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Put the kettle on: Main distractions from work revealed

Those aged 25 to 24 years old say games are a particular distraction from working at home.

Working from home: Geisha 'Chacha' is performing on Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic - Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images
Working from home: Geisha 'Chacha' is performing on Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic - Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

With the expansion of remote working, one of the main determinants of productivity is the nature of distraction. While those at work are subject to the occasional distraction, such as someone asking a question, the level of distraction is potentially far greater for those who engage in remote, home or hybrid work.

Distraction is different from taking time out, having scheduled breaks, destressing and so on. Distraction refers to a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else, often a task they should be doing.

As well as disrupting focus, distraction blocks or diminishes the reception of desired information. The worst effects are when distraction becomes a habit (driven more by internal desires than external stimuli), and starts to adversely affect work and impact upon relationships.

There are a range of issues that can be classified as distractions. A new survey from the company Solitaired uses the views of workers to categorise their own distractive elements. Coming in top place, and rated by 25 percent of those surveyed, is meetings.

By meetings this is something broad, including chatty coworkers or excessive meetings. These are events triggered by Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans or a similar type of platform.

Games of various formats appear in the #2 spot, serving as one of the biggest sources of distraction (or timewasting). This could be console-driven video games or the appeal of the recent Wordle craze.

With games, whether these are played on a smartphone or other device, these are most popular as an acknowledged form of distraction with those aged 25-34. This demographic said games were a particular distraction at work.

There is also a gender divide, with more men are distracted by games than women. This division was common across all age ranges.

The main distractions identified were:

  1. Meetings, at 25 percent.
  2. Playing games, at 23 percent.
  3. Checking a smartphone, at 21 percent.
  4. General disorganisation, mentioned by 20 percent.
  5. Distractions from children or pet animals, raised by 17 percent.
  6. Making repeated ‘to do’ lists, admitted to by 15 percent.

Many of these examples show how new forms of technology are becoming more pervasive and persuasive.

For some in this self-reported questionnaire, nothing distracts them (although this is a very small minority of workers at 2 percent).

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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