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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to Eliminate Distractions in the Workplace


It’s irrational to expect employees to use 100% of their production capacity throughout the day. We are humans and we’re prone to distractions. We have natural processes (e.g. bathroom breaks) to do. Likewise, tasks are accomplished at variable rates depending on skills and experience.

This post isn’t about the natural downtime.

It’s about those avoidable moments such as the 8 hours lost each week due to personal cell phone usage or frivolous web surfing while on the clock.

Step 1: Identify the Time Wasters

Cell phone usage takes up the big chunk of wasted time in the workplace but it’s not the only outlet employees take to dip out of their job obligations – time wasters include:

1.  Social media usage

2.  Emailing

3.  Gossip

4.  Constant organization

5.  Peer conflicts

Most you’ll identify through simple observation while others are discovered through employee feedback. If you create a work environment where employees are not afraid of reprimand, then they’ll remain honest – this honesty will reveal the distractions.

There’s no way to block all distractions.


Identifying the problems will help you understand whether you’re providing enough work or too much.

Workers feeling overwhelmed will resist by procrastinating. Or, they’re unsure how to approach a problem and do not receive the appropriate resources to get it done. Sometimes it’s on you.

Step 2: Introduce Automation

Automation is loosely used in the context of this post. The term, for our purpose, represents the streamlined process of business workflow.

A couple of automated options that free workers time may include:

· Parcel Drop-offs – Interruptions from deliveries are common and creates downtime due to signing paperwork and sorting packages. A package locker allows drop-offs to the secured container, allowing business personnel to retrieve at their leisure.

·  Webinars – Meetings are replaced by online presentations with Q&A at the end. This front-loads the important information. It’s accessible by every member of the team no matter their location or schedule by way of recordings.

·  CRM Scheduling – CRM tools automatically compile customer information into a manageable database. It combines communication channels which reduce the need to sort files and dig through records with every customer service interaction.

You can find processes to automate by keeping journals. The journal will identify common, routine activities replaceable by technology solutions.

Step 3: Blackout and Free Time

It’s become apparent that we’re addicted to technology. Regular site and phone usage throughout the work day amounts to hundreds of lost hours throughout the year.

It sounds controlling but it’s worthwhile to block time-wasting websites.

Your network admin can set restrictions on website/app access. This may include common time wasters like Facebook, Buzzfeed, or popular news sites.

And for those not working at workstations?

Consider reinforcing (or encouraging) burst productivity by way of having “on” and “off” time. This creates an expectation where employees work in intervals with frequent breaks. The work is divided into manageable chunks allowing you to set milestones and daily goals.

Consider updating the workplace with entertainment features (e.g. lounge) or outdoor areas for employees to unwind before going back in. This is designated fun time.

Make Work Rewarding

There are plenty of reasons why people don’t like their work – a big one being resistance and the feeling that it’s not going anywhere. Simply put: they don’t feel connected to their job.

We all feel this at times.

Make the tasks rewarding by letting employees work on projects that interest/challenge them. Allow them to ‘float’ positions. This keeps them engaged and they’ll feel they’ve made progress rather than doing their usual routine.

Happy, passionate workers won’t have time to dilly-dally so consider freeing the rigid job descriptions along with trying a few techniques covered in this post.


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