Could workplace distractions be avoided by this new, innovative traffic light system?

Working in a busy office can be incredibly distracting – especially if the business has converted to the popular open plan layout. Visibility equals availability in many people’s eyes, which means there’s nothing to stop constant intrusions while you’re in the middle of important tasks.

Even being distracted for a few minutes can eat into your productivity – it takes the brain a while to readjust when you go back to the work you were doing and even longer to reach the same, previous rhythm you had.

Luckily, tech manufacturers and scientists have recognised this proper – and are busy working on solutions.

New desktop traffic light trialled to prevent distraction at work

ABB, a large, pioneering tech and industrial engineering company, partnered up with a team at Switzerland’s University of Zurich, to come with an ingenious method of preventing distraction. Recognising that software engineers were being regularly distracted from important taks, ABB’s David Sheppard worked with Zurich’s Thomas Fritz and his team to come up with a solution.

Their innovative fix, the FlowLight system, tracks employees keystrokes and mouse activity. Connected to a green/red light, if the system picks up that the employee is working within the upper 9% of their usual activity range, the light turns red.

This means that other workers are automatically notified that this staff member is “in the flow” of important work and signifies that they are not to be disturbed.

Testing the new system in 12 ABB offices across the globe, the team found that workers were interrupted 46% less than without the system.

While they continue to develop the system, hoping to implement more accurate biometric sensors that track eye movement and heart rate variability, it’s likely that this solution is a long way off for most business.

However, there are other things you can do to limit distractions in the workplace.

Reducing distractions and maintaining “flow”

Blocking out chunks of time for important work during the day can be important to reducing distractions. If you have an open plan office, let the people around you know you need to focus – ask them to be “gatekeepers” if anyone comes calling for you and offer to do the same for them in return.

If you have bookable rooms in the office, think about pre-booking them to get some peace and quiet when you know you’ll be doing the most work. Consider tracking your workload for a couple of weeks and you might find there are patterns that will allow you to book in advance. Or schedule your own workload to suit.

In the open plan office, partition screens can be used to create natural barriers that discourage people disturbing you unless it’s important and they can also reduce noise levels, helping you to concentrate.

Freestanding Partition Screens could help you stay ‘in the zone’

If the FlowLight system seems a bit out of reach for your workplace, consider using Freestanding Partition Screens. We have a wide variety of styles, sizes and colours that allow you to customise your office environment to suit you.

Freestanding Partition Screens have the benefit of being moved around to suit changing workloads – you might decide to keep one by the wall and move it out to block off your desk when you’re busy, giving colleagues a clear indication that you aren’t to be disturbed.

You can take a look at our full range of screens here and our sales advice team would be happy to help you make a decision that’s perfect for your workspace.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 21, 2018 at 10:31 am

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