The benefits of multitasking are increasingly becoming a myth in the workplace, according to new research, which shows that workers are 50% more likely to make a mistake when they strive to complete numerous tasks at once.

According to Steelcase, high performance workplace solutions provider, the principal reason for the misconception over multitasking is the result of incorrect assumptions about the brain and this has led to poorer performance, productivity and stress, due to workers feeling unable to deal effectively with their workload.

Workers are having to juggle with pressures that were unheard of only a few years ago. The constant flow of emails and the multitude of social media messages and devices we use are just some of the reasons which contribute to workers feeling unable to cope and striving to deal with more tasks in less time has resulted in workers reporting a sense of anxiety, guilt and inability to deal with the work load.

Beatriz Arantes, psychologist and senior researcher at Steelcase said, “Stress at work is one of the largest occupational hazards of the 21st century. However businesses can increase employee wellbeing and productivity if they understood how the brain works, helping workers to prioritise the workload, and give each task the attention it needs, rather than engaging in multitasking.

“Everybody recognises that feeling of paralysis when the in tray is overflowing and e-mails and are coming in thick and fast. However, trying to deal with several problems at the same time is not an effective working strategy, leading to slower completion, increased error, and a dissatisfying feeling of being behind.”