Monotasking or Multitasking: Designing for Crowdworkers' Preferences

in ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference paper (text), Glasgow, UK


Crowdworkers receive no formal training for managing their tasks, time or working environment. To develop tools that support such workers, an understanding of their preferences and the constraints they are under is essential. We asked 317 experienced Amazon Mechanical Turk workers about factors that influence their task and time management. We found that a large number of the crowdworkers score highly on a measure of polychronicity; this means that they pre- fer to frequently switch tasks and happily accommodate regular work and non-work interruptions. While a prefer- ence for polychronicity might equip people well to deal with the structural demands of crowdworking platforms, we also know that multitasking negatively affects workers' produc- tivity. This puts crowdworkers' working preferences into conflict with the desire of requesters to maximize workers' productivity. Combining the findings of prior research with the new knowledge obtained from our participants, we enu- merate practical design options that could enable workers, requesters and platform developers to make adjustments that would improve crowdworkers' experiences.