If your employees spend a lot of time chatting to one another, it could be a positive thing – it could be a sign of a warm and friendly workplace and sign that you have a close-knit team.

That said, too much chatter can harm productivity. Colleagues could be getting distracted from tasks and not giving their work the full concentration it deserves.

While you can simply confront employees about their chatty behaviour, you don’t want to come across like a grouchy schoolteacher constantly telling people to stop talking. By exploring other ways of reducing chatter, you can do it in a more subtle and constructive way. Here are just a few ways to deal with chatty employees.

Determine whether chattiness is truly affecting productivity

Some people are able to chat away all day while still getting tasks done and meeting targets. While it may seem like your employees are spending a lot of time chatting and not working, you may want to monitor their work first to see what they’re achieving.

There is software out there such as this call center workforce management software that can monitor when employees are being idle, sending automated prompts when necessary to get people back to work. In other cases, you may be able to track progress of projects by getting colleagues to share work in a collaborative space that everyone can access.  

Put social employees in social roles

Certain employees may be more talkative than others and may be the ones behind the constant chatter. If you’re able to easily pinpoint these employees, consider whether you’d be able to place them in a role that plays better to their gregarious nature.

They may not be engaged in their current work if it doesn’t require a lot of socializing but may get more out of roles like training other employees or handling meetings with clients.

Offer allocated times for socializing

If the whole team is chatting and this is getting in the way of work, consider setting allocated breaks for socializing throughout the day. Disallow employees from visiting other employees’ desks out of these socialization hours unless it’s for work purposes.

Rethink the open-plan office layout

Most modern offices have open-plan layouts because they’re cheap and they encourage collaboration, however they can also encourage idle chatter. Determine whether there are ways in which you can change the layout to limit conversation. You could even create an area for collaboration and an area for work that require concentration with cubicles – employees may be able to switch between the two depending on the work they’re doing.

Allow the option to work from home

Employees can’t be distracted by colleagues as easily when they’re working from home. Make remote work an option – you may find that many chatty employees still prefer to come into the office each day, however more introverted employees who are easily distracted may choose to work from home more regularly and it could benefit them.