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How are professionals using communication technologies in the workplace? Class interview project HU3840 Organizational Communication Spring 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "How are professionals using communication technologies in the workplace? Class interview project HU3840 Organizational Communication Spring 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 How are professionals using communication technologies in the workplace? Class interview project HU3840 Organizational Communication Spring 2010

2 Interview Guidelines Defining a professional – Salaried employee or licensed contractor – Position requires specialized education – Works in a designated workplace – Communication is central to the job 30-minute interview – Class questions – Questions specific to group’s topic – Informed consent

3 Class Questions Which technologies do you use to communicate in your workplace? – Please walk me through a typical day’s communication activities. How have communication technologies affected… – The types of work you do? – Your workload ? How have communication technologies changed from the time you started in this field? Was there initial resistance to the communication changes? – How have these changes affected your work experience? Are there any specific technologies your office plans to incorporate in the near future?

4 Group Topics Facebook at work Effects on collaboration and mobility Restrictions on usage in the medical office Blackberry addiction? New and old technologies: hinder or help? Supervisory uses Effects on face-to-face interactions Personal and professional risks of usage

5 Participants 24 professionals interviewed – 4 Medical – 7 Academic – 11 Other Positions – Managers, directors, supervisors – Most had specialized careers – All had advanced education and/or experience

6 Communication Technologies Most Often in Use Most frequently identified: Email & cell phones – Also ftf, landlines, regular mail, fax, collaboration tools Identified by 1-3 participants – 2-way radio, IM, meeting software

7 Most Used: Email Pro’s – Facilitates interaction Difficult co-workers Professional collaborators Intimidating others (“big-wigs”) – Organizes and documents messages Con’s – Email never closes or goes home at the end of the day (“It’s like you’re always working”)

8 Effects on Work and Workloads Email has become “work”: reading, responding, organizing, forwarding More multi-tasking E-recordkeeping in the medical office – Patient files – Filing Insurance Claims – Internal Electronic IM Notification System – Email Prescriptions Phones and email enhance travelers’ mobility and access – Hazards of driving and cell phone use Improves scheduling and meetings

9 Confirmation for Rich/Lean Media Model Participants report that types of communication differ with importance or size – Large and important tasks are generally discussed in person – Mediocre tasks are delivered via memos or email but rarely in person Final decisions are conducted in personal meetings

10 Observed Changes Over Time Spatial shifts: beyond location toward virtual – Facilitating more interpersonal communication and collaboration across long distances Video conferencing; Google Docs/Wave; Drupal Time shifts: immediacy, urgency – Email facilitates quick response – Online info transfer is faster Online gossip can out-pace a formal response that must go through the chain-of-command Media shifts: from snail mail to email to i-options – Email is widely used but is beginning to be phased out – Increase in smart phones, itouch, IM, social networking

11 Resistance to Change? Two-thirds reported little resistance – Uneven reception and adoption (“at their own pace”) One-third reported problems – IM and email as distractions/Inappropriate use – Changes not as accepted by older coworkers – Resistance to availability outside office – Learning curve and compatibility issues with collaboration and work-process software systems

12 Anticipated Changes Enhanced video conferencing capabilities Standardizing software systems across a national company Text-messaging to publicize events Moving to “paperless” offices Sharing information – Google Docs – Drupal Using iphones for IM and intranet access

13 Ftf and Work Relationships Ftf enhances workplace efficiencies – People that work together tend to have closer human to human relationships Most participants report regular ftf meetings – People who communicate electronically don’t share the same closeness Electronic media increase informality and decrease face time – Social networking, IM – One participant warned of “faceless people departments” because so much communication is online and personal connections and skills are becoming obsolete

14 Facebook Participants started using Facebook due to workplace pressure – An informal substitute for email – Professional accounts are often separate from personal accounts – Many organizations now have Facebook pages Impact on work relationships – Participants make an effort to treat co-workers the same after viewing co-workers’ Facebook profile – Some participants mention actively separating themselves from co- workers after seeing compromising content Overall participants agreed that it would be difficult to effectively do their job without Facebook

15 Research on Facebook Use 50% of Americans use Facebook Workers who browse Facebook saw a 9% increase in productivity 20% of companies check prospective job candidates’ profiles – 10% of companies say that they plan to check prospective job candidates profiles 43% of companies worldwide say they have banned Facebook in the workplace

16 Reported Regulations on Personal Use Personal calls and internet use – Restricted for some, especially lower-level employees Specific prohibitions regarding: Pornography Facebook Shopping Chain Letters Religious, Political, or Racist messages

17 Blackberry Use Pro’s Increases flexibility Increases convenience Facilitates prioritizing Increases efficiency Simplifies messages Increases productivity Con’s 24/7 availability Blurs life boundaries Increases stress Increases workload Limited wireless service Limited applications

18 The Work Day Is No Longer 9 to 5 Work and home being phased together due to communication technology – Participants are almost constantly available for contact by clients, co-workers, or employees – One participant noted a “fuzzy barrier between work time and personal time”; another said, “I think people work 24-7.” – Most participants seemed to find email, cell phone, and IM contact with work necessary during off-work hours.

19 What’s Old? What’s New?* Old: Email, fax, landline phones, beepers – These are still present – Written documents retain bureaucratic and legal importance New: Text messaging, smart phones Often overlooked: computers – Technology transparency: Has this technology become so familiar and integrated into our lives that we fail to recognize it as mediating communication?

20 A paradox? Utopian view: Most professionals see technological changes as ultimately beneficial for tasks and relationships Endorsing the urgent organization: more and faster communication connections; multi-tasking; transparency in supplier and customer interactions Negative impacts: Most professionals also reported negative effects Technologies themselves add work; work/life out of balance; creates professional and personal risks

21 Future Research Communication technologies as work in themselves? Communication technologies blurring work life and personal life—how much is too much? Communication technologies and multitasking: how does this shape work processes and relationships? Differences between professionals and non- professionals in communication technology uses? Social networking technologies: what do these add to workplace cultures and communication?


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