Technology is growing at a rapid pace, especially in the workplace. Companies roll out new technologies and tools to their employees with the hope of helping them become more productive while delivering high-quality work.

In theory, this makes perfect sense. However, life rarely works out according to theory.

With the introduction of more tools and things, the average worker is only sinking further into an ocean full of information. Not only are workers drowning in information, but they are also becoming more distracted than ever.

In fact, in a survey conducted by Udemy Research titled "2018 Workplace Distraction Report", 70 percent of workers stated that they were distracted at work.

A distracted workplace is posing as one of the biggest threats to a companies success. In that same study, 34 percent of those distracted employees liked their jobs less under these conditions.

When you think of this issue, it's tempting to merely look at the financial statement. But it's deeper than that. Issues such as engagement, morale, and leadership can also decline.

In an effort to help alleviate workplace distraction, incorporate these four actions into your companies DNA.

1. Start incorporating flexible scheduling.

In that same report, employers were asked about potential solutions to reduce workplace distractions and 40 percent mentioned flexible scheduling with some remote options (this was the top answer).

Flexible scheduling isn't appealing because people want to sleep in and avoid rush hour traffic. This option is appealing because it takes into account people's various chronotypes. In simpler terms, some people are wired to fall asleep later in the night compared to some. This means that the early work time for them isn't ideal nor will they initially be in their highest performing state which of course leads to disengagement and productivity losses.

Lastly, flexible scheduling with remote options gives your employees more freedom, which is a highly coveted entity.

2. Institute "distraction free" times.

A 2010 Harvard study discovered that we spend 47 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we're doing.

With the way the world is designed, we're set up by default to waste time. In the workplace, this is magnified due to excessive emails, unproductive meetings, and needless interruptions.

In fact, research reported in the Atlasssian found that the average employee receives 304 weekly emails, checks their email 36 times, and takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling the incoming email.

While open rooms and other team-building philosophies are all the rage now, the best solution is to simply leave your employees alone. Set aside blocks of time in the day where no emails nor any other sort of distractions are allowed so you can enable your workforce to fall into deep work.

3. Encourage employees to learn skills and roles.

When posed with the question: "What would make you more engaged at work?", employees top answer at 54 percent was to be able to try new things and expand their role.

A sure-fire way to have a disengaged workplace is to have a group of bored employees due to not being challenged.  70 percent of U.S. employees are showing up unengaged to work on a daily basis while 52 percent of those workers are basically sleepwalking through the workday according to Gallup research published in 2013.

Encourage your employees to start side projects, new collaborations with each other, and also practice various roles in the company that they have an interest in.

4. Provide resources to help manage their health and energy.

When you're distracted, this leads to an obvious dip in productivity which then leads to stress and frustration. Continuing to connect the dots, this situation leads to lower engagement and motivation along with poorer health choices.

This is one giant negative feedback loop. Workplace stress affected nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of all U.S. Workers according to a "2017 Workplace Stress Report."

Managing workplace stress starts with providing various well-being resources to employees such as meditation, exercising, sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and many more.

Lessening the effects of workplace distraction isn't just a strategy to improve the bottom line. It's a great strategy to improve the well being of your workforce along with attracting top talent.

Published on: Sep 21, 2018