Social media sites, text messages, cross-talk with a colleague. Workplace distraction is everywhere these days and businesses say its affecting productivity.

Flickr User Victor 1558

Office workers are interrupted or self-interrupted once every three minutes and with bigger computer screens and open office plans its worse than ever.

Phil Kirschner, head of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, says distraction at the office is hardly new. "Companies understand that there may be a cell phone call from home here or there or an employee may look at a web site to do a little shopping, as long as its kept within bounds," he said.

Studies show it can take 23 minutes for workers to return to the original task. He said there is a positive and negative side to workers stopping by a fellow employee's cubicle to chat.

"They can be collaborating with each other on important projects or getting feedback from another worker which can help get work done. On the opposite side, too much of that can be a major distraction that hurts a company's bottom line, so it is a balance that they have to find," Kirschner said.

Businesses are looking at ways to keep workers more focused.

"Some of the larger companies have elaborate software systems where they can detect exactly what's going on at all times, others are monitoring computer activity or limiting time online," he said.