A new 2021 Workforce Trends Survey from Advanced shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of UK-based employees get so many distractions and message notifications during work that it’s holding them back from being more productive. 22% said they have so many distractions that their working day is never spent fully on actual work.
The survey, which questioned 1,058 employees, suggests that the days of multi-tasking are over, and that employees have reached technology saturation which is actually slowing them down.
“Spinning multiple plates at once may seem to be a good way to get a lot of things done quickly,” said Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced. “However, our cognitive ability is in fact impaired as our brains can’t handle the constant switching from one focus to the next very well. This consequently causes confusion and affects people’s ability to focus. Throw home working into the mix and it can become incredibly hard for people to work efficiently during working hours.”
For 69% of employees surveyed, the number of business apps they use at work has increased during Covid-19. For some, these have helped them to work smarter while, for others, it’s been a hindrance - 17% say the uplift in apps is thwarting their productivity.
Email, while necessary, is another distraction. One in four (26%) of employees are turning off their email for one hour every day to focus on urgent work. More than half (54%) are also expected to perform urgent tasks outside their working hours.
Wilson continued: “People don’t work well when they are feeling isolated, overworked and unappreciated, yet it’s clear that some managers aren’t doing what’s best for their team. This is a great time to consider introducing new initiatives, like Friday afternoons off, or even following the footsteps of Bumble which last month said it was giving all of its staff a week off, with full pay and the instruction to fully switch-off, to counter what it described as ‘collective burnout’.
“In addition, managers can support employees, even those working at home, by helping them to address potential distractions. It could be that employers help staff to personalise their own workspace or introduce a single sign on system which keeps all of their business apps in one place but without the negatives of multiple pinging, reminders and alarms.”