Focus: Mitigating Distractions in an Open Office

Focus: Mitigating Distractions in an Open Office

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Checking your phone, switching tabs on your browser, eavesdropping in on a workmate’s conversation from four desks away – these are the usual things employees do in the office when they are meant to be working.

Distractions are a common occurrence in the office, and they are lowering employee productivity. According to a study of the University of California Irvine, it takes 25 minutes for a person to refocus on a task after a slight distraction. If an employee is side-tracked by more than one distraction during the day, this leads to backlogs and delays, affecting business operations. Workers also have to compensate for lost time, increasing stress and frustration.

What Causes Distractions?

In a work environment where walls and cubicles are stripped down, the need to encourage communication and collaboration comes with a new set of challenges: noise and disturbance.

A 2019 study by communications company Poly surveyed around 5,000 employees around the world asked what causes their inability to focus at work. They discovered that 76 per cent of respondents said that their biggest distraction is a co-worker talking loudly on the phone, while 65 per cent are distracted by a colleague talking nearby.

Although the debate about the effectiveness of an open office design continues, over half of Gen Z and millennial employees said they want to work in open areas despite the associated distractions. The same study by Poly revealed that Gen X and Baby Boomers prefer quieter spaces.

Managing Distractions in an Open Office

Despite the distractions surrounding an open office, there are ways to design a workplace to encourage focus for employees under all generations. Consider the following tips:

  • Acoustic Zoning. Add design elements that help absorb ambient sounds, such as rugs and tapestry. Designate “quiet” spaces where phone calls and conversations are not allowed.
  • Elimination of Peripheral Distractions. Position workstations away from hallways or windows. You can also add partitions, or large potted or hanging plants next to the workstation closest to areas of constant movement.
  • Separate Activity Areas. Separate areas for collaboration and meetings from workstations where quiet and focus is required.
  • Add Private Spaces. Add workstations with booths for employees who want to work with uninterrupted focus. If your budget is limited, allow workers to use meeting rooms to finish a task or make a lengthy phone call.

Open office designs are popular, as they increase collaboration, communication and creativity. However, the challenge is minimising the distractions that come with the lack of partitions. Optimising the workplace environment for focus ensures that everyone in the office finishes their task on or before their deadlines.

Distraction-Free Workplaces with the Help of Zircon Interiors

distraction free office

Zircon Interior takes pride in helping businesses achieve productivity through office design. We are office-environment experts, and we have provided workstation desks, storage and other furniture to companies in Sydney and Melbourne.

Our team is composed of interior design consultants and office layout planners who provide comprehensive fit out management services. We advise our clients from the earliest stages of the project and assist them in their decision-making process. The result is a modern workplace that is cost-efficient and promotes collaboration among employees.

Achieve an office design that suits your business needs. Call us on 1300 947 266.