Tips for Minimizing Workplace Distractions

Many businesses are known for creating fun and enjoyable working cultures. Just look at the employee incentives at Google.

The purpose of establishing a fun work environment is to keep workers excited to do their jobs without becoming bored, fatigued, or stuck in a mind-draining, monotonous job they begin to resent. Dark, I know.

But there are ways to avoid such negativity.

Tips for Minimizing Workplace Distractions

When it comes to getting work done, the things you most look forward to at work can cause the most frustration.

It’s important to keep work time for work. There is a time and a place for everything, and if your employees start to forget that your company’s culture might be getting in the way. Make sure you set clear lines.

If you trust your employees to be self-managed and can afford to do so, allow them to set their own breaks, or take them as they please (not so much if they’d be leaving a position that requires attention). You hired self-starting individuals for a reason and your employees know how they best function.

Workplaces and schools have tried banning phones without much success. If your employees can’t stay off their phones enough to stay on task, then you have a problem that needs dealing with. But it’s an isolated issue. Don’t blame all millennials.

Online communication programs, like Slack, allow companies to stay connected while employees work in different locations or even time zones. If your business uses online technology, you invest a lot of responsibility in your employees. Just like with any social media use, it’s easy to get lost in online conversations with coworkers. Others may not be distracted by your private conversation, but you definitely are. In this case, you should try regulating the number of times you can open a conversation. Set checkpoints! Keep in mind that the workplace benefits for social media outweigh the downfalls.

To find out how to minimize distractions at your workplace, you first need to recognize what your greatest threats to productivity are. Employee devices, non-work related conversations? Is your company’s environment too lenient or too strict?

Stress is Other People

Hopefully your workplace isn’t an active production of Sartre’s No Exit. But even if your workers are best friends, trying to concentrate through coworker discussions, ringtones, chewing, coughing, crying, breathing, blinking, tapping, etc. can drive you up the wall.

One of the biggest workplace distractions is other people. If your employees are getting flustered and annoyed with one another they might be needing some TLC or at least a little refresher. Encourage mini-breaks and regular stretching to help alleviate tension and keep the boiling point subdued. If you want to go above-and-beyond, scatter little snacks throughout your business to avoid hangry spells.

Somehow there’s always one employee who can balance everything — socializing, getting work done, and will still take on other tasks. The all-star. This employee is a burden to others who need to focus, distracting coworkers without even noticing. Have this employee assist others who could use a hand on projects. Keep them busy or at a tolerable distance from other workers who need the space.

For many people, silence is key to productivity.

I can feel this picture.

Nothing breaks concentration like Rob bragging about winning the first place trophy for Lord of the Rings trivia last weekend. If only you’d have been there. That trophy would be yours. Now you’re thinking about trivia, pub wings, and cursing Rob. Thanks Rob.

Maybe your workplace doesn’t have a Rob, but others can still be distracting, even just by doing their own work. Get some noise-cancelling headphones and listen to white noise. It doesn’t mean you’re anti-social. It makes a statement that you’re on the ball and plan on staying that way. Just make sure your music is at a fair level that won’t interfere with others.

Promote silence and have your team turn down the noise while others are working.

Prioritize Tasks & Organize Resources

Know when your meetings and tasks are and make sure to communicate your availability to your team well ahead of time. Unexpected meetings or tasks can throw your whole team off. For everyone’s sake, make sure your day is planned in advance as much as possible.

Keep your workplace organized, stocked, and well-labelled if necessary. You don’t need employees running around like headless chickens trying to locate a very important and very lost document or tool. I hate to be the guy to interrupt someone for the third-floor stapler, again (please have more than one stapler to a floor).

You take care to ensure your workplace is supplied with the necessary materials and resources, so keep those resources accessible and organized. Keeping a well-organized and well-stocked workplace also promotes accountability. If you know where materials and resources are at all times, it’s less likely for them to get lost. You won’t have to worry about employees wasting time and distracting others by tearing the office apart. Organization saves your office from time-loss, frustration, and money since you’ll have to replace fewer materials.

Set Parameters & Allocate Time

Employees know that they’re there to work. Sometimes, though, they can get so caught up with the benefits and perks of the workplace that they forget to complete tasks. You should set times and locations where noise is appropriate. Also establish standards and quotas and make sure to follow up regularly. If employees are getting work done and having a good time doing it, then there’s no problem.

But don’t let your monitoring and power go to your head. Nothing is more distracting for an employee than the boss hovering over their shoulder. Encourage employees to work and stay on task with reminders and acknowledgement.

Manage company time by setting a solid schedule for employees to follow.

It’s not bad to have some perks that make your employees go nuts. The old, “I can’t believe I work here!” or “I’m getting paid for this?! Chyas!” (I’ve heard this, I kid you not. “Chyas”).

Motivate your employees and cut down time loss at the same time by displacing distractions. Schedule distracting activity around a time that isn’t pressed for concentration. Casual Fridays are very common. Why not try to modify it by taking your team out after business hours to let them get their gossip and sports talk done outside of work.

Keep your workplace positive and efficient by reducing these distractions to a minimum.