3 Distraction-Fighting Tools to Boost Team Productivity

Is your business losing productivity due to screen time distractions? Enhance your team's performance by reducing distractions with these tools and tips.



As a business owner, you naturally want your employees to be as productive as possible. After all, you went out of your way to hire the best-qualified candidates and invested in training and development programs to help them be successful.

However, navigating distractions remains a challenge for both employees and employers. According to Screen Education's Digital Distraction & Workplace Safety survey, the average employee spends 2.5 hours on their phone each work day (while on the clock) accessing digital content unrelated to work. This same survey also had 14% of respondents report that workplace accidents occurred due to smartphone related distractions, of which 59% caused property damage and 50% caused injury or death. 

Knowing that cell phones are not only a distraction, but an added concern for safety, what can you do to help eliminate distractions at work?   

How to Avoid Distractions? Start Here

The first step to eliminate distractions at work is to encourage employees to silence notifications on their cell phones, smart watches, or any other device that sends notifications to help them maintain focus. While this may be difficult to monitor for many workplaces, especially if you have a remote workforce, focus on your employees’ productivity goals and performance requirements and present this as a tool to help them earn their performance incentives. 

If your staff is still struggling to limit distractions, consider investing in any of the following tools.

Train Your Team on How to Avoid Distractions with These Tools

While every job is different and could be inhibited by a variety of distractions, the following tools are geared towards an office environment where cell phones are a primary distraction from completing the task at hand.

1.   Noise canceling headphones 

Even if employees silence their own phone notifications, they may still be distracted by someone else’s phone notifications. It happens all the time! Someone unlocks their phone to see if the notification was theirs, and then, after learning it was not their phone, they instantly become distracted by notifications they see while checking their phone. 

An easy solution to help employees improve focus and avoid distractions from their peers (and their peers’ phones) is noise canceling headphones. Wearing these will allow the employee to focus more easily on their to-do list and block out the world around them while they work. 

2.   White noise machine 

Another option to mask distracting noises is to run a white noise machine. Although you may think white noise machines are designed to help people sleep, they also help in an office environment by muffling nearby sounds. This makes it harder for employees to tune into nearby conversations, pick up on transient noise, be distracted by text messages, or lose focus due to any other major distraction.

3.   Fidget rings 

While you may think of fidget toys as just that, toys, fidget rings are a subtle and unique stimulation tool that help engage hands with a simple task while brains focus on more important tasks. They also help satisfy the urge to tap on or unlock phones. 

Fidget rings come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and look like any normal ring. The difference is they have a component that rotates or moves around to keep the fidgeter busy. 

Because they do not need to be glamorous or expensive, even a cheap option can be extremely beneficial for an employee to stay focused. And while this serves as a substitute phone distraction, the use of fidget rings also helps decrease stress and anxiety

Striking a Balance with Distraction-Free Time and Responsiveness 

If you are concerned about finding the balance between helping employees reduce distractions while staying responsive, keep these five tips in mind: 

  1. Set clear expectations regarding availability and response time.

    Establish expectations of when employees should or should not schedule distraction-free time and have them mark it in their calendars to communicate their availability with coworkers. In addition, establish general expectations for how quickly they should respond to messages to ensure they stay responsive. 

  1. Create guidelines for messaging.

    Utilize communication tools to be efficient with time while still meeting work requirements. For example, if you have carved out a two-hour block of time to respond to emails on Wednesdays but then a coworker needs your immediate help during that window, designate a specific communication method that will trigger a more immediate response. Otherwise, the coworker should not expect your response to come until after the dedicated distraction-free window. 

  1. Coach employees to prioritize and be self-reliant.

    Help your employees identify which projects need immediate attention and which can wait. Encourage them to find solutions to challenges on their own before seeking help, which will empower your team while reducing interruptions. 

  1. Lead by example from top down.

    Demonstrate to your employees that you stay focused and responsive when needed, but also set boundaries for distraction-free work time. 

  1. Be flexible and open to feedback.

    Because everyone is different, you may need to adjust to varying needs to help your employees stay focused. Ask what is and is not working in your regular one-on-one meetings and be open to making changes. 

Stratus HR Can Help You Customize Your Company’s Approach to Minimize Distractions

Your company’s needs for minimizing screen time or online distractions might be different than your competitor’s. Address the distraction concerns with your employees and have them be involved with the decision process.  

Part of the discussion may include ideas to increase personal interactions with each other to minimize the need or reaction to check phone notifications. In fact, nurturing employee relationships provides an overall boost to wellbeing and productivity. 

Remember, the money you spend on tools to avoid distractions is an investment to help employees increase productivity and stay focused, while also preventing potential workplace accidents. For more tips on employee productivity, please contact your certified HR expert. 

Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly. 

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