Survey: Talkative coworkers are the biggest office 'distraction'

While open office spaces can have perils all their own, you don’t necessarily have to work in one to get distracted at work.

Research from Udemy shows that “chatty coworkers” are the biggest distraction at the office, with 80% of survey respondents choosing this option, followed by “office noise” at 70%. But when it comes to meetings, “small talk and office gossip” are the most popular reasons why they are “disrupted,” at 54%. A whopping 69% of workers admit to being distracted at work overall.

Toluna Group surveyed more than 1,000 American adults working full-time in offices full-time. Here are some of the points that stood out.

We’re super-glued to our phones at work

While 62% of respondents say they spend approximately one hour daily on their phones at work, 36% each of millennials and those in Generation Z report spending a minimum of two hours doing the same thing.

But where meetings are concerned, other reasons why they’re thrown off track are: “side discussion about other projects” (45%), “late arrivals/early departures” (37%) and “technology/connectivity problems” (33%).

Darren Shimkus, the general manager for Udemy for Businesscommented on the research in a statement:

“It’s shocking that 54% of employees attribute their underperformance to workplace distractions, but it’s also clear that companies have the power to change that statistic by investing in training. By embracing a learning culture and prioritizing training and development, businesses can help develop employees that keep up with nonstop technology and are competitive, competent, and engaged.”

But, while 70% of workers think training could help them cut back on distractions and get better at time management, 66% haven’t breathed a word of this to their managers.

As far as methods employees are using for improvement: 43% say they shut off their phone during the workday, 30% say they use “music, meditation, or other relaxation techniques,” and 26% say they “fill time with simple tasks that don’t require as much focus.”

These social media platforms make employees lose focus the most

Facebook overwhelmingly takes the cake here, with a whopping 65% of respondents saying that it’s their main source of distraction online. This was true for 58% of millennials and Generation Z, 69% of Generation X and 71% of Baby Boomers (although 7% said “email and texting” is their biggest distractor).

Instagram was the second most-distracting platform, with 9% of respondents choosing it, followed by Twitter and Snapchat, both at 7%, respectively.

But still, 58% of workers said social media isn’t necessary for their jobs.

Work platforms aren’t as distracting

The research also compared “using tech for personal activities” and “using work-related tools” to see which task different generations found more distracting than the other. Among millennials and Generation Z, 78% chose using technology for their own gain, compared to 22% who picked the platforms they use at work. Zeroing in on Generation X, 57% picked the former and 43% picked the latter. Lastly, 43% of Boomers picked the former and 57% picked the latter.

The top three practices respondents said would boost their engagement at work were “trying new things, expanding my role” (54%), “being empowered to learn new skills whenever I need to” (42%) and “having a clearer path for professional growth” (35%).

But the two most popular ways respondents thought employers could help prevent distractions were to “allow flexible schedules, remote options” (40%) and “establish designated spaces for quiet vs. noisy work” (38%), among other results.