Over the past year workers’ stress associated with the interruptions caused by remote working – such as Zoom meetings, deliveries and dogs barking – have increased and recent research shows that stress-related absence soared by 64% in 2020.
Further data from Berkeley University revealed that average work interruptions take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from, even if the distraction is only a minute, and the inability to focus on work is directly linked to stress.
To mark World Mental Health day (10th October 2021) Joanna Swash Group CEO at global outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny, shares tips for minimising interruptions during the working day.
Joanna said: “Lost productivity costs businesses on average £143 billion each year  – and results in 1 hour 24 minutes of distraction per employee each day. Interruption drains energy, kills creativity and dampens performance, leading to the dreaded brain fog that can be so debilitating.
“Answering an unexpected call is perhaps one of the most common interruptions that can disrupt the flow of work. When we shift gears, our mind must firstly stop processing what we were doing before refocusing on the new task. Therefore, even a seemingly quick distraction can totally throw concentration off course. Also, when we’re interrupted, we rarely go back to what we were doing beforehand.
Joanna continues: “As a business we talk a lot about availability and making sure businesses are available when clients need them, but there is value in being unavailable too. Businesses need to actively help their employees ringfence time for the quiet head down working that is so important to productivity as well as employees’ feeling of accomplishment and control.
“They must also actively promote and support wellbeing – whether that’s through counselling programmes, cooking lessons, financial education, buddy systems or simply by encouraging staff to simply ‘switch off’ devices for 15 minutes each day.”
Here are some of Joanna’s tips to minimise interruptions during the working day, to help reduce stress: