Skip to main content

The Old-fashioned Distractions Still Rule At Work

What is your biggest workplace distraction? Oh, come on now; you know you have one! Let's meet by the water cooler to discuss.

A new BambooHR survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based employees reveals that our workplace distractions, like our politics, remain largely local. While it's tempting to think that the internet would top our list of preferred workplace interruptions, it doesn't take up nearly as much mental bandwidth as standing by the water cooler, taking another bathroom break and engaging in office gossip with our workplace besties.

Upper-level managers are the most likely to kick their workplace distractions old school, too. From the BambooHR press release:

More upper management employees (10 percent) spend 30 minutes or more each workday taking trips to the water cooler or break room than lower management employees.

More upper management employees (7 percent) spend 30 minutes or more each workday taking bathroom breaks than lower management employees.

More upper management employees (6 percent) spend 30 minutes or more each workday watching TV than lower management employees.

Wait a minute. Upper management gets to watch television? I guess this is what we call visionary thinking.

It makes sense that our biggest workplace distractions are still physical in nature, since so much of our work is virtual in a knowledge economy. Moving around, speaking face-to-face with co-workers and overheating something in the break room microwave are physical actions that engage our brains in a different way.

Another interesting finding: Nearly 20% of employees surveyed said that workplace distractions actually help their overall performance at work! Distractions aren't all bad; just ask any writer who is trying to write a novel at a coffee shop. Four hours and one cup of coffee later, the output can sometimes be amazing, thanks in large part to all the background noise.

We keep hearing about the negatives of today's open office environments, but maybe it's time to focus on the positives for a change. How do all the distractions we can't help but see and hear help us get more work done? Hmm. I'll let you ponder this question as you watch your boss gossip by the water cooler.


Popular posts from this blog

Seven Tips For Dealing With A Jealous Co-worker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…

How To Handle Farting At Work

Nancy Grace farted on national television. Or was it a tummy grumble? Either way, viewers heard it and now it's gone viral.

Which brings up an interesting question: How should you handle embarrassing bodily malfunctions at work?

We all fart, we all get stomach gurgles, we all burp and hiccup, and usually at the worst possible moments. Maybe you "sneezefarted," meaning you sneezed so hard you let one rip at the same time. So awkward and embarrassing. Whatever happens, it's how we handle these situations that counts. The first and trickiest step is whether or not to acknowledge the obvious. Rule of thumb: the more obvious the bodily malfunction, the more you should just own it. If you fart in a staff meeting and everyone heard it, point the finger at yourself (or have someone pull it) and have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Maybe you shouldn't have had those Cajun rice and beans. Yes, feel free to reference lines from the Russian Unicorn if you must. Throw i…