Physically present, mentally absent? Technology multitasking in organizational meetings
MetadataShow full item record
This research examines mixed reality meetings, a context where individuals attend to both face-to-face group members while multitasking with technology. In these meetings, members engage simultaneously with those physically present and those outside of the meeting (virtual communication partners). Technology multitasking in meetings has a dual effect: it not only impacts the individual user, it has the potential to transform how collocated groups communicate and work together since attention becomes fragmented across multiple competing tasks. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to investigate mixed reality meetings across four themes: (1) the factors contributing to the likelihood to multitask based on meeting type, polychronicity (one’s preference for multitasking), and cohesion beliefs, (2) behavior during mixed reality assessed by copresence management, (3) attitudes toward technology multitasking, and (4) subjective outcomes measured by perceived productivity and meeting satisfaction. The qualitative data set consists of fieldwork from a global software company and interviews with 8 information workers. The quantitative data are comprised of survey results from the fieldwork site (n=156) and an online panel of information workers (n=110). Results indicate that information workers perceive distinct meeting types that are associated with implicit norms for appropriate technology multitasking. These norms varied based on the relevance of a meeting segment and if a power figure was present. A higher preference score for multitasking (high polychronicity) was significantly correlated with increased technology multitasking and perceived productivity. Members of cohesive teams exhibited the most technology multitasking and perceived their teammates multitasking as appropriate. However, outsiders who exhibited the same behaviors were viewed as rude and distracting. Overall, information workers who multitasked during meetings did so with electronic communication tasks (e-mail and instant messaging) as opposed to other computing tasks (e.g. writing documents, researching information). These findings are discussed in relation to psychological studies on multitasking, computer-supported cooperative work, and social constructionist views of technology use. This dissertation is a contribution to the assessment of technology use in social settings, particularly in organizations where tasks are often interrupted and a reliance on electronic communication tools impacts how people manage and accomplish work.