Monday, October 4, 2021

Study: Work Interruptions Aren't Always Bad

Does it get on your last nerve when you're in the "zone" at work and then someone interrupts you?

If so, you're not alone. But interruptions aren't always a bad thing, finds a new study by the University of Missouri.

If an interruption is related to work -- the boss wants to talk about a new project or a colleague has a question about a process -- then that interruption can further increase your engagement in work. But, if someone interrupts you to talk about last night's hockey game or some other non-work related issue, then it hurts employee engagement, the study finds.

Also, the research reveals that a work-related interruption often increased collaboration, while the non-work related interruption did not.

That's something to consider as more companies use virtual interactions to stay connected to employees who may work from home some, or all, of the time. Not having the chance to drop in and talk about work from time-to-time may hurt engagement and collaboration.

Still, that doesn't mean employers should forbid casual conversations about other topics.

"Employers may want to limit non-work-related interruptions, but that doesn't mean they should get rid of them all together," says John Bush, assistant professor of management at the Trulaske College of Business at MU. "There are interpersonal benefits, such as strengthened relationships, that can stem from these non-work-related interactions."

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