Office Distractions: When is your Workforce the Most Productive?


Most of us will know when we are most productive during the day. It could be in the first few hours after we wake up, late morning when we’ve had a few mugs of coffee to perk us up or in the evening as time pressure comes into play. Figuring out when your workforce’s business productivity is at its highest and lowest levels is useful to stamp out any distractions and improve business production.

There are a wide variety of factors that can affect business productivity, from something as simple as keeping the office at a comfortable temperature to motivational tactics like offering free food at certain times. Research has also shown that employees who claim to be happy are 12% more productive, while unhappy workers are often 10% less productive. 

This guide looks at common office distractions and how to minimise them, working out the most productive hours for your workforce and putting in place strategic ideas to improve business productivity and employee engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is all about creating the best conditions for all members of a workforce to be at their most productive. This combines making sure workers are committed to meeting the goals and values of the company while also gaining an enhanced sense of their own well-being. In terms of employee engagement, the two should go together, as the more motivated an individual is, the more likely they are to produce their best work.

All the greatest employee engagement ideas revolve around a two-way commitment and communication between the company and its workers. Information about what motivates employees and when they’re most productive should be gathered and used to improve the workplace environment and hopefully business productivity. Then company values can be instilled as well to create even better employee engagement.  

Major Causes of Office Distractions

The main threat to employee engagement and business productivity levels are office distractions. No matter what you do, distractions will crop up from time to time. However, some of them can be managed in different ways and it’s important to be aware of what they are to inform any staff productivity measures you implement.  

  • Gossip: One survey found that gossip was the biggest productivity killer for 37% of employers. Colleagues stopping to chat and spread the latest rumours is a massive distraction, so if something needs clearing up then sending round a company wide email to do so may be best.
  • The internet: Most offices are centred around using the internet but with messaging apps, news sites and social media it’s easy for employees to become distracted.
  • Phones: Receiving messages, again checking the internet and even playing games on smartphones can soon add up at work. Putting phones out of sight or turning onto airplane mode can help cut this down.
  • Smoke and snack breaks: These can prevent hunger and itching for a cigarette that causes further distraction, but the time away from desks can soon result in colleagues chatting and work slipping from their minds.
  • Noise: General background noise is a big distraction for some, while others need it to focus. Rearrange your office into quiet and noisy areas if possible or provide headphones to those who want them.
  • Clutter: Messy desks mean it takes longer to find things while providing more things to become distracted by. Enforce a clear desk policy to avoid this.
  • Meetings: Always unavoidable but not always productive, overly long meetings or those that don’t properly conclude can be a distraction. Hold better meetings with clear actions at the end so everyone goes away knowing what to do.

The Best Time for Business Productivity

Essentially, people are different and the times of day we are most productive will vary. For some it will be in the morning, others the afternoon when there’s more pressure on them to get tasks complete. Gathering data on individuals in your workforce can highlight the times when they are most productive and identify any trends. These periods can then be used to hold meetings or assign the most important tasks that require great business productivity.

Try and track what work gets done when for all your employees, or even ask them honestly when they feel most productive. Usually it will be early on or not too long after lunch, when distractions such as hunger, gossip and checking social media have been taken care of hopefully. When there are as few distractions going on as possible employee engagement should be at its highest.

Strategic Ideas for a More Productive Workforce

There are many benefits of employee engagement and a few staff productivity measures you can take to improve the situation. Depending on your industry and workplace, some of the following strategic ideas may be more appropriate than others for increasing staff motivation and productivity:

  • Install online extensions: The likes of DistractOff blocks websites that employees keep visiting and wasting time, while StayFocusd limits the amount of time you can spend on them and Strict Workflow will block them only for a set amount of time.
  • Structure your meetings: Elon Musk, CEO of Telsa, sees meetings as one of the most unproductive uses of his time and will frequently walk out of a bad meeting. Meeting can be very beneficial can help productive as they can help prioritise what needs to be done. To make a meeting successful you should appoint a leader, always have an agenda and set a time limit to avoid meetings overrunning and going off topic.
  • Offer free fruit and snacks: Hunger can be a big distraction, especially if some employees forget their breakfast, so providing free snacks can resolve this problem. Your staff will also see this as an additional benefit, making them more engaged and more productive.
  • Reduce smartphone usage: Banning them isn’t realistically an option, but having a policy where they must be on do not disturb mode when not needed at work or have to be out of sight can cut down on them being as much of a distraction.

By implementing some of these staff productivity measures and cutting down on office distractions, you should be able to increase employee engagement and business productivity.  

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 15/01/19.

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