Productivity Tools: Too Many Have Negative Impact on Output, Study Shows
Employers have provided multiple devices and a plethora of apps and tools to their employees with the intention of making work easier. However, a new study by GoTo may prove they are having the exact opposite effect.
Productivity is taking a dive as personal devices interrupt employees with messages from home and too many computer programs get in the way of focus. Costly mistakes are being made as a result of employees being constantly distracted.
Diversions from home and coworkers
In GoTo’s study, 54% of respondents reported frequently running as many as five different computer programs at a time. An employee could be writing an email, shopping for clothes, texting their significant other, and scheduling a meeting, all while on a video call with a client across the country.
A 2018 study by Udemy showed that 36% of Millennials/Gen Z say they spend two or more hours per work day looking at their phones for personal activities.
As if these weren’t enough of a disturbance, GoTo says that other environmental distractions are often occurring simultaneously. 51% of respondents pointed to loud conversations from coworkers, 49% blamed office phone calls and 31% listed construction noise as the biggest offenders.
Too many tools cost time
Every company wants their teams to have the best collaboration tools, apps, and devices so that they can get work done in the most efficient manner. Therefore, many workplaces are equipping employees with a specialized tool for every need including messaging, conference calls, project collaboration, and more.
Although each tool may serve a purpose, having to log on to too many different programs to complete tasks may result in employees losing work time to switching costs, forgetting to complete important tasks like recording billable hours or missing messages from clients.
Mistakes are being made
As a result of all of these hindrances and multi-modal multitasking, employees are making relationship-damaging mistakes. The GoTo study revealed that distracted working has caused 57% of respondents to send an email to the wrong person, 33% to send an email or chat before they’re ready, and 23% to accidentally send a chat to someone in which they were talking badly about them – yikes!
What leadership can do to reduce distractions
It won’t be any time soon that we can get employees to stop taking care of personal items during the workday but there are steps we can take to reduce distractions.
Training – According to a Udemy report, 70% of employees found training programs focused on how to block out distractions to be helpful. To implement a training program for your company, review lists like this one from Inc. and turn it into a workshop. Or if you’re short on time, just email out ideas to your team. Don’t forget to open a dialogue for employees to add their own concerns and ideas.
Policies – Creating workplace policies to limit distractions is another way to break through the noise. Give out signs to put on employee desks to signal when they are thinking hard and do not want to be bothered, limit the number of meetings during the day, and ask employees to take long phone calls away from shared workspaces.
Office layout – The open workspace may be on its way out as companies are finding constant collaboration with coworkers to be a deterrent to getting things done rather than improving the workflow. Floor after floor of cubicles won’t be coming back any time soon either however as new workplace layout trends favor multiple spaces where employees can take their laptops and choose where to work like a coffee shop style area, an office library, or the kitchen.
Simplify software – Instead of trying to get the very best program for each type of collaboration and communication, just use one central software platform for everything. Where a central platform might lack, the savings on switching costs will make up for it. GoTo has one here.
Only Part of the Problem
For companies where productivity is a continual problem, eliminating distractions may only be part of the battle. Hiring employees who are truly a good fit for their jobs provides a basis for an engaged workforce. Assessment tools like the Predictive Index help optimize your work force and achieve top production.
As forward thinking tech companies explore concepts like implanting computer chips into human brains, only time will tell what the workplaces of the future will look like. One thing that can be counted on is that work and personal life will continue to become more integrated and the options for tools will continue to expand. It’s in the best interest of companies to continue to stay lean and organized in order to stay on top of employee distraction problems.