Interruptions at Work

Interruptions at work can be a big negative for workers who need concentration and who truly want to get their work done.

Some interruptions are inevitable. And some can be managed. Others simply impinge on an employee’s productive time and – not only create a problem for the diligent employee – but also cut into productivity and can create stress.

Of course, email is an ever-present distracter. Some companies these days have tried to control the impact of email by having employees check email only once or twice a day. Often positive results are seen, but for some reason it seems difficult to stick to a regimen such as this.

Another big interrupter is the drop-by friend or co-worker. It takes a hearty soul to kick the chatty friend or co-worker out of the office, but without some positive action in that direction, it’s all-too-easy to lose big chunks of time to pleasant, but non-productive, chit-chat. (There is, of course, a very important role for talking with co-workers and colleagues; it just needs to be kept within reasonable bounds).

A supervisor or manager who wants to maintain productivity can monitor whether office chat time is getting too far out of line, gently-but-firmly set reasonable expectations about what the conversational norm in the workplace is, and intelligently intervene when too much time gets devoted to non-work-related chit-chat.