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Workplace Distractions: Should you Encourage Socialising?

There are dozens of distractions in the workplace, many of which may be harming your profits as you read this. We’ve previously covered how emails unnecessarily cost UK businesses thousands of pounds in lost productivity. But is every distraction a bad thing for your business? Read on to find out how letting your employees socialise at work can actually benefit your business.

Socialising at work is unavoidable. Take a look around your office, chances are you’ll see at least two employees socialising. Half of the UK’s office workers (54%) claim that socialising at work sidelines their focus. Yet only one in four (23.4%) of us admit to doing it. The question you need to ask yourself is…

colleagues socialising

Should you stop Employees socialising at work?

Managers and HR professionals have been arguing about the answer to this question for years.

To put things in perspective: The average employee wastes 6% of their work day socialising. That’s more than 25 minutes a day. This means that in 2015, each of your employees will spend 5,670 minutes socialising during work hours. That’s 13 and a half days that you’re paying for them to chit chat.

So why are some of the UK’s top performing companies encouraging their employees to spend 16% of their day socialising with co-workers?

Does it actually benefit work productivity?

Many experts don’t see this as time wasted at all. When your employees socialise with one another, they build good relationships that increase team trust as well as team cohesion. Not to mention the age old concept of a happy worker making a good worker.

Lynn Taylor, an author, speaker and workplace expert, believes that “people innovate most when they feel supported”. And she’s not the only one. Dozens of papers and studies indicate that a happier workforce works harder and perform better than an unhappy one.

Obviously, you can’t just let everyone chatter away about the latest Eastenders episode, about how Mick banished Dean. So what can you do?

How to manage socialising amongst your workforce

You shouldn’t completely dismiss socialising at the workplace, but you should manage it to keep it from affecting work performance. Below are just a few things you can do to manage how your employees socialise at work.

  • Allow short coffee breaks, during which employees can have a little natter. This allows them to get it out of their system without interrupting important work.
  • Arrange social activities outside of the office (e.g. a team lunch, or a day of ‘team building’ go karting). This builds a strong and effective workforce.
  • Get involved with the conversation, where possible. This shows employees that it’s okay to talk with one another, which will improve morale at work. But be careful not to encourage them to talk too much.
  • Encourage team collaborative projects. This gives your employees the opportunity to bond as a team while also getting work done.

Although socialising has been identified as a “top productivity killer”, by Business Insider, many people argue against it. There are many pros and cons for this particular distraction, so whether it’s good or bad is for you to decide.

Socialising may or may not have a place in your office, but these tips will help you if you do decide to encourage some socialising to increase team cohesion.  As a creative agency, we believe being sociable with one another plays a critical role in how our team delivers the best services possible to our customers.

View our entire series on Workplace Distractions along with some helpful tips that could save your business money. Keep an eye open for our next workplace distractions article, which will cover the internet and social media. Find out why banning sites like Facebook is a really bad idea.

Look who’s talking…

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