Want to have a productive day? Stay away from the printer. A new survey finds that printer and copier stations are basically a black hole for productivity. Office technology company Brother International Corporation says workers waste an average of 13 hours a year dawdling at their company’s printer and copier stations.
“Movement toward centralized printers has unintentionally created a new employee gathering spot,” says Jeff Sandler, director of marketing for solutions and content at Brother. Workers waste time schlepping to and from printer stations, waiting for jobs to be completed and shooting the breeze with colleagues. It’s only a few extra minutes a day, but those minutes add up and make it harder to get back into a focused frame of mind.
While productivity experts say that it is important to take breaks during the day, unscheduled interruptions can derail your momentum. “Since printing devices are widely dispersed across offices, long trips to the device are a given. And social conversations have become the norm,” Sandler says.
Brother’s survey finds that more than 60% of workers say they chat with co-workers at print and copy stations, and many of those conversations aren’t about work. Those non-work conversations make people 98% more likely to stop by a colleague’s desk to talk about non-work topics.
Sandler suggests tackling the problem by adding printers closer to work spaces (he does, after all, work for a company that sells printers). Other increasingly common options are the use of electronic file-sharing and cloud-storage services that eliminate the need for so many hard copies.
If the printer is sapping your productivity, try working in an area of the office that naturally delivers better productivity. The physical space you’re sitting in can have a significant impact on well you work, says Bob Best, executive vice president of energy and sustainability services at commercial real estate company JLL.
Access to sun and natural light is “like magic,” Best says. Studies have shown it energizes people and even makes them less likely to take sick days. Beyond that, the most productive space in your office will depend on the task you’re trying to accomplish.
If you need to focus intensely or complete a project within a firm deadline, find a place that’s quiet with high walls and minimal outside distraction. Conversely, if you need to troubleshoot or generate ideas, an open cafe or lounge-type environment will give you the stimulation you need to get your creative juices flowing.
Read next: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Harder