Addressing the concentration concern: Can technology boost productivity in a digitally distracted workforce this festive season, and beyond?

Have you ever finally got stuck into a meaty piece of writing only for a Teams’ message to pop up and completely unravel your concentration? Or perhaps you’ve been doing some life admin, only for an alert to flash on your smartphone and the next thing you know you’ve been scrolling through Instagram for 30 minutes?

Messages and meetings, alerts and text are all increasingly competing for our attention. Both employees and employers are aware of this, with many concerned about their concentration and therefore productivity levels both at home and, at work.

As we enter the final stretch of the year there is even more competing for employees’ attention: from office decorations and festive radio jingles to panic over Christmas presents or planning their next holiday. As such, leaders face a double-sided challenge: maintain productivity while employee energy levels decrease, and keep employees engaged while they’re exposed to more distractions than usual in the run up to the festive season.

To address concentration-concerns, leaders must ensure they’re equipped with the right tech. Doing so will not only promote better employee wellness but will raise bottom lines via increased efficiency and productivity. So, where to start?

Support the brain to perform at its best

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO once said that “Everything becomes more complex, not less complex, in hybrid work.” And I’d have to agree.

Hybrid work affords professionals the ability to work from anywhere, at any time. But this new open office dynamic also brings with it multiple distractions and ambient noises whether it’s a coffee machine whirring in the office kitchen or a faulty washing machine thumping in the back of your home-office.

Our brains are impressive things, but all of these acoustic changes can make it challenging for employees to stay engaged and perform to the best of their abilities.
While it often goes unnoticed, the brain can undergo significant strain when struggling to process digital audio in noisy environments. Many don’t consider the harm this can cause, not only on cognitive resources, but also on our ability to listen effectively and to our overall well-being.

Its imperative leaders invest in technologies that support the brain, not challenge it. Doing so empowers employees to perform their best. In fact, our recent whitepaper found that Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC) technologies hold the power to increase users’ efficiency by up to 40%. Plus, by reducing the effort we spend listening by up to 67% these technologies allow us to concentrate better and focus in on tasks.

Empower seamless collaboration wherever, whenever

We are now spending hours in hybrid meetings. In fact, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Survey in 2022 there was a remarkable 252% increase in weekly time spent in meetings for the average Teams user since February 2020.

Within these hybrid meetings sound comes from multiple places: people, laptops, speakers, not to mention background noise. The result? A cluttered sound environment that can test anyone’s concentration.

Facilitating virtual meetings, that are seamless and uninterrupted is crucial. Technology is a key facilitator of this collaboration, especially in the modern context. Leaders must ensure their meeting room tech captures every voice, regardless of room size, or how many participants are dialling in remotely.

Plus, it’s not uncommon that meetings now start 5 minutes after they’re supposed to. Not because someone is late, rather because there’s often someone trying to connect to the room audio system or someone's camera has issues. This can immediately foster an environment that is distracted and where concentration wanes.

A holistic approach to the modern hybrid meeting is imperative to ensuring that the minute employees walk into a meeting room, or dial in remotely, the tech that’s supporting them to connect, can do just that.

Engage with crystal-clear video

Let’s be honest, how many of you reading this have glanced at your phone during a hybrid meeting? This was probably made possible because your camera was off, correct?

The hybrid workplace demands solutions that bring us closer. Afterall, it’s important every team member can contribute to meetings effectively. Body language plays a crucial role in this, and proper video set-up facilitates it. Investing in technologies that allow for optimal room coverage, and intelligent picture framing can limit distractions and empowering razor-sharp focus.

Within the new open office environment leaders face a new set of challenges. Those who are invested in the future of their company and their employees need to think intentionally about optimizing the potential of technology to empower their people and keep them engaged in the long-term.