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In Focus Consumer Credit


Optimising your mental-workload capacity


Stress from underload and overload can be part of the modern office environment


Dominic Irvine Founding partner, Epiphanies dominic.irvine @epiphaniesllp.com


If you are caught driving whilst using a mobile phone, you will be fined and, if you live in the UK, points placed on your licence. There is good reason for this. Driving


requires visual attention and this is a finite resource. Split it between looking at a telephone and driving, and the evidence is unequivocal – you are far more likely to have an accident and possibly injure others. It is a misconception that we can ‘dual


task process’, that is to say pay attention to two or more things at the same time. The common manifestation of this


misconception is when someone tells you “I am listening to you” while they are looking


at something on their telephone. They are doing neither effectively. This is because we ‘switch task process’ – we switch from one task to the other and back again and the result is performance in both tasks is reduced. This is why the person listening to you


has not really taken in what you have said, nor have they processed the information on their telephone accurately. If you want them to pay attention, you


have to get them to put their telephone down first.


Multiple demands Despite the evidence of dual-task processing versus switch task, many organisations place


We seat people at desks surrounded by others also trying to work. We place them in front of a computer screen providing multiple distractions and a telephone providing yet more, and colleagues all around providing another source of interruption


people in circumstances where there are multiple demands on their attention, which makes getting anything done extraordinarily difficult. We seat people at desks surrounded by


others also trying to work. We place them in front of a computer screen providing multiple distractions and a telephone providing yet more, and colleagues all around providing another source of interruption. I am not advocating everyone should


have their own office – there is much to be gained from having people work together; it promotes cross-functional understanding, team-work, and a myriad of other benefits. I am, however, advocating for space to allow people to focus when they really need to. This may mean working from home or having quiet spaces to work. It is also incumbent on the employee to manage their own


February 2019 www.CCRMagazine.com


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