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The top 10 productivity killers at work

June 23, 2014 15:23 IST

The top 10 productivity killers at work

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A new CareerBuilder survey identifies what causes workers to waste the most time at the office.

In its latest survey, leading career site CareerBuilder has identified behaviours that employers say are the biggest productivity killers at the workplace.

The study also highlights some of the strangest things employers have caught employees doing while on the clock.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder between February 10 and March 4, 2014.

It included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and a representative sample of 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

The survey revealed that personal use of technology was one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work.

One in four workers (24 per cent) admitted that, during a typical workday, they will spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, e-mails or texts.

Twenty one per cent estimate that they spend one hour or more during a typical workday searching the Internet for non-work-related information, photos, etc.

When asked what they consider to be the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, here's what they shared.

1. Cell phone/texting

50 per cent respondents cited that employees using their cell phone to make calls and send texts affected their productivity.

Note: All images used for representational purposes only.

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Image: Does using your cellphone at work affect your productivity?
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

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2. Gossip

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Forty two per cent believed that indulging in gossip affected productivity.

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Image: Indulging in gossip affects productivity, the survey stated.
Photographs: Edgar Su/Reuters
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3. The Internet

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Thirty nine per cent employers blamed the internet and related activity for impacting productivity.

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Image: Browsing the internet at work slows down productivity.
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters
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4. Social media

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Thirty eight per cent said social media activity affected their productivity.

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Image: Browsing social media at work affects productivity.
Photographs: Handout/Reuters
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5. Snack breaks or smoke breaks

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Twenty seven per cent felt that employees taking snack and smoke breaks affected productivity.

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Image: Frequent smoke breaks between work affects productivity, the CareerBuilder survey stated.
Photographs: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
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6. Noisy co-workers

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Twenty four per cent said that noisy colleagues impacted the productivity of the team.

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Image: Colleagues who spoke too loudly impacted the productivity of others.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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7. Meetings

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Twenty three per cent said that meetings affected their productivity.

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Image: Attending too many meetings also affects productivity.
Photographs: Andres Stapff/Reuters
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8. E-mails

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Twenty three per cent said that checking e-mails at work influenced employee productivity.

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Image: Checking and responding to e-mails eats up a
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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9. Co-workers

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Twenty three per cent respondents felt a dip in productivity every time a co-worker dropped by their desks.

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Image: Your productivity is affected even when a colleague stops by your desk to chat.
Photographs: Sivaram V/Reuters
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10. Answering calls on a speaker phone

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Ten per cent respondents who participated in the survey said that co-workers putting calls on speaker phone affected their productivity.

As part of the survey, employers also shared real-life examples of some of the more unusual things they've seen employees doing when they should have been busy working:

  • Employee was blowing bubbles in sub-zero weather to see if the bubbles would freeze and break
  • A married employee was looking at a dating web site and then denied it while it was still up on his computer screen
  • Employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled to work
  • Employee was shaving her legs in the women's restroom
  • Employee was laying under boxes to scare people
  • 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 printing off a book from the Internet
  • Employee was warming her bare feet under the bathroom hand dryer

"While many managers feel their teams perform at a desirable level, they also warn that little distractions can add up to bigger gaps in productivity," Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder said.

"It's important to be organised and designate times to work on different deliverables. Minimise interruptions and save personal communications for your lunch hour or break. It can help put more time and momentum back into your workday."


Image: If you have a colleague who prefers answering on a speaker phone, chances are you'll be distracted from what you were doing.
Photographs: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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