23 : Interruptions are Your Greatest Opponent; The Michael Jordan, to Your Workplace

Every time a person is interrupted in the workplace, it takes them an average of 23 minutes to get back on task.

The number 23 is what we think about when we think about basketball - especially when thinking about basketball jerseys and the history of the sport. When opponents stood against that number during Jordan's heyday - they saw a number that was inevitably going to beat them, out-think them, and establish fear in their lives. In the same light - the number 23 should be what every business thinks about when they think about productivity, interruptions and time lost in the work place.

Interruptions will more often than not, beat us to the punch, outmaneuver our thought process and should ultimately be something we fear for in our businesses. If we're not careful as business owners - these interruptions will beat you. Most will argue that Michael Jordan was the best to play the game and if you really think about it - interruptions, distractions and disturbances are sure to be the best to play the game against productivity in the work force. This is why we should be doing everything we can to make sure that everyone is safe, protected and guarded from inevitable distractions - as much as we possibly can.

In the case of a receptionist - let’s be honest with ourselves and make a safe and fair estimate on the potential time lost as a receptionist, office admin, or front desk person -- strictly from outside interruptions.

Let’s round up to 30 minutes of time loss. 23 minutes equals the time it takes to get back on task, but an additional estimated time of seven (7) minutes it takes (plus or minus a few minutes, of course) to help a guest through the list of things they might assume they need from the receptionist in the lobby. That list includes - the time spent conversing with the guest, being asked and responding to the question of what the date and time are, asking for a pen, waiting for the receptionist to get off the phone before being able to approach them, the time it takes for a receptionist to track down the individual being visited (by phone, text, physically walking to them, etc.) - we can safely suggest that a half-hour of time is potentially wasted every time someone enters the front doors of your business. In other words, at a $25 per hour wage, $125 is wasted every week if a businesses averages a visitor rate of two (2) guests per day. Depending on what size of business you are - two visits per day is, more likely than not, a very conservative estimate. For the sake of painting a clear picture - five (5) hours a week, or 20 hours a month (wasted by distractions) roughly equates to $500 per month of money, time and effort that could’ve been spent on much more valuable tasks.

This, for obvious reasons to some, is something that most businesses aren’t thinking about when it comes to their lobby and aiding their front-desk people. Receptionists and office admins are tasked with much more valuable things than checking people in and out of their business. If that isn’t true for your business and that IS all they are tasked with - then there is a problem in and of itself with where money is being spent internally. It should be safe to assume that more is being tasked of a receptionist. Being in the 21st century - it only makes sense to help them do their jobs better and more effectively.

In many cases - interruptions can last much longer than the estimated seven (7) minutes suggested above (still, of course, being followed by the 23 minutes it takes to get back on task). For instance - if and when there is more than one person in the lobby (all there to see different people) the receptionist is interrupted for the entire time it takes to sign them all in and track everyone down that’s being visited. In a study, entirely dedicated to interruptions in the workplace, they found that “after only 20 minutes of interrupted performance, people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure.” This is worrisome in any position and department of a business, but definitely shouldn’t be limited to just those that work behind the walls of the lobby.

Now that you've been enlightened, heard the truth behind distractions in the workplace, and as long as your receptionist is unprotected - know this... Everytime someone walks through the front doors of your building and into your lobby, they are wearing the number 23. That person (most likely) isn't going to be Michael Jordan, so don't pull your pen out too quickly, because the only autograph you're going to see in relation to that number - is the autograph you put on a check that went to time, effort and money that could've been spent more wisely, on more valuable tasks.

BONUS: We've left you with a few GIF's of some great moments that Michael Jordan shared with us (see below).

WARNING: These will distract you and further interrupt you from whatever you were doing before reading this article. At least we warned you...

You're still watching... WE WARNED YOU! Michael Jordan might be THE interruption of all interruptions (at least today).

This post in no way states the viewpoints or beliefs of Michael Jordan, and Michael Jordan is by no way affiliated with Weckey, Inc. In fact - his highlight films provide me with more interruptions than I need to begin with.

-- Mitch Williams, CEO

-- Visit the Weckey site to learn more about how to help provide solutions to the many problems addressed in this post!

Profile Image

Mitch Williams