Smartphones at the Workplace: An in situ Mixed-Method Study on Smartphone use During Intellectual Work

Abstract

Smartphones and other ICTs have become permanent companions in our daily lives. Increased use of these devices has impacted and often changed our daily routines. Users are in constant negotiation and coordination between the online and offline worlds they inhabit, and decisions about how to use their time and attention are becoming increasingly challenging. This has serious implications for tasks that require undivided attention or longer periods of focus, with work perhaps being the most relevant. Particularly intellectual work is predisposed to be affected by these developments, as it makes heavy use of such technologies. This paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study using first-person wearable video cameras. The data set comprises over 200 hours of video and self-confrontation interview footage with 1130 unique smartphone interactions, of which 547 took place during intellectual work tasks (N=37 users). Building upon a transdisciplinary body of literature on time-use and human-computer-interaction, we provide new empirical evidence on the disruptiveness of ICTs at the workplace, and the decisions users make on where to direct their attention in real, naturally occurring contexts. We observe that (a) attention allocation is highly context dependent and often automatic and unconscious, (b) time management relates to a set of self-regulation strategies that structure work tasks, breaks, and leisure activities, and can thus both enable or limit efficient use of smartphones, (c) interaction patterns and intervals between instances of smartphone use remain statistically invariant across activities despite users’ expressed preferences to use their devices less during work tasks



Author Information
Maxi Heitmayer, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2020
Stream: Qualitative/Quantitative Research in any other area of Psychology

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