Workplace: When your colleagues’ incessant chatter hampers your productivity


By AGENCY

Talkative colleagues are the top workplace distraction, a survey reports. Photo: AFP

Whether in the office or at home, many employees find it hard not to fall prey to the many distractions of their surroundings. Workers’ brains are constantly confronted with all manner of potential distractions, some of which can be material, while others have more to do with the working environment itself.

Retail company Currys surveyed some 1,000 desk working adults in Britain to find out which behaviours are most likely to distract – and annoy – them when they’re working. It turns out that 23% of respondents complain about sharing the workspace with over-talkative neighbours. Their incessant chatter wins the gold medal as the most productivity-destroying nuisance, ahead of Internet connection problems (22%). Smartphones are also a source of distraction for 21% of those surveyed.

Generally speaking, it’s interesting to note that office workers find themselves over-solicited. They feel that all the emails, calls and notifications they receive during the working day are a major hindrance to their productivity. Juggling phone calls, mailboxes and chats is not as easy as it sounds.

Multitasking is cognitively demanding, especially if you struggle to prioritise. This contributes to fragmenting employees’ attention and prevents them from concentrating on their core activities. At the end of the day, they may feel as though they’ve achieved nothing of substance, which can lead them to question the meaning of their work.

Fortunately, there are strategies for escaping the distractions inherent in corporate life. You can regain control over your working time by deactivating notifications, or by specifying on your work email or messaging system that you are not to be disturbed during certain time slots. It’s also a good idea to plan your working day in advance, as the Ivy Lee method suggests. This will help you to prioritise your tasks and missions so as not to end up overwhelmed.

As for those office colleagues who are a little too noisy, you can always try to create your own silent bubble by wearing noise-cancelling headphones. But this auditory barrier doesn’t always allow you to become an imperturbable productivity machine. Above all, it’s likely to make you look like a killjoy in the eyes of your office mates. So arm yourself with patience and take your breaks in a quiet place. This will allow you to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while, and be more efficient in the long run. – AFP Relaxnews

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