3 Most Popular Workplace Distractions (and how to deal with them)

Workplace Distractions
Sep 02 2020 3 min read

Do you find yourself noticeably more or less efficient while working in an office compared to working from home?

Some people need the structure that an office provides to properly get down to business, while others may find an office environment to be more distracting than it’s worth.

According to a 2018 Udemy Survey, nearly 3 out of 4 (70%) people admit feeling distracted at work. If you consider yourself a member of that group, we’d like to try and help.

The truth is we all face distractions during the workday, including reading articles like this (sorry about that). An office can sometimes come with its own unique set of distractions that if we’re not careful can eat away at our productivity leading to missed deadlines, an expanding to-do list, and extra stress.

Let’s identify 3 of the most common distractions you may face at work and talk a little about how we can reduce or eliminate them (without turning into the secluded phantom of the office).

Interested in decreasing distracted living at home? Click here.

Chatty Cathy’s

Of those surveyed, 80% said that talkative co-workers were the top reason they felt distracted at work. While socialization is important and can be a helpful part of the work environment in terms of idea sharing, it can also add up to significant negative effects if not kept in check.

How to deal with talkative co-workers?

The best approach is direct honesty. Politely and carefully let them know you need to focus on your work and if your chatty co-worker is discussing something work-related suggest scheduling a meeting. Not great with direct honesty? I hear you. For a more subtle approach try wearing headphones and looking busy (without overdoing it). If all else fails speak to a supervisor about enacting or enforcing a company policy to curve workplace distractions like chit chat.

 Smart Phones

Not surprisingly the growing prevalence of smartphones has correlated with an increase in technology-related workplace distractions. Do you usually work with your phone face-up on your desk? Then you’d likely be one of the 54% who said their smartphone is a top distraction during a CareerBuilder.com report.

How to reduce smartphone distractions?

Unplug. If your phone is not essential to your task or daily duties, put it away and silence it. Take it out on breaks to catch up on personal texts and news but otherwise, it should be kept out of sight. For some, there’s nothing more distracting than that buzz and glow in the corner of your eye while you’re in the middle of something important.


Ah yes, what was once used as intended for a brief time (infrequent electronic mail) quickly morphed into instant messaging for some people. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of constantly checking emails throughout the day and getting absorbed into the conversations or tasks they bring. Those of us who are compelled to read and react to every new email that comes in can often find ourselves behind later in the day when our to-do list remains incomplete.

How to deal with emails slowing down your day?

If you can, avoid checking email first thing in the morning. This can be a difficult habit to break (perhaps impossible for some depending on the nature of their job) but it can be a day saver. Instead of checking your email and dealing with a dozen small things (which can quickly turn into new big things), tackle one big item on your list first thing before anything else. You’ll feel so much better having knocked off an important task, especially if it’s one you weren’t looking forward to, which will make you feel more motivated and relaxed for the rest of the day.


According to an IC Irvine Study, when workplace distractions are reduced through training and policies, 75% of employees are more productive. If your company hasn’t created and implemented a workplace distraction policy yet, doing so has the potential to save money, jobs or even the business.


When people deal with distractions they try to offset the delays by working faster which leads to more mistakes. In a work environment like an office, this usually means accidentally hitting reply all or forgetting to send an order for shipment. However, if the work involves manual labour and physical equipment, the efforts to offset distractions by working faster can lead to injury or even death.

Whether you’re distracted by office noise, parties/desserts (we didn’t say all distractions were bad) or any of the above, it’s important for you personally and for the company to recognize them and keep them to a minimum.

Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.

Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.

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