Are Workplace Distractions Getting Worse?

Technology is a double-edged sword. It provides businesses with powerful tools that can bring unparalleled organization and efficiency to their operations; yet, technology provides workers with a tidal wave of distractions. What’s your company doing to manage this unique technological paradox?

People are Somehow Coping with More Distractions

There’s no question that technology provides workers with more distractions than ever before. Screenwriter Bill Oakley explains it like this: “Describing today to someone from 1953: Every six seconds all your friends send you a telegram and a brand-new Life magazine is thrown at you.” Bill is of course referring to the notifications of smartphones, and the barrage of interesting news articles shared by friends on social media.

One would think that this vast amount of information constantly being heaped upon us would cripple workplace productivity. However, this isn’t the case. New studies are showing that humans are adapting to how we consume information. Somehow, we’re able to do the same amount of work, despite having a bottomless pit of distractions at our fingertips.

A Click isn’t All That it’s Cracked Up to Be

There are two recent statistics that show us how we’ve adapted to consuming this endless amount of new information. After looking at 10,000 articles shared via social media, Cheatbeat concluded that, there’s “no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.”

If your business runs a website and you share content from it via social media, then you’ve noticed this to be true. The social media site may report that your website’s blog article was seen by 1,000 people. You think, “1,000 people, that’s awesome!” You then log on to the backend of your company’s website to investigate the analytics of your seemingly-popular blog, only to discover that a miniscule 100 of those 1,000 people actually clicked on the article.

Of those 100 clicks, how many of those people actually read through the article? Research from TIME Magazine suggests that it’s less than half: “55 percent of web users spend less than 15 seconds actively on a page.” These statistics are enough to bum out a web marketer, but they give hope to the employer that feels like technology in the workplace is distracting their employees.

Fact: Humans Can Be Naturally Distracted By Anything

Just because the information is available, doesn’t mean that it’s distracting people from their task at hand, or even changing the human race into screen-addicted zombies that don’t know how to socialize. There’s a popular meme that illustrates this point perfectly. It’s a black and white image of workers on a bus commuting to work before the digital revolution. Every single worker is reading a newspaper and the caption ironically says, “All of this technology is making us antisocial.”

The point here is that, whether a person has a copy of the Saturday Evening Post sitting at their desk, or a smartphone that’s pinging them about news stories shared by their friends, the worker is still faced with a distraction.

The medium from which the distraction comes from is irrelevant to the fact that we’re distraction-prone creatures. In fact, some people are so wired for distractions that you can remove every single type of media from their presence and they will still find an object in the room to distract themselves with. There’s a word for folks like these: procrastinators.

Use Technology to Curb Distractions from Technology

The technological paradox about workplace distractions caused by technology is that you can use technology to combat these distractions. Technetics Consulting can provide your business with an enterprise-level content filtering solution that will allow you to block workers from viewing the most distracting websites on the Internet, like Facebook, BuzzFeed, and YouTube. Technetics Consulting’s content filtering solution will also allow you to filter content on a per-user basis, meaning that employees that show more willpower to resist distractions, and the ones that need to access these distracting websites as part of their job, can still do so.

Content filtering for your company’s network can go a long way in minimizing workplace distractions, but it’s not an end-all-be-all solution. The human mind is naturally prone to distractions, and some people will be just as distracted by a newspaper as they would be with Twitter. However, at the end of the day, people will adapt to this information overload, society will continue to function, and despite the fact that people will develop shorter attention spans and a poorer vocabulary, your workers will meet your company’s goals and deadlines and your business will grow.

To learn about more workplace productivity solutions that can help free your staff from the distractions of technology, call Technetics Consulting today at 1300 853 453.

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