Interruption Science, or the study of the effect of disruptions on job performance, recently came up in a discussion with one of Widen’s customers, Red Gold. While being interviewed for an article in DM News, Susan Geiselman, digital asset coordinator at Red Gold, mentioned one of the main reasons for implementing the Widen Media Collective DAM solution at Red Gold was that their designers were constantly being “interrupted” by having to stop their creative process to search, dig, and find images. No one knew exactly where to find them, so the time lost was significant. She used the word “interruption” even though most writings on interruption science describe an interruption as a co-worker asking you a question, an email, phone call, or ping from a mobile device. According to these experiments, stopping the design of a brochure to look for an image would still be considered “working.” The fact that Red Gold identified this as an interruption to the creative process of the designer helps define the positive affects a DAM system can have on creative workflow.
According to a New York Times – Fighting a War Against Distraction – article that summarizes a number of different studies, having to stop and search for images has these costs:
- The average knowledge worker switches tasks every three minutes, and, once distracted, takes nearly 30 minutes to resume the original task, according to Gloria Mark, a leader in the new field of “interruption science.”
- Interruptions and the requisite recovery time now consume 28 percent of a worker’s day, the business research firm Basex estimates. As one top executive told me, “Knowledge work can’t be done in sound bites.”
- Employees who are routinely interrupted and lack time to focus are more apt to feel frustrated, pressured and stressed, according to separate studies by Ms. Mark and the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group.
- Under deadline pressure, workers produce creative work on days when they are focused, not when they are scattered and interrupted, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found.
An image readily available in a DAM system can be acquired by a designer in seconds, thus, not interrupting their creative thoughts and workflow. Once distracted from the task at hand, either by cell phone, or by having to scan hard drives and boxes of CDs for an image, that worker may very well take upwards of 30 minutes to return to a previous level of productivity, and is prone to errors and higher stress levels. While it’s difficult to put a hard dollar figure on the cost savings DAM has in creative workflow environments, the study of interruption science definitely starts to outline and build a framework for an argument that its effects are extremely significant.
How do you feel about this topic? Feel free to continue the conversation with comments below.