Distracting open offices causing 36% of workers to lose at least an hour of work a day

Three-quarters (76%) of office workers are regularly distracted at their personal workspace and it’s having a big impact on productivity, with 36% of workers saying noise causes them to lose at least an hour of work every day. That’s according to a new study from Future Workplace, commissioned by Poly (formerly Plantronics and Polycom).

The global survey of more than 5,000 office workers reveals the biggest distractions are co-workers, including loud talkers on the phone; those who hold impromptu group meetings nearby; and celebrations in the open office.

Notably, seven out of 10 workers say they would be more productive if office distractions were reduced, yet only a third of employees currently have a closed office to escape to during their workday. More than half of workers say their organisation could do more to reduce office distractions by establishing quiet spaces or zones, setting guidelines on appropriate noise levels and changing the office layout.

The top ten biggest office distractions cited by the 5,000+ office workers surveyed are:

  1. Loud-talking co-worker on the phone – 76%
  2. Co-worker speaking on the phone nearby – 65%
  3. Phone rings or alerts – 61%
  4. Office celebrations – 57%
  5. Nearby group meetings – 55%
  6. Visiting children – 53%
  7. Games being played in the office – 52%
  8. Table and video games – 49%
  9. Visiting family members – 49%
  10. Outdoor sounds – 42%

Other noise and distractions that just missed the top 10 include: pets in the office; colleagues eating; the air conditioning system; and coffee/hot drinks being made.

“When you consider how many different workstyles and different generations are thrown together in one place, it’s no wonder that almost everyone reports being distracted at work,” said Amy Barzdukas, CMO and Executive Vice President of Poly. “It’s equally clear that the right mix of technology and environment can reduce distraction and improve productivity – and that is what employees are asking for.”

For more information about the study and for a copy of an eBook on managing distraction in the open office, visit this page.