UK economy loses £19.9 billion annually as a result of distraction


UK: Research by The QEII Centre in Westminster, London, has revealed that the UK economy loses £19.9 billion a year due to declining attention spans.

The report – The Distracted Economy: We are losing focus – how to hold attention and keep delegates engaged during business meetings and events – shows that 83 per cent of respondents admit to being distracted during in-person meetings. This figure uses to 85 per cent during online meetings.

Over one-third of workers claimed to be concerned about their ability to fully focus during meetings and events. The top three distractions for both in-person and online meetings include boredom, tiredness, and having a busy mind.

Some key findings of the report include:

• Distraction during online meetings costs the UK economy more (£11.1 billion) than in-person meetings (£8.8 billion).

• Over two-thirds believe that their work colleagues have become more easily distracted during in-person meetings and events.

• 40 per cent of senior team members admit to being distracted for around one-third of a meeting.

• 49 per cent prefer in-person meetings compared to online whenever possible.

• More than half of the respondents (51 per cent) agreed that productivity is higher during in-person meetings. 

Mark Taylor, chief executive at The QEII Centre, said: “In this increasingly distracted world, we thought it was crucial to understand the causes behind the deficit in attention span and what can be done about it. Something has to change. From being distracted by digital tools to boredom and multi-tasking, the findings reveal the reasons behind the distraction and help us understand the need for more engaging interactions. With this report, we hope to help professionals in the event industry to collaborate with impact, and meet the ever-changing delegate’s needs of the future.” 

Event planner expert Simon Hughes added: “This report is essential for event planners and venues. By analysing what distracts delegates, we can plan how to cope with the competing demands for attention. It also showcases that we are sociable animals that need to collaborate in person to boost engagement and productivity. Despite the number of people who enjoy remote working, the preferred meeting format is in person over online. This is really good news for venues – but they will have to offer more flexibility with their spaces, formats and tools to capture attention.”

Alongside the findings, the report outlines some practical tips on how to boost engagement – from meeting length to seating style.

To download the full report on The Distracted Economy click here.


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