5 Biggest Workplace Distractions

The biggest workplace distractions are the small things that surround your employees and the things they do daily that prevent them from doing their jobs. While some distractions may only take them away from their work for a few minutes, any type of distraction reduces productivity. It’s important that supervisors and managers know more about the more common distractions found in most workplaces.

Social Media and the Internet

One of the biggest workplace distractions is the Internet and the social media sites found on the web. That is why many employers know install software that blocks employees from accessing sites like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Instagram. The more time they spend on those sites, the less time they have for their work. Even top employees can waste 30 minutes or more every day just browsing some of those sites.

Smartphone Usage

A common reason why many workplaces now ban the use of smartphones is because those electronic devices are a common distraction. You may let your employees use their phones in emergency situations, including while waiting for a call from their doctors or when a spouse is pregnant. In most cases though, you want to limit the access that they have to their phones. Any time that they spend texting with others, checking their messages, playing games or even using the web is time that they spend away from their work. If you allow workers to use phones, you essentially pay them for that time.

Frequent Breaks

Many companies give workers breaks that they can take while on the clock. Whether they get up and visit the break room for a snack, stop to grab a cup of coffee, stop by the water cooler or head outside for a cigarette break, those small and frequent breaks are one of the biggest workplace distractions. Some workers even base their schedules around those breaks and know when they can go outside, when they can stop to chat with others or when they need a new cup of coffee. This can lead to them focusing more on their breaks than on their work.

Other Workers

One of the biggest workplace distractions that you might forget about is simply the other people working nearby. While you want your workers to feel comfortable working together because it creates a friendly environment, you don’t want those workers spending their days gossiping around the water cooler or spending more time talking about their lives than actually doing their work. Coworkers are also distracting to those who want to focus on their daily tasks. An employee who constantly moves around the office to talk with others may leave the majority of your workers frustrated and even annoyed.


In a list of the 10 biggest workplace distractions, Forbes found that any form of entertainment is a common form of distraction. This includes listening to music while at work and watching television or movies while on the job. Those who use headphones to listen to music have a tendency to “zone out” and not hear others around them, and those who watch television may find themselves so distracted by their shows that they forget about the work at hand.

Knowing more about the common distractions that many workers encounter on the job can help you decide what to allow and what to ban in your workplace. These distractions prevent workers from doing their jobs effectively and take money out of your company’s budget. Some of the biggest workplace distractions include forms of entertainment like movies and TV shows, other coworkers, frequent breaks, smartphones and social media websites.