September 2014
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TD Magazine

Workplace Productivity Drains

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wasting time? So are your co-workers.

If you work in an office environment, you've probably engaged in less-than-productive activities on company time. Perhaps you checked your Facebook account, sent a text to your sweetheart, or shared the latest office gossip with your colleague in the next cubicle. A recent CareerBuilder study confirms that you are not alone.

Unproductive behaviors are not uncommon at work, and data gathered from more than 5,000 human resource professionals, employers, and full-time employees show that there are several common enemies of workplace productivity.

Given our society's heavy reliance on mobile devices and incessant activity on social media, it is no surprise that technology-related distractions figure prominently on CareerBuilder's top 10 list:

  • cellphone/texting, 50 percent
  • gossip, 42 percent
  • the Internet, 39 percent
  • social media, 38 percent
  • snack breaks or smoke breaks, 27 percent
  • noisy co-workers, 24 percent
  • meetings, 23 percent
  • email, 23 percent
  • co-workers dropping by, 23 percent
  • co-workers putting calls on speakerphone, 10 percent.

With so many distractions leading to poor performance, most employers (73 percent) report that they use certain tactics to combat these time-wasters. Among the most common measures are blocking certain Internet sites (36 percent do this), prohibiting the personal use of cellphones (25 percent), and monitoring email and Internet usage (22 percent).
Although these preventive measures may work, it is ultimately up to employees to ensure that they are working up to their full potential. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR at CareerBuilder, suggests that employees "be organized and designate times to work on different deliverables. Minimize interruptions and save personal communications for your lunch hour or break."

Haefner also recommends avoiding unnecessary meetings and communicating wisely (call or walk to a colleague's desk instead of crafting an email) as ways to prevent wasting time at work.

About the Author

Vanessa Fludd is a manager in the education department of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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