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How to Keep Distractions From Hampering IT Staff Performance

It distraction
(Credit: Alexey Kotelnikov via Alamy Stock)

Pandemics, war, inflation, cyberattacks, and a seemingly endless number of other crises are taking a mental toll on just about everyone -- including many IT teams.

To create, innovate, and troubleshoot either the code they're developing or the infrastructure they're trying to secure, IT workers' focus is integral to the quality of their work, observes Sam Raza, senior director of IT for recruitment firm Altis Recruitment.

A Focused Environment

Employees need a working environment that allows them to focus on their work with ease and flow. The best way to reach this goal is to offer staff a choice of workspaces, says Elisabeth Galperin, a business productivity coach and speaker. “Some individuals need near-silence and very little visual stimulation; others need ambient noise and thrive where there's constant activity around them,” she explains. In either case, by offering hybrid workplace settings, IT organizations will benefit by having highly focused employees. Galperin adds that managers should trust that their team member will know which environment suits them best.

Personal electronics can be a major source of distraction, so it's important for team members to put them away when they're not needed, suggests Boris Jabes, CEO at data analytics tool provider Census. “This includes phones, laptops, and even televisions.”

Raza advises her team members to “defend their calendars,” blocking-off two- to three-hour stretches of time to concentrate on their most challenging tasks. “I also recommend they turn off all notifications during this time -- email, chat and video call requests.”

Another strategy is strictly limiting the number of work-in-progress projects and assigning team members to a select number of tasks. “It’s scientifically proven that humans aren't good at multitasking, but we can’t help but try,” says Jesse Stockall, chief architect for IT management platform builder Snow Software. “Discourage multi-tasking within your teams,” he recommends.

Stockall says that many of his teams use Kanban, a continuous flow work model. “You work on one task until its completed, but you don’t go above the WIP (work-in-progress) limit for the team,” he explains. “If you reach the limit, you partner with someone else on the team to help them complete their task.” Stockall believes that the model fosters focus and drives tasks to completion instead of allowing them to linger.

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

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