In a recent study conducted by computing accessories and tech retailer Currys, it has been found that a significant number of desk workers in the UK are grappling with productivity issues, with talkative colleagues emerging as the primary culprit.

The survey, which included over 1000 desk workers across the UK, sought insights into the ideal and dreaded working conditions, considering the shift towards hybrid and remote work setups. Shockingly, six in 10 desk workers (58%) expressed dissatisfaction with their productivity levels.

The study identified several factors contributing to decreased concentration and focus, with talkative colleagues topping the list as the biggest distraction for more than a fifth of UK workers (23%). Internet issues closely followed, affecting 22% of participants, while mobile phones, both personal and others’, ranked as the third workplace annoyance for 21 percent of desk workers.

Additionally, work-related tasks were identified as productivity challenges. Excessive emails proved to be a hindrance for 20 percent of workers, followed by an overload of meetings (19%) and calls (18%).

Top Productivity Killing Distractions for UK Desk Workers:

  1. Talkative colleagues (23%)
  2. Internet issues (22%)
  3. Mobile phones (21%)
  4. Too many emails (20%)
  5. Too many meetings (19%)
  6. Social media (19%)
  7. Too many calls (18%)
  8. Tiredness/taking a nap (18%)
  9. Pets, chores, poor temperature control (15%)
  10. Family or friends (14%)
  11. Untidy office/desk (13%)

Over the past four years, desk workers in the UK have navigated a turbulent period, transitioning from company offices to pandemic-induced work from home and hybrid models. The study highlighted a preference for hybrid working (38%), with nearly a third (27%) favoring full remote work, and 20 percent still deeming a company office as the best working environment.

When considering the ideal workspace for productivity, 31 percent of desk workers emphasized the importance of a quiet environment. Tidy workspaces ranked high on the list, with 27 percent stating its significance, and 25 percent couldn’t envision productivity without natural lighting.

Factors Contributing to a Productive Work Environment:

  1. Quiet workspace (31%)
  2. A tidy desk (27%)
  3. Natural lighting (25%)
  4. Fresh air (23%)
  5. Good colleagues/company (23%)

These insights shed light on the evolving dynamics of the workplace and the challenges desk workers face in maintaining productivity in an ever-changing work landscape.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.