The truth is – it took me four times as it actually should have to write this article. In a few minutes it takes to read it, chances are you will pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to read an email, glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen, or an employee may stop by your desk for a quick question. From the time the offices were invented, the question exists – why is it so hard to focus and concentrate in a place that’s primarily designed for productive work? And is there something you can do to help yourself and your team again this distraction-apocalypse?

Distractions, really?

Internet distractions such as social networks, clickbait articles or funny cat videos steal our time both at office or at any other place we could catch Wi-Fi connection. But there are some things in the workspace which were originally designed to help boost workers’ productivity, but somehow managed to do the otherwise. Numerous studies showed that top of the list productivity killers are:

1. Meetings

2. E-mails

3. Multitasking

4. Chit-chat with colleagues.

 

The problem is that all of these things are inevitable when performing everyday business – the modern workday seems custom-built to destroy individual focus. It’s impossible to eliminate them, but what you can do instead is keeping track of your workers’ productive time – which Websites they visit, which applications they use, for how long, etc.

 

Give them space

You can’t and shouldn’t cut out daily meetings or forbid your employees to talk to each other, but there are tons of other more or less hidden distractions one can face at their office. A survey conducted by an online question answering service Ask.com showed that majority of U.S. employees (61%) agree that loud or annoying colleagues are the main “offline” office distraction. Another 27% listed cubicle workspace as their biggest downer, while 38% of all the respondents said they’d rather do unpleasant activities (like more work, or sitting next to someone who eats loudly) than sit next to their boss. Want your employees to give their best? Then don’t sit near them beyond coffee or lunch time!

 

Being involved is essential

While group-oriented workplace fosters creativity, bonding, and motivation, it might as well in many cases cut down the efficiency. There should be a balance between strict and laid-back office atmosphere, which depends on the type of the job being done, but also on the people using it. Keep in mind that not all the people in your team are the same – do the introverts feel intimidated in an open office and would perform better at home, or in a place more private? Or do perhaps the extroverts find the cubicle environment suffocating and would prefer the open office? These things you can’t know until you get to talk to them, and try different solutions until eventually, you find an optimal one. Getting to know their preferences takes time and effort; luckily, the market is filled with cheap but effective HR software solutions that track usage of employees’ working hours. These could help you understand how each individual gets their business done – the rest is up to you.