Workers interrupted 11 times an hour: study
by The Editors
Canberra Times, 12/18/2006

Office workers get interrupted on the job as often as 11 times an hour, costing as much as $588 billion to businesses in the United States each year, according to research. Adding the distracting lure of checking emails, surfing the internet and chatting by computer, workers interrupt themselves nearly as much as they are interrupted by others, experts say. ''With instant messaging on your desktop and alerts and email notifications, you set yourself up for it,'' said John Putzier, founder of FirStep business strategists. The barrage of interruptions and distractions only worsens at this time of year. The chief executive of business consultancy Basex, Jonathan Spira, said from online shopping at work to planning the office holiday party, workers were bombarded with distractions. ''These holiday distractions result in more interruptions.

It's certainly a recipe for even less work getting done, no question about it.'' A typical manager is interrupted six times an hour, one recent study showed, while another found the average cubicle worker is interrupted more than 70 times a day. Other research has found office workers getting interrupted every 11 minutes, while another study said nearly half of workplace interruptions are self-imposed. A study by Basex found office distractions take up 2.1 hours of the average day 28 per cent with workers taking an average of five minutes to recover from each interruption and return to their tasks. Still another study found a group of workers interrupted by email and telephones scored lower on an IQ test than a test group that had smoked marijuana. Linda Stone, a Seattle-based writer and lecturer on attention and trends, said workers lived in a state of ''continuous partial attention''. ''The motivation is, 'I don't want to miss anything,' because being connected makes me feel important,'' she said. ''It's, 'There's my BlackBerry. There's my cell phone. What time is it in Europe right now? How many phone calls did I get?''' Plenty of people would be lost without the multitasking battery of telephones, handheld messaging devices and computer instant messaging, said Putzier. ''For some people, interruptions aren't interruptions to their job. Interruptions are their job.'' -

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