Friday, August 9, 2013

Hyper-connected? Don't blame your cell phone.

Feeling overwhelmed by hyper-connectivity?  
Here is some good news: technology can help keep you sane.
In the first study of its kind, Paul Collins of the University of Washington and I undertook a large-scale survey of more than 400 individuals in distributed work settings in 29 countries to explore how "requisite connectivity" contributes to performance and wellbeing, as well as the relationship between communication choice (agency) and hyper-connectivity. Hyper-connectivity, defined as "too much connectivity for the intended purpose or context of the user," is considered detrimental to work performance.
We expected to find that technology compromised individual choice about when and how to connect in the face of social pressure to be constantly available. 
Instead, we discovered the opposite: reliable, high quality tools help workers manage interactions and avoid the pitfalls of hyper-connectivity.
Participants were asked about the degree to which such things as email, video conferences and impromptu meetings affected productivity, how much control individuals felt they had over contact, team expectations about availability, and technological efficacy.
In our paper, we suggest that, "While we cannot resolve the 'free will' debate in the social sciences, we offer support for the notion that better technology supports connective choice, which in turn strongly offsets hyper-connectivity. In short, good tools are part of the solution, not part of the problem of hyper-connectivity." 

Paul D. Collins is giving this paper next week at the 2013 Academy of Management meeting in Orlando, Florida.  Title: 'Hyper-connectivity: How agency, response norms and technology do (and don't) make a difference'

For more on this study see:

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