People continue to debate the benefits of working from home versus working in an office. However, new data sheds light on the complex nature of employees' perceptions of working at the office.
Researchers led by Harshad Puranik at the University of Illinois at Chicago surveyed 111 employees twice a day for three weeks, asking them about the number of work interruptions they experienced as well as their emotions and levels of stress. As expected, employees who reported being interrupted more by their colleagues said they experienced higher levels of stress: the cognitive demands of switching more frequently from one task to another depleted their mental resources.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, employees who were interrupted more also reported feeling a greater sense of belongingness. Feeling accepted and being part of the team or wider organisation in turn helped to lift employees' sense of job satisfaction.
Employees who were interrupted more also reported feeling a greater sense of belongingness
This is consistent with other research showing that most people enjoy conversation and even small talk - that humans are an innately social species that welcomes opportunities to foster even momentary connections.
So, understand that workplace interruptions are neither entirely negative nor entirely positive. Intrusions by colleagues may mean your tasks and projects take longer. However, such interludes may also help you to feel more valued and less isolated.
Visit ACCA's wellbeing hub for advice and support on mental health and wellbeing at work.