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Is Technology Killing Office Productivity?

The same gizmos that ramp up work productivity are enabling a slew of distractions that get in the way – and I don’t mean desktop Solitaire. Teresa Meek writing for Forbes cites a CareerBuilder study that finds that at least 24 percent of workers spend an hour or more of work time emailing, taking personal calls, or texting.

Office Birds and Dating Sites

Some of the colorful examples of workplace no-no’s uncovered by the study include an employee caring for a pet bird she smuggled into the office,  an employee who printed out an entire book from a website, and a married employee who denied looking at a dating site even as it remained on his screen.

But even if these workplace wanderings are widespread, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unwarranted or a hit to productivity. Personal productivity expert Peggy Duncan suggests that a distraction be measured in proportion to its disruption of quality and timeliness.

Strategies of the Unruly

Sometimes it’s less a matter of inadequate workload or lack of motivation, but rather boredom from lack of engagement, lack of stimulation. Additionally, technology allows play and family life to invade work time. Meek offers a list of helpful strategies to combat technology’s unwanted effects:

  • Shut down computer and phone notifications.
  • Finish important tasks before responding to messages.</li>
  • Allocate time for non-work related tech tasks.
  • Be selective about who receives emails.
  • Meet to discuss solutions to tech distractions.

If we are too eager as managers to crush every electronic interruption, there will be consequences. For instance, blocking an X-Rated site that was accessed is an example of ‘managing by exception,’ a practice that will surely waste more time than it saves. Duncan advises management to have some tolerance of these devious diversions, so long as they do not impinge on productivity.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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