From constant enquiries to continual background babble, there doesn’t seem to be an end to distractions in the modern open plan office. Recent research has shown that when office employees are distracted, mistakes go up and productivity goes down. Some Melbourne business owners are incorporating better workplace practices to help eliminate a number of these distractions. After integrating these ideas they have found employees make less mistakes, productivity and creativity go up, and stress levels come down.
The open plan office seems to be a constant hubbub of phone calls, email “pings”, idle chatter and genuine conversation. The noise interruptions can seem endless. Todays technology has brought a lot of comfort to the modern world, and a lot of discomfort to the office. With ever ending notifications popping up on Smartphones, it’s hard to resist checking to find out what’s going on in the world outside. Their own computer screens can be great advocates for procrastination as well, with social media checking and internet surfing. Even just clutter on the desk and disorganisation can be sources of distraction.
What’s the big deal?
Studies have shown that it can take up to 23 minutes for interrupted people to get back to a task once distracted. First they need to remember where they were with their task, then they need to refocus. They also have the distraction of anticipating another possible interruption. On average, office workers only get 11 minutes between interruptions from other people. Procrastination though, means employees can actually be distracted approximately every 3 minutes. Not all interruptions are the same though. Interruptions related to the task at hand are not as much of a distraction. And interruptions at the start of a task are more distracting than at the end. But any unnecessary interruption or distraction can be exacerbating for employees on a deadline.
Tips to minimise distractions
So what answers are there for your open plan Melbourne office? Blocks of ‘Do Not Disturb’ time are great. This can include incorporating a system that requires employees to divert their phones and literally put up a sign. If it’s possible, suggest employees keep email programs closed or notifications off throughout the day, and only check emails at set times. Office furniture fit outs can work to your advantage as well. Provide empty conference rooms, quiet zones, or higher partitions. Diagonal or zig-zag desk positioning, prevent staff from looking straight at each other when they look up, ending distracting conversation. Additionally, White boards for to do lists are an amazing visual tool to keep staff moving and focused. Employees can also be encouraged to keep their desktops clean and clear by storing items in a desk drawer or cabinet, including their mobile phone.
A common complaint among office workers is that there are not enough hours in the day, but the truth can often be that there are not enough ‘distraction free’ hours in the day. However with these great tips and a little bit of retraining or policy change, you can ensure your Melbourne office is as distraction proof as possible. For more advice or to look at making your office distraction free, contact Office Vision today and let us be distracted by the problem for you.
Quick points to put in place today:
- Introduce ‘Distraction free’ work time for office staff
- Make it a policy to keep smart phones in storage when not in use to minimize distraction
- Introduce set times when staff can browse social media or surf the net.
- Analyse your office layout to see if it could be set up better to maximize efficiency and minimize distractions.
- Consider providing quiet rooms or spaces where employees can focus on demanding tasks that require un-distracted attention.
Want to know more?
Our team has grown to include more Designers and Project Managers – professionals with the ideas and skillsets that can tailor a Workplace Strategy that will help you achieve a distraction free office.