Survey Says: That E-Mail Just Cost You $10,000

The growing number of digital distractions are having a big affect on workplace productivity, according to a new study.

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You've got mail: E-mail and other digital distractions cost an estimated $10,000 in lost productivity per employee each year.Using social media can not only help small-business owners attract more customers -- it can bring some good PR as well. Unfortunately, the very same social media that's so helpful can also be quite problematic, especially when it comes to workplace interruptions. And we're not sure what's going on, but small-business owners seem to be mightily confused about whether their data is secure or not. Here's a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.

Workplace Interruptions Go High Tech

Remember when phone calls, meetings and people "dropping by" your office to chew the fat accounted for most of the interruptions in your workday? No more. According to a survey by uSamp commissioned by social e-mail software provider harmon.ie, those traditional interruptions account for just 43 percent of workplace interruptions today. Instead, they've been surpassed by digital distractions such as social media, online collaboration tools, texting and instant messaging.

Digital distractions account for nearly 60 percent of workplace interruptions and cost businesses an estimated $10,375 in lost productivity per person per year. In fact, 45 percent of employees say 15 minutes is the maximum amount of time they can work before being interrupted. Companies in the study are implementing tactics such as "no e-mail days" or blocking social media sites to deal with distractions. What are you doing to... hold on, I just got a text.

Meet the Press

You already know that social media is a great tool to connect with customers and prospects. And now, according to the Oriella Digital Journalism 2011 Study, you can use it to literally meet the press. Almost half (47 percent) of journalists worldwide now use Twitter as a source, up from the 33 percent who used it last year. More journalists (from 25 percent last year to 35 percent now) are also relying on Facebook as a source.

This doesn't mean you don't need a PR strategy, however -- more than 20 percent of journalists say they turn to press releases first when researching stories. And Twitter can be a great place to promote them. I'm a devotee: As a journalist, I often use Twitter to find sources or pinpoint trends -- and as a small-business owner, I use it to spread the word about my business.

False Sense of Security

Maybe their brains are scrambled from all those digital distractions, but business owners seem confused about exactly what constitutes security when it comes to crucial business data. Newtek Business Services' latest SB Authority Market Sentiment Survey asked small businesses, "Do you have data or critical information, software or hardware in your physical office, like a server, a tower or a hard drive, that may not be secure?" More than three-fourths (78 percent) said "no," and only 22 percent said "yes."

Yet when asked, "Is all of your critical computer hardware, software, and data stored and backed up offsite?" just 21 percent of small-business owners surveyed said it was, while 79 percent said, no, it wasn't.

If your data isn't backed up, it's not secure. Period, end of sentence.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Tags: Business Trends, e-mail, Facebook, IT security, PR, public relations, Rieva Lesonsky, Survey Says, Twitter

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