is far better than our international counterparts, of whom 23 per cent said they’d made this error.

Commenting on the findings, Lindsay Brown, VP of Asia Pacific at LogMeIn said: “This is a multi-faceted problem. In this case, there’s no single answer that will magically resolve all of the distractions employees face at work, but businesses can take a few simple steps, such as consolidating tools and putting flexible working policies in place, to help dramatically cut down on diversions to help workers better focus on their tasks and drive productivity.

“Providing staff with the trust and flexibility to work remotely means empowering them to put themselves in the ideal environment to minimise outside distractions, either from the office or their own devices, and better focus on their work when and where they are most productive,” she added.

Overall the study suggests organisations should look to invest in consolidating their various collaborative tools and technologies into a simpler, more streamlined system. This can help employees communicate and collaborate with their colleagues in the office and around the world, in a more effective manner. It will save staff valuable time and frustration otherwise spent switching between tools, trying to find the right conversation or files they need. Moreover, eliminating the need to swap between solutions removes a lot of the temptation for employees to switch to non-work-related apps and helps minimise the bandwidth required by the IT system.

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