Across the U.S., more and more workers are struggling with productivity — both for obvious reasons, like lack of sleep, as well as more subconscious factors.
According to The Wall Street Journal, many companies are struggling with employees losing focus due to visual noise distractions and other interruptions.
Business spaces that lack visually appealing, calming decorations can actually result in significant decreases in productivity. One study found that individuals working in enriched spaces that are decorated with nice plants or pieces of artwork were actually 17% more productive than those in sparse spaces.
Over the years, work space sizes have significantly shrunk, too; individual workstations have decreased from 80 square feet in the early 1990s to 39 square feet in 2017. Despite these smaller workstations, there are still plenty of distractions that are costing businesses valuable time and money because of lost productivity.
“I wish there were such a thing as human blinders,” said Maya Spivak, a computer software employee who struggles with workplace distractions. “I could barely ever focus.”
Sometimes even ordinary, everyday occurrences can lead to office paranoia and cause a severe drop in productivity.
“If we see a bunch of people gathering in our peripheral vision, we wonder, ‘What are they talking about? Did somebody get laid off? Are they coming to lay me off?'” added Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist with Design With Science.
Across the pond in the United Kingdom, even basic literacy problems are causing workplace issues among young employees.
The Telegraph states that after a report found that workers between the ages of 16 and 24 often have problems with reading, math, and technology issues, the U.K. government is putting together a training and skills program to improve nationwide literacy.
In the U.S., roughly 36 million adults lack basic literacy skills, per the National Coalition for Literacy.
In addition to workplace distractions, literacy issues, and other everyday struggles, even the current political climate is causing major productivity problems among U.S. business.
The 2016 presidential election was extremely polarizing, and office-wide debates have not suddenly ceased since November 9th. As a result, roughly 40% of more than 1,300 polled workers reported experiencing at least one issue with productivity because of political discussions in their office.
“There’s research that suggests that having difficult interpersonal relationships at work and having a lot of incivility in the workplace, that that’s is linked to other negative employee outcomes,” said David Ballard, direction of the American Psychological Association. “Employers might prefer to keep political talk out of the workplace, but the reality is these often-heated discussions have intensified since the election, posing a threat to employee well-being and business performance.”