Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020
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Session 18 and 19 Digital Work Issues I & II

Digital Work Issues I



"Work design in the digitization process in small businesses of the craft's sector"

Kerstin Guhlemann, Christine Best, Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund / TU Dortmund/Germany

Abstract: In the wake of the lively discourse about digital transformation, many companies feel pressured to enhance their digital portfolio – from products to work equipment and processes. Especially in small companies, this is most often not accompanied by reflections about the impact of the changes on the working conditions of the employees. In the crafts sector this is accompanied by some special conditions and restrains that prevent many small companies to occupy themselves with digitization on a deeper level. Despite the “prosumer” trend, the ubiquitous digitization has only slowly made its way into the crafts sector so far: The sector traditionally mostly consists of small businesses, only half of which have a website or offer services online. Customer communication is usually via phone and processes are planned and documented on paper. Also, the flow of information within craft businesses is often laborious. The article aims therefore at casting a closer look at the effects of digitization on the enterprises and employees in the crafts business, as well as the challenges and the potentials in this area.

The empirical findings are based on work situation analyses in the companies and interviews. The goal of these observations was the analysis and documentation of operational processes that are affected by digitization. The state of art of technology used in the companies and their areas of application was also recorded. Based on this, the business needs and possibilities and the requirements and wishes of the customers were determined in cooperation with the crafts businesses. The contribution shows potentials and restrains as well as possibilities of digitization in the crafts sector, and hints at approaches for target group specific humane work design suitable for small enterprises.


"Digital Work Assistance in Decision-Making:  Information Richness, Trustworthiness, and Propensity to Trust"

Cornelia Gerdenitsch, Eva Preininger, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology Vienna/Austria

Abstract: In an increasingly digital and complex world, technologies can be used as a decision-making assistance for employees. Trust in so-called assistive technologies is a key factor in this respect. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of information richness, trustworthiness and individual trust disposition on the trust in digital work assistants. We examined trust in technology by means of the construct of trusting intent, i.e. the perception that the technology can be trusted. Based on the organizational theory of trust (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995; Schoorman, 2007) and previous empirical evidence, we expect that the higher information richness, trustworthiness and propensity to trust, the higher the trusting intention will be.

Using an online survey, we presented four versions of a dashboard to 77 participants to help them make an important decision within a given scenario. The four versions were presented randomly and differed in their information richness. The participants then answered questions about the perceived information sufficiency, perceived trustworthiness (honesty, integrity, competence), propensity to trust and trusting intention. We also assessed age and gender, for which we controlled in the analyses. In the version of the dashboard that shows the visualization with the highest information richness, not only the trusting intention is highest, but also the perception of having sufficient information and the confidence in the decision made. We further demonstrate that trusting intention is positively influenced when the technology is perceived as honest and competent. We could not find a significant relation between integrity and propensity to trust on trusting intention. 


"Smart tools to enhance wellbeing at workplace"

Vitalija Danivska, Suvi Nenonen,  Tampere University/Finland

Abstract: New ways of working include many challenges to wellbeing at work. The variety of physical work environments, the multi-platform digital work environment, the number of work places, the distance between them, and the rhythm all affect the quality of work as well as people’s ability to cope with it. At the same time, the boundaries between work and personal life are reducing. From organization’s perspective, it is becoming increasingly important to take care of the employees and provide not only safe environment to do work but also pleasant and healthy environment for people to flourish. Moreover, with the development of digital tools, it is easier to offer more services for employees. In this paper, wellbeing is discussed in terms of digital services and tools for supporting wellbeing. Thus, the focus of the paper is to open up the potential for digital wellbeing services and to understand how they can support decision-making in companies. The research is based on market data on wellbeing services and tools and enhanced by understanding wellbeing at workplace concept. Data from over 120 services globally were collected by using CBInsights tech market intelligence platform and analysed by using coding and direct content analysis.

The findings from available services’ analysis support identified evolution of digitalisation and wellbeing understanding. Results show that most of the services aim at supporting functional and mental wellbeing at work but only around 40% of the services enable learning from the data by creating patterns of use or behaviour. Moreover, just over 20% of services include elements of network and support aspects of social wellbeing. This paper gives a comprehensive overview of market development in terms of smart services to support wellbeing at work. Results of this study provide a ground for further academic discussion on wellbeing transformation in a digital society. For practitioners, this study can be valuable by widening the understanding of wellbeing services available for the users.


Digital Work Issues II

"Activity-Based Working Environment – Towards Sustainable Space Use"

Satu Kankaala, Aalto University/Finland; Suvi Nenonen, Tampere University/Finland

Abstract: The common driver for activity-based working development has been mainly financial reasons in decreased space cost for the occupier. However, it is important to find out, if this or some other factors can be significant features of sustainable activity-based working environment. The aim of this paper is to answer to the research question: How efficient space use affects to the experienced user satisfaction and the experienced sustainability? The research hypothesis is that activity-based working environment has benefits in sustainability and could be promoted as a sustainable way of working. Activity-based working is a concept which recognizes that through the course of a day, people engage in many different activities and that they need different types of work settings to accommodate these activities. It has noted that in general an activity based working environment typically utilises significantly less office space than a traditional model of workplace design. This provides a smaller footprint, which goes hand in hand with a smaller carbon footprint. 

The data is gathered by space utilisation observation studies, Leesman surveys and document analysis before and after a university faculty relocation. The findings will indicate that there might be connection between the efficient space use and user satisfaction. It is expected that user satisfaction features include sustainability value for the users. The originality of this research lies in the trial to understand activity-based working environment as sustainable mechanism in individual and organisational level. One can further investigate if the activity-based working environment can provide new motivational factors in environmentally friendly behaviour.


"Predictive analytics in facilities management: The effects of the physical environment on employee comfort, wellbeing, and productivity"

Michael Roskams, Barry P. Haynes, Sheffield Hallam University/UK

Abstract: The recent emergence of wireless environmental sensors has enabled workplace professionals to measure the indoor office environment in more detail than ever before. However, it remains unclear to what extent this technology can be used to improve working conditions for occupants. As such, the purpose of this project was to develop and refine a methodology for exploring the relationship between indoor environmental quality, comfort, and productivity. The research is grounded in the Environmental Demands-Resources (ED-R) model, which conceptualises the workplace environment as a composite of pathogenic environmental demands and salutogenic environmental resources. 

A pilot study was conducted at one office site, and subsequent data were also collected at two additional office sites. Across the three sites, 59 employees provided 670 momentary assessments of the workplace environment. The findings of the studies suggest that adherence to best-practice comfort policies is associated with higher levels of subjective environmental comfort, but only weakly. However, there were strong associations between subjective comfort and productivity. The results suggest that the most effective workplaces will both adhere to environmental comfort policies and allow users to craft local environmental conditions to their own preferences.


"From Coworking Space to Coworking Building"

Florian Spitra, IUBH International Hochschule, Bad Reichenhall/Germany

Abstract: The world of work is changing, and this is creating new demands on office buildings. Project and development times are becoming shorter and shorter, which also reduces the planning horizon of companies. On the other hand, the technical requirements for buildings are becoming ever higher, so that construction costs and construction times are increasing. Investors are thus faced with the dilemma that they no longer receive predictable and secure rental income for their investments. Only large companies can conclude long-term rental agreements and, in return, receive tailor-made properties that are not highly suitable for third-party use. Smaller companies with shorter planning horizons can only find rental space in existing buildings and therefore usually have to cut back on the standard. Co-working spaces close this supply gap. Is it possible for investors to respond to the new demand situation with a flexible building concept?