YOUR boss wants to blame Facebook but the biggest distraction for a modern worker is internal email.
Results of a recent study by American academics and published in The Wall Street Journal found the average office worker gets distracted, or “self-distracts”, every three minutes. And once thrown off track it took them about 23 minutes to recover.
But here’s the intriguing bit. Researchers found that while “undemanding” distractions like news sites, blogs and social media could boost creativity; the daily slog of emails between colleagues was damaging focus and wasting work time.
The discovery has inspired a couple of major changes in the way some companies structure their working day. At Abbott Vascular, a health care company in the US, email was banned for short communication. Employers were encouraged to use the telephone for short messages or information and told to keep emails for the long-term projects.
Intel, on the other hand, decided to keep email in favour of blocking out chunks of hours each week for employees to focus on long-term projects and planning. During these hallowed hours, employees were spared from meetings and did not have to respond to incoming email.
According to Linda April, an American-based manager in the Intel group, since the plan was implemented at least one employee has developed a patent application in those hours.
But Atsos gets the award for having spent 2012 completely email free. Well at least, between colleagues. The Paris-based IT company banned its 74, 000 employees from using email other than in correspondence with clients.
CEO Thierry Breton told The Wall Street Journal he compares his company’s efforts to reduce digital clutter to “measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution”.