Posted from Red Bank, New Jersey
This and the following posts summarize the findings from the research presented at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco last November. The references for this post can be found the the ‘Flexible Access’ section the Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0 post.
In the ‘old days’ people could only reach out to you by going to your office, calling you on the telephone or sending you inter-office mail. Today, however, there lots of ways to make contact … email, instant messaging, blogging, micro-blogging or posting on wiki’s, discussion forums, etc. While ubiquitous access can be empowering, there are risks with the likelihood of increased of interruptions. Enterprise 2.0 introduces tools like social networks and micro-blogging and with these tools comes features to alert you whenever there is an update, response or comment. This is useful because you don’t have to be on the platform to know if there is something new. But this feature can be counterproductive because it adds more interruptions to your day. These tools often include information on your presence which is helpful because now others know you are available to respond to their questions, but this also increases the number of interruptions in your day.
So what is wrong with interruptions?
One problem is the potential loss of productivity due to the resumption lag. This is the time it takes to get back into the groove once you have been interrupted. Imagine doing a Sudoku puzzle and you are interrupted to answer a simple question (like, “How do you spell ‘football’?”). Researchers have been able to measure the time it takes for you to settle back into the puzzle, and it can be as short as a second, but it can be as much as a few seconds depending on the complexity of the task. When adding up all of these interruptions and distractions, one study estimated that knowledge workers lose up to 2 hours a day from multitasking and interruptions.
Another potential risk is the lost sense of accomplishment people may feel. With interruptions comes the challenge of successfully completing tasks that you have started. A day can be a pinball game of interruptions where you bounce from one thing to the next. And this lack of control and task closure can lead to increased stress. Could this stress end up impacting employees job satisfaction?
Finally, interruptions affect our ability to do complex analyses. Good comprehension requires concentration and focus. Remember the reading comprehension tests from school where you had to read a short article and answer questions on it? How well would you do on them if you were getting alerts that you were tempted check? In her book “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age” Maggie Jackson paints a detailed picture of how we risk addressing deep, long term problems because of our interrupt-driven lives. Also, It turns out that researchers have found that our brains perform poorly at laying down memories when stressed with juggling multiple tasks and interruptions.
So this leads to the question of how should these issues be identified as costs or risks in the business cases for Enterprise 2.0 programs?
October 28, 2009
October 27, 2009. Posted from Red Bank, New Jersey
Research is suggesting the Enterprise 2.0 technologies might introduce negative impacts productivity, decision quality and job satisfaction, in addition to the positive ones. What do we need to be aware of as we unleash these solutions on employees?
The Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco has been the inspiration for this blog. While compiling information on the psychological impacts of E2.0 technologies on workers for a talk at the conference, I uncovered a massive amount of research. But for some reason little of this work has trickled into the discussions I hear about Enterprise 2.0. I want to change that. I also need a venue to share references to the research that I cite in the talk.
Join me in challenging companies to address these soft challenges of Enterprise 2.0. Challenges that can potentially dilute the benefit of E2.0 and maybe even make employees less productive and happy. Either take a moment to consider these issues when plunging forward with deployments or add your comments to the blog so we can raise the visibility of these challenges.
The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0
Flexible Access: The Impact of Workday Interruptions caused by Enterprise 2.0 Technologies
Lohr, Steve. “Slow Down Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read this in Traffic,” The New York Times, Feb 25, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/business/25multi.html Readable summary of recent studies on multitasking.
Freedman, D.H. What’s Next? Taskus Interruptus, Mansueto Ventures LLC, Inc.Com, 2007 <http://assets.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do?contentType=Article&hdAction=lnkhtml&contentId=1747810&dType=SUB&history=false>. This study is identified as calculating over 2 hours lost per day per employee from interruptions.
http://interruptions.net/literature.htm A great website for research on interruptions.
Altmann E. M. & Trafton J. G. “Timecourse of recovery from task interruption: Data and a model,” Psychonomic Bullletin & Review, 14 (6), 1079-1084, 2007, <http://interruptions.net/literature/Altmann-CogSci04.pdf>. An excellent example of how researchers study resumption time.
Appelbaum S. H., Marchionni A. & Fernandez A. (2008) “The multi-tasking paradox: Perceptions, problems and strategies, ” Management Decision, 46 (9), 1313-1325, 2008 <http://interruptions.net/literature/Appelbaum-ManagementDecision08.pdf>. A thorough overview of topics related to interruptions.
Foerde, K., Knowlton, B. J. and Poldrack, R. A. “Modulation of Competing Memory Systems by Distraction, “ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103:11778-83, 2006 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1544246/>. Research suggesting we are less effective at remembering things when distracted.
Kirmeyer, S. L. (1988). “Coping with competing demands: Interruptions and the Type A pattern,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 73, 621–629 1988 <http://interruptions.net/literature/Kirmeyer-JAP88.pdf>. A study demonstrating interruptions increases stress.
Carton, A. M. and Aiello, J. R. “Control and Anticipation of Social Interruptions: Reduced Stress and Improved Task Performance,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2009, 39, 1, pp. 169–185 <http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jraiello/Carlton%20Aiello%20JASP%20-%20January%202009.pdf>. Another study demonstrating interruptions increases stress.
Amabile, T., Hadley, C.N., and Kramer, S.J., (2002), “Creativity Under the Gun.” Special Issue on The Innovative Enterprise: Turning Ideas into Profits. Harvard Business Review 80, no. 8 (August 2002): 52-61. <http://hbr.harvardbusiness.org/2002/08/creativity-under-the-gun/ar/1>. Field research that actually links interruptions and workplace pressure to reduced creativity.
Always Virtual: The Impact of the Loss of Face Time with Colleagues
Nie, Norman H. Hillygus, D. Sunshine. “The Impact of Internet use on Sociability: Time-Diary Findings,” IT & Society, V1, I1, Summer 2002 <http://www.stanford.edu/group/siqss/itandsociety/v01i01/v01i01a01.pdf>. Provides data to show that online time cuts into face time.
Brodie, Ian. “Debunking the Myths of Non-Verbal Communication.” Debunking the Myths of Non-Verbal Communication. 8 Feb. 2008EzineArticles.com. 25 Oct. 2009 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Debunking- the- Myths- of- Non- Verbal- Communication&id=974778>. Short explanation of limitations of Mehrabian’s infamous figure of 93% of communication is non-verbal.
Mehrabian, A. “Attitudes inferred from neutral verbal communications,” Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31, 414-417, 1967.<http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ccp/31/4/414/>. One of Mehrabian’s early articles discussing non-verbal communication and the infamous 93% figure.
Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. B., and Woodall, W. G. Nonverbal Communication: The Unspoken Dialogue, Greyden Press, 1994. More recent work on estimating the amount of information is verbal vs non-verbal
Small, Gary and Vorgan, Gigi. iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, Harper Collins, 2008. This book compiles research on digital technology into a readable discussion of how it affects children’s brains and their psychology.
Always Available: The Impact of Enterprise 2.0 Intruding on our Time Off
Brown, Stuart and Vaughan, C. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Penguin Books, 2009. An appropriately fun book that discusses the merits of play on our lives.
Wixted,J. “A Theory of Why we Forget what we once Knew,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, v14 n4, 2005. <http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~jwixted/Reprints/Wixted_(2005).pdf>. A discussion of how distractions or overload impedes our ability to store memories.
Spector, P. E. “Perceived control by employees: A meta-analysis ofstudies concerning autonomy and participation,” Human Relations, 39,1986. <http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/39/11/1005>. One early study measuring the link between task control and stress.
New Interactive Venues: The Impact of Enterprise 2.0 on Redefining Expertise
Jackson, Maggie. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Prometheus Books, 2008. Like the title of the book suggests, a pessimistic view of the impact of technology on our humanity.
Rea, L. M. Parker, R. A. Designing and Conducting Survey Research: A Comprehensive Guide, Jossey-Bass, 2005. One of many books out there that explain the complexity of creating a predictive survey.
Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. “Judgments under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases.” Science, 185, 1974 <http://www.hss.caltech.edu/~camerer/Ec101/JudgementUncertainty.pdf> Early discussion of availability bias.
Always Retrievable (and Viewable by All): The Impact on Candor and Personal Reinvention
http://www.observer.com/2009/media/twitter-culture-wars-itimesi. Article discussing policy challenges at the New York Observer over candor and trust vs twittering.
Information Candy Store: The Impact of Information Overload on Employess
http://www.iorgforum.org/index.htm. Great website for research on information overload.
Wilson, P. “Unused relevant information in research and development,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science, v46 N1, 1995.
Farhoomand, A. F. & Drury, D. H. “Managerial Information Overload,” Communications of the ACM, October 2002, <http://ils.unc.edu/~bwilder/inls172/172p127-farhoomand.pdf >
www.iocalculator.com An interesting tool that estimate the of cost of information overload for one’s enterprise.
Scwartz, B. The Paradox of Choice: Why more is Less. Harper, 2004
Zeldes. N, Sward, D, & Louchheim. “Infomania: Why we can’t afford to ignore it any longer,” First Monday V12 N8 2007 <http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/1973/1848>
Jeanine W. T. & Reinsch, N. L. “The Business Communicator as Presence Allocator: Multicommunicating, Equivocality, and Status at Work,” Journal of Business Communication V44 N1, 2007 <http://job.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/44/1/36?ck=nck>