Monday, April 29, 2013

Study Reveals: 30 % Of Survey Participants Check Work-Related E-Mails Before Going To Bed And Upon Waking In The Morning

A research project at the Department of Media and Communications Science is investigating the “mediatisation of work”. One of the aspects receiving focused attention is the question of how new media and technologies are transforming the working environment.

From the spread of the personal computer in the 80s and 90s, to smart phones and tablet PCs – increasingly, our working life is affected by modern information and communication technologies (ICT). This development goes hand in hand with the societal change of work. “As far as working individuals are concerned, this introduces new challenges as well as opportunities”, Caroline Roth-Ebner points out. She is currently conducting a study on “New Media and Work” at the Alpen-Adria-Universit├Ąt.

Caroline Roth-Ebner 
 Foto: Maurer

First interim results already clearly illustrate that the workforce requires new skills, in order to both seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of a mediatised working environment. In the course of her study, Caroline Roth-Ebner carried out an online survey and conducted 20 interviews with so-called “digicom workers”.These are individuals whose professional occupations mainly involve performing activities in the realm of communication and information, primarily through the use of digital technology. To a certain extent their tasks are organized virtually, which means that they can work independently of space and time.

“We have discovered that media and technology skills represent an essential prerequisite for many professions today”, Roth-Ebner comments. However, two additional skills are also gaining relevance: “Flexible working conditions without defined boundaries require competencies in the management of time and space, as well as the ability to manage borders.” The mobile office in particular, which may take the form of e-mail access via smart phone, laptop or tablet PC, poses a significant challenge, and requires a greater balancing effort in relation to the border between work and non-work. “Work follows you everywhere”, one digicom worker describes the availability trap during her interview.

Indeed, the online survey revealed that 30 per cent of the 445 participants check their e-mails before they go to bed and again upon waking. Only five per cent declared that they are unavailable to their companies or their customers during their leisure time. Companies deliberately provide their employees with prestigious smart phones, thus increasing the pressure to remain available, even outside of working hours.

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