Having your workflow constantly interrupted can be frustrating. Not being able to dedicate one’s full concentration to a task can result in it taking much longer and it can also result in more mistakes being made. By reducing interruptions and being able to focus wholly on each task, you could create a more efficient business. Here are just a few common interruptions in the workplace and how you can prevent them.Unscheduled phone calls
Unscheduled phone calls are one of the biggest interruptions that businesses have to deal with. Whilst some of these phone calls can be urgent and important, others may be general enquiries or even sales calls.
Having a phone that identifies caller numbers and screens out sales calls can be useful for deterring some of the more irritating incoming calls. It’s also possible to simply let every call go through to voicemail so that every caller can be replied to in your own time – the issue with this is that not everyone likes to leave voicemail messages, so you could be missing out on business.
Another option is to hire or outsource someone to take on the role of answering phone calls, so that everyone else can focus on other tasks. There are virtual reception companies that specialise simply in answering the phone – these companies can help to eliminate the inconvenience of answering the phone, relaying only the important information to you. Virtual receptions can also benefit companies that may not always be in the office to answer calls, as well as companies that need a 24 hour point of contact.
Impromptu meetingsMeetings that aren’t scheduled can also be a real inconvenience. If you’ve currently got an open-door policy for clients, you may want to re-evaluate this – whilst this can give off a sense of warmth and hospitality, it’s much more practical to have a system in place for scheduling every meeting.
When it comes to unscheduled meetings with employees, you may want to have a period of time reserved for meetings so that you can focus the rest of your day on important tasks without getting interrupted. Allow a certain level of communication between you and your employees, otherwise it could create a divide between you and your staff.
Answering emails can also be a real chore. Whilst you can choose to ignore emails and reserve special periods for replying to them throughout the day, certain emails may be urgent and may require a quick response.
There are two ways to deal with emails. You can either create an automatic message which apologises for the delay in replying and instructs anyone messaging with an urgent enquiry to phone you (if you’re using a virtual reception they can then take the call), allowing you to answer non-urgent emails in your own time. Another option is to create an email answering system in which every email is immediately read and then sorted into one of five folders ‘reply now’, ‘reply today’, ‘reply this week’, ‘reply this month’ and ‘FYI’. This helps you to prioritise urgency.
It is possible to outsource people to answer emails for you, which could be another option for dealing with this interruption.Personal texts/calls/social media alerts
Many of us can also get interrupted by personal notifications on our mobile phones. Whilst some companies have a strict no-phones rule, this isn’t always welcomed by employees. Turning off notifications during work hours other than calls could be a fairer way to limit personal mobile usage, helping to make this less of a distraction.
With much work now done online, shaky wi-fi connection can also serve as a major interruption. You could find yourself getting cut out during important video conference calls or you may be unable to access files stored on the cloud.
The solution to this is a simple one – upgrade your wifi! Paying more for a better connection could be worth the added efficiency. If you work on the go, you can even set up portable wi-fi so that you’re not having to rely on local wifi connection.
Tech failuresOther technology failures can also serve as major interruptions. This could include everything from a computer crashing to a printer jamming. Having a reliable technician on call can help to get these problems fixed quickly, however you may be able to prevent these faults happening in the first place with preventative maintenance. This could involve servicing every machine so that problems are picked up quickly before they become major faults, allowing them to be fixed out of business hours.