Technology, Productivity, Work-Life Balance & Wellbeing
Digital technology enables us to be more productive and often permits us to work anytime and anywhere. However, digital distractions have negative impacts on productivity, and greater flexibility over when and where we work comes at a cost: juggling work with other activities can be overwhelming. My research investigates the positive and negative impacts of our mobile devices on our ability to get our work done and to successfully manage our work-life balance and wellbeing.
Multitasking at the micro level: the impact of interruptions on productivity
The constant task switching which characterises the behaviour of many office based knowledge workers has negative impacts on productivity, efficiency and accuracy. My research investigating multitasking and interruptions at the micro level has demonstrated the impacts of
- the length of the interruption,
- the timing and content of the interruption,
- and the type of cues available to support resumption.
Multitasking at the macro level: Work-life balance in the digital age
My research has highlighted the double edged sword that technology plays in the modern age. Whilst mobile devices can negatively impact work-life boundaries there are steps we can take to overcome this. My research demonstrates that micro-boundaries - small design frictions implemented as short additional time costs that make interaction harder rather than easier - can help people to maintain control over their work-life boundaries. Microboundaries limit the negative effects of work-life cross-overs, such as the interrupting effect of notifications at inopportune moments. We can also use mobile technologies to help us recover from the stress and strains of work. Our investigations of the impact of playing videogames after work suggests that they can help us deal with work-related stress.
For more information see:
- A New Scientist article describing the use of microboundaries to reduce digital distraction https://www.newscientist.com/article/2142807-one-day-without-notifications-changes-behaviour-for-two-years/
- Our self-study diary to help you reflect on the extent to which you have control of your device, or it has control of you https://goo.gl/cmf9qf
- Our research-informed booklet on how to create microboundaries https://digitalboundariesresearch.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/microboundary-strategies-for-work-life-balance.pdf
- Our paper on the relationship between playing videogames and recovery from work stress http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1071581913002012