Workplace distraction is the bane of the modern office—and chances are your law firm is no exception when it comes to distracted employees. According to a study by Udemy last year, 70 percent of employees claim they are regularly distracted in the workplace, and more than half of employees said they aren’t as productive at work as they should be. Another study shows that the average employee is interrupted at least 56 times a day. The average amount of time it takes us to refocus from a distraction? Twenty-three minutes and fifteen seconds. No wonder we feel like we’re not getting enough done.
Here’s the good news: By putting some basic protocols in place, you can help your law firm’s employees be more focused at work and help the office become more productive—and you don’t have to become a slave driver to do it.
Encourage Frequent Breaks
This first tip may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually good science. One reason we’re easily distracted is that our brains need to detach once in a while. If “break time” is two hours away and the employee feels she can’t step away from her desk…and the cell phone is sitting right there…you figure it out. Most productivity experts recommend taking a ten-minute break every hour, or five minutes every half hour. If your team feels free to take regular breaks, they’ll be more focused in between those breaks.
Restrict Email Checks to Twice a Day, If Possible
The average employee checks their email 36 times an hour, and unless the email specifically pertains to what they’re doing, that’s 36 distractions per hour. To mitigate this issue, try establishing set times in the morning and afternoon for employees to read and answer emails—and deactivate email alerts for whatever email platform your team uses so they don’t get pinged every time something comes into the inbox.
Try a “Do Not Disturb” Protocol
Quite often, employees get distracted through no fault of their own—the office gets noisy, or someone is knocking on their door every two minutes. To make sure your team gets enough uninterrupted time each day, encourage them to block off certain times for themselves as “do not disturb” hours where they are not to be interrupted except in emergencies. The time blocks can be flexible according to office and employee needs. To facilitate, try giving each employee a “do not disturb” sign to hang on their door during these quiet hours. See if your team gets more productive when you empower them to protect their own time.
Office distractions are sometimes unavoidable, and you’ll still need to exercise some flexibility—but by taking these and other creative steps to guard your employees’ time and focus, you should at least experience fewer distractions and get more things done.