Dissecting Distractions in the Workplace

Like what you are reading?  Share it with others.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” writes Jack Torrance toward the end of “The Shining” as he slowly loses his mind, eventually chasing his family around a labyrinth of greenery.

While no one at G2 Crowd has reached THAT level of restlessness — we lack a labyrinth to begin with — our more stressful, deadline-driven weeks can sometimes result in a collective craze. I’ll look up from my luminous computer screen, eyes squinty and exhausted, to find teammates wandering the office with bowls of snacks or shooting a beach ball back and forth.

Regardless of our team workload, I find these moments invaluable. When my brain goes stale and ideas run dry, it’s the people nearby whose company serves as a welcome reprieve. I can swivel around and find anywhere from two to six people willing to snowball off some of my dead-end ideas or just argue whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

Not all companies value these brain breaks. I’ve learned of organizations that closely monitor desk activity, allowing their employees a half-hour lunch and intermittent trips to the bathroom.

READ: Productivity or Distraction

Conversely, certain employees may take advantage of a company’s flexibility, and design expert Jeremy Myerson believes the idea of an office as a playground has a negative effect on the workplace, as he told Dezeen.

“One of the things the Google effect has had is the idea that work is somehow a playground and you can infantilise your staff,” Myerson told the publication. “It’s actually a very bad idea.”

So, we must allocate some sort of happy medium, creating an environment wherein employees neither feel like overgrown fish in a draining aquarium, nor middle school students on a field trip to the children’s museum.

One tool keeping G2 Crowd-ers sane, in my opinion, is team collaboration software Slack. This team chat tool allows us to connect with other members of the company while remaining in a focus mode. Although most of the channels are used for corporate communication — support, new features, all hands — other channels such as G2 Dogs and Runners are completely in service of our human side.

Many companies are incorporating collaboration and productivity tools into their workflow, the title of which alone implies that one can only thrive when accompanied with the other. While I speak from the standpoint of a creative team naturally inclined to share ideas in order to improve them, I know our entire company believes in “leveraging the crowd” in order to develop stronger concepts.

Collaboration and productivity tools are seeming to adopt “workplace intranets” in greater magnitude. Essentially, a software combines productivity tools — project management, calendars, file sharing — with social collaboration through an employee-only newsfeed.

Consider WorkPlace by Facebook, which is exactly as it sounds. Users can create groups to communicate with, message one another and automate tasks.

“Internal communications between teams that are based around the world, building community between teams and staff, providing a place where official announcements are open to comments and feedback,” writes one reviewer on G2 Crowd in response to business problems solved.

We see these social features reflected on the Spring 2017 Grid for Team Collaboration. In addition to File Sharing and Document Collaboration, users rate their team collaboration products for things such as Activity Feed, Discussions, Comments and Voting, and Status Updates — and at considerably high percentages, too.

The average rating across products for Activity Feed is 85 percent, whereas the average rating for Calendar is 80 percent. From this, we can perceive that many employees are more pleased with their product of choice’s company-wide activity updates than with its ability to help plan or share events. In short, employees like to hear from each other.

Productivity is tricky. It might feel better for a higher-up to see their employees with headphones on, noses down, grinding until the day is done. But in reality, a release of constant performance pressure might actually help employees accomplish more. It gives them freedom to apply personal strategies and bring unique methodologies to the table. Although I don’t personally recommend the beach ball method — ours has smacked me in the face one too many times.