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Working 9-5? Professional Differences in Email and Boundary Management Practices


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CHI 2015
Seoul, South Korea

Published in: Technology
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Working 9-5? Professional Differences in Email and Boundary Management Practices

  1. 1. Working 9-5? ! Professional Differences in Email and Boundary Management Practices Marta E. Cecchinato, Anna L. Cox, Jon Bird Photo by sjsharktank - Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License  
  2. 2. Today, 58% of Americans own a smartphone and 89% use them to check emails. " (PEW Research, 2014) Mobile devices allow frequent ‘micro-role transitions’ (Ashforth et al., 2000), i.e. shifts between our roles (parent, colleague, etc.).   TECHNOLOGY FACILITATES FLEXIBLE WORKING…
  3. 3. Interference between work and personal life is positively correlated with stress, particularly when work permeates non-work (Kossek et al., 2012). …BUT THIS CAUSES STRESS Photo by c.fuentes2007 - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License  
  5. 5. Boundaries between work and home can be conceptualised along an integration/segmentation continuum (Nippert-Eng, 1996). WORK-HOME BOUNDARIES Photo by procsilas - Creative Commons Attribution License  
  6. 6. Email can increase boundary permeation between work and personal life (Capra et al., 2013). EMAIL AS A BOUNDARY ARTEFACT Image  source:  h.p://  
  7. 7. 1)  How do people manage personal and work email accounts across devices? 2)  What are the boundary management strategies adopted for personal and work email accounts across devices?" 3)  Are there email and boundary management differences between two professional groups from the same organization? RESEARCH QUESTIONS Photo by Eleaf - Creative Commons Attribution License  
  8. 8. Photo by smiling_da_vinci - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License   Created with Haiku Deck   1)  Interviews" 2)  Screenshots of inbox" 3)  Work-Life Indicator Scale" (Kossek et al., 2012)" •  Work Interruption Non-Work (WINW) •  Non-Work Interrupting Work (NWIW) •  Boundary Control (BC) •  Family Identity (FI) •  Work Identity (WI) METHOD
  9. 9. 16 university employees:" •  9 academic staff " (e.g. post-doc, lecturer) •  7 professional service staff (e.g. librarian, HR manager)" o  11 females o  20-54 years old PARTICIPANTS Photo by Joe Shlabotnik - Creative Commons Attribution License  
  10. 10. FINDINGS #1 We identify two user groups, based on: •  Work and non-work interruptions •  Differences in when, where and how " work and personal emails are managed Academics prof. services staff & are different! Image  source:  h.p://­‐01-­‐26-­‐ugly-­‐be.y-­‐headed-­‐to-­‐the-­‐tv-­‐graveyard  Image  source:  my  supervisor!  
  11. 11. “I would never ever check my [work] email outside of work, purposely. It's not the kind of job that I think about when I’m not here. I'm not allowed to work from home" – P13, Female, PS. a) Rigid Boundary Management
  12. 12. b) Permeable Boundary Management “The first check is probably right after I woke up. I will probably have another look during my commute. And once I'm in my office. Once I’m home I have a second work shift after my son goes to bed until quite late in the night” – P15, Male, A.
  13. 13. Individual Differences Photo by 1upLego - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License  
  14. 14. a)  Boundary Challenges: availability “It does irritate my partner. Like if we're in front of the TV and she's playing on a game on her phone and I check my work email then that would irritate her ‘cause [...] she sees it like me being in work rather than spending time with her.” – P5, Male, A. FINDINGS #2 Photo by Street matt - Creative Commons Attribution License  
  15. 15. “I check my emails on the toilet” – P5, Male, A. @dbpharrison  
  16. 16. b) Boundary Challenges: " cross-device interaction “What I’ll do on my phone is […] I’ll go into my work email […] at night time and then I’ll say 'I’ll sort all those tomorrow when I go to work’ but because they're not marked as unread anymore, whenever I go to work I forget to reply.” – P8, Female, A.
  17. 17. MICRO-BOUNDARY PRACTICES Through accounts: •  One account per role •  Dedicated folders across accounts " Through devices: •  Personal email only on smartphone, " work email only on laptop. •  Deliberately removing work email from phone during time off, e.g. on holiday" Through software: •  Different apps on smartphone for personal and work email “a strategy to limit the impact of micro-role transitions caused by cross-domain technology mediated interruptions” Photo by kevin dooley - Creative Commons Attribution License  
  18. 18. IMPLICATIONS 1.  Setting contextual notifications based on locations and account type. 2.  Automatically tagging email with device icons based on where they were first opened. Ø  No one-size-fits all solution for all the staff in a single organisation. Photo by Fotero - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License  
  19. 19. Working 9-5? ! Professional Differences in Email and Boundary Management Practices Marta E. Cecchinato Anna L. Cox Jon Bird Image  source:  h.p://­‐2674450/So-­‐says-­‐Glasto-­‐just-­‐young-­‐Dolly-­‐Parton-­‐follows-­‐Robert-­‐Plant-­‐Yoko-­‐Ono-­‐Bryan-­‐Ferry-­‐entertaining-­‐thousands-­‐fans-­‐fesFval.html