On the one hand, new technologies and communication tools improve employee productivity and accelerate information and knowledge transfer, while on the other hand, information overload and continuous interruptions make it even harder to concentrate at work. It is a great challenge for companies to find the right balance, while there is also an ongoing demand to recruit and retain the talented employees who are able to adopt the modern work style and effectively use modern communication tools. For this reason, this research does not focus on the objective measures of office interruptions, but aims to find those disruption factors which influence the comfort and job satisfaction of employees, and the way how they feel generally at work. The focus of this research is on how employees feel about the different types of interruptions, which are those they themselves identify as hindering factors, and those they feel as stress factors. By identifying and then reducing these destructive factors, job satisfaction can reach a higher level and employee turnover can be reduced. During the research, we collected information from depth interviews and questionnaires asking about work environment, communication channels used in the workplace, individual communication preferences, factors considered as disruptions, and individual steps taken to avoid interruptions. The questionnaire was completed by 141 office workers from several types of workplaces based in Hungary. Even though 66 respondents are working at Hungarian offices of multinational companies, the research is about the characteristics of the Hungarian labor force. The most important result of the research shows that while more than one third of the respondents consider office noise as a disturbing factor, personal inquiries are welcome and considered useful, even if in such cases the work environment will not be convenient to solve tasks requiring concentration. Analyzing the sizes of the offices, in an open-space environment, the rate of those who consider office noise as a disturbing factor is surprisingly lower than in smaller office rooms. Opinions are more diverse regarding information communication technologies. In addition to the interruption factors affecting the employees' job satisfaction, the research also focuses on the role of the offices in the 21st century.
On 21st November, 2016, an outbreak of foodborne illness occurred after a buffet lunch served during a stakeholders’ consultation meeting held in Accra. An investigation was conducted to characterise the affected people, determine the etiologic food, the source of contamination and the etiologic agent and to implement appropriate public health measures to prevent future occurrences. A retrospective cohort study was conducted via telephone interviews, using a structured questionnaire developed from the buffet menu. A case was defined as any person suffering from symptoms of foodborne illness e.g. diarrhoea and/or abdominal cramps after eating food served during the stakeholder consultation meeting in Accra on 21st November, 2016. The exposure status of all the members of the cohort was assessed by taking the food history of each respondent during the telephone interview. The data obtained was analysed using Epi Info 7. An environmental risk assessment was conducted to ascertain the source of the food contamination. Risks of foodborne infection from the foods eaten were determined using attack rates and odds ratios. Data was obtained from 54 people who consumed food served during the stakeholders’ meeting. Out of this population, 44 people reported with symptoms of food poisoning representing 81.45% (overall attack rate). The peak incubation period was seven hours with a minimum and maximum incubation periods of four and 17 hours, respectively. The commonly reported symptoms were diarrhoea (97.73%, 43/44), vomiting (84.09%, 37/44) and abdominal cramps (75.00%, 33/44). From the incubation period, duration of illness and the symptoms, toxin-mediated food poisoning was suspected. The environmental risk assessment of the implicated catering facility indicated a lack of time/temperature control, inadequate knowledge on food safety among workers and sanitation issues. Limited number of food samples was received for microbiological analysis. Multivariate analysis indicated that illness was significantly associated with the consumption of the snacks served (OR 14.78, P < 0.001). No stool and blood or samples of etiologic food were available for organism isolation; however, the suspected etiologic agent was Staphylococcus aureus or Clostridium perfringens. The outbreak could probably be due to the consumption of unwholesome snack (tuna sandwich or chicken. The contamination and/or growth of the etiologic agent in the snack may be due to the breakdown in cleanliness, time/temperature control and good food handling practices. Training of food handlers in basic food hygiene and safety is recommended.
In recent years, the power system has been changed and a flexible power pricing system such as demand response has been sought in Japan. The demand response system works simply in the household sector and the owner as the decision-maker, can benefit from power saving. On the other hand, the execution of demand response in the office building is more complex than in the household because various people such as owners, building administrators and occupants are involved in the decision-making process. While the owners benefit from demand saving, the occupants are exposed to restricted benefits of a demand-saved environment. One of the reasons is that building systems are usually under centralized management and each occupant cannot choose freely whether to participate in demand response or not. In addition, it is unclear whether incentives give occupants the motivation to participate. However, the recent development of IT and building systems enables the personalized control of the office environment where each occupant can control the lighting level or temperature individually. Therefore, it can be possible to have a system which each occupant can make a decision of whether or not to participate in demand response in the office building. This study investigates personal responses to demand response requests, under the condition where each occupant can adjust their brightness individually in their workspace. Once workers participate in the demand response, their desk-lights are automatically turned off. The participation rates in the demand response events are compared among four groups, which are divided by different motivation, the presence, or absence of incentives and the method of participation. The result shows that there are significant differences of participation rates in demand response event between four groups. The method of participation has a large effect on the participation rate. The “Opt-out” groups where the occupants are automatically enrolled in a demand response event if they do not express non-participation have the highest participation rate in the four groups. Incentives also have an effect on the participation rate. This study also reports on the impact of low illumination office environment on the occupants, such as stress or fatigue. The electrocardiogram and the questionnaire are used to investigate the autonomic nervous activity and subjective fatigue symptoms of the occupants. There is no big difference between dim workspace during demand response event and bright workspace in autonomic nervous activity and fatigue.