What causes workers to waste the most time at the office? Texting? Surfing the Web? Chatting with co-workers around the watercooler? New research from CareerBuilder identifies behaviors that employers say are the biggest productivity killers in the workplace. The study also highlights some of the strangest things employers have caught employees doing while on the clock.
Not surprisingly, personal use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work. One in four workers admitted that, during a typical workday, they will spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts. Twenty-one percent estimate that they spend one hour or more searching the Internet for information not related to work.
Behaviors of co-workers, meetings and other factors are also creating obstacles to maximizing performance. When asked what they consider to be the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, employers pointed to:
• Cellphone/texting (50 percent)
• Gossip (42 percent)
• The Internet (39 percent)
• Social media (38 percent)
• Snack or smoke breaks (27 percent)
• Noisy co-workers (24 percent)
• Meetings (23 percent)
• Email (23 percent)
• Colleagues dropping by (23 percent)
• Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone (10 percent)
They were doing what?
Employers also shared examples of some unusual things they've seen employees doing instead of working:
• Employee was blowing bubbles in subzero weather to see if the bubbles would freeze and break
• A married employee was looking at a dating website and then denied it while it was still up on his computer.
• Employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled into work
• Employee was shaving her legs in the women's restroom
• Employees were having a wrestling match
• Employee was sleeping, but claimed he was praying
• Employee was taking selfies in the bathroom
• Employee was changing clothes in a cubicle
• Employee was warming her bare feet under the bathroom hand dryer
Maximize your time
Organize and prioritize: De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week.
Limit interruptions: Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat can break your concentration and eat up time. Block off a conference room to work on a project. Read your email at intervals instead of opening each as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.
Avoid unnecessary meetings: Don't set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.
Get personal on your own time: Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.
Communicate wisely: Don't spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague's desk.
Don't delay the inevitable: Don't procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.