Office interruptions are the bane of any company’s hopes for tip-top productivity and can often leave traces of unwanted negativity throughout the office.
Now there’s often a bit of a misconception about interruptions in the workplace. It isn’t always to do with someone stopping you in mid-flow and asking you for your opinion on their hair colour (although that does count too). Interruptions can be wide and far-reaching, from a phone call that wasn’t needed, replying to an email, being stopped in the corridor, letting that break run on for an extra five minutes – all these and a whole lot more can be placed on the growing pile of office interruptions.
Time is of the essence
With being distracted and set off course a constant menace in the workplace, you may think that working longer hours or having shorter breaks might be the answer. No, no and triple no! The answer is to stop those spontaneous interruptions that eat away at the clock throughout the days, weeks and years.
It’s like those posters in schools: “If you are late for lessons 10 minutes every day, then you have the equivalent of 15 days off throughout the school year.” In the office, having that extra few minutes natter at the photocopier could certainly add up to a figure of ‘time off’ the boss wouldn’t be so impressed with. The numbers really do rack up quite alarmingly. Just 20 avoidable, 3 minute interruptions per day would equate to losing 5 hours in working time per week.
Searching for Solutions
So, we’ve accepted that interruptions exist, that they are annoying, disrupt the natural flow and rhythm of the working day and can give productivity a serious bashing. That’s all well and good, but how can we expect to combat it? Working longer and breaking less isn’t exactly going to boost morale or inspire an ‘I, Spartacus’ like response.
The answer lay in organisation and recognised office standards being put in place. There need to be certain friendly signals put in place whereby staff know not to bother you. It could be a sign on the desk like an object that everyone is aware of. There are hundreds of ideas, but the key is that everyone needs to understand this sign.
Obliterate office distractions!
Meetings should be introduced to discuss how interruptions can be damaging. This isn’t to say that nobody is allowed to interact, but if someone really cannot be distracted, then the well-known signal should make an appearance. That way, there is no awkwardness for the ‘distractee’ and no ill feeling from the ‘distractor’.
Sometimes, a signal may not be enough to work across the entire office arena, so work on solving what can be allowed for as interruptions. Setting these up may take a bit of imagination, but you could colour code them, for example, in order of importance. A code red issue may mean that it is of the utmost urgency and that the interruption simply has to take place. Code amber might only warrant a very brief response, rather than a full blown conversation. There can be further codes, but perhaps keep it to less than four. Having it scaled like this promotes the thought process within staff that ‘is this interruption really necessary?’ Just sowing this seed will begin to see distractions reduce.
‘Down time’ a blessing for productivity
There are other options too. Install times of the day for each member of staff, whereby no-one can interrupt them. This means that that worker can enjoy complete peace and serenity for, say, an hour. Not only does this focus the mind of the ‘down time’ worker, but will also give productivity a sharp kick up the backside.
Number one on the list of avoiding office distractions is to stay under control. Be open and honest with people, rather than letting them in and losing valuable time. Don’t veer off track or if someone else is, then try and get things back on track as quickly as possible.
Do it for the business
You’ll soon know that certain people talk a lot more than others and these are the chief distractors. Therefore, control how you approach your conversation with them. Don’t ask open questions too much, or generic everyday comments about the inclement weather. This will just open up a can of worms that you will struggle to get out of. Think of body language and other non-verbal signals, as well as stock closing statements you can make to finish a conversation.
Finally, micro-manage interruptions. If it is unavoidable, then limit it as much as you can and perhaps try and work that 10 minutes back later. Be more aware of every pit stop you make through the day. This awareness feeds back into the greater mindset of the business and should make a very positive difference in the long term. Banish those distractions forever more and hire yourself a professional and quiet managed office at Send Business Centre today. Call them now on 01483 225617.