The cost of multitasking (and the benefits of focus)

While productivity is a pretty tough scale to measure, we can all agree that loss of focus can be very costly when it becomes based on daily practices and habitual multitasking.

There have been so many studies and data released in recent years that prove how much money a business really loses when employees are unable to focus at the level where they are capable of producing their best work.

The consistency of the study results across multiple industries shows one thing to be clear and present: multitasking and interruptions are productivity suckers that are costing our country billions of dollars each year.

Here’s one big step every small business can take to reduce interruptions and significantly increase revenue as a result: don’t let the phone ring at your employees’ desks unless handling that call is their job.

Many of them probably take on several tasks daily, but the most important ones typically require increased focus, concentration and mental energy – all of which are completely cut off and need to be reeled back in after answering a phone call.

This is the cost of multitasking: many offices ring to several phones and someone (other than the receptionist) is always being interrupted from whatever task they were working on to answer the phone. After taking the call, they are then on that person’s agenda and are dealing with this new task before going back and trying to figure out where they were before the call came in.

What if the phone only rings to each employee when it’s relevant to that person?

Modern communications and cloud based phone systems have all kinds of functionality that helps small businesses grow with simple but effective enhancements.

For example, you could use a modern cloud based dashboard that works with your phone system to show your centralized receptionist (whether he or she be in the office, at a branch office in another state, or working from home) who is available, who is away, and who has set their phone to “do not disturb” status because they are focused on important work.

Each user gets a login that allows them to be able to control the routing for their extension, enabling them to direct their calls to their mobile, voicemail-to-email, etc. at certain times of the day. This is a great enhancement to the more global call routing setup that can be configured remotely by your provider (like where incoming calls go and in what order).

With the dashboard, it is much more likely that a call will only routed to you when it’s pertinent to you – and when you’re available. Sure you can trim a hard cost, but increasing productivity by reducing distractions is a subtle change that can yield huge benefits. Just imagine the cost savings when your employees are finally able to get more work done throughout the day due to significantly fewer interruptions.

Oh, the productivity.