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The Impacts and Solutions for Work from Home Digital Distraction

July 26, 2021
UBC MEL & MHLP - Employer Digital Distractions Reduction

Working from home has generated a number of employee benefits over the last year, including a better work-life balance, the elimination of the stress and time of commuting, cost savings and more. Yet it has also created a higher demand on employee attention.

Employees are confronted with a daily overload of video meetings, emails, calls, texts and notifications. That pressure on their time has made it quite challenging to focus on tasks that require sustained attention.

Once a person is distracted, it typically takes over 23 minutes to refocus their attention back on the original task, according to Gloria Mark, a professor in the department of informatics at the University of California who studies digital distractions.

The good news is that there are specific things organizations and managers can do to reduce the impact of digital distraction on employees.

Reducing the effects of digital distraction

It has never been more important for managers and project leads to understand the daily challenges their employees face when working remotely. Here are some ways to combat the effects of digital distraction.

  • Formalize employees’ right to disconnect. Working from home has blurred the lines between office and home time, and has inhibited many employees’ willingness or ability to “switch off”. Reinforcing workplace practices that allow employees to disconnect from their work is key to helping them find a healthier work-life balance. Creating a “switch-off” culture in your team can have tremendous benefits, including improving mental health and minimizing burnout.
  • Understand the pain points. When are emails necessary? When are meetings needed? Identifying and reducing the pain points for employees when it comes to how they are communicating and gathering information can minimize the communication burden. At the same time, limiting any unnecessary information sharing can help your team maintain productivity while working remotely.
  • Designate a meeting-free day. Schedule one whole day each week that your entire team agrees not to book any meetings. This will help employees stay focused without interruptions, achieve a “state of flow” and increase productivity. Without meetings interrupting the work day, employees can complete more tasks or work through more complex, time-consuming tasks, and tackle simple tasks the rest of the week.

Connect with the Professional Talent You Need

Shifting to online learning during COVID-19 has enabled UBC Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) graduates to master the efficiencies of contributing meaningfully to team meetings, communicating effectively in a virtual setting and appreciating the importance of restricting the time and length of meetings. They know how to find the sweet spot of both staying connected with the group and finding the focus and flow needed to deliver on projects.

If you’re looking to strengthen your organization with a hire who can make a positive difference from day one, make the MEL designation one of your must-have job selection criteria.

Share your story with MEL graduates now. Contact Chris McKinnon, our Employer Relations and Careers Manager to learn more.