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Survey: 10 biggest productivity killers at work

Thursday - 6/12/2014, 12:09pm  ET

texting640.jpg
Texting while at work is one of the biggest time wasters while on the clock, according to a Careerbuilder survey. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON -- Cellphones are a great way to stay connected, snap photos and play with apps, but they may also be distracting employees from their work.

A CareerBuilder study released Thursday shows cellphones are the biggest productivity killer in the workplace.

Half of the respondents in the survey said cellphone use and texting are the primary productivity stopper at work.

The survey polled more than 2,100 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, private sector workers of differing industries and company sizes. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from Feb. 10 to March 4, 2014.

About one in four workers -- 24 percent -- admitted that during a typical work day they, spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts.

Also, more than 20 percent of workers estimate that they spend one hour or more during a typical workday searching the Internet for non-work-related information, photos and more.

"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," Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, Rosemary Haefner, said in a news release.

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

Below are the top 10 productivity thrashers followed by the percent of people who consider it to be the primary distraction in the workplace, according to the survey:

  1. Cellphone/texting - 50 percent
  2. Gossip - 42 percent
  3. The Internet - 39 percent
  4. Social media - 38 percent
  5. Snack breaks or smoke breaks - 27 percent
  6. Noisy co-workers - 24 percent
  7. Meetings - 23 percent
  8. Email - 23 percent
  9. Co-workers dropping by - 23 percent
  10. Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone - 10 percent

Many bosses are taking measure to make sure employees are staying focused. Thirty-six percent say they block certain Internet sites at work while 25 percent say they prohibit personal calls or person cellphone use.

Careerbuilder offers some tips to stay focused on the job:

  • Organize and prioritize. Getting rid of clutter and coming up with a game plan can help workers define what they need to accomplish each day.

  • Limit interruptions. Grabbing a conference room to work can prevent co-workers from swinging by your desk to constantly chat. Also, checking emails in bulk instead of as they come into your inbox can help save time.

  • Avoid unnecessary meetings. Can a phone call achieve what can be done in an hour-long meeting? Cancel meetings that don't merit the time.

  • Save personal things for later. Return calls, get on social media or shop online during a lunch break or after work.

  • Improve communication. Don't waste time composing an email when a message can be communicated by walking over to talk to a nearby co-worker.

  • Do difficult tasks first. Don't procrastinate -- dive in and tackle the tough work to get it off your plate.

The survey had sampling errors of +/-2.12 percentage points for the hiring managers and +/-1.78 percentage points for the full-time workers.

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