Majority of U.S. Workers Feel Distracted at Work, Blame Technology and Lack of Training for Lower Morale and Productivity, Udemy Report Finds

69% Struggle to Cope With Distraction At Work, and More Than a Third Of Millennials Use Their Phones For Personal Activities Up to 2 Hours During The Workday


SAN FRANCISCO — March 20, 2018 — Udemy, the global marketplace for learning and teaching online, released today “Udemy In Depth: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report,” which measures how

distracted employees are during work hours, how they’re responding to distractions, and the price of distraction for employers and the American economy at large. The research found a strong correlation between increased levels of distraction, decreased productivity, and a lack of proper training at work.

Workers want training but are reluctant to ask for it
Though 69% of full-time employees surveyed report being distracted at work and 70% agree that training could help them learn to focus and manage their time better, 66% have never brought this up to their managers. Younger workers, in particular, are also having trouble balancing work and personal activities on devices they use for both; 78% of millennials/Gen Z say using technology for personal activity is more distracting than work-related tools like email and chat.

Soft skills training on topics ranging from productivity hacks to time management, combined with training on how to use communication tools efficiently, can help employees stay focused and engaged.

  • 42% say feeling empowered to learn new skills would make them more engaged
  • 40% think that flexible/remote work options can reduce workplace distraction
  • 52% say they are more productive when working remotely

“It’s shocking that 54% of employees attribute their underperformance to workplace distractions, but it’s also clear that companies have the power to change that statistic by investing in training. By embracing a learning culture and prioritizing training and development, businesses can help develop employees that keep up with nonstop technology and are competitive, competent, and engaged,” says Darren Shimkus, general manager for Udemy for Business, a curated learning platform that helps enterprises continuously upskill their workforce and foster a culture of learning. The platform has 2,400+ high-quality courses taught by the world’s leading experts that cover a wide range of topics from programming and design to leadership and stress management.

Workers can’t resist the pull of social media

The top sources of employee distraction include: chatty coworkers (80%), office noise (70%), feeling overwhelmed by changes at work (61%), and social media (56%). Meetings, too, were cited as a source of distraction by 60%, and meetings themselves are then disrupted by distractions like small talk and office gossip.

Most survey respondents (58%) said they don’t need social media to do their jobs, but they still can’t make it through the day without it. When asked to rank various social media sites and communication tools by the degree of distraction, Facebook came in first (65%), followed distantly by Instagram (9%), Snapchat (7%), and Twitter (7%).

In addition to recognizing how workplace distraction can hurt productivity and diminish the quality of work, companies need to be aware of the very real damage to employee morale and retention. Among millennials and Gen Z, 22% feel distractions prevent them from reaching their full potential and advancing in their careers, and overall, 34% say they like their jobs less as a result.

When people are engaged, they report being more motivated, confident, and happy and feel they deliver higher quality work. And, based on our survey, opportunities around learning and development are the top drivers of engagement.


This online survey for the U.S. was conducted by Toluna Group on behalf of Udemy in February 2018 among more than 1,000 U.S. office workers in full-time jobs who are ages 18 or older. The complete methodology for all countries surveyed available upon request.


About Udemy

Udemy was founded in 2010 with the aim of improving lives through learning. Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where more than 20 million students learn from an extensive library of 65,000 courses taught by expert instructors in over 50 different languages. Whether learning for professional development or personal enrichment, students can master new skills through self-paced, on-demand courses, while instructors have a way to share their knowledge with the world. For companies, Udemy for Business offers subscription access to a collection of business-relevant courses as well as a simple platform to host and distribute their own content in one central place. Udemy is privately owned and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Ireland, Turkey, and Brazil.