study reveals workplace productivity killers such as noisy coworkers

by Shane Henson — May 15, 2013—The results of a study just released by may give business owners ideas on helping increase employee productivity and satisfaction, and may help facilities managers gain a better grasp of issues that come with the recent trend towards more collaborative workspaces and office “perks.”’s Office Workplace Productivity study reveals the preferences and habits of American office workers when it comes to an optimally productive workplace environment. According to the company, an online brand for questions and answers, the survey for the study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 2,060 adults ages 18 and older in March 2013.

Although results differed somewhat by age, gender and region, the study indicated that since there are so many distractions in the typical office space with personal desks, workers would like more meeting rooms, collaboration space, and alternative workspaces in order to make their desk time more productive.

Among the key findings: 86% of respondents prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity, suggesting that, while group-oriented workplace perks like foosball and bean bag lounges have become popular tools for unlocking creativity and boosting morale, they do not always drive efficiency. Additionally, the preference to work from home is not as prevalent as it may seem; a majority of respondents prefer to spend “focus time” in their personal workspace (63%) as compared to those who would rather work at home (29%).

The study indicates that distractions tend to come in the form of noisy colleagues (61%). In addition to cherishing alone time, it appears many office employees who have a boss need distance from their managers, with 20% saying they would prefer to have more work responsibilities than sit alongside their bosses. Even when colleagues are nearby, nearly one-half (46%) of respondents report they mostly communicate with them through instant messaging (IM), e-mail or phone rather than face-to-face interaction. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents signal meeting fatigue, claiming to spend more time in meetings discussing work than actually executing it.

Despite noisy co-workers cited as a top distraction, over one quarter (27%) prefer an “open room” or “newsroom” setting, the study also found, although respondents’ age and gender did affect the preference. The study found that younger adults are more likely to prefer to work in a newsroom setting than their older counterparts (39% of those ages 18-34 vs. 18% of workers ages 45 and older), while men (42%) are much more likely to want to work in a cubicle with other coworkers than women (28%).

Not surprisingly, more than a third of those who have a boss have little desire to work alongside their higher-ups. The findings indicate that 38% would rather do unpleasant activities than sit next to their boss, such as opt for more work on their plates, sit next to someone who eats loudly, and take on a longer commute. The study also found that those who are single/never married (43%) are more likely to prefer to work in a cubicle with other co-workers than those who are married (30%).

Ask.Com’s official blog has more information on the study under “To Cube or Not to Cube: That is the Office Space Question”