Coping with Distraction in Today’s Office Environments

When it comes to maintaining good relationships with co-workers, there are some things we just don’t want to know. Unfortunately, more than nine out of ten office workers have overheard co-workers’ personal conversations and phone calls, and a surprising 71% have seen co-workers viewing websites they shouldn’t be visiting, according to Staples Business Advantage Workplace Employee Survey.

Such distractions are symptomatic of today’s open office environments, where, it appears, workers get the best and the worst of each other. On one hand, most people find these environments more engaging and collaborative. On the other, distraction is widely experienced – a surprising 81% report that they work in high traffic areas.

Employees cope in various ways. 45% have gone outside the office to take or make a phone call and 28% have worn headphones to block out noise from others. Many abandon the office altogether – 57% of those who work outside the office say they sometimes do so because it removes the distractions of the office.

Interestingly, employees don’t just blame the physical environment. Less than one-quarter of respondents placed “private or personal space” in the top-three of their wish list, ranking it along with “new technology or equipment”, “ergonomic furniture”, “a fitness centre”, and “food and drink options”.

Furthermore, some of the most frequently reported distractions result from questionable co-worker behaviour, such as having to work near somebody who is visibly or audibly sick (81%), is eating something that smells bad (77%), or has a radio or TV playing loudly (69%).

While changing the physical environment is no substitute for respectful conduct in the office, planners need to consider where optimization of office space can help. Would personal calls be made within earshot of others if there was a private phone cubicle available? Are people eating at their desks because the lunch room is inadequate? Would taking a break in a wellness room alleviate the stress of a high traffic environment?

As the office evolves to meet today’s diverse needs, these are the kinds of questions office planners need to ask.


To download the full report of the 2018  Employee Workplace Survey visit:

Les tendances en milieu de travail imposent un exercice d’équilibre aux planificateurs d’espace de bureau au Canada

Avant le millénaire actuel, aménager un espace de bureau était assez simple. Chaque employé travaillait à un bureau ou un cubicule, et avait accès à des salles de conférence ou de réunion ainsi qu’à une salle commune pour manger et prendre ses pauses.

L’aménagement des espaces de bureau a beaucoup évolué depuis. Aujourd’hui, selon le sondage aux employés sur leur milieu de travail réalisé par Staples Avantage Affaires, seulement 23 % des employés de bureau travaillent dans des environnements fermés, principalement des bureaux et des cubicules. Les 77 % restants travaillent en espace ouvert ou semi-ouvert, où la majeure partie de la surface est composée d’espaces de travail avec des places assises libres, sans division.

La transition ne s’est pas faite sans difficulté. Bien que 69 % des gens se disent capables de travailler efficacement dans leur espace de travail, 31 % des gens ont répondu négativement à cette question, ce qui est assez inquiétant.

Les besoins variés posent un dilemme aux planificateurs d’espace de bureau. D’un côté, 22 % des répondants affirment que l’aménagement de leur espace de bureau complique les interactions avec les autres. D’un autre côté, 25 % des répondants trouvent que leur espace de bureau est trop ouvert et 39 % ajoutent que l’aménagement ouvert de leur bureau crée des distractions.

Ces préoccupations sont prises en compte dans un nouveau concept d’aménagement de bureau appelé le bureau réfléchi – une vision que Staples Avantage Affaires Canada présente à un nombre croissant de clients. Dans un environnement réfléchi, les employés peuvent changer d’espace de travail selon le type de tâche qu’ils effectuent, plutôt que de travailler toujours dans le même bureau ou le même cubicule.

Par exemple, un employé peut tenir une réunion d’équipe dans un espace ouvert dédié aux projets, rédiger un rapport dans un endroit tranquille, parler avec un fournisseur dans un espace dédié aux conversations téléphoniques, et, en sortant du bureau, récupérer ses objets personnels dans un casier.

Les employés aiment l’organisation des places assises dans un bureau réfléchi, car 70 % affirment que la capacité à travailler dans différents endroits approfondit le lien avec leur employeur. Bien qu’il soit évidemment impossible de satisfaire tout le monde en tout temps, faire correspondre l’espace de travail à la tâche à accomplir semble être une excellente façon de faire face aux différents besoins des employés de bureau.

Workplace Trends Create a Balancing Act for Canadian Office Planners

In pre-millennium days, office workspace design was pretty straightforward. Each employee had a dedicated office or cubicle, access to boardrooms or meeting rooms, and a common room to go to for breaks and lunch.

The office floor plan has evolved considerably since then. Today, according to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Employee Survey, only 23% of those who work in offices work in closed environments that are predominantly offices and cubicles. The remaining 77% work in open or semi-open environments where much or most of the floor space is dedicated to open, barrier-free seating arrangements.

The transition has not been without growing pains. While 69% claim that they are able to work efficiently in their workspace, there is significant concern about the 31% who replied negatively to this question.

Varied requirements create a bit of a conundrum for office planners. On one hand, 22% claim that the design of their office space makes it difficult to interact with others. On the other, 25% claim that their office space is too open, while 39% working in open environments claim that the design of the office space creates distractions.

These concerns are being addressed by a new concept called agile office – a vision that Staples Business Advantage Canada has been introducing to a growing number of customers. In an agile environment, employees, instead of working in a dedicated office or cubicle, can move to different workspaces depending on the kind of work they are doing.

For example, an employee could conduct a team meeting in an open-plan project space, write up a report in a quiet booth, speak with a supplier in a telephone conversation space, and on the way out of the office, retrieve personal items from a locker.

Agility seating is getting high marks from employees, with 70% claiming that being able to work in different settings deepens their connection to their employer. While it’s clearly impossible to please everybody 100% of the time, matching the workspace to the work being done appears to be an excellent way to cope with the diverse needs of today’s office workers.


Promoting Healthy Ergonomics in the Workplace

Promoting healthy ergonomics is one of the simplest ways to keep your workforce healthy and productive. In particular, the increasing number of desk jobs and the corresponding increase in hours spent sedentary puts a significant focus on ergonomics.

Promoting proper ergonomics can prevent worker injuries, absences, and lack of productivity associated with discomfort. In short, proper ergonomics means healthier, happy workers and a better workplace overall.

Ergonomics on a Budget

  • Posture is everything, and it’s free. Encourage desk-bound workers to sit with their feet flat on the floor and not to round their shoulders forward and slouch. Sitting up straight is ergonomically advantageous and will prevent discomfort such as tight back muscles and back pain.
  • Keep a level head. Workers who routinely tilt their head down, up, or jut it forward experience a variety of ailments. From neck pain to clenched jaws to headaches, head position is the most natural ergonomic fix with the most drastic results.
  • Microbreaks are all it takes. Taking a few minutes to stand up, stretch, walk to the bathroom or move around once every hour is all it takes to help boost circulation. That is enough to flush out inflammation that can develop from prolonged sitting and poor ergonomics, and inflammation build up is what leads to injury over time.

Ergonomic Equipment

  • The standing (or convertible) desk that allows sitting or standing is an ideal ergonomic option that combats sedentary desk work. Standing burns far more calories than sitting, encouraging a healthier worker weight.
  • The split keyboard is highly recommended ergonomic solution, especially for workers with more narrow shoulders, as this type of keyboard allows for the mouse to rest closer to the body. That tends to alleviate discomfort in the shoulder, arm, and back of the mousing hand.
  • A supportive chair is an excellent ergonomic solution for workers prone to hip or back discomfort. Chairs should be adjustable to ensure the worker can sit with their feet flat on the floor, their hips at or slightly above knee height, and their lower back supported.
  • Alternative seating is another ergonomic option suitable for some workers. For example, sitting on an exercise ball, a stool, or a wiggle seat encourages core strength.

Ergonomic evaluations are an excellent idea for any organization. As each worker is unique, so is their ergonomic need, it is the best way to assess each worker and ensure proper ergonomics are in place.

Marketing Your Small Business

Marketing your small business can seem overwhelming when you have a million things to do. When time and resources are limited, you might feel like you have few options. But marketing is a critical part of your business’ success. Thanks to technology, the playing field is becoming more level. Big companies with large budgets aren’t the only ones that can market themselves successfully. By combining low-tech and high-solutions, your small business can successfully advertise, too. Follow these tips to promote your small business more efficiently.

  • Use personalized marketing. Are you customers single mothers and sports fans? Are they middle-aged women and college students? It is essential to know your clients. You can segment customers by demographic breakdown, location, and customer behaviors and attitudes. If you don’t have enough data to make clear decisions, consider sending out short surveys to get more information from your customers. Alternatively, you can contact organizations that keep relevant demographic statistics.
  • Incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) tools into your marketing activities. Due to the complexity of AI, many small businesses shy away from it. However, AI tools can benefit companies large and small. New technologies allow you to collect vast amounts of data, including gender, age, location, and even how customers interact with your website. AI tools, such as Einstein and Crayon, allow you to make sense of these data. You will see patterns more clearly and be able to develop a marketing strategy to target specific segments of your customer base.
  • Share your knowledge with the community. Many community organizations and Meetup groups welcome speakers. Share your expertise that will bring value to the audience. Position yourself as an authority within your community. If people attach a name and a face to your marketing message, they are more likely to respond positively.
  • Offer free trials or samples. People often feel a need to reciprocate after they have received something. Allowing potential customers to test drive your product makes them more receptive to your marketing message and sales pitch. Free trials also show customers that you are confident in your product. Uncertainty and resistance to change are always a barrier to sales, but very few people will turn down something that is free. Once potential customers get a personal introduction to your product, psychological barriers soften, and sales are easier to make.
  • Use video to market your business. If you have no experience, video marketing might seem intimidating. But some experts predict that video viewing will be responsible for 80% percent of web traffic by 2020. Cheap, high-quality camcorders and free video hosting platforms make video marketing accessible to small businesses like never before. Video marketing allows you to connect in a personal, emotional way that is more difficult to do in writing. Begin to get comfortable with video as a marketing tool. Show off what makes your business great.


Marketing a small business with limited time and money is a real challenge. Despite the difficulty, though, small businesses can launch successful marketing campaigns. Remember to combine new technology with old-fashioned hard work. Follow these six tips and watch your business grow.