The Top Distractions at Work & How to Deal with Them

Workplace distractions

Workplace distractions are a big issue for teams. Overtime, these distractions can build up and kill valuable time that could be spent doing meaningful work. So, what are the top distractions at work? According to a poll conducted by Udemy & Toluna, chatty co-workers are the biggest distraction at the work place.

Impact of Distractions

Impact of Distractions

Are distractions really bad? Yes, they are. When you are constantly distracted, blabbering away and not focused, it is hard to do quality work. You take more time in accomplishing simple tasks and end result of the work is often mediocre. It can lead to stress, low self esteem and even inhibit your progress.

Here is the list of the top distractions at work as per the 2018 workplace distraction report.

1. Chatty Coworkers

Chatty Coworkers

80% of the respondents reported chatty co-workers as their biggest distraction. When tasks need focus and attention, silence is golden. Some of these colleagues can be loud, noisy and constantly distracting.

The distractions are more harmful than you think. When someone interrupts you with an unneeded conversation or loud voice, your brain takes time to switch back to the original task. It is not just a minute. Your brain takes more time to get into the flow again, its rhythm gets disturbed.


Find a place where you can work with minimal disturbance. When you are in a quiet place, focused and attentive to what you are doing, you can really excel at your work.

2. Office Noise

Surprisingly, 70% of the workers reported office noise as the second biggest distraction. The office settings with open offices can contribute a lot to the overall noise. Whether it is the constant movement of things, people, music, loud discussions, everything contributes to noise.

A place which is always buzzing with unnecessary noise will be counterproductive in the long run.


Don’t ignore constant noises and loud voices. Take affirmative action, either move to some other place or ensure that you report the matter to authorities who can take corrective measures.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed by Changes at Work

Feeling Overwhelmed by Changes at Work

61% of the workers feel overwhelmed with work. It is not a surprise, given the changing priorities of business, customer demands and pressure to achieve challenging targets. It is important for professionals to embrace change, adapt proactively and always take things in the right spirit.

You can only grow at your workplace by doing quality work and meeting the demands of your supervisors and the organisation.


Proper communication is a must. If you have too much on your plate, communicate with your manager regarding your work, prioritise things and work with mutual understanding. Your job is to understand what is expected of you and what your team or organisation is trying to achieve.

When you go higher up in the hierarchy, you will need to communicate better, resolve conflicts and get things moving.

4. Meetings

60% of the workers reported meetings as a constant distraction at work. The respondents cited meetings as a distraction that doesn’t let them complete their work. Meetings are gatherings where most people are only half present and switched off. They are time consuming and long hours are spent without concrete outcomes.


Track how much time you’re spending on meetings. Only attend meetings where your presence in a must. Organise your meeting time to discuss important issues; make sure you stick to the   agenda and have concrete action items from the meetings.

5. Social Media

Social Media

You knew this was coming. 56% of the professionals feel social media is the biggest distraction at workplace. Most people felt that they don’t social media to do their jobs, but they are often distracted by it. Many of them cannot spend a day without social media. 51% of the people said, that their employers should restrict the use of social media.

The constant notifications, smart phones and other digital distractions can take a toll on employees. Not only it lowers their performance at work, many studies have shown that social media usage can have detrimental health and emotional stress too.


Say no to social media, digital distractions and smart phones when you don’t need them. You don’t need them most of the time. But constantly checking these things can kill your time, productivity and ultimately lower your self esteem too. Use social media to advance your skills, learning and growth, not to kill time.


Distractions can be detrimental to growth; it can prevent people from reaching their full potential and doing quality work. The Udemy study also found that when employees are not performing well, they feel bad about themselves, their careers and jobs.

On the contrary, when people are engaged, focused and productive, they deliver high quality work. They learn by doing things, take challenges as stepping stones to growth and contribute whole heartedly.

When people do great work, they feel happy about themselves and also grow in their profession lives.


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