Office Workers vs Remote Ones: Who Get Distracted More?
Ever since working from home or remote working became more common, the idea that it is a more distraction-filled environment has been used by many companies to bring employees back to the office. However, studies have now shown that the case is not that simple, and in reality, different workers might find themselves being more productive at either home or the office.
In this article, we will focus on the different distractions that office and work-from-home workers experience. The main goal is to understand which of the two actually gets more distracted, as well as recognize the most common distractions within each environment.
Types of Distractions
Nowadays, whether you are working from home or at the office, chances are your phone or other electronic devices will serve as your biggest distractions. There are two different things that one needs to understand about digital distractions. The first is that often even work-related digital distractions, such as official emails, chat notifications, or calls can cause a distraction. This is because, for the most part, all of these different types of digital communication methods are taking away your employees' concentration on their projects.
The second and equally important type of digital distraction is distractions coming from the employee's personal digital space. Phones and other devices contain a million different ways to catch attention. From scrolling through social media to taking personal calls, to browsing the net or playing a game, the number of digital distractions is intense.
The reality with digital distractions is that they are oftentimes much more easily dealt with if you have your employees working from an office. Corporate policies that limit access to personal digital devices during work hours can ensure that your workers are as free from personal digital distractions as possible.
On the other hand, professional digital distractions can be handled whether your employees are working from home or in an office space. This is because all you will need to do is install monitoring software that will allow you to check how distracted your employees are or how much time they spend doing things outside of work. Using employee monitoring software, such as CleverControl, can help you know exactly how productive your employees are and decide on the best ways to help them become even more productive in their work.
Naturally, noise is a big distraction whether you work from an office or home. However, the noise that you might find yourself surrounded by is completely different depending on whether you are home or at the office.
At the office, most noise distractions come from your other colleagues chatting with one another or moving around as they try to complete their work tasks. This can be a particularly big problem if your employee is easily distracted by such commotion and they do not work in a private office with a closed door.
At home, the sound noises usually come from other family members that might be sharing the same space as your employee. Again, the distraction levels will vary based on whether or not your employee has their own private space that they can work from. If they don't and they, for example, work from the living room or kitchen, they most likely will have to hear all of the noise coming from the rest of the house and be distracted by it.
Unfortunately, in most cases, there is nothing that you can do to reduce noise distractions in your employees’ offices or their homes. Simply put, in an office environment, there is some noise that occurs naturally. If your employee is working there, they most likely will find themselves either getting distracted by it or just learning how to deal with it. You could also try to implement some policies regarding noise and chatter while at the office, but the effect of these may be questionable.
Similarly, in work-from-home environments, there is usually nothing that you can do for your employee to get them to have a distraction-free space. It is, however, possible that at home, they can find some solutions to reduce the noise, such as headphones or a more private space to work from if that is available.
One of the predominant benefits of working from the office is the ability to socialize with your team. In most cases, this can boost team morale and help your team bond. However, it can also act as a distraction if your employees do not know how to limit socialization to a level that is acceptable not only for themselves but also for those around them. The fact of the matter is whether your employee is being distracted by being the one socializing with others or by hearing the noise that others make while socializing with each other, their work will be affected.
At home, socialization is not usually such a problem for most people. Setting boundaries and having their families not talk to them while working unless it is for a serious issue can be relatively easy. However, naturally, there are times when these distractions are not completely eliminated. Partners, spouses, children, or even roommates may occasionally require your employee's attention in an emergency, even during work hours. This can cause them to lose focus for a few minutes. Still, this type of distraction does not compare to spending a lot of time socializing with others in the office, as it is usually a far more temporary distraction.
Much like with noise, there really is not a lot that you can do to completely eliminate this type of distraction from your work environment. Especially when it comes to socializing at work, the reality is you will want a positive work environment where your employees will be happy to come in every day and socialize with others. However, that does not mean that, as the employer, you should not have some limits on what is and is not allowed while at work. These limits can help reduce distraction levels while also keeping your employees happy at work.
There is really no way of stopping these distractions while your employee is working from home. However, depending on your employee, the level that these types of distractions at home are causing problems for them varies. The reality is that many employees either do not get as distracted or have a private enough space at home that their productivity remains unaffected regardless of the noise or socialization that takes place around them.
One of the main benefits of working from the office is that having a work-life balance becomes much simpler and more physically attainable. This is because while you are at the office, you will rarely, if ever, actually need to complete any non-work-related task.
In contrast, working from home means that a million and one different household chores will grab your attention while you are there. From doing laundry to cleaning the kitchen, to vacuuming the home, to childcare, the list of tasks that could take your focus away from your work goes on and on.
The best thing you can do to help your employees to avoid these types of distractions is to help them understand what a good work-life balance should look like. By helping them create these boundaries, your employees will be more unlikely to get distracted by other tasks that are needed in their daily life, just because they are at home.
Meetings are normally a needed part of any workday; however, for the most part, they can also be a big distraction for employees, especially when they are not well organized.
When it comes to meetings at the office, the reality is that they can often act as a bigger distraction than virtual meetings, which are far more common in work-from-home environments. The reason for this is relatively simple. If you know you have to get up and leave your desk in order to attend a meeting, you will most likely spend 5-10 minutes before the meeting, closing everything off, preparing for the meeting, and walking there. Similarly, once the meeting is over, you will need to head back to your office and spend time focusing on your work again. This means that for every meeting within a day, your employees are losing out on at least 10-20 minutes of work, depending on the meeting and how distracted they get.
Virtual meetings, on the other hand, eliminate a lot of the preparation time of physical meetings as the employee simply has to log in to a web platform and join the call. However, because they are not physically present, it is far more common for work-from-home employees to be distracted during a meeting than for someone working at an office and having to see other people face to face.
As not holding meetings is not a solution in most work environments, what you can actually do is organize your meetings more efficiently both for employees working from home and the office. If meetings are held in a way that your employees are constantly engaged, you can actually help ensure that they are going to be paying attention. You should also consider what the best time to hold these meetings is, depending on your employees and your work schedule.
Finally, sometimes the distraction is not external, but rather internal. Procrastination can affect workers regardless of whether they are working from home or working from an office. The reality is that if a worker does not feel like working at that moment, there is no way that you can force them to complete their tasks. In reality, workers who procrastinate will find something else to do rather than the task they need to handle, regardless of whether they are at work or home.
There is no real solution to procrastination, but as an employer, there are a few different steps you can take to eliminate procrastination levels during work hours.
The first would be to have your employees attend training sessions that will provide them with the necessary tools to help them create methods for not procrastinating. Each person is different, and, as such, for every single one of your employees, you might find that the methods and tools they create for themselves in order to avoid procrastinating might vary. As an employer, the only thing you can do is provide them with knowledge and possible solutions and see how well they adapt their patterns so as to become more productive.
The second thing you can do is eliminate the options they have on what to do while procrastinating. When procrastinating, many people will reach for their phone, scroll social media or find anything that is digitally available but unrelated to their work. An employee monitoring software can help you eliminate availability on those websites, as well as track how much time your employee spends procrastinating.
Both working from the office and working from home can come with their own sets of distractions. While for many of these distractions, there is an overlap, there are other distractions that are far less common in one or the other situations. Therefore, it is hard to say which of the two environments is more distracting, as the answer might change for each employee. This is why employee monitoring software can help you understand your employees and where they find themselves more productive, and better.