What Are The Most Common Workplace Distractions?


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In modern life, there are too many distractions in our daily lives. However, when it comes to work, these small distractions are the main cause of low productivity.

Excessive noise, daily usage of cell phones, and lots more are the main causes of this low productivity in our workplace.


  • Workplace distractions can occur while working from home or in the office.
  • It is important to recognize distractions and self-assess in order to remove or reduce them.
  • Employees and employers must work together to increase productivity.

The most common workplace distractions

There are several types of distractions, however, today many of these distractions in the workplace are related to technology, while others are external agents; here is a list of the main distractions.

Lack of organization

Before starting to work, whether at home or in the office, proper organizing is essential. It is important to have a tidy, clean and optimal space to work in.

Organization is also the employer’s responsibility.


It is not news that noise is a common cause of distractions for many people, so it is crucial to be in a quiet and pleasant place. Noise can be classified in two ways:


Internal noise is the one that can be controlled because it is where we are going to develop professionally. Internal noise can cause conflicts within the work environment, among employees, because it is common that the sources of internal noise are other employees.

Noisy office mates, noisy machines, or loud music are some examples of internal noise.


Noises coming from the outside are the most complicated to handle. For example, a construction site, or city traffic, among many others. However, more rigorous internal control can be made to avoid these external distractions. This type of distraction can lead to generalized distractions among employees.

External noiseInternal noise
Not so easily controlledEasily controlled
Difficult to identify its sourceEasy to identify its source
Can cause mood swings in the employeeCan cause mood swings, but because it is an internal matter it is easier to control it
Agreements can be reached but it is complicatedAgreements can be reached and it is simpler

Excessive coexistence with co-workers

We are sociable beings, and we should have good relationships with coworkers, but sometimes, this co-existence can be a cause of employees’ worse performance. Therefore, a supervisor should regulate these interactions in the workplace. When it comes to “home office” supervision is impossible, however, you can be stricter about work deadlines.

Rules must be established to prevent coworking from being a negative aspect of the job.

Very long meetings

Whether remote or face-to-face, meetings should not be too long unless it is very necessary. Before holding a meeting, the objective should be evaluated. In case a meeting is unavoidable, it should be very fluid and concrete, no longer than 20 minutes. Read more about effective meetings

The image shows the percentages of time used per activity (Source: Jesús Hernández/


Whether it is a notification on your phone, tablet, laptop or any other electronic wireless communication device, it can be the beginning of a longer distraction. Therefore, it should be considered to disable notifications during working hours. But there are some concerns, such as a family emergency, or health issues, that must be taken into account.


Internet is the perfect tool for work, but also for leisure and fun; It can be controlled from an office by restricting some Internet pages, but in a remote working model it is difficult.

In fact, according to a study conducted by companies such as Hootsuite, We are social, and Career Builder, the average time spent on the internet for leisure is 6 hours and 45 minutes.


You need an email to access a lot of platforms and to stay connected. However, people often do not have proper email infrastructure, and their inbox is often cluttered with spam and other unwanted emails. You should have at least two email accounts, a personal one and a professional one. These are explained in detail below:


In the personal e-mail, the main distractions can be caused by e-mails from leisure applications or from friends and family. We recommend you to avoid opening this account during working hours to avoid distractions.


Avoid overloading it and use it only if necessary, as sometimes sending or receiving too many emails can be confusing or time-consuming.

Mobile applications

Unless they are productivity-focused mobile applications, the use of these tools should be limited to our breaks or non-working days. Because as previously mentioned, the average internet usage worldwide is 6 hours and 45 minutes, and this is only taking into account websites or mobile applications for leisure.

Here is an image of the most used mobile applications during working hours.

Some of the most distracting mobile applications are shown (Source: Jesús Hernández/

Social networks

The use of social networks is a complicated aspect, because we must remember that they are designed for people to surf for hours on them. Their use should be avoided at all costs, because, unless you have a position of a community manager, it will hardly be a necessity to use them.


Finally, the mobile phone is a piece of technology accessible to many people which gives us access to millions of applications and above all to the Internet. But according to a study carried out by Career Builder, the following examples are the ones that people use the most in their jobs.

Instant messaging

65% of the phone time is used in applications, such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Messenger, etc. Any application of this type can distract people for several hours. Although sometimes, the main problem is not that people spend all their time on the phone. The mixture of answering messages and being attentive to notifications, also makes people lose concentration easily.
See the best Business Instant Messaging Software


It has been shown that, on average, up to 44% of the time people spend on their cell phones is spent reading the news on the Internet. Sometimes, this distraction can be complicated if people also search for news on streaming platforms, which can make this time even longer.

Mobile games

Mobile gaming uses 22% of people’s time. However, nowadays, there are various games that are more enjoyable in multiplayer mode, and even worse without the need to be next to another person. So, even in a remote job, a mobile game can distract more than one person at a time.

Percentages of time spent in different mobile applications (Source: Jesus Hernandez/


There are plenty of different ways to control distractions, such as blocking internet sites or banning the use of mobile phones in the office. And in the case of the home office, actions as invasive as monitoring the employee’s actions through the computer’s microphones and webcam can be taken. See the best Employee Monitoring Software

However, the best option is to work in a healthy work culture and to be aware of the negative impact of distractions in the work area. Because at the end of the day, it is impossible to control every step of employees’ actions.


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3. New CareerBuilder survey reveals how much smartphones are sapping productivity at work [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 22, 2022].

4. Mark G, Iqbal S, Czerwinski M. How blocking distractions affects workplace focus and productivity. In: Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2017 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers. New York, NY, USA: ACM; 2017.

5. Bergefurt L, Appel-Meulenbroek R, Maris C, Arentze T, Weijs-Perrée M, de Kort Y. The influence of distractions of the home-work environment on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ergonomics [Internet]. 2022;1-18.


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