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26th April 2019 Smartworking Summit

“Interruption Science - challenging the productivity puzzle"

Everyday interruptions at work can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, can be a barrier to your success. 
Think back to your last work day, and consider for a minute the many interruptions that occurred.  There may have been phone calls, emails, hallway conversations, colleagues stopping by, or anything else that unexpectedly demanded your attention and, in doing so, distracted you from the task at hand.
While it is accepted that there can be many reasons behind dwindling productivity, our research highlights one factor that stands out head-and-shoulders above all others, the aptly named ‘interruption science’.
According to studies by Professor Gloria Mark at UCI's Department of Informatics, the average knowledge worker is interrupted and switches task every three minutes.  Once distracted, a worker takes nearly a half-hour to resume the original task.
Beeped and pinged, interrupted and inundated, overloaded and hurried – that is how we live today.
We prize knowledge work – work that relies on our intellectual abilities – and yet the evidence is that we increasingly have no time to think.
The greatest casualty of our mobile, high-tech age is attention – and by implication, productivity.
By fragmenting and diffusing our powers of attention, we are undermining our capacity to thrive in a complex, ever-shifting world.
Amongst the mounting costs of this widespread distraction are;
  • Knowledge work cannot be done in sound bites.  Interruptions and the requisite recovery time now consume 28 per cent of a worker’s day,
  • Employees who are routinely interrupted and lack time to focus feel ~40 per cent more frustrated, pressured, and stressed,
  • Under deadline pressure, workers produce creative work on days when they are focused, not when they are scattered and interrupted,
  • In meetings where everyone is checking e-mail, etc., opportunities for collective creative energy and critical thinking are lost.

In professions such as airline pilots or surgeons, such levels of interruption and distraction would not be accepted due to their potentially fatal consequences but for knowledge workers, it has become accepted – arguably unacceptably so?

 Ashok Vaswani
UK CEO, Barclays 

 Ian Harnett

Executive Director, HR and Procurement, Jaguar Land Rover

 David Landsman

Executive Director, Tata 

 Deborah Lee

Chief People Officer, YOOX Net=a-Porter 


 Sarah Flannigan

CIO, EDF Energy 

Intimate afternoon round table sessions

​The afternoon features four intimate round table sessions offering deeper dives into the issues challenging all organisations, including;

Round table 1 Round table 2 Round table 3 Round table 4
Understanding productivity – According to ONS, UK productivity is down 19% over the last decade.  This provokes 4 questions – why is productivity down – what can we learn from each other – what needs to change – how to manage the changes?  Simply, what are the positive steps going forward? Owning mindset change – Consider, if women took part in UK economy as much as men, it would add £600 billion GDP by 2025, equal to 0.7% extra GDP growth.  This mindset change needs a new co-creating leadership style.  Co-creative leadership drives the conditions for successful work performance.  How can leaders become “co-creative?” Workplace Sustainability – Digital technology is helping companies sweep barriers aside.  Sustainability platforms capture all types of data, from energy and social value and apps help engage employees, measure team performance and maximise workspace utilisation.

Workplace Evolutionaries are a coalescing of thought leaders & disruptive thinkers in the workplace arena to identify a higher strategic value from work. The community is formed of emboldened individuals to shape a formula for improved work interaction and integration. If you consider yourself a disruptive thinker or innovator in the workplace field, then join our community.


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