How to avoid office distractions.

20 March 2022
Read time: 7 mins

Written by:
Elisha Gorton.

We've all dealt with extreme change and upheaval over the past two years.

Now that we're out of the pandemic, your boss or HR team might be planning for you to head back into the office very soon. But getting used to working back in the office can be a bit of a challenge after such a long time working from home.

While many businesses are moving to a fully-remote or hybrid working environment, at GEL Studios, we know that in creative roles, there is a need for face-to-face conversations to happen, that's why we've been back in the office for a number of months and even expanded into a second office.

I've spoken to the team and got their insights on how to get used to being back in the office again.

Our Client Director, Katie:

"After working from home for so long, the distraction of getting involved in other people's conversations is actually more welcomed now than it was before. I felt that when I was working from home there weren't many distractions (once the kids were back to school) and actually being back in the office has made people have a conversation, stop and have a coffee or step away from the computer for lunch.

"However one thing I would say for me is that I can get easily distracted from what I am doing when I see an email come through on my watch or my phone.

"To help with this I have found turning off my notifications on my watch (or keeping them to the least interruptive alert) during work hours, or if I really need to check them, move away from my desk or possibly take a break outside so that I get used to associating that time to check my phone or watch."

Our Creative Director, Carly:

"My biggest distraction is lots of background noise or surrounding conversations (which are only natural to have in a team office environment). It's mainly a distraction when I'm trying to concentrate on something more complex or need to write a detailed email. I find the increased noise makes it harder for me to focus on the task and can end up taking twice as long.

Two things I've found that really helps:

Other things I've put in place to help minimise more common distractions:

Our Designer, Elisha:

We recently had a visit from our furry four-legged friends (take a look at why every creative studio should have dogs in the office) to find out how much fun we had interacting and playing with them. You can see where I'm heading with this one.

"As much as the benefits far outweighed the negatives, the distraction level was high when the dogs were in the office. Each time they appeared between our feet or did anything faintly entertaining, that was enough for me to move away from my desk and take a pause from anything I was doing".

"You may think the obvious answer is to just not have the dogs in the office but there are multiple benefits of having them in the work environment. I would just suggest that you set yourself small breaks throughout the day when you can interact with the dogs and set boundaries when you are at your desk. Once you start, it's a slippery slope to being sat in the middle of the floor surrounded by doggos.

Our Digital Marketing Manager, Lewis:

It's great to be back in the office. Before joining GEL in August, I had been working at home solidly for nearly two years and missed the impromptu discussions being in the office allow you to have. It's just not the same meeting through Microsoft Teams or chatting on Slack.

"Emails were one of the biggest distractions in my previous role. This would pull me away from the actual task I was working on. I'm quite lucky that in my role at GEL the amount of emails have dramatically reduced. I also find a completely silent office quite distracting too.

"One of the most helpful courses I ever went on was run by a company called Emailogic- they showed me ways to rethink how I respond to emails and techniques to make sure that your response doesn't end up with a long chain of further emails."

Our Digital Marketing Assistant, Max:

Our newest member of the team may not have been here long enough yet to pinpoint a specific cause to lose focus, but he certainly had one bug bare in his previous role.

"My last role was very work from home focused, during quiet times it took a lot of discipline not to spend an unhealthy amount of time on my phone, mostly scrolling through various social media app or sometimes on the latest highly addictive mobile game."

"I've found silencing unnecessary notifications prevents me from picking up my phone in the first place, avoiding the inevitable endless scrolling. When I need that extra bit of willpower not to pickup my phone, I'll use an app called 'Forest' - it helps you stay focused by planting a virtual tree, the tree grows while you focus on your work, leaving the app halfway through will cause the tree to die. Sounds strange but really helps me to avoid procrastination."

Our Full Stack Developer, Nate:

Other than claiming that his fellow developer, Jamie is his biggest cause of distraction, Nate has a similar issue to Lewis.

"Emails, emails, emails, there's no way of getting away from them.

"I try to only look at my emails at a certain point of the day, the same time everyday, to make sure they don't encroach into my everyday tasks."

Our Web Developer, Jamie

Other than continuous banter with his fellow developers, Jamie's distraction is one that comes part and parcel with his job role, the support desk.

As soon as a client logs a support request, Jamie being the awesome support agent that he is, aims to respond to it as soon as possible. This can sometimes take him away from his other daily scheduled tasks.

To make sure our developers are not inundated with support requests, Katie sets specific times for each developer to take over the support desk and makes sure there is enough time for scheduled task. While on the subject of the support desk, from 1 March we changed the way that support requests are dealt with. You can read more about that here.

Our PHP Developer Justin

The most wholesome of distractions, Justin finds himself losing focus when his colleagues share successes or new ideas.

"My largest distraction in the office would come from other people. There is always a story being shared as GEL has a very positive environment of sharing. This could be sharing a success or a new idea.

"Of course, this generally comes with a certain amount of distraction but a welcome one as it is also motivating and inspiring." Solution: When I really need to get away from the distractions of the office. I can simply put my headset on and work away".

Our Managing Director, Graeme:

The busiest of the bunch and definitely a hard one to nail down for a blog piece.

"One of these would be notifications from other members of the team who have commented on a certain blog article task, wanting my comment on what distracts me, that right there is a distraction" :)

So there you have it. Emails and general office noise tends to be the most common office distractions for Team GEL. But with the right tools and having the right space to work from can really help you to stay focused.

Written by:
Elisha Gorton.

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