Calling time on distractions

How many times a day does your phone interrupt your concentration? Admittedly your response will partly depend on the nature of your work. However, a study by Deloitte in 2016 revealed that people checked their mobile phones some forty-seven times per day and it’s a fair bet that telephone interactions have increased since that time thanks to the development of smart technology. And when you add in work telephone interruptions the final total could be greater still.

In our article “Calling SMEs” we mentioned the fact that studies have shown the effect which any interruptions can have on thought processes and workflow. Apple and Android phones now have features which enable users to switch off notifications and with even Apple CEO Tim Cook admitting to purging notifications it is an area which can clearly have implications for individuals and businesses.

Now a study by UCL Professor Nilli Lavie has found a link between phone distractions and low mood; another potential cause for concern for businesses which recognise the importance of their people’s mental health and well-being. The study acknowledged that mobile phones are a major source of distraction. However it also found that some people are more susceptible than others to any form of distraction. So whilst these individuals are distracted by their phones, even if the phone were not there they would find some other way to divert their focus away from the task in hand.

Nevertheless, whilst telephone conversations are an important element of business interactions, in the interests of staff welfare and focus businesses might decide to review telephone management practices. Admittedly there may be some members of the team such as customer service representatives who are expected to spend majority of their time on the telephone. However, others within the organisation may find that their ability to focus and complete tasks is enhanced by a restriction on telephone interactions.

In our “Calling SME” article we suggested a few call management methods such as hunt groups and information lines. Some organisations might also want to consider making use of a virtual assistant service to handle calls when team members are not free to do so. Calls rooted to a virtual assistant service can be pre-announced. This enables the virtual assistant to answer the phone in the name of the client, thereby enabling them to work for multiple clients as required.

Virtual assistants are able to undertake a variety of roles including answering simple queries, sending out brochures, and message handling. This not only takes care of some of the day-to-day queries, it can also help to remove distractions and thereby increase productivity. Virtual assistant services are particularly appropriate for smaller organisations where individuals may not wish to be distracted when in client meetings or focusing on planning. However, larger organisations may also opt for a virtual assistant service as a means of devolving routine tasks, thereby freeing up employees to undertake core organisational duties.

Telephones needn’t be a distraction. When call handling is managed appropriately telephones can still be an intrinsic contributor to business success without the problems caused by inappropriate interruptions.

Written by Alison