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Little annoyances cost UK workers six hours a week

Posted on from Changeboard

Computer crashed again? Colleague cut you up in a team meeting? These little irritations could be costing you valuable hours of productivity. What can you do to avoid frustration and stay on task?

New research has revealed that UK small business workers are losing close to six hours a week because of minor workplace irritations. 

As part of their initiative ‘More good days at work’, Samsung found that technology issues were the biggest driver of office annoyance, as 27 minutes a day are lost to various problems. Some 92% said that crashing computers and slow internet were a cause of irritation, with 85% citing a lack of access to emails as an issue.

Distraction caused by co-workers takes away 22 minutes a day of productivity, with moaning, eating loudly or messily, or being interrupted while talking the main sources of conflict. General office issues such as office temperature or uncomfortable seating costing small businesses 19 minutes a day.

These little irritations could lead to big losses, as 30% admitted to leaving a job because they were irritated by colleagues, 20% because of the workplace, and 10% because technology was sub-par. 

Professor Sir Cary L Cooper of Manchester University said: “Workplace annoyances might seem insignificant in isolation, but – combined – they add up to a lot of lost working time. This is a big issue for the UK as it currently sits 7th in the G7 and 17th in the G20 on productivity per person, showing that these distractions could be causing a big impact. 

“With increased competition and rising costs, small businesses must address these sooner, rather than later to avoid missing out on valuable office hours and losing team members.”

Unsurprisingly, British workers reaction to workplace annoyances is to stick the kettle on, as making a cup of tea or coffee is the main action taken when riled up by technology (42%), colleagues (32%), or general workplace issues (32%).

Samsung found that workers are taking their frustrations home, with a third admitting to suffering with sleepless nights. A further 21% vent to their loved ones, while some 19% took to overeating and alcohol. 

Professor Cary Cooper's tips for more good days at work

1.    Don’t be passive, take control: 
Research finds that when people feel that they don’t have control over situations they can become stressed, annoyed and angry. This is counter-productive in the context of work. So if you have a problem then identify it and look at the options to deal with it—taking the option that produces the greatest gains and least costs.

2.       Be patient:  
In this fast moving world of work, particularly in a technology driven workplace, it is important to be patient. If you’re having technological difficulties, it is best to do other things in the meantime (e.g. make any phone calls you’ve been putting off, go to a meeting, etc.) while the problems are sorted out. Remember, patience is a virtue in a world when people are demanding quality service as well as products.

3.       Connect with people: 
Creating good working relationships with colleagues is important to avoid annoying situations and conflict with workmates. It’s important to meet colleagues face-to-face as much as possible to build these effective and socially supporting relationships. This should prevent annoying interpersonal problems at work.

4.       Take stress breaks:  
In the frenetic workplace of the 21st century, the pressures can mount and people can be frustrated easily, creating a tension in relationships, with any minor problem (e.g. computer issue) also being over-exaggerated. Have a break for tea or lunch with colleagues can be a good coping strategy to reduce annoyances.

5.       Exercise: 
On the way to work, at lunch or on the way home, ensure you do some exercise during the week; when physically fit you are less likely to be sensitive to annoyances, whether from colleagues, technology or general office issues.


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