Distraction can also be created by other technicians, managers, or internal communication. When possible, we recommend fostering an internal understanding that specific hours are reserved for continuous, uninterrupted digitization and non-urgent communication with technicians is actively discouraged at these times.
Many institutions allow the technician to wear headphones or play music at their station, both for entertainment and to reduce distractions from noise/conversation nearby. In considering this, project planners should research whether any important errors or warnings on any of the relevant digitization equipment are provided in audio-form only. In the case that headphones cannot be worn, it may be worthwhile to consider sound-reduction panels or providing overhead music in the overall digitization area.
With this in mind, we recommend making technicians stakeholders in their productivity, and the productivity of the total team. A system that objectively tracks image quality over time can help technicians realize the practical implications of their raw throughput, error rates, and net productivity. Performance bonuses (whether monetary, time off, or flexible schedules) and team goals can help foster a productive environment.
“Imaging or processing all day can be tedious, and boredom can cause major problems. We allow people to listen but not to watch. Music, books or podcasts can help people get into the zone and actually increase productivity with fewer errors, though it can sometimes be a fine line between someone finding a balance and getting lost in the
distraction. Music in the room can be a good compromise. Staff aren’t plugged in and isolated and they can actually feel more part of a team.”
– Ian Bogus, MacDonald Curator of Preservation, University of Pennsylvania Libraries