To better understand the impact that electronic distractions have on the workplace, harmon.ie recently commissioned an online survey of IT users working in US and global companies.  We found that the proliferation of collaboration and social tools designed to increase productivity is actually costing businesses millions of dollars per year in lost productivity.  We also found that 53% of IT users waste at least one hour a day dealing with all types of distractions. That hour per day translates into $10,350 of wasted productivity per person per year, assuming an average salary of $30/hour – which is more than the average U.S. driver will spend this year to own and maintain a car.

To better understand the impact that electronic distractions have on the workplace, harmon.ie recently commissioned an online survey of IT users working in U.S. and global companies.  The survey was fielded March 11-29, 2011 by market research firm uSamp (United Sample).
 
I've summarized key findings below; feel free to download the complete survey results at http://harmon.ie/Downloads/DistractionSurveyResults .  

     
  • The majority (57%) of work interruptions now involve either using collaboration and social tools like email, social networks, text messaging and IM, or switching windows among disparate standalone tools and applications. In fact, 45% of employees work only 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted, and 53% waste at least one hour a day due to all types of distractions.
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  • That hour per day translates into $10,375 of wasted productivity per person per year, assuming an average salary of $30/hour. That is more than the average U.S. driver will spend this year to own and maintain a car, according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA). That means that for businesses with 1,000 employees, the cost of employee interruptions exceeds $10 million per year.   The actual cost of distraction is even higher in terms of negative impacts on work output, work quality, and relationships with clients and co-workers.
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  • The increasingly common addiction to web-based activity – which psychologists call ‘online compulsive disorder’ – is pervasive in the workplace.  For example, 2 out of 3 people will tune out of face-to-face meetings to communicate digitally with someone else.  The addiction is also taking over people’s personal lives.  Case in point:  the majority of people under the age of 40 stay digitally connected in bed, and 44% of people under 30 stay connected during a night out at the movies.
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  • Two-thirds of companies and technology users are pursuing tools and strategies to minimize digital distractions, reflecting an understanding of the need to restore productivity that is being sapped by misuse of digital applications.