Social Media, Personal Technology Killing Productivity, Study Finds

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Social Media, Personal Technology Killing Productivity, Study Finds

A clear majority of employees are distracted on the job—and, perhaps not surprisingly, their use of technology contributes greatly to the situation, according to a recent survey from Udemy. The resulting "2018 Workplace Distraction Report" reveals that both personal and business-related tech tools get in the way of work. However, for younger and middle-generation professionals, personal tech creates the biggest issues. Among social media outlets, Facebook dominates as an online distractor (followed by Instagram)—but more so for Baby Boomers than Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z. More than 1,000 U.S. office employees took part in the research, which was conducted by Toluna Group. This slide show presents highlights from the survey, with charts provided courtesy of Udemy.

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Office Distraction Levels Run High

Nearly seven of 10 employees said they are distracted at work. The same portion believes training can help block out these distractions.

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Interruptions Impact Performance

When asked about the negative impact of workplace distractions, 54 percent of survey respondents said they aren't performing as well as they should. One-half said they are "significantly" less productive.

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Younger Staffers Feel Personal Tech Gets in the Way of Work

What's more distracting on the job—the use of tech for personal activities or the use of work-related tools? Nearly four of five Millennial/Gen Z employees and 57 percent of Gen Xers sided with the use of tech for personal activities. But only 43 percent of Baby Boomers did.

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Too Much 'Face' Time?

Not surprisingly, Facebook dominates as an online distractor, as cited by 65 percent of survey respondents. Instagram follows as a distant No. 2, as cited by 9 percent.

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Older Workers More Likely to Get Hooked on Facebook

Among generations, Baby Boomers are most likely to get distracted by Facebook, as cited by 71 percent of these workers. Only 58 percent of Millennial/Gen Z employees said Facebook is a top distraction.

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Employees Disconnect to Regain Focus

To cope with distractions, 43 percent of workers turn off their phones during business hours. One-third engage with music, meditation or other relaxation techniques.

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Tech Snafus Contribute to Bumpy Meetings

One-third of respondents indicated that technology and connectivity problems disrupt meetings. However, this appears to be of secondary concern compared with interruptions caused by "small talk" and gossip (as cited by 54 percent of respondents), side discussions about other projects (45 percent) and late arrivals/early departures (37 percent).

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Flex Schedules and Remote Options Could Help

Two of five respondents said the establishment of flex schedules and remote options would reduce distractions. Nearly the same number would like to see designated spaces for "quiet" work.

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Professional Growth Leads to Improved Engagement

A more engaged employee, of course, may be better positioned to overcome distractions, and 54 percent of respondents said "trying new things, expanding my role" would increase their engagement. Just over two of five said "being empowered to learn new skills whenever I need to" would boost engagement.

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Employees Seek to Increase Productivity

When asked to list the top benefits of reducing distractions, 75 percent of workers said, "I get more done and I’m more productive." Being motivated to "do my best" ranked second overall, as cited by 57 percent of survey respondents.

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