Top 15 most disruptive office distractions, according to 5,000 employees

Though many employees may be looking for a distraction to interrupt their 8-hour workday on occasion — not all interruptions are considered "good."

In fact, a new survey released by LinkedIn last month found that nearly half of Americans report being stressed about their jobs. Most of their strain, according to the survey, comes from an overwhelming workload, confidence about the future of their position, work politics, among other factors.

So, while workers are struggling to meet deadlines and manage their work-life balance, some may want to concentrate during the day. And coworkers don't always make that easy.

Communications company Plantronics, Inc., (Poly) recently surveyed more than 5,000 employees who work at least three days a week in a corporate environment to determine what they consider some of their biggest office distractions. The majority agreed the biggest disturbances come from their colleagues, specifically when they talk loudly on the phone.

Noise from co-workers congregating nearby was the No. 2 distraction, with 65 percent of respondents saying it causes a moderate to very high level of distraction.

Amy Barzdukas, CMO and executive vice president of Poly, said 99 percent of employees report being distracted at work and say it — at times — hinders their productivity.


"When you consider how many different workstyles and different generations are thrown together in one place, it's no wonder that almost everyone reports being distracted at work," Barzdukas said in an online statement. "It's equally clear that the right mix of technology and environment can reduce distraction and improve productivity – and that is what employees are asking for."

Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, said these distractions are particularly problematic for Gen Z (those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s). At least 20 percent of people in that generation reported spending a huge chunk of their days on the phone or video conference calls compared to 7 percent of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and1964).

"Gen Z is bringing millions of people into the global workforce, and our research finds that they have very different working styles compared to previous generations. We now have four generations working under one roof, which forces companies to reconsider traditional definitions of what makes a productive office environment and how their employees can best collaborate with each other," Meister said in a statement.

Here's a look at the top 15 workplace distractions, according to Poly's survey.

  1. A co-worker talking loudly on the phone
  2. Co-workers talking nearby
  3. Phone rings or alerts
  4. Office celebrations (birthdays, retirement, new babies, etc.)
  5. Nearby group meetings
  6. Visiting children
  7. Team games across the office
  8. Visiting family members (other than children)
  9. Tables games (table tennis, football, video games, etc.)
  10. Pets in the office
  11. Outside sounds (cars, sirens, weather, landscaping work, barking dogs)
  12. A colleague eating
  13. Heating or air conditioning system
  14. Copy machine/printer
  15. Coffee being made