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New Study Reveals Workplace Productivity Killers

posted 7 May 2013, 09:58 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 May 2013, 09:59 ]

Employees Want to Work from the Office but Cite Noisy Coworkers, Overscheduling as Major Distractions

OAKLAND, Calif.May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --, a leading online brand for questions and answers, today announced the results of its Office Workplace Productivity study, which reveals the preferences and habits of American office workers when it comes to an optimally productive workplace environment.

Among the key findings: 86 percent of respondents1  prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity, suggesting that, while group-oriented workplace perks like foosball and bean bag lounges have become popular tools for unlocking creativity and boosting morale, they don't always drive efficiency. Additionally, the preference to work from home isn't as prevalent as it may seem; a majority of respondents prefer to spend "focus time" in their personal workspace (63 percent) as compared to those who'd rather work at home (29 percent).

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 2,060 adults ages 18 and older in March 2013.

"This research gives us broader context when thinking about the workplace culture we're trying to foster," said Lisa Ross, vice president of human resources at "It also yielded some unexpected findings. For example, while working from home policies have been hotly debated in the media, it appears most office workers actually prefer working in an office environment, as long as companies facilitate focus time and minimize distractions."

The study indicates that distractions tend to come in the form of noisy colleagues (61 percent). In addition to cherishing alone time, it appears many office employees who have a boss need distance from their managers, with 20 percent saying they would prefer to have more work responsibilities than sit alongside their bosses. Even when colleagues are nearby, nearly one-half (46 percent) of respondents report they mostly communicate with them through IM, e-mail or phone over face-to-face interaction. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of respondents signal meeting fatigue, claiming to spend more time in meetings discussing work than actually executing it.

Detailed findings from the report include:

Do Not Disturb
Survey findings indicate employees like easy accessibility to their broader team, but cherish uninterrupted focus time.

  • More than double indicate their preference to spend "focus time" in their personal workspace (63 percent) as compared to those with a preference for working at home (29 percent)
  • Six in ten (61 percent) claim noisy co-workers are the biggest distractions in offices
  • Forty percent name impromptu meetings from coworkers stopping by their workspace as an-office distraction
  • Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) say they spend more time in meetings talking about work than actually doing it
  • Perhaps to avoid idle chatter, 46 percent say that, even though they sit close to their co-workers, they mostly communicate with them through e-mail, IM or phone

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
While the survey indicates clear focus time is critical, team interaction is as well. With the potential longevity of cube and office mates, it's no wonder employees have strong preferences when it comes to personal workspace and seating configurations.

  • Despite noisy co-workers cited as a top distraction, over one quarter (27 percent) prefer an "open room" or "newsroom" setting:
    • Younger adults are more likely to prefer to work in a newsroom setting than their older counterparts (39 percent of those ages 18-34 vs. 18 percent of workers ages 45 and older)
    • Men (42 percent) are much more likely to want to work in a cubicle with other coworkers than women (28 percent)
  • More than a third of those who have a boss have little desire to work alongside their higher-ups. The findings indicate that 38 percent would rather do unpleasant activities than sit next to their boss, such as opt for more work on their plates, sit next to someone who eats loudly, and take on a longer commute
  • Those who are single/never married (43 percent) are more likely to prefer to work in a cubicle with other co-workers than those who are married (30 percent)

"Face-time and group collaboration are critical to success, but it's interesting to see the significant value placed on fostering concentration and limiting outside static," continued Ross. "It's important for today's employers to adapt environments to effectively strike that balance."

With more than 100 million global users, is the leading online brand for questions and answers and an operating business of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI).  Now available as a mobile service, mobile apps have been downloaded more than 3 million times. More information is available at or

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States between March 26-28, 2013 among 2,060 adults ages 18 and over (of whom 603 work in an office setting) by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery® omnibus product on behalf of This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For more information on the findings, go to

1 Respondents and employees noted in the Office Workplace Productivity press release refer to base respondents of 603 U.S. adults who work in an office setting and gave an applicable response