Office Space » The Cost of Distraction (And How Shared Office Centers Can Help)

The Cost of Distraction (And How Shared Office Centers Can Help)

Distractions in the workplace cost companies hundreds of billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. In fact, chances are that by the time you finish reading this blog post, you will have answered a call, checked your inbox and/or sent at least one text message. While some people consider this “multitasking,” it’s actually doing more harm than good by shortening your attention span and making it extremely difficult to focus for even brief periods of time, according to a recent Inc. article.

Rooted in Science

While the long-term effects of workplace distractions may seem like they’d be difficult to measure, they’re actually grounded in science. People who constantly try to save time by doing two (or more) things simultaneously unknowingly program their brains to produce less noradrenaline, a chemical that helps a person concentrate on the task at hand, according to the Inc. article. Less noradrenaline translates to lower productivity in the workplace, which can be costly for small, startup businesses with limited budgets. Fortunately for them, this physiological process can be reversed by (re)learning how to focus and taking steps to avoid distractions altogether. These can include everything from turning off your phone to designating certain times of the day to check email and social media accounts. There are even formal classes offered on the subject.

The challenge is getting people to recognize their inability to multitask effectively, according to David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah who was recently the subject of a New Yorker profile.  Strayer found that just 2 percent of people are so-called “supertaskers” whose performance does not deteriorate, and may even improve, when trying to do multiple tasks at the same time. But as he told the New Yorker, people who think they’re part of this small subset almost always overrate their multitasking abilities. In fact, he found an inverse relationship between the two—the better they thought they were, the worse they performed on a multitasking test. (You can take an online version of it here.)

What You Can Do

In addition to costing companies money, workplace distractions make it difficult for small business owners to stay ahead of the competition. Experts agree that studying the successes and failures of other businesses, learning from your own employees and developing a long-term business strategy are all crucial to the success of small businesses and can only be done with a certain level of mental discipline, according to the Inc. article. If you’re unable to focus, it’s understandably difficult to come up with innovative ideas or solutions to existing problems.

Modifying certain behaviors is a good place to start, but taking a close look at your professional environment is also important, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Consider how your office affects the way you work. Are you constantly interrupted by unwanted calls or visitors? Do you find yourself struggling to drown out noise from those around you? If so, a shared office center may be the long-term solution for you. At Amata Office Centers, we offer support staff to answer calls and assist with other administrative functions of your business, as well as a variety of workspaces to choose from, including private offices that allow you block out noise and other distractions.

If you’re looking for shared office space in Chicago, visit our website to learn more about the real and virtual office services offered at each Amata location. You can also schedule a tour of our new Chicago office center at 150 S. Wacker Drive and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Until next time,

Ron Bockstahler
CEO and Co-founder