No one likes to be interrupted while busy, let alone being random at work when they are trying to do important work.
But what is happening under people’s skin when workplace disruptions are separating workers from the work they are trying to focus on? An experiment in Switzerland examined this all-too-common scenario, and found that the effects of disruptions are not always predictable as we might think.
“Our first step was to measure the effects of social pressures and blockages – the two most common causes of stress in the workplace,” says ETT Zurich debut author and psychologist Jasmin Kerr.
In the study, Kerr and his team recruited 90 participants for an experiment in which the researchers’ lab was modified to mimic a real-world office environment with multiple rows of desks with computers on them. Was equipped with
In the experiment, participants had to pretend to work in an insurance company, performing various office tasks to the best of their ability, including digitizing scans, calculating sales numbers and scheduling appointments.
As they engaged in these standard types of office work, the two actors entered the room on the pretext of HR staff, and engaged the participants in additional practice.
Some of the participants (control group) only had to do relatively simple extra work with HR staff. The rest of the participants (two different ‘stress status’ groups) had a task that involves psychosocial stress in the form of questioning and evaluation – applying for a job promotion in an office scenario – while still getting their ‘regular’. The work has been done.
In both stress groups, participants were asked to mentally prepare for an interview for a job and then undergo one, but the first group (stress condition 1) was interrupted only by regular questionnaires and saliva samples. Went while the group in Stress 2 was additionally imprinted on their computers with a series of interrupted chat messages, which are said to be brief and quickly share information on aspects of the work they are doing Huh.
During these simulated workplace escapes, participants monitored their stress levels in three different ways: filling out questionnaires of how they felt every 15–20 minutes, samples of saliva taken, and continuously His heart rate was monitored via a worn ECG device.
Results showed that, compared with the control group, participants in the two stress status groups (those who had undergone promotion work at the job on top of their other office duties) experienced an elevated heart rate and ‘stress hormones’ Released more of the cortisol. There was a noticeable difference between their saliva – but still two stress-testing groups.
“Participants in the second stress group released cortisol levels nearly twice as often as those in the first stress group,” says mathematician Mara Negelin of ETH Zurich, one of the team.
This is not entirely surprising, considering the inhibitions and stress-inducing exercises that those participants had to endure in the experiment. But there was something unexpected in the questionnaire results from stress condition 2.
The authors write in their paper, “Interestingly, work interruptions showed a greater increase in cortisol levels, but stress testing is less threatening than individuals who experience only psychological stress . “
“Exploratory mediation analysis revealed a rash response in subjective measures of stress, which was partly explained by differences in threat assessment.”
In other words, participants in the experiment feel that its hardest time (stress condition 2) is actually to feel better in terms of their mood and less stressed and better in danger situations than people in stress situations. Was realized.
Just how this may remain a bit of a mystery, but researchers speculate that increased disruption, in addition to triggering more cortisol production, may somehow lead to better emotional and cognitive responses to feeling stressed.
“Engagement with the content of their work and increased social interaction through the chat function can increase feelings of certainty and control,” the researchers suggest.
“A second explanation could be that chat messages distracted attention from focusing on upcoming job interviews.”
So, in fact, the team feels that it is possible that workplace disruptions can be seen as positive in some ways, at least in terms of reducing stress, as they leave workers with their mood negatively Can distract from things affecting.
Yet, little is known about what is happening here, and researchers have acknowledged a number of limitations with the experiment they conducted, which only took place in a small group of participants in the workplace for a few hours. Mimics stress.
However, future research can follow these leads, and give us a better idea of how workplace interruptions at the workplace (and perhaps less) can feed our sense of stress.
The findings are stated in Psychoneuroendocrinology.