Simply put, time is money. It only stands to reason, then, that the more time wasted on interruptions and distractions, the less time spent focusing on completing the task at hand. This equates to a decrease in productivity, which, when spread out amongst a number of employees, directly affects an organization’s bottom line.
According to research conducted by Nielsen, “Even a one minute interruption can easily cost a knowledge worker 10 to 15 minutes of lost productivity.” Furthermore a Basex study revealed that the cost of these interruptions averaged nearly $997 billion in 2010 alone.
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The consequence of a workplace interruption really depends on the complexity of the original task at hand. If the task being performed before the interruption is complex, it is highly likely the disruption will cause a significant loss in concentration and time. Yet even interruptions to simple tasks can be a problem. What may seem an insignificant distraction to one person can have a trickle-down effect, ultimately impacting the workflow of multiple persons.
Workplace interruptions can be categorized into four types:
- Background Activities – Slight distractions which can reduce the speed and accuracy of work completion. A good example of a background activity would be listening to music.
- Partial Distractions – Incidents which draw the attention of the worker away from the task at hand and subsequently slow down or compromise accuracy. Instant messaging with a coworker could be considered a partial distraction.
- Dominant Interruptions – These are occurrences which greatly occupy the worker’s concentration and replace virtually all thoughts of the original task. For instance, getting up to take a walk is a dominant interruption.
- Total Interruptions – The most dangerous type of distraction, these events completely occupy the mind of the worker and remove all thought of the original task. A good example of this would be actively participating in a telephone conversation.
Phone calls, unnecessary meetings, instant messages, colleagues asking questions – each of these things can play a significant role in distracting a knowledge worker. Yet many of these events are business related, and are therefore unavoidable. The key is to learn to recognize what types of interruptions are most affecting your employees and how to minimize these distractions.
These interruptions can easily be managed by implementing such tactics as:
- Allowing calls to go to voicemail when working on an important task
- Only checking email at specified intervals
- Closing the office door
- Establishing a knowledge base infrastructure within your organization
- Defining and communicating clear turnaround times
By employing these and other techniques you can significantly improve your property management productivity and the overall profitability of your organization.
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