Digital distractions hindering productivity, survey shows

4 Aug 2011

A third of UK workers in a new survey fear they will lose their competitive edge if they disconnect from their inbox for 30 minutes or less, and 20pc felt in danger of losing the upper hand over their careers when cut off from email for just five minutes.

Yet all this connectivity doesn’t generate greater productivity, the survey by shows, as a third of employees are interrupted at least every 15 minutes. After each distraction, it can take another 20 minutes to regain focus and return to the task at hand. 

The overall impact of digital distraction means employees have trouble completing work (36pc), suffer from information overload (22pc) and as a result fail to think creatively (22pc).  

And communication devices and social media are leading to a new era of rudeness in the workplace, it appears.

During face-to-face meetings, 41pc of respondents admit to being glued to their communication devices, with the figure rising to 70pc during virtual meetings and webcasts.

The survey shows that 31pc of respondents interrupt face-to-face meetings to answer their mobile phones – however 40pc of these individuals agree it’s rude to do this.

Nearly one-fifth of people in the survey willingly defy their superiors and stay connected when they’ve been explicitly told to disconnect.

Double standards in the workplace

“It would appear that we have a classic case of double standards in the workplace, with 82pc complaining about other peoples’ tendencies to disrupt proceedings by answering a mobile phone, tweeting, sending an instant message, responding to emails or even just updating their social status – which incidentally 9pc of our sample confessed they did,” said David Lavenda, vice-president of product strategy at  

“Yet, rather ironically, 70pc of those that rudely interrupt meetings themselves would be offended if someone did the same thing to them. Clearly, the perceived pressure to stay connected has led many people to neglect their manners.”

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