Research Session

Headlines and Hot Spots: Work-Life
Research for the Non-Researcher
Judith Finer Freedman
Judi Casey
Ellen Galinsky
Impact of Technology on our
Work and Family Lives
Judi Casey, WFRN, Director
Work-Life Research
 Tremendous amount of research
 Multi-disciplinary
 Global
 Diverse topics
Technology and Work-Life
How does the use of technology (computers, email,
Internet, cell phones, tablets, and MP3 players)
enhance or disrupt our work and family lives?
1. The evolving and future world of work
2. How technology impacts work and blurs
boundaries between home and work
3. Addiction to technology and the inability to
4. Impact of technology on attention, focus and
Evolving World of Work
7 key appliances of the information age
 85% cell phones (96% of 18-29 year olds)
 76% desktop or laptop computers
 47% mp3 players (iPod)
 42% game consoles (parents 64% more likely)
 Tablet computers and e-book readers: (Kindle) and
(iPad) were relatively new arrivals when survey done
 Not only gadgets – Internet and social media
Americans and Their Gadgets (2010): survey of
3,001 American adults (18+)
Evolving World of Work
 55% indicated that the future for the
“hyperconnected” will be positive:
“…nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who count on the
Internet as their external brain and who approach
problems in a different way from their elders.”
 42% noted negative outcomes:
 “…thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes, a loss
of patience, and a lack of deep-thinking ability.”
2011 survey of 1,021 technology experts on the
Future of the Internet and its impact by 2020
Technology Blurs Boundaries
 10 different mobiles users, 5 “motivated by
mobility” (39% of mobile users) and 5 “stationary
media will do” (remaining 61%)
Mobile Difference, 2009: surveys in 2006 and 2007
on Internet access via mobile phones
 Tradeoffs to technology use: “…benefit of
increased connectivity and flexibility, while
mobiles have added stress and new demands”
Networked Workers, 2008: 2,134 adults in the
continental US
Technology Blurs Boundaries
 “Technology permeates American households…”
 Technology allows families to connect when they
are apart
 Friends
and extended family too
 Technology keeps families apart when they are
Networked Families, 2008: survey 2,252 adults, 18+
Technology Blurs Boundaries
 More frequent use of technology (computer, email,
cell phones, Internet) results in:
 More
effective at work, greater work load,
increased pace of work demands
 Different devices have different outcomes
Chesley, 2010: data from 2001-2, 2,214 employees
 WFRN working paper (Johnson & Chesley, 2012)
on ICT: 83% report increased productivity, 53%
increased stress levels
(sample from Networked Workers, 2008)
Technology Blurs Boundaries
 “More likely to view the Internet as having a positive
impact on their ability to balance their work and home
lives” (more flexibility)
Wajcman et al, 2010: nationally representative sample
of Australian employees
 Use of ICT after hours resulted in more work to family
conflict for both employees AND their significant
Boswell & Buchanan (2007): 360 university staff
Technology Blurs Boundaries
 More use of mobile email increased feelings of
work overload and had a negative effect on their
family lives
 Feelings of work overload had a negative impact
on organizational commitment
Turel et al., (2011): online survey of 241 mobile email
users in 3 North American organizations
 Eroding boundaries=double-edged sword for
Available all the Time, 2009 (Nancy Rothbard)
Technology Addiction
 Expected to be responsive and connected 24/7
 Addiction is:
 Linked to our need to feel wanted and important
 How we show that we are dedicated/available
(Carolyn Marvin):
 Perlow, 2009: time off benefits employees and
productivity at BCG
 Detachment from work during non-work hours is
important for employee wellbeing and productivity
Flipping the Switch, 2012
Technology and Attention
 Information overload can make people feel
anxious and powerless
 Multi-taskers
produce more stress hormones
 Overload can reduce creativity
 Overload can lower productivity
The Economist, 2011
 Switch tasks every 3 seconds
 Distractions use as much as 28% of the average US
worker's day
 Productivity cost of $650 billion/year
Distracted, 2008
What Some Organizations Are Doing
 Volkswagen(Germany):deactivate emails during
non-work hours. Can only receive email ½ hr
before and ½ hour after the work day
 Deutsche TeleKom: pledged to not expect
workers to read email after business hours at
certain points during the week
 Lloyds Bank (UK) banned employee travel
during the 3rd week of every month
 Google installed energy pods for short breaks
Flipping the Switch, 2012
What Can Your Organization Do?
 Employer Guidelines?
 Employer Policies?
 Provide Employee Training?

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