Constant connectivity: rethinking interruptions at work

Judy Wajcman, Emily Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

133 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While the subject of interruptions has received considerable attention among organizational researchers, the pervasive presence of information and communication technologies has not been adequately conceptualized. Here we consider the way knowledge workers interact with these technologies. We present fine-grained data that reveal the crucial role of mediated communication in the fragmentation of the working day. These mediated interactions, which are both frequent and short, have been commonly viewed as interruptions — as if the issue is the frequency of these single, isolated events. In contrast, we argue that knowledge workers inhabit an environment where communication technologies are ubiquitous, presenting simultaneous, multiple and ever-present calls on their attention. Such a framing employs a sociomaterial approach which reveals how contemporary knowledge work is itself a complex entanglement of social practices and the materiality of technical artefacts. Our findings show that employees engage in new work strategies as they negotiate the constant connectivity of communication media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-961
Number of pages21
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume32
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • communication technology
  • fragmentation
  • interruptions
  • knowledge work

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