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After-hour Connectivity: A bug to be fixed or an organizational reality to be better understood?

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We are happy to announce that our study on after-hour connectivity received a top-paper award in the organizational communication division at the International Communication Association (ICA) conference, which will be held in May, 2021. Below we provide a short summary of the study.

Contemporary job designs often require employees to use a multitude of different communication technologies to collaborate with colleagues across temporal and spatial boundaries. After-hour connectivity refers to employees’ availability for work during non-work time. Employees often manage the extent to which they are available to work using their mobile devices also allowing continuous connectivity beyond the traditional constraints of time and space. In contemporary organizational realities after-hour connectivity by individual employees is often viewed as a bug to be fixed. Considering the number of negative implications associated with after-hour connectivity there seems little to quarrel with this assessment. For instance, after-hour connectivity is often linked with increased stress and reduced wellbeing, a lack of psychological detachment, and an increase in work/life conflicts. 

However, our study urges us to rethink our assumptions of after-hour connectivity. We suggest that we should view this state of connectivity not as a dysfunctional bug that needs to be eradicated from the workplace, but rather as an inherent feature of the workplace and a natural outcome of an economic environment that values service and responsiveness. Additionally, and arguably more importantly, we show that there is a state of connectivity that is not univocally associated with negative implications for worker wellbeing. 

As such our study provides an understanding of the relationship between after-hour connectivity and exhaustion that challenges its figure-ground relationship. The findings demonstrate that after-hour connectivity may actually reduce exhaustion. This result represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about after-hour connectivity. The reasoning behind most studies that demonstrate a negative relationship between after-hour connectivity and employee wellbeing, is that connectedness after hours is preventing employees to have the necessary time off to recharge their batteries and psychologically detach from work. In contrast our study demonstrates that after-hour connectivity is positively related to perceived control over when, where, and how to work. This is important as higher levels of autonomy are an important resource for employees that allow them to reduce emotional exhaustion from work. 

This is important for several reasons. First many studies on connectivity equate after-hour connectivity with constant connectivity or perpetual connectivity. However, especially in the context of remote work and during the COVID-19 pandemic employees have many opportunities to disconnect as well. This means that after-hour connectivity is not necessarily representative of ‘excessive’ connectivity but rather a way to organize the workday differently. These findings are highly important for organizations thinking about the future of work and different workplace configurations that rely heavily on dispersed employees’ ability to stay connected. For instance, the default approach has often been to limit excessive connectivity for instance by taking email servers offline after hours. However, such constraining options may also take away important sources of autonomy for those workers who seek to extend their connectivity after hours. Hence, we suggest that organizations should not throw the baby out with the bath water. A more nuanced approach could focus on family friendly work cultures and open communication about work life demands with supervisors as this may help to hamper these negative impacts of after-hour connectivity while fostering the positive ones.

The key take-away of this study is that after-hour connectivity can operate as an important source of autonomy and therefore help employees to reduce exhaustion from work. Hence, contrary to popular belief that after-hour connectedness is a bug to be fixed, after-hour connectivity may equally well be a much-needed resource in a work environment that demands timeless and spaceless work.

For more information and questions about the study please contact one of the authors. 

University of Jyväskylä

Ward van Zoonen (in English)

E: ward.w.vanzoonen@jyu.fi

Anu Sivunen (in Finnish)

E: anu.e.sivunen@jyu.fi

University of Texas at Austin University of Jyväskylä

Jeffrey Treem

E: jtreem@austin.utexas.edu

FutuRemote -projekti: koronapandemian myötä syntyneet etätyön kehitys- ja liiketoimintamahdollisuudet

 *Project site in English here*

FutuRemote -projekti jatkaa Fast Expert Teams -verkoston työtä Covid-19-pandemian aloittaman etätyöhön siirtymisen tutkimisessa. Projektin tavoitteena on hyödyntää jo kerättyä tutkimusaineistoa ja luoda tietopohja etätyöaikakauden toimintatapojen kehittämiselle, sekä rakentaa yhteistyössä hankkeeseen osallistuvien yritysten kanssa ekosysteemi, joka kehittää konkreettisia ratkaisuja uuden etätyöarjen haasteisiin ja muutoksiin.

FutuRemote -projektin tutkimusryhmään kuuluu tutkijoita neljästä suomalaisesta yliopistosta: LUT-yliopistosta, Aalto-yliopistosta, Jyväskylän yliopistosta ja Tampereen yliopistosta. Tutkijat edustavat monipuolisesti erilaisia tieteenaloja ja tarkastelevat projektin aihetta erilaisista näkökulmista.

Yhdessä Business Finlandin ja projektiin osallistuvien yritysten kanssa tutkimme, kuinka tietotyön tekijät ovat sopeutuneet etätyöhön ja millaisia mahdollisuuksia uusi etätyötilanne tarjoaa. FutuRemote -projekti sai Covid-19 co-creation -rahoitusta Business Finlandilta ajalle 2020-2021.

Lisätietoa projektista löydät projektisivulta täältä.

Etätyö koronapandemian aikana – kyselyn tulokset julkaistu, vastaa jatkokyselyyn!

Maalis-huhtikuussa kansallisessa etätyökyselyssä selvitettiin, millaisia vaikutuksia koronapandemialla on ollut suomalaiseen työelämään. Kyselyyn saatiin yli 5000 vastausta! Nyt kyselystä on julkaistu toinen osa, johon toivotaan jälleen vastauksia mahdollisimman monilta koronatilanteen takia etätyötä tekeviltä henkilöiltä.

Linkki jatkokyselyyn ja kyselyn ensimmäisen vaiheen tuloksiin löytyy täältä. Jatkokysely on avoinna 22.5.2020 saakka.

Tutkimus etätyöstä koronapandemian aikana on tehty yhteistyössä Fast Expert Teams -asiantuntijaverkoston kanssa. CoCoDigi-tutkimusryhmä on osa tätä monitieteistä verkostoa, jota johtaa LUT-yliopisto. Kyselyn tuloksista on uutisoinut myös Yle ja Jyväskylän yliopisto.

Teetkö etätyötä koronapandemian aikana? Vastaa kyselyyn 13.4. mennessä!

*Do you work remotely due to corona pandemic? Read English summary below and take a survey!*

Koronaviruksen aiheuttaman poikkeustilanteen takia yhä useampi asiantuntija on siirtynyt tekemään etätyötä. Miten etätyöhön siirtyminen vaikuttaa Suomen työelämään? Kuinka vuorovaikutus ja yhteistyö sujuvat digitaalisesti? Muun muassa näitä kysymyksiä selvitetään LUT-yliopiston johtaman, monialaisen Fast Expert Teams -asiantuntijaverkoston luomassa kyselyssä. CoCoDigi-tutkimusryhmä on osa asiantuntijaverkostoa.

Voit vastata kyselyyn täällä, kysely on avoinna 13.4.2020 saakka. Kyselyyn voi vastata suomeksi tai englanniksi. Vastauksia toivotaan mahdollisimman monilta etätyöhön siirtyneiltä, jotka työskentelevät Suomessa tai suomalaisessa organisaatiossa ulkomailla!

Kyselyn perusteella on tarkoitus toteuttaa etätyöhön liittyvä pitkittäistutkimus, joten seuraathan uutisiamme myös jatkossa – seuraava kysely julkaistaan myöhemmin tänä keväänä.

Fast Expert Teams -asiantuntijaverkosto on nopeasti luotu, yli 70:n asiantuntijan ryhmä, jossa on mukana muun muassa tutkijoita eri yliopistoista ja tutkimuslaitoksista sekä asiantuntijoita ministeriöistä ja useista yrityksistä. Etätyökyselystä ja Fast Expert Teams -verkostosta löytyy lisätietoa esimerkiksi Jyväskylän yliopiston uutisesta.

In English

Due to coronavirus, many people have only recently started working remotely. How do we interact digitally, and how does this affect our working life and collaboration in Finland? Fast Expert Teams -network is a nation-wide, multidisciplinary research team led by LUT University that has created a survey addressing these issues. CoCoDigi research group is part of the network.

If you have experience of remote work because of coronavirus, and you are working in Finland or for a Finnish organization abroad, please take the National Finnish work survey here. You can respond to the survey either in Finnish or in English. We hope to have as many respondents as possible! Survey is available until April 13th, 2020.

The network is planning to conduct a longitudinal research on how remote work and related phenomena develop, so please follow our news and take another survey later this spring as we update it here!

Parempaa innovointia toimituksiin – Somedian työkirja on nyt julki

Innovointia ja teknologiavälitteistä työtä käsitellyt Somedia-hanke päättyi viime vuoden lopussa ja hankkeen tulokset julkaistaan nyt työkirjan muodossa. Innovaatiot ja teknologia toimituksissa – Tuloksia Somedia-tutkimushankkeesta -työkirja sisältää tiiviin katsauksen aiempaan tutkimukseen sekä innovoinnista että työn muutoksesta media-alalla, ja esittelee tutkimushankkeen keskeisimmät tulokset. 19-sivuinen työkirja on vapaasti luettavissa ja ladattavissa täällä.

Tutkimusryhmästä hankkeessa työskentelivät professori Mikko Villi, professori Anu Sivunen, tutkijatohtori Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, väitöskirjatutkija Jonna Leppäkumpu ja väitöskirjatutkija Minna Koivula. Hanketta rahoitti Media-alan tutkimussäätiö vuosina 2017-2019.

CoCoDigi visited annual AOM meeting in Boston

Our research group was represented at the annual Academy of Management meeting in Boston, MA, in August, as two papers were presented at the conference. The papers were authored by Kaisa Laitinen and Anu Sivunen, and by Jennifer Gibbs, Anu Sivunen, and Ward van Zoonen. Both papers are still in publication process, but some preliminary results were highlighted at the conference.

Kaisa Laitinen and Anu Sivunen discussed different factors behind employees’ information sharing in the presentation of their paper The Motivations and Constraints behind Employees’ Information Sharing on Enterprise Social Media. The goal of this ongoing research is to form a picture of how and why employees share information on enterprise social media platform. Preliminary results indicate that information sharing on enterprise social media is shaped by personal, technological, and organizational dimensions, which play a role in how much and what kind of information employees’ are willing and motivated to share.

Jennifer Gibbs, Anu Sivunen, and Ward van Zoonen presented their paper Managing Tensions in Global Work and Worker Well-Being: The Paradoxical Role of Social Media. The study focuses on global work and the potential pressure to be constantly connected and available via communication technologies. This demand of constant connectivity will likely affect and be affected by employee well-being and engagement, but also by organizational and cultural norms.

These interesting projects continue as the research goes on. Both presentation papers are currently in preparation for journal publications.

79th annual meeting of the Academy of Management was held in August 2019, in Boston (Massachusetts, USA). AOM divides into several divisions depending on discipline and topic of research. CoCoDigi-papers were presented in the Organizational Communication and Information Systems (OCIS) -division.

CoCoDigi members receive funding for Media Work 2030 research project

Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has awarded Professor Mikko Villi and research group with a grant of 240 000 euros for the Media Work 2030 research project. The project is a joint effort between the Department of Language and Communication Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä and Work Research Centre at Tampere University. From the CoCoDigi research group, Mikko Villi, Anu Sivunen, Minna Markkanen and Salla-Maaria Laaksonen will be working in the project. The project is funded for the years 2019-2021.

Media Work 2030 studies media work and media professionals as actors in the digital media environment. The starting point in the project is that digital disruption is not only a challenge for media organisations but also for individual media workers. The project brings together several research traditions (media and communication studies, social and public policy research, sociology, psychology, and brain research) in a unique, interdisciplinary way.

You can find more details about the project here and get to know the research team more in depth here.

CoCoDigi research group goes to ICA 2019

Our research group has several accepted paper presentations at this year’s ICA (International Communication Association) conference. We are excited to go to Washington DC to talk about our research on communication technology use after hours, enterprise social media, creativity in virtual teams as well as visibility and knowledge brokering in organizations. The following papers will be presented in the Organizational Communication Division of the ICA:

Laitinen, K., Treem, J. W., & Sivunen, A. (2019). Enterprise Social Media and Employees’ Relational Networks: Relational Exploration or Transactional Use?

Markkanen, M. & Villi, M. (2019). Enablers and constraints of creativity: Communication climate and technology-mediated idea sharing in dispersed teams.

Treem, J. W., Laitinen, K., & Sivunen, A. (2019). Can you have a social intranet? Examining multiple design logics in the implementation of information and communication technologies in organizations.

Van Zoonen, W., Sivunen, A. & Rice, R. E. (2019) Communication technology use after hours: Finding comfort in boundary-spanning communication.

In addition, the following papers with a CoCoDigi connection will be presented in other ICA divisions:

Ruotsalainen, J., Villi, M. & Hujanen, J. (2019) Pioneering a future of journalism beyond the private-public divide: Hybridity in textual news practices of entrepreneurial journalism outlets. Journalism Studies Division.

Lindén, C-G., Villi, M., Lehtisaari, K. & Grönlund, M. (2019) Helping Hand? It’s Google’s World of Media and Journalism Now. The Rise of Platforms, ICA post-conference.

Professor Sivunen tells about research group’s projects in JYUnity-web publication

University of Jyväskylä’s web magazine JYUnity published an article about Enterprise Social Media – with an interview of Professor Anu Sivunen.

DSC_4479-1000-2-1

“What kind of information is shared publicly and within the organisation? The boundaries between work and other areas of life, personal brand or impression management in social media and the tensions created by these are interesting,” Sivunen considers.

Read the article here .

Picture by Sanni Lahtinen