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How call answering services enhance productivity & focus

call answering service and productivity

If you run your own business, hiring a call answering service can be an excellent idea – particularly whilst working from home, as it can be a great way to maintain a professional image. 

Whether you’re contending with a barking dog or a neighbour who loves to mow the lawn regularly, working from home isn’t always ideal for handling business calls. That’s where having a dedicated receptionist on hand to answer calls can help, as they provide a seamless customer experience, regardless of where you’re located.

An around-the-clock call answering service can also be a great way to create a sustainable work-life balance, as we all know that running a business can be a demanding and stressful experience at times. A 24/7 service allows business owners to spend quality time enjoying recreational activities during evenings and weekends without having to worry about missing an important business call.

While these are great reasons to use a call answering service, one of the most immediate and apparent benefits of having a dedicated receptionist is the enhanced ability to focus and get work done.

How interruptions destroy productivity

Oxford Economics surveyed more than 1,200 workers across various industries about the essential factors in a healthy work environment. “The ability to focus and work without interruptions” was chosen as most important by 29% of respondents. 

Interruptions are more costly than most people realise. According to research by Gloria Mark from the University of California, it takes around 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds to be exact) to return to a task again after an interruption. This shocking statistic could explain why so many people have found working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic more productive than working in the office with colleagues and meetings. What’s more, interruptions led to higher levels of stress and feelings of frustration.

A distraction, whether it be a 30-second check of a social media feed or an unwanted phone call, can occupy a considerable percentage of the hours that you dedicate to your working week. Another survey concluded that office workers spend just under 3 hours a day being productive, with distractions touted as the primary reason for this.

Unwanted phone calls can be some of the most annoying distractions, with 36% of Britons stating that they receive at least one cold call or text daily. A call answering service can reduce interruptions and help entrepreneurs focus on the work at hand.

Flow state & interruptions

The ultimate state of focus has been coined as “flow state” by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is also referred to as “being in the zone”.

This psychological state is identified as the most productive state to be in. Work is enjoyable whilst in flow, and you can complete tasks much faster than in any other psychological state:

“…the ego falls away. Time flies”

Quote source

To achieve a state of flow, an individual needs to enter into a state of complete concentration.

Many psychologists and self-improvement authors have suggested that an ability to focus and enter into a flow state is often the determining factor in business and academic success and failure. Most people have never experienced a flow state, unsurprisingly as with distraction at our fingertips, the ability to focus is becoming more and more difficult.

Achieving a flow state requires several factors to be aligned correctly:

  1. Set clear goals & have a specific purpose
  2. Focus on the process, not the end product
  3. The task at hand must be challenging but not too difficult
  4. Interruptions need to be avoided

Whilst we can’t expect to continuously achieve a flow state during the working day, having your phone calls taken care of increases the likelihood of entering into “the zone” and enjoying what you’re doing.

You can read more information on the science of flow study in this academic paper.

External distractions

External distractions include unwanted phone calls, noise, email alerts, notifications from your mobile and social media.

Smartphones are cited as the number one source of external distractions, with emails and instant messaging apps having a significant impact.

If you can remove these things from your immediate environment, you are less likely to get distracted. With a call answering service, for example, you might be able to leave your mobile in another room and only check it every 30 minutes or so. While you can’t really uninstall emails from your computer, you could always close your email app and check it once every 30 minutes as well.

This can work well when coupled with the Pomodoro Technique, which can help fight procrastination and aid focus. Invented in the 1990s by Francesco Cirillo, it is named after the tomato-shaped timer used to track his time studying at university (‘Pomodoro’ translates to ‘tomato’ in Italian). You can learn more about the technique in this YouTube video by Med School Insider.

A call answering service can help to reduce external distractions significantly, allowing you to put away your mobile phone, without the fear of missing an important call.

Internal distractions

Internal distractions include intrusive thoughts, mind racing, and an inability to focus on the work or task at hand. These types of distractions are often brought on by stress and multitasking.

Whilst a call answering service can’t help directly with internal distractions, the peace of mind that comes with it will certainly help. Knowing that all of your calls are being handled by a dedicated receptionist can stop your mind from wandering as you continuously listen out for your phone. It’s one less thing to worry about.

If you still struggle to focus a lot of the time, a few other techniques can help. First, realise that mind wandering and daydreaming are widespread problems. If this is an issue for you, you are certainly not the only one. One technique that can work for specific tasks, as recommended by mental performance coach & world record holder Nishant Kasibhatla, is to bring your focus back to the work at hand. If you are reading or writing something, read the next paragraph out loud – this is a great way to train your brain. Continue to do this for several days, and you should notice your mind wandering less and less.

Another technique is to not engage with your thoughts. For example, put a notepad next to your workstation and each time your mind wanders, write it down instead of engaging with the thought. “Park the thought on a notepad” and next time you take a break, check it to see if anything needs adding to your to-do list.

Work smarter not harder

Whilst many self-employed people are self-proclaimed workaholics, sometimes it pays to step back and assess how you are working. Working hard every day and taking on the role of accountant, sales executive, marketing manager, and receptionist might not be the most efficient way to approach your daily schedule within the business.

Outsourcing specific tasks that you would typically undertake is a much better option.

To gain an objective view of where you spend most of your time, it can help to journal what you do during working hours for a week or two – either in a diary or using a time tracking app. You can also make a note of what distractions you deal with each day.

You might discover that you spend several hours per week answering calls, arranging travel, and filtering spam emails. These ancillary tasks may have even prevented you from finishing your core work for the week. Consider the value of this time, how it could be better spent, and evaluate the cost of outsourcing these tasks. In many instances, hiring a call answering service for a small business makes sense from a logical business perspective, as well as from a wellbeing and productivity point of view.

When you can focus on what you do best and what you are passionate about, running your business will become more enjoyable and rewarding.

Why Moneypenny?

Moneypenny is the world’s leading outsourced communication provider, trusted by 21,000 businesses of all shapes and sizes to deliver exceptional customer conversations on their behalf. Dedicated to you, our receptionists are second to none and get to know your business just like an in-house receptionist would. With their flexible support, you’ll be able to get on with that you do best knowing your customers are in safe hands.

Try our Telephone Answering Service free for one week to see how it will work for you. There’s no long-term contracts or hidden fees, just the chance to experience the benefits first-hand. For more information, call us on 0333 202 1005 today.

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