Scientists have developed a unique desk light that automatically switches from green to red when you are focused in your work and do not want to be disturbed. "The light is like displaying your Skype status - it tells your colleagues whether you are busy or open for a chat," said Thomas Fritz, assistant professor at University of British Columbia in Canada. The lamp, called FlowLight, switches between green and red based on the keyboard and mouse activity.
It was tested with about 450 employees with positive results. Researchers found that not only did the employees report fewer interruptions, it also changed the office culture so that people were more respectful of each other's time and aware of when they could interrupt a colleague. Some employees even reported that the lights motivated them to finish their work faster. "It is important that the light changes automatically because once someone is focused on a task, stopping to manually turn on a light, close your office door is disruptive to the work and cumbersome," Fritz said. "When you are interrupted, it can take a long time to get back into your work and it is more likely you will make mistakes," he said. The FlowLight is designed to only turn red for a maximum amount of time each day despite how hard someone works. That feature is key to preventing employees from feeling guilty for not working hard or getting competitive with one another, Fritz said. Researchers have tested a more advanced version of the FlowLight to determine whether it can be improved by using biometric sensors to detect heart rate variability, pupil dilation, eye blinks or even brainwave activity.
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