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Workplace Distractions Cost Companies Millions Per Year

By Samantha Smith, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A recent study shows workplace distractions cost the average large white-collar company more than $10 million per year.

Software company surveyed 515 employees and results show the majority of people waste at least one hour per day at work.

Talking with a handful of downtown Minneapolis employees, they say they're distracted by a variety of different things including social networking, email, web surfing and conversations with co-workers.

Based on an average salary of $30 per hour, one hour wasted at work a day translates to more than $10,000 of wasted productivity per person, per year.

Most of those Minneapolis employees said they feel that one hour is rather low and the majority of people end up wasting more time than that.

Other survey highlights include:

  • The majority (57 percent) of work interruptions now involve either using collaboration or social tools like email, social networks, text messaging and IM, or switching windows among disparate standalone tools and applications. In fact, 45 percent of employees work only 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted and 53 percent waste at least one hour a day due to all types of distractions.
  • That hour per day translates into $10,375 of wasted productivity per person, per year, assuming an average salary of $30/hour. That is more than the average U.S. driver will spend this year to own and maintain a car, according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA). That means that for businesses with 1,000 employees, the cost of employee interruptions exceeds $10 million per year. The actual cost of distraction is even higher in terms of negative impacts on work output, work quality and relationships with clients and co-workers.
  • The increasingly common addiction to web-based activity -- which psychologists call "online compulsive disorder" -- is pervasive in the workplace. For example, two out of three people will tune out of face-to-face meetings to communicate digitally with someone else. The addiction is also taking over people's personal lives. Case in point: the majority of people under the age of 40 stay digitally connected in bed and 44 percent of people under 30 stay connected during a night out at the movies.
  • Two-thirds of companies and technology users are pursuing tools and strategies to minimize digital distractions, reflecting an understanding of the need to restore productivity that is being sapped by misuse of digital applications.
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