Amount of Workers Distracted by Devices Increasing

Amount of Workers Distracted by Devices Increasing

The problem of getting distracted at work is getting worse, and smartphones may be to blame.

It used to be only the ill-timed phone call or a passing co-worker, but distractions at work have always hurt productivity.

NBC news senior tech writer Bob Sullivan helped set up new research on workplace distractions that concludes it's gotten worse.

The ever-present pings, tweets, emails or social chats now mean we're interrupted once every eleven minutes.

"There's an email that comes, there's a phone call, someone comes and stops by the cubicle. 11 minutes is, gosh, hardly enough time to open up a word processing piece of software and gather your thoughts before someone interrupts you," said Sullivan.

And, once interrupted, researchers found it took at least 25 minutes to get focused back on the original task.  

Sullivan makes the argument that things like smartphones are, in this way, making us dumber.

"That actually hurts someone's brain power. Interrupting someone with an instant message, which is like a text message or a phone call, actually makes someone perform 20% lower on a standard test of cognitive ability," said Sullivan.
 
He says obviously interruptions at work are not as dangerous as distractions while driving, but can still be harmful.

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