The most common workplace distractions and how to prevent them

Maintaining focus while on the job ensures you do quality work, but any group setting is sure to present distractions. CareerBuilder conducted a survey to discern what distractions afflicted office workers and found there are many. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce distraction and promote focus by implementing a smart office design layout. With that in mind, here are the most common distractions the survey unveiled and how you can combat them:

Noisy co-workers

Overhearing co-workers talking (whether with each other or clients) distracts people from their jobs. In fact, 24 percent of survey participants listed noisy co-workers as a common distraction. Aside from asking staff to be mindful of their surroundings, you can plan your office design layout to reduce such sound distractions.

This is where open offices are at a disadvantage. They're designed to promote socialization, and so don't have many walls or dividers. As such, co-workers share a room, and only have a desk space to call their own. Because of this format, employees can clearly hear their neighbors.

Redesigning your office into a more closed format can help decrease distraction. Also, including objects that absorb sound rather than reflect it may reduce noise. Soft surfaces are better at absorbing sound than hard ones, so carpeting floors and using partitions with soft walls are good options.

Furthermore, you can include quiet rooms in the design of a more open-office layout. These are small offices that anyone can use that block sound and create a distraction-free work zone. Additionally, take into account what everyone does at your company when you design the office layout. People in roles that require a lot of phone calls can be put together in the same area while those who have more independent quiet work should be grouped together.

office designs, office distractionsThe way your office is laid out may help prevent distraction.

Co-workers dropping by

Twenty-three percent of office workers said that visits from co-workers were distracting. Open-office layouts also make this behavior more prevalent than traditional layouts do, as individuals are more likely to spot a co-worker on the way to their own desks.

Ironically, a good way to solve this issue is to create social areas in your office. Break rooms, social kitchen spaces, etc., all give employees a place where they can go to chat with others if they so desire. The benefit here is that employees have control over when they want to get out of their seats and socialize instead of being bombarded when trying to concentrate. 

Planned social spaces have an added benefit: They encourage spontaneous collaboration. Employees who go in a break room to enjoy a social lunch may end up staying and talking business. 

Calls on speakerphone

Only 10 percent of office workers said they were regularly distracted by people putting calls on speakerphone, but no one should have to listen to their neighbor's conversation. Providing ample conference rooms outfitted with phones, or desk phones complete with headsets should help employees avoid using speakers at their desks.

Additionally, make it a policy that employees have to keep calls on normal settings when not in a conference room to help reduce noise distractions in the office.

"Social media, texting, emails and meetings are common workplace distractions."

Other distractions

In addition to noise-related distractions that you can reduce by altering your office layout, workers cited social media, texting, emails and meetings among the most prevalent distractions when at work. You may not be able to use space planning to mitigate these issues, but you can encourage employees to put their cellphones away and schedule times to check work email.

For help designing an office space that reduces distractions, check out Office Designs's space-planning services.

Tips & Advice
Ask a Product Specialist: Randy Lowe
The Best Laptop Desk
Space Planning
Pros and cons of the cubicle setup