U.S. Employees Are Distracted Every 31 Minutes on Average

Productivity and mental health suffer because of these disturbances.
Scrolling on phones

Modern technology offers countless benefits for companies and consumers alike. However, this same tech can prevent employees from producing their best work.

A survey on workplace distractions from Mopria Alliance showed that today's employees experience 77 distractions a week, on average, or one distraction every 31 minutes.

The San Ramon, California–based nonprofit is a collective of tech companies that provides standards for scanning and printing (Canon, HP, Samsung and Xerox were the founding members). Their survey found that these distractions reduce worker productivity and affect mental health.

Work distractions contribute to decline in employee mental health

The Mopria Alliance survey showed that the majority of distractions for both work-from-home and in-office employees came from:

  • Responding to personal communications (such as online chats, texts and calls)
  • Checking email
  • Browsing the internet
  • Having unplanned conversations with coworkers

Working parents had more distractions, as they were also responsible for monitoring their children and managing their household. This demographic faced distractions about every 25 minutes — a 37% increase from their nonparent peers. Remote-working parents had it even worse, as they were distracted 10% more than in-office parents and 50% more than remote workers without children.

It doesn't help that other work obligations take up time, either. The nonprofit discovered that employees spend an average of 11.1 hours a week in meetings, but nearly half of that time (46%) is unproductive.

These distractions take a toll, according to Mopria Alliance's findings. Many respondents report:

  • Working additional hours to complete projects (57%)
  • Struggling to complete projects and activities on time (46%)
  • Taking more time to complete their work (33%)

A survey from BambooHR similarly revealed that 1 in 10 remote workers admit to taking a day off from work just to catch up on their tasks.

Further, the Mopria Alliance survey found that employee health and well-being is declining as a result of these distractions. Nearly 4 in 10 respondents (37%) said they feel less connected and more isolated due to these distractions, while 30% noted feeling stressed out daily.

Print and scan services may help reduce workplace distractions

One method Mopria Alliance suggests to cut down on workplace distractions is shifting some tasks from the computer screen to paper. For instance, the survey found that:

  • 79% of workers believe printing helps them focus
  • 78% of workers prefer reading printed materials over reading from a screen
  • 71% of workers would be more productive with easy mobile print and scan

The survey also found that remote workers use print and scan services far less often than in-office employees — 66% for printing and 58% for scanning for those working from home, versus 90% and 78%, respectively, for office workers. Mopria Alliance offers this as one solution employers with a large WFH workforce may want to consider.

Methodology: Mopria Alliance surveyed 573 employees in April 2021 using SurveyMonkey Audience. All respondents met the following criteria:

  • Employed 30 or more hours a week
  • Currently work from home or in an office
  • Ages 21 and up

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