Surfing the web, social media, water cooler chats. These are just some of the usual culprits that distract workers from being productive. While that may be true, there’s also something else at play – something that the employers themselves are responsible for.
Endless distraction from working in an open plan office, one pointless meeting after another, an inbox that makes people feel like Sisyphus of Greek mythology fame – doomed to roll a boulder up a hill for all time. These are things that are putting a serious dent in worker productivity and happiness, and are also elements that will cost your business in the long run.
Those that run teleconferencing calls should consider exactly how disengaged employees are feeling. According to a study done by Intercall, 65% of workers are doing something else during teleconferencing calls. While 63% are answering emails, which is at least work-related, 55% is taking a break – either eating or making food. A large chunk are engaging in even more ludicrous activities – over 20% admitting to playing video games or shopping online.
All of these problems can be solved by just turning your webcam on, right? Not exactly. Research shows that video calls introduce an entire host of other problems. While 30% of respondents say that they spend half the time looking at their own face during a video call, 48% have admitted to being more concerned about the way they look during a call – instead of worrying about the content they were presenting.
And about one-third of respondents actually spend more time primping themselves and their environments for the video call than actually preparing their presentation content. Turns out, video calls just make people feel self-conscious, and frankly, a bit stressed.
Work environment distractions
And now that we have scientific backing that open-plan offices are actually productivity killers, it’s clear that our workplaces need to be redesigned to reflect the actual needs of workers.
Apple, for example, has made quite the blunder when pouring resources into building its new office campus. After spending six years and dropping $5 billion on its new spaceship-style, open-place office, Apple’s new digs was met with disdain from its employees.
The office is designed with shared spaces in mind, where people would work from long tables with bench seating, crafted all in the name of “encouraging collaboration.” What’s actually happening is all this forced collaboration is distracting Apple’s best people from doing great work.
One anonymous study, which surveyed 4,000 workers from the software, IT, finance, creative, marketing, automotive (the list goes on) industries, revealed that distracting office environments can actually negatively impact the end product. The survey results showed that 58% “high-performing employees” (HPEs) found their office environment too distracting and wanted a more quiet working environment for problem solving. Your HPEs are your stars, the ones that care about continuous learning, care about trade craft, and are working towards mastery in their daily work. They’re the ones that will deliver great results for your business.
The study, which is housed in this Medium article, explains the disparity between the needs of HPEs and other workers. The employees who have “little need for trade craft and mastery” actually prefer environments that are distracting and social environments. Their goals for work lean more towards being entertained, but for those HPEs, whose goals lean towards excellence – these environments can be deeply frustrating and dissatisfying.
Lack of visual privacy
One of the key reasons that makes an open-plan office environment, that’s overly focused on creating collaborative opportunities, distracting – is due to the lack of “visual privacy.” It’s an unforeseen consequence of open-plan offices, where the large space creates “long lines of sight across the workplace.” This is where you’ll be able to see people moving around the space, socializing with one another, which makes it fairly difficult to concentrate.
If you consider the negative impacts that these common business mistakes will have on not just worker happiness and productivity, but also your end product, you’ll realize how quickly you should hop to making changes.