Title

Impact of Interruptions on White Collar Workers

Abstract

An interruption is a randomly occurring, discrete event that breaks the continuity of cognitive focus on a primary task and typically requires immediate attention and demands action. This article investigates the effect of the timing of an interruption and source on both demanding and non-demanding tasks. Time logs of daily work activities from 21 white collar workers were analyzed. The findings show that interruptions have a negative impact on worker performance when they occur at the middle or end of the current/primary task. In addition, results show that the majority of the interruptions were externally generated (78%) rather than internally generated. The more demanding the tasks that were interrupted, the greater the negative impact on the overall performance. Suggestions for reducing the impact of interruptions are also discussed.

Department(s)

Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Discrete events; Internal and external interruptions; Knowledge workers; Primary task; Time log; White collar workers; Work activities; Multitasking

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

10429247

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Citation

File Type

text

Language(s)

English

Rights

© 2014 American Society for Engineering Management, All rights reserved.


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