Information Overload Blog

Digital Distraction: Why even the Buzz of your Phone can cost your Employer Money

Nowadays it’s harder to focus than ever. All day, on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, we’re bombarded with so many messages and alerts that even when we want to focus, it’s nearly impossible. Unfortunately, this takes its toll. By constantly checking e-mails, replying to text messages or even scrolling our Facebook timeline, we waste attention and energy on relatively unimportant tasks, staying busy, but producing little of value. Researchers have demonstrated that even the mere presence of a phone makes people less productive! No wonder ‘digital distraction’ is dubbed the defining problem of today’s workplace. Netpresenter helps you to conquer this phenomenon with two surprising solutions.

According to a study by the University of California, workers typically attend to a task for about three minutes before getting distracted and switching to something else. After that it takes about 20 minutes to return to the previous task. Fairly harmless, right? Not really. The Information Overload Research Group calculated that the majority of workers in the United States waste 25 percent (!) of their time juggling tasks, costing the economy a shocking $997 billion annually! But what can you do about it?

Fight fire with fire

So if digital media is causing the distraction, why not turn it off? Well, “turning off” is simply not a tenable solution in this digital age. With so much work, communication and socializing taking place digitally, few of us can afford to be offline for a significant amount of the workday. According to technology researcher Alexandra Samuel, the best way to fight digital distraction is with the strategic use of digital tools. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, Netpresenter’s success lays in the fact that employers can still digitally communicate with their staff, without distracting them. By displaying important corporate communication on digital signage screens on strategic places throughout your building, you reach staff when they do have a second to pay attention. Catch them on their way to the restroom, in the elevator or even while they are enjoying a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.


Curiosity killed…the focus

Even if we try really hard to ignore all the distractions around us, we would eventually still fail. A new piece of research shows that notifications can distract us, even when we don’t look over to see what they could be. In other words, just being aware of an alert can hurt people’s performance. The researchers became interested in the impact of these notifications after noticing that they themselves got distracted by them. “If we were driving and we felt our phone vibrate, that led us to think about the source of that vibration — who could it be, what’s the message,” says researcher Cary Stothart. The same goes for e-mail notifications. Even though employees might not intend to read or reply to an e-mail right away, it’s a natural response to be curious and wonder what it says. Seeing that inboxes get flooded with sometimes hundreds of e-mails a day, that’s a lot of wasted productivity! With Netpresenter you can trigger your employees’ curiosity during their down-time. By displaying crucial messages on a corporate screensaver, you immediately catch the attention of your staff while they are sitting behind their desk, but not behind their computer.


Want us to help you keep your employees on their toes? Contact our experts.

Luc Bormans

Luc Bormans, Netpresenter's head of Marketing, is an expert in the field of Marketing Communications. In his spare time Luc likes to cruise around in his Mini Cooper.