Why is it getting harder to stay focused and how does it affect productivity?
Did you know that the average office worker gets distracted at work every 3 minutes and takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus on the task?
The average employee is productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes every day. This is only 31% of an 8-hour working day. This number equates to hours of lost productivity in a five-day work week. This is according to the results of a 2022 study on employee productivity in California. These results are based on employees productivity study performed in California at 2022.
Human attention span is equivalent to a goldfish?
These days, it’s very likely that you’ve noticed, both in your life and in other people, that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay focused. You may have heard about the goldfish attention span myth published in 2015, which claims that these days average human attention span is like a goldfish. According to this myth, the average human attention span today is only 8.25 seconds, which is 4.25 seconds less than in 2000. Can you believe that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish that can focus on a task or object for 9 seconds? However, we can’t forget that this is the myth, because there really isn’t a single piece of evidence to prove that a goldfish or any other fish has such a short memory, especially a human.
In today’s world full of endless information, it is difficult to know which sources of information to trust. Given the massive amount of information and misinformation in the media, society is learning to choose information more carefully and look more critically. However, there are still such cases when a person absorbs information that is not based on facts as if it were true and does not bother to check if it is really true.
What is the real situation with human attention span?
More recent studies show that frequently being “glued” to screens has reduced a person’s attention span to about 47 seconds. Almost 20 years ago, people could focus on an average of about 2.5 minutes when working online or doing anything involving screens before moving on to another screen. In 2012, this period decreased to 75 seconds. And in 2021 it was reduced to 47 seconds.
These days, technology advances and the pace of life is accelerating. It inevitably affects aspects of human life and society. There is a feeling that everything is happening more and faster in the world. More and more engaging content is being created in the media, which is constantly evolving to capture human attention as much as possible.
There is an increasing number of certain content creators who use social networks to maximize profits and the ability to manipulate people’s attitudes, emotions, behavior and spread misinformation. In order to involve a person in the content as much as possible, it is created as attractive as possible so that the human brain releases a flood of dopamine, which makes a person feel good and to want more of it. So, it is not surprising that the majority of people easily give in to distractions and thus harm their productivity.
Distractions aren't just bad for productivity
Frequent distractions and lack of concentration reduce productivity, but it also can increase anxiety and stress, which further contribute to reduced productivity. Low productivity determines the quality of the work performed, sometimes as a result more mistakes are made, goals are not achieved, which can further worsen a person’s psychological health.
Scrolling reduces attention span
The information age has changed the general focus of attention. A study by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark shows that the collective global attention is declining due to such a large amount of information presented to the public. It also states that people now have more things to focus on but tend to focus on things only for short periods of time. Therefore, it is not surprising that social media posts are short.
Since visual material attracts the attention of people the most, it is obvious that the video format dominates the media. Every scroll between posts on social media shortens a person’s attention span. The longer a person scrolls, the harder it is to return to work.
What helps to be less distracted?
- In order to maintain attention longer and thus increase your productivity at work, you should take short breaks.
- It is recommended to take a break of at least 10 minutes per hour. A simple, short walk helps you relax and get things done more efficiently later.
- Know your body. Find the time slot when you feel most productive and use it for the most difficult task at hand. Plan your tasks from most important to least important.
- If you can, break the task into smaller parts and do only one part at a time.
What kind of workplace environment increases employee’s productivity?
The environment around us constantly influences the way we live, the decision-making process and the way we interact with the world around us. Therefore, the workplace environment also significantly affects employees, so it is very important to improve it. A pleasant and positive working environment promotes employee motivation and productivity. If the work atmosphere is not pleasant and positive, employees can feel unhappy and burdened by problems, in which case their motivation and engagement decrease and thus they are more prone to distraction, which leads to a decrease in attention and productivity.
It is also worth mentioning that simple factors such as the right room temperature, pleasant lighting, low noise, and spacious rooms also contribute to a better working environment.
Taking into account the influence of the working environment on the productivity of employees, the “Tomegris” company tries to create and maintain a cozy and comfortable environment. The premises of the company even have two recreation areas: a game zone and a coffee room. In the gaming zone, employees have the opportunity to use the game console, express their emotions out loud, and engage in other fun activities. In the coffee room, employees can enjoy a quiet environment with a cup of hot drink. There is also a separate kitchen in the company’s premises, where employees can comfortably have lunch. Of course, for the convenience of employees, there is a large and free parking area near the office, which can accommodate all employees’ cars. Finally, with the approval of all employees, the office became pet-friendly.
In order to make sure of the adaptability of the work environment to the employees, during the company’s internal research, it was found that as many as 98% of the employees are satisfied with their work environment. And the level of productivity is really obvious, we can enjoy great achievements and professional work.