Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 30855
Interruption Overload in an Office Environment: Hungarian Survey Focusing on the Factors that Affect Job Satisfaction and Work Efficiency

Authors: Fruzsina Pataki-Bittó, Edit Németh


On the one hand, new technologies and communication tools improve employee productivity and accelerate information and knowledge transfer, while on the other hand, information overload and continuous interruptions make it even harder to concentrate at work. It is a great challenge for companies to find the right balance, while there is also an ongoing demand to recruit and retain the talented employees who are able to adopt the modern work style and effectively use modern communication tools. For this reason, this research does not focus on the objective measures of office interruptions, but aims to find those disruption factors which influence the comfort and job satisfaction of employees, and the way how they feel generally at work. The focus of this research is on how employees feel about the different types of interruptions, which are those they themselves identify as hindering factors, and those they feel as stress factors. By identifying and then reducing these destructive factors, job satisfaction can reach a higher level and employee turnover can be reduced. During the research, we collected information from depth interviews and questionnaires asking about work environment, communication channels used in the workplace, individual communication preferences, factors considered as disruptions, and individual steps taken to avoid interruptions. The questionnaire was completed by 141 office workers from several types of workplaces based in Hungary. Even though 66 respondents are working at Hungarian offices of multinational companies, the research is about the characteristics of the Hungarian labor force. The most important result of the research shows that while more than one third of the respondents consider office noise as a disturbing factor, personal inquiries are welcome and considered useful, even if in such cases the work environment will not be convenient to solve tasks requiring concentration. Analyzing the sizes of the offices, in an open-space environment, the rate of those who consider office noise as a disturbing factor is surprisingly lower than in smaller office rooms. Opinions are more diverse regarding information communication technologies. In addition to the interruption factors affecting the employees' job satisfaction, the research also focuses on the role of the offices in the 21st century.

Keywords: Job Satisfaction, work efficiency, information overload, office environment, interruption

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 595


[1] 2016 Kelly Services, Inc. 16-0019, “KGWI: The Collaborative Work Environment in Europe,” retrieved from:, accessed on 21/04/2017.
[2] R. Cross, R. Rebele, A. Grant, “Collaborative overload,” Harvard Business Review, vol. 94/1-2 (2016), pp.74–79.
[3] A. Baethge, T. Rigotti, R. A. Roe, “Just more of the same, or different? An integrative theoretical framework for the study of cumulative interruptions at work,” European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, vol. 24/2 (2015), pp. 308–323.
[4] E. Horvitz, J. Apacible, “Learning and reasoning about interruption,” In Paper presented at the 5th International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces, CMI 2003, pp. 20-27.
[5] E. Horvitz, P. Koch, J. Apacible, “Busybody: Creating and fielding personalized models of the cost of interruption,” In Paper presented at the ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, CSCW 2004, pp. 507-510.
[6] Zaheeruddin, Garima, “A neuro-fuzzy approach for prediction of human work efficiency in noisy environment,” Applied Soft Computing, vol. 6/3 (2006), pp. 283–294.
[7] E. R. Sykes, “Interruptions in the workplace: A case study to reduce their effects,” International Journal of Information Management vol. 31 (2011), pp. 385–394.,
[8] M. A. Nees, A. Fortna, “Short Communication: A comparison of human versus virtual interruptions,” Ergonomics, vol. 58/5 (2015), pp. 852-856
[9] E. M. Altmann, J. G. Trafton, “Memory for goals: An activation-based model,” Cognitive Science, vol. 26 (2002), pp. 39–83.
[10] J. G. Trafton, C. A. Monk, “Task Interruptions,” Reviews of Human Factors and Ergonomics vol. 3/1 (2007), pp. 111–126.
[11] P. D. Adamczyk, B. P. Bailey, “If Not Now, When?: The Effects of Interruption at Different Moments Within Task Execution,” In Paper presented at the Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2004, pp. 271-278.
[12] B. P. Bailey, J. A. Konstan, “On the need for attention aware systems: Measuring effects of interruption on task performance, error rate, and affective state,” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 22 (2006), pp. 685–708.
[13] S. Iqbal, B. Bailey, “Investigating the effectiveness of mental workload as a predictor of opportune moments for interruption,” Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2005, pp. 1489-1492.
[14] F. A. Drews, A. Musters, “Individual Differences in Interrupted Task Performance: One Size Does Not Fit All,” International Journal of Human - Computer Studies, vol. 79 (2015), pp. 95-105.
[15] C.P. Janssen et al., “Integrating knowledge of multitasking and interruptions across different perspectives and research methods,” International Journal of Human - Computer Studies, vol. 79 (2015), pp. 1–5.
[16] K. R. Sanderson, “Time Orientation in Organizations: Polychronicity and Multitasking,” dissertation, Florida International University, 2012.
[17] J. M. Watson, D. L. Strayer, “Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability,” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, vol. 17/4 (2010), pp. 479-485
[18] G. Mark, D. Gudith, U. Klocke, “The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress,” in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2008, pp. 107- 110,
[19] R. Solingen, E. Berghout, F. Latum, “Interrupts: Just a minute never is,” IEEE Software, vol. 15/5 (1998), pp. 97–103.
[20] L. Perlow, J. Weeks, “Who’s helping whom? Layers of culture and workplace behavior,” Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 23/4 (2002), pp. 345–361.
[21] S. A. Grandhi, Q. Jones, “Knock, knock! Who’s there? Putting the user in control of managing interruptions”, International Journal of Human - Computer Studies, vol. 79 (2015), pp. 35-50.
[22] C. L. Paul, A. Komlodi, W. Lutters, “Interruptive notifications in support of task management”, International Journal of Human - Computer Studies, vol. 79 (2015), pp. 20–34.
[23] D. Ariely, 2014/09/23, “My attempts to reduce email overload…,” retrieved from:, accessed on 21/04/2017.
[24] B. Donmez, Z. Matson, B. Savan, E. Farahani, D. Photiadis, J. Dafoe, “Interruption management and office norms: Technology adoptionlessons from a product commercialization study”, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 34 (2014), pp. 741–750.
[25] A. Oulasvirta, A. Salovaara, “A Cognitive Meta-Analysis of Design Approaches to Interruptions in Intelligent Environments,” in Late Breaking Results Paper, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2004, pp. 1155-1158.
[26] S. A. Grandhi, Q. Jones, 2009: “Conceptualizing Interpersonal Interruption Management: A Theoretical Framework and Research Program,” in proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2009, pp. 1-10.
[27] M. Haller, C. Richter, P. Brand, S. Gross, G. Schossleitner, A. Schrempf, H. Nii, M. Sugimoto, M. Inami, “Finding the Right Way for Interrupting People Improving Their Sitting Posture,” Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2011, pp. 1–17.
[28] T. Tanaka, R. Abe, K. Aoki, K. Fujita, “Interruptibility Estimation Based on Head Motion and PC Operation,” International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, vol. 31 (2015), pp. 167–179.