A pervasive lack of focus is epidemic in today’s workplace, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to the New York Times, the average American worker consumes 34 gigabytes of information and reads 100,000 words in a single day. At the same time, employees are constantly shifting their attention; computer users change windows or check email and other programs an average of 37 times an hour. Multitasking is no longer an art but a norm. 

Distraction is one of the most destructive forces facing businesses today. This lack of engaged focus rapidly erodes a company’s productivity, but it doesn’t limit itself to employees alone. Disengagement has an equally negative impact on key audiences like customers and partners as well.

The Risks of Distraction

Customers: Your customers are confronted with more competing messages, more options and more distractions than ever before. More than 30 billion apps have been installed on mobile devices, where people are spending 94 minutes a day -- even more than the 75 minutes they’re spending on the web.

Employees: With additional email overload, internal instant messaging platforms, social media platforms and open work environments, employees are bombarded by distractions throughout the day. When an employee doesn’t remain focused on the job at hand, they find themselves forced to work longer hours, later into the night and on weekends to compensate. This can quickly lead to burn-out and disengagement. Accord to Gallup, 50 percent of employees today are disengaged at work, costing U.S. business US$ 300 billion per year in lost productivity.

Partners: The same distractions tugging at our customers and employees are also impacting our partners. Beyond the obstacles mentioned above, partners are struggling to keep up with the training and products of every OEM they represent. Partners are asked to take training courses, register deals and connect with customers, all while trying to keep their heads afloat. Our partners are suffering from an understandable lack of focus, and companies that become complacent about their partner networks are inviting significant risk.

The Elements of Focus

Having realized the importance of keeping audiences as focused as possible, businesses are making every attempt to achieve focus. When looking at examples where focus is regularly achieved, we find a common set of elements that include: