Case Studies
May 28, 2011

Social Media Distractions Are Costing Some Businesses Millions Annually [Study]

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Even the best of employees in this changing times have the tendency to become distracted by instant messages, emails and social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and it turns out that may be a bigger problem for businesses than originally expected.

Social email software provider harmon.ie recently conducted a survey and found that online distractions from social networks and social communications cost the average business $10,375 per employee annually.

The study used more than 500 employees in the U.S. from small, medium and large scale businesses and discovered that in cases of large scale company’s (more than 1,000 employees) they are wasting upwards of $10 million each year due to social media distractions.

The study specifically recognizes that there isn’t a single one distraction that can be eliminated, in some cases users are simply distracted by overflowing email boxes, while in other cases a more personal distraction such as browsing your friends Facebook wall and photos is to blame.

The study also found that in 60% of work distractions it was social media (networks, texting, IMs and email) that caused the distractions. In many cases users would actually be distracted by two or more programs at one time, often relying on multiple open tabs on their web browsers and through mobile device interaction.

Of those individuals interviewed it was determined that nearly half were distracted by some type of outside social force every 15 minutes, in some cases even left time than that, while more than half said at least one hour of each day was wasted on social media.

According to the survey these are the biggest digital distractions:

  • Email processing: 23%
  • Switching windows to complete tasks: 10%
  • Personal online activities such as Facebook: 9%
  • Instant messaging: 6%
  • Texting: 5%
  • Web search: 3%

I for one am constantly distracted by social media, thankfully my job requires it, however even with my focus on the medium I often find myself gravitating away from my social media research to simply browse photos, talk to friends on Facebook and Gmail Chat and to answer text messages. Apparently even with an understanding of the distractions social media causes it’s easy to get lost in the most mundane of time wasting activities.


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