Working 9-5? Professional Differences in Email and Boundary Management Practices

in CHI 2015, Conference proceeding, Seoul, South Korea

Abstract

Technology not only brings benefits such as flexible working practices but can also have negative stressful consequences such as increasing email overload and the blurring of work-home boundaries. We report on an exploratory study that extends the current understanding of email usage by investigating how different professions at a university manage work and personal emails using different devices and how this impacts their work-home boundary management. Our findings lead us to identify two user groups: those with permeable boundaries (primarily academics) and those who have more rigid ones (primarily professional services employees) and that there are differences in when, where and how they manage their work and personal emails. In particular we find that some participants use micro-boundary strategies to manage transitions between work and personal life. Based on these novel findings we propose improvements of email software design to facilitate effective email, work-home boundary management, and micro-boundary practices.