This Is Why You Get So Distracted At Work

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Apparently, that sunny, Instagram-ready, open-space office you inhabit each day, before nosediving into a pile of work, isn’t helping your concentration.
No matter how hard you try, that open-space environment your company switched over to in an effort to keep you social and create a more collaborative space for productivity, is killing your productivity. The culprit?
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Visual noise. And just what is visual noise you ask...
— The office plants positioned asymmetrically in front of you.
— The crowd of co-workers, within an earshot, holding a watercooler discussion.
— That pile of wires and that broken keyboard sitting idly to your left...
Basically, anything you can see while glancing up from your desk.
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In a story published by The Wall Street Journal, it one CEO explained that the warehouse-style setup many offices have transitioned to over the years, creates “these long lines of sight across the workspace, where you have people you know and recognise moving by and talking to each other. It was incredibly distracting,” said CEO Peter Reinhardt, of Segment, a San Francisco-based company.
More recently, Segment redesigned its setup to feel more like a maze or a “jungle” as Reinhardt explained to WSJ. Employees’ workspaces are now further apart and though the space is still open, their desks are more curved, giving them less opportunity to be distracted by passersby. In some areas, large potted plants block out unwanted visuals.
“Open-plan office layout is commonly assumed to facilitate communication and interaction between co-workers, promoting workplace satisfaction and team-work effectiveness,” said the journal, ScienceDirect in a 2013 study. “On the other hand, open-plan layouts are widely acknowledged to be more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy.”
Will labyrinth-style offices soon become the trend? Possibly. But one thing is certain, humans, like horses, need blinders sometimes.
What company tries to give you a solid work environment for peak productivity you’re still doomed to be distracted.
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