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Unproductive working days cost UK businesses £250 million every year

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Desk distractions: UK workers unproductive for 70 days a year because of office distractions. Co-worker commotion: Loud talkers, tea rounds and office gossips the biggest distractions. Mass attention-deficit: Brits can only work for 22 minutes uninterrupted.

New research from Samsung Electronics UK reveals businesses are losing £250 million a year as employees are distracted by heavy email traffic, loud talkers and office gossips. The Ahead of the Curve Report, commissioned by Samsung and in partnership with the University of Leeds, found workers are unproductive for 70 days of the year, with respondents admitting they only feel like they’ve actually achieved something on an average of 3.6 days a week. Almost a quarter (22 percent) claim they interrupt their workflow every 22 minutes to check their emails and over a third of workers (38 percent) admitting they check at least every 15 minutes.

According to the research, the top seven office distractions are:

 Loud talkers – 57 percent

The phone ringing – 39 percent

Unnecessary meetings – 26 percent

Constant stream of emails – 22 percent

Making tea rounds – 18 percent

Office gossips – 16 percent

People typing loudly – 12 percent

Multi-screening masses

The report also uncovers the extent to which technology is transforming the workplace and working habits. The average worker now uses two or three different devices at work, with 10 percent of respondents admitting they as many as five or six, this reveals just how much today’s workers rely on having multiple screens to communicate and view information. Likewise, over a quarter (28 percent) of workers now have two screens attached to their desktop, and 38 percent have more than two screens attached to their PC.  Interestingly, over half (54 percent) of respondents say good-looking technology is important yet 38 percent are dissatisfied with the technology they have in the office.  

Domestic distractions

When it comes to working from home, 22 percent of people who spend some of their time working in a company office find working from the comfort of their sofa makes them more productive. Nearly a third of people who regularly/always work from home (32 percent) have a dedicated workspace and 21 percent even get ‘dressed’ for a day at work. Despite this, 86 percent still confess they get side-tracked when working at home, with the main distractions noted as people they live with (36 percent), housework (36 percent), the TV (27 percent), and pets (15 percent).

Graham Long, Vice President of Samsung’s Enterprise Business Team commented: “£250 million is a big loss to the UK economy so it’s important that businesses recognise that having the right mix of technology in the workplace and fully enabling mobile working can positively impact employee productivity and engagement. Today’s workplace is an ‘always on’ environment and as workers, we are more distracted, and more connected, than ever before. The trend for working with more than one desktop display has been growing steadily in the past few years and it’s becoming clear that businesses are increasingly turning to a multi-screen environments to help employees manage their work content more effectively. With this in mind, we are launching Samsung’s Curved Monitors which are not only designed to look beautiful but have a range of features to help maintain productivity. Samsung’s Curved Monitors follow the natural curve of the human eye to deliver a more immersive, seamless and comfortable viewing experience.’’

Stephen Westland is Professor of Colour Science in the School of Design at the University of Leeds commented: “Curved displays offer the potential to eliminate the need for workers to have multiple desktop monitors. This use of very large displays can lead to greater worker efficiency and satisfaction.” The research has formed the basis of a report exploring how a more visually immersive experience can improve productivity, which has been developed by Samsung in partnership with Stephen Westland, Professor of Colour Science, University of Leeds. 

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