Staying Focused at the Office is Hard Work

September 30, 2010 ( – Keeping your mind on your work while at the office can be a full-time job, according to a new Workplace Options survey.

A news release said the biggest demand for workers’ time – outside of their job duties – is plain old chitchat, with 24% of poll respondents citing issues like office romances and gossiping around the water cooler as a major distraction.

Twenty-three percent cited technology (e-mails, phones, Internet, etc.) while 12% pointed to meetings and luncheons and 8% complained about noisy office neighbors. Fifty-eight percent of employees feel that having a handheld device increases their productivity, yet, 35% report their handheld device increases distractions during their workday and 50% who own handheld devices claim they are an increased distraction in their personal life. Fifty-five percent of employees feel having access to social media at the office is either “somewhat” or a “significant” distraction.

Overall, 53% report that distractions in the workplace hurt their productivity and 42% are extending their workdays by coming in early or staying late in order to avoid distractions.

Some 22% said they are aware of someone in their workplace who has been fired for wasting time in the office, disrupting other employees, or partaking in other distractions.

“It’s expected that employees will be inundated with plenty of distractions throughout the workday,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options, in the news release. “The important thing to remember is for employees to find a way to balance their work day and find ways to focus.”

The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, August 6-9, 2010. The survey polled 606 working Americans.