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Little distractions at work can help productivity, says Trinity research

28 Nov 2022

‘Our research shows that short positivity interventions can help employees make the best of their day,’ said Dr Wladislaw Rivkin of Trinity Business School.

Watching fun TikTok clips and YouTube videos at work may not be such a bad thing after all, according to a study involving a Trinity College Dublin researcher.

While the researchers do not suggest furtively watching videos on your phone while you’re supposed to be working, their study did find that brief distractions could help workers be more productive when it comes to completing difficult or dreaded tasks.

“Today’s work environments are increasingly demanding, but we have limited understanding of what organisations and employees can do to prevent the stressful effects of self-control demands such as negative emails or unloved tasks,” said Dr Wladislaw Rivkin, associate professor in organisational behaviour at Trinity Business School.

“Our research shows that short positivity interventions can help employees make the best of their day and that employers and employees should consider incorporating more positivity into the workday.”

Rivkin worked alongside a team of international researchers on the study, which was published in the journal Work & Stress.

The team was led by Vera Schweitzer from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. They examined 85 employees over 12 work days who received a daily text or video-based distraction.

Schweitzer said the study showed that experiencing feelings of positivity throughout the workday can help employees remain effective – particularly when workers have to invest a lot of self-control throughout the day, such as trying to stay calm after reading an annoying email.

Based on the findings, Rivkin suggested that organisations could provide employees with short funny videos via a daily newsletter or post a ‘joke of the day’ on the intranet.

“By doing so, employers can help mitigate the negative effects of self-control demands.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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