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Employees Struggle to Successfully Maneuver Around Workplace Distractions

New Survey Reveals Layers of Workplace Distractions that Impact Employees and Businesses.


Christine Hall


RALEIGH, N.C., September 30, 2010 Every minute of every work day employees are bombarded with distractions they must work with or around to get things done. Whether it’s the meeting that runs 30 minutes over, the Blackberry that won’t stop buzzing, office gossip about the newest employees or even family matters, there are a myriad of conflicting matters vying for employees’ attention.


According to a recent survey by Workplace Options, 42 percent of workers are extending their workdays by coming in early or staying late in order to avoid distractions. But what happens to those who contribute to the constant interruptions? According to the survey, nearly one in four employees (22 percent) are aware of someone in their workplace who has been fired for wasting time in the office, disrupting other employees or partaking in other distractions.


It is estimated that American businesses lose around $650 billion a year through workplace distractions, according to Jonathan Spira, chief analyst of consulting firm Basex, who authored a report called "The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity." And according to the Workplace Options survey, it’s evident why: more than half of those polled (53 percent) report that distractions in the workplace impact their productivity.


Results from the Workplace Options survey reveal employees are most distracted by some of the following activities in the workplace:

  • Personnel (office romances, water cooler gossip, etc.): 24%
  • Technology (emails, phone calls, social media, internet glitches): 23%
  • Meetings /Luncheons: 12%
  • Surroundings (loud coworkers, music or television noise, lack of privacy): 6%
  • Celebrations (birthdays, baby showers, sports): 4%


"It’s expected that employees will be inundated with plenty of distractions throughout the workday,"said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer at Workplace Options. "The important thing to remember is for employees to find a way to balance their work day and find ways to focus. For example, if employees have assistance in taking care of their personal issues and family matters, they can concentrate on work related activities while in the office.":

Other noteworthy findings from this survey include:

  • 58 percent of employees feel that having a handheld device increases their productivity.
  • Yet, 35 percent of employees report their handheld device increases distractions during their workday.
  • And 50 percent of those who own handheld devices claim they are an increased distraction in their personal life.
  • 55 percent of employees feel having access to social media at the office is either "somewhat" or a "significant" distraction.

For those who find it more difficult to balance personal issues, technology, and their office surroundings, 33 percent of workers believe it would help their productivity if employers provided work-life benefits aimed at alleviating stress caused by such distractions.


Workplace Options offers a wide range of benefits that can help employees maintain a better work-life balance while staying focused on their work. These support services include benefits such as financial and legal consultation; wellness and daily living resources; and dependent care solutions. To learn more about these services or trends in work-life issues, visit


The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, August 6-9, 2010. The survey polled 606 working Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percent. Full survey results can be viewed at


Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world's largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider, serving more than 22 million employees in 16,000 organizations, across 153 countries. To learn more, visit



About Workplace Options

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and well-being services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs.


Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider. Service centers in Raleigh, N.C., London, Toronto, Dublin, Singapore, Panama, and Tokyo support more than 46 million employees in over 34,000 organizations, across more than 200 countries and territories. To learn more, visit


© 2014 Workplace Options, Inc. All rights reserved.