Today’s workforce is suffering from a short attention span that is preyed upon by social media usage and other internet activity unrelated to work.
Mobile phones are placed at the ready so as not to miss the arrival of a new SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram message. Indeed, the urge to chat is competing with the work deadlines, creating an internal debate that itself steals the time.
“Across the general populace, 59 per cent agree that personal use of technology is more distracting than work tools, and Facebook is far and away the top attention thief. A whopping 86 per cent described Facebook as a workplace distraction—twice as much as Instagram,” says a new Udemy report.
“When asked to rank various social media sites and communication tools by degree of distraction, Facebook came in first (65 per cent), followed at a distance by Instagram (nine percent), Snapchat (seven per cent), and Twitter (seven per cent),” it adds.
In Kenya, Facebook is the second most visited website after Google and its largest social network with more than 8.5 million Kenyans visiting the site each month, according to the State of Mobile Data report by local IT firm Nendo.
Notably, of websites searched for, Facebook comes sixth after three betting-related sites: Sportpesa (1), Livescore (3) and Betpawa (5), according to a 2019 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social.
“From 2010 to 2015, the most popular search query was “Kenya” in first place followed by Facebook.
“In 2015, SportPesa was placed eighth and rose to dominate through millions of search queries,” says the Nendo report.
There are 1.9 million Kenyans on Instagram, 641,000 on Twitter, 307,500 on Snapchat and 2.1 million on LinkedIn, according to the Hootsuite report.
Top distractors at workplace
Internet users in Kenya spend an average of two hours, 47 minutes on social media a day.
The top five most visited websites in Kenya are Google.com, Facebook.com, Youtube.com, Betin.co.ke and Xvideos.com.
36 per cent of millennials and Gen Z [age 18 to age 39] say they spend two hours or more checking their smartphones during workday, adding up to at least 10 hours every week when they’re doing something outside their job responsibilities.
Overall, chatty co-workers (80 per cent) and office noise (70 per cent) are still the top distractors at the workplace, followed by tech-related distractions (61 per cent).
“Among the workforce’s youngest, however, the number two distraction was the smartphone, with 69 percent acknowledging that checking a personal device interferes with concentration. Millennials and Gen Z are also the most likely age group to describe themselves as distracted at work,” says the Udemy report.
Top online distractors
Facebook is far away the top attention grabber
More than 98 per cent of Kenyans on Facebook use their mobile phones to connect and use the service.
“New generations entering the workforce have never lived any other way. While we’ve let devices and technologies become fixtures, we haven’t reckoned with how they’re undermining our ability to focus and work smart. There’s been a lot of concern around the implications of too much screen time for kids, but what are these technologies doing to adults on the job?” says the Udemy report.
“People compensate for interruptions by working faster, but this comes at a price: experiencing more stress, higher frustration, time pressure, and effort,” says a UC Irvine study.
According to the Udemy report, the briefest interruptions can double a worker’s error rate. Prime time for distraction hits at midday, with 46 percent saying that noon-3pm is their most distracted period, hurting a lot of afternoon productivity.
Furthermore, 84 percent of workers estimate getting back on track after a distraction can require up to 30 minutes, and research shows people overestimate their ability to recover from interruptions.
“Among millennials and Gen Z, the ones spending upward of two hours per workday looking at their phones, an astounding 78 per cent say personal activities are more distracting than work-related intrusions,” says the Udemy report, bringing to question the effectiveness of collaboration and communication tools such as Slack and Whatsapp.
Why do meetings get disrupted
Respondents estimated at 58 percent said they don’t need social media to work, but can’t make it through the day without it, says the Udemy report.
This behaviour, it warns, “isn’t limited to junior workers either; overall, just under two-thirds of survey respondents (62 percent) spend about an hour per day looking at their phones.”
More training, the study recommends, is needed on using technology efficiently at work while employees ought to have fundamentals like achieving focus and time management as well as dealing with distractions of the modern workplace.
Source: Business Daily