For all of the benefits that social media and instant messaging apps can bring to the office environment, bringing such potential distractions into the workplace is not entirely without its drawbacks. In fact, according to a recent study commissioned by business lender Fleximize, such apps may be more damaging to focus and productivity than previously thought.

The study profiled job types ranging from CEOs to juniors and found that a shockingly low figure of just 6% of UK office workers feel productive for the full working day, with one in five admitting to procrastinating for over two hours a day. If that didn’t sound bad enough, some even confessed to wasting up to 6 hours per day largely as a result of social media and apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook.

While the vast majority of the workforce won’t manage to waste as much as 6 hours, a worryingly high 84% of workers surveyed said they procrastinated for more than 30 minutes each day. Total this up for the UK’s estimated 21.18 million 9-to-5 office workers and the true scope of the issue soon becomes apparent.

The survey went as far as to reveal that social media apps and platforms are by some margin the biggest source of distraction and procrastination in the office. As you may well expect, instant messaging app WhatsApp and its parent Facebook took the top two spots as the most distracting platforms for the survey’s respondents, cited as such by 72% and 70% of workers respectively. Instagram follows closely behind, being named as a distraction by 49% of respondents. Twitter (41%) and Snapchat (30%) were also cited as major distractions in UK offices.

This doesn’t seem to mean the work isn’t getting done however; rather we are as a collective simply taking longer to get it done. The survey revealed that 71% of UK office workers are doing up to 4 hours of overtime each week in an effort to keep up with their workload, and 65% don’t even manage to leave the office at lunchtime. Perhaps if we could find a way to cut down on distractions such as the aforementioned apps, we could take steps towards restoring a healthier work-life balance.

“It’s ironic that social media, which has become an essential tool for businesses, is at the same time proving the biggest drain on employee productivity,” says Peter Tuvey, founder and managing partner of Fleximize. “However, it can also be seen as an opportunity to harness the ‘always on’ mentality of millennials. For example, companies could encourage all staff to gear their social media habits towards business goals, whether that’s seeking out and sharing relevant news stories or keeping an eye on the activity of competitors.

“It was a big eye-opener to see that 71 per cent of UK workers are doing up to four hours of overtime each week. If these figures mean employers should start instating mandatory lunch hours and a ‘don’t take your work home with you’ policy, it could be a big step forward for UK businesses in improving the work-life balance of their teams.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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