Distractions in the workplace are common, and I think most of us would agree they are annoying. But did you know workplace distractions can also be costly. According to new research by Workplace Options, businesses lose $650 billion annually in productivity because of workplace distractions. For small businesses with limited resources, time is money, so it is critically important to minimize lost productivity.
In the survey sponsored by Workplace Options, a company that specializes in helping employees balance their personal and professional lives, the top five workplace distractions were:
Personnel. (office romances, gossip, etc.)
Technology (emails, voice mails, social media, slow Internet performance)
Surroundings (noisy co-workers, lack of privacy)
Celebrations (birthdays, showers, service anniversaries and activities)
Whether you work in an organization with a number of employees, or if you work alone in a home-based business, workplace distractions can affect your productivity and interfere with your ability to succeed. Here are a few things you can do to help minimize workplace distractions in your business.
Practice Time Management. In toda;s 24/7 work environment, good time management skills are needed to survive. Create a workflow schedule for yourself. Limit the time you spend on emails each day. Establish parameters for your cell phone use. In other words, you need to limit your accessibility -- except for emergencies. Block out time on your calendar to focus on your work without multi-tasking.
Ward-off Drop-ins. Constant interruptions interfere with your ability to get your job done. If you work in an office, discourage co-workers from dropping in by wearing headphones (even if you are-t listening to music) or using body language clues to indicate you are busy. Some companies utilize visuals to let others know they are unavailable such as a stop sign or a streamer taped across a cubicle entrance. If you are home-based, make sure your family and friends know what your-work hour' are and ask them to be respectful.
Set Guidelines For Noise. A small business with several employees should set noise standards. Tha's particularly true if you work in a cramped space. If staff members can listen to music, make sure it is't so loud it disturbs others. Consider a requirement that cell phones be turned to vibrate or silent so as not to interrupt a colleague.
Establish Personal Use Policy. When it comes to personal use of such things as social media, surfing the Internet, phone calls, emails, and texting, it is important to establish a company policy. What is reasonable use? Let your employees know what is acceptable and what is't. A written policy is best, but at a minimum, your policy should be clearly communicated. An employee who abuses the policy should be disciplined appropriately and in a timely fashion.
Manage Meetings Wisely. Holding meetings without a clearly defined purpose and agenda is not good business. Before you schedule a meeting, make sure it is the most efficient means of achieving what you need to accomplish. And before you agree to attend a meeting, make sure it is something that adds value to your business.
Provide Office Maintenance Support. Broken equipment is a huge time waster. Make sure you keep your technology and other office equipment in good repair. Additionally, a cluttered office affects your productivity so keep you office environment well-organized.
Provide Resources. One of the biggest reasons business owners get interrupted by their employees is because the employee is't sure how to do their job. To manage this situation, develop employee resources which document standard office procedures. Also, encourage your team to be independent thinkers. Do't micro-manage.
About the Author
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and a small business contributor to ABC News and other media outlets, public speaker and attorney. In addition to sitting on several executive boards of small business organizations, Solovic is the CEO and co-founder of ItsYourBiz.com – a company she led from a concept to a multi-million dollar enterprise.(formerly SBTV.com) She is also a featured blogger on numerous sites including Huffington Post, AllBusiness.com, Constant Contact, WSJ.com and Fast Company. Her forthcoming book, It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss, is scheduled for release in October 2011.