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Exploring The Workplace
Communication Ecology
Thea Turner, Pernilla Qvarfordt, Jake Biehl,
   Gene Golovchinsky, Maribeth ...
Workplace Communication

Modern workplace is inherently collaborative

Collaboration relies on effective communication
  B...
Why Communication Ecology?


Ecology
  interactions of people with environment
  networks of relationships among entities
...
Previous Work


Often focused on single communication method
  show value of method
  rarely examined impact on overall pr...
Communication Ecology Study


Examined communication practice in small company

Two surveys on communication practices a y...
Communication Method Usage
•We!-established methods continued to be used
                                                6
Communication Method Usage
•We!-established methods continued to be used
• IM, Social Networks and Blogs saw significant ad...
Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method

    Daily

  Weekly

 Monthly

Less than
  Monthly
   Not in
...
Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method

    Daily

  Weekly

 Monthly

Less than
  Monthly
   Not in
...
Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method

    Daily

  Weekly

 Monthly

Less than
  Monthly
   Not in
...
Changes Over Year


 Between two surveys
  Continued use of face-to-face, phone, email and notes
  More people using IM, S...
Looking for Patterns of Use


 Used hierarchical clustering analysis
   used data common to both surveys
   treated partic...
Communication Patterns

Analysis produced 4 groups
  Basic: primarily F2F and
  email, telephone less often
  than other g...
Transitions Over Year




Remember analysis treated participants in each year as
separate cases

Therefore can examine how...
Initial State In 2008




 Most in Basic, Social or Chat




                                 15
Transitions From Basic



Basic group went from 8
people to 1 over year

Half migrated to Social

One quarter became
Commu...
Transitions From Chat




Chatters most likely to stay
with same set of methods

But 40% moved on to Social
or Communicato...
Transitions From Social


Group size remained at 8,
but with significant
turnover in membership

Social most likely to
mig...
Transitions From Communicator




Only one person in 2008

Continued to use range of
methods in 2009




                 ...
Pattern In 2009

Number of people
  Basic: 8 → 1
  Chat: 10 → 8
  Social: 8 → 8
  Comm: 1 → 10

People adopted new
methods...
Adoption of New Methods


Added new methods without reducing previous ones



Why do people adopt new communication method...
Nature of Conversation



Nature strongly influences selection:
  Face-to-face: ideation, problem solving, sensitive issue...
Separation of Conversations




Different clients for different purposes / partners
  IM (internal, Skype, Yahoo, GTalk, M...
Immediacy vs. Interruptions




Balancing user needs against partner’s
  State and availability of partner if known
  Urge...
Groups: Adoption and Selection

People within a group talked about methods differently
  examples
    weaknesses of face-t...
Conclusions


No single method meets all user needs
  When new methods adopted, older ones not replaced
  Many implementat...
Questions?
Exploring The Workplace
Communication Ecology
Thea Turner, Pernilla Qvarfordt, Jake Biehl,
   Gene Golovchinsky...
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Communication Ecology Turner et al, CHI 2010

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We explore the communication ecology of a small company, providing insights on trends in technology use, how users choose among available technologies, and how technology use can define other behaviors.

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Communication Ecology Turner et al, CHI 2010

  1. 1. Exploring The Workplace Communication Ecology Thea Turner, Pernilla Qvarfordt, Jake Biehl, Gene Golovchinsky, Maribeth Back FX Palo Alto Laboratory
  2. 2. Workplace Communication Modern workplace is inherently collaborative Collaboration relies on effective communication Build common ground Foster new ideas Resolve conflict Examined use of communication methods over 15 months Results understood holistically within Communication Ecology 2
  3. 3. Why Communication Ecology? Ecology interactions of people with environment networks of relationships among entities In communication ecologies: communication methods: face-to-face, email, IM, SNS, ... methods are channels through which we communicate these resources are selected differentially people inhabit different niches within environment 3
  4. 4. Previous Work Often focused on single communication method show value of method rarely examined impact on overall practice Rarely provide understanding of long-term use Often done in experimental setting Frequently at universities or very large companies 4
  5. 5. Communication Ecology Study Examined communication practice in small company Two surveys on communication practices a year apart method use, frequency of use, clients, features Analyzed only those taking both surveys 27 people representative of organization’s diversity Interviewed subset of participants 2 months later 5
  6. 6. Communication Method Usage •We!-established methods continued to be used 6
  7. 7. Communication Method Usage •We!-established methods continued to be used • IM, Social Networks and Blogs saw significant adoption 7
  8. 8. Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method Daily Weekly Monthly Less than Monthly Not in Last Year Never N: 27 NA 27 27 23 23 25 19 22 11 • No decrease in we!-established methods (face to face increased) 8
  9. 9. Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method Daily Weekly Monthly Less than Monthly Not in Last Year Never N: 27 NA 27 27 23 23 25 19 22 11 • No decrease in we!-established methods (face to face increased) • Instant Messaging, Social Networking, Writing Blogs, and Virtual Worlds increased in &equency of use 9
  10. 10. Frequency of Use for Participants Who Reported Using Method Daily Weekly Monthly Less than Monthly Not in Last Year Never N: 27 NA 27 27 23 23 25 19 22 11 • No decrease in we!-established methods (face to face increased) • Instant Messaging, Social Networking, Writing Blogs, and Virtual Worlds increased in &equency of use • Many newer methods had large increases over the year 10
  11. 11. Changes Over Year Between two surveys Continued use of face-to-face, phone, email and notes More people using IM, Social Networking, and blogs Increased use of IM, Social Networking, and blogs Some work-related increase in use of virtual worlds No increase in use of Wikis Are there patterns in the increased adoption and use? 11
  12. 12. Looking for Patterns of Use Used hierarchical clustering analysis used data common to both surveys treated participant by year as individual cases variables included frequency of use for methods features: text chat, voice chat, video chat, IM file sharing clients: AIM, GoogleTalk, Skype, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, World of Warcraft 12
  13. 13. Communication Patterns Analysis produced 4 groups Basic: primarily F2F and email, telephone less often than other groups Chat: Basic methods plus IM (text), some voice chat and IM file sharing Social: Basic methods plus SNS (LinkedIn, Facebook) Communicator: heaviest user of all methods 13
  14. 14. Transitions Over Year Remember analysis treated participants in each year as separate cases Therefore can examine how people changed over course of year 14
  15. 15. Initial State In 2008 Most in Basic, Social or Chat 15
  16. 16. Transitions From Basic Basic group went from 8 people to 1 over year Half migrated to Social One quarter became Communicators 16
  17. 17. Transitions From Chat Chatters most likely to stay with same set of methods But 40% moved on to Social or Communicator 17
  18. 18. Transitions From Social Group size remained at 8, but with significant turnover in membership Social most likely to migrate to Communicator Several did not add new methods 18
  19. 19. Transitions From Communicator Only one person in 2008 Continued to use range of methods in 2009 19
  20. 20. Pattern In 2009 Number of people Basic: 8 → 1 Chat: 10 → 8 Social: 8 → 8 Comm: 1 → 10 People adopted new methods moving from Basic toward Communicator Adoption of methods does not appear related to role 20
  21. 21. Adoption of New Methods Added new methods without reducing previous ones Why do people adopt new communication methods? How do people select which method to use? Survey in 2009: strengths & weaknesses of methods Interviews: why adopted? when to use? 21
  22. 22. Nature of Conversation Nature strongly influences selection: Face-to-face: ideation, problem solving, sensitive issues Email: asynchronous, persistent record, nitty gritty details Phone: immediacy at distance IM: quick exchanges Social Networking: lightweight, social, personal updates 22
  23. 23. Separation of Conversations Different clients for different purposes / partners IM (internal, Skype, Yahoo, GTalk, MSN Live) Email (work, home, etc.) Social Networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) 23
  24. 24. Immediacy vs. Interruptions Balancing user needs against partner’s State and availability of partner if known Urgency of communication Cost of gauging availability 24
  25. 25. Groups: Adoption and Selection People within a group talked about methods differently examples weaknesses of face-to-face communication many in Basic, Chat, Social mentioned that you had to be in same place and that it may take more time Communicators never mentioned colocation, some brought up time Instead they mentioned scheduling problems, lack of records, effects of social skills or lack of them on conversation Selection rules were somewhat different by group Communicators had more fine-tuned applicability conditions 25
  26. 26. Conclusions No single method meets all user needs When new methods adopted, older ones not replaced Many implementations coexist with differentiation Users adopt a subset of tools according to their particular communication style and needs, which may change over time Design and study communication methods within Communication Ecology rather than in isolation 26
  27. 27. Questions? Exploring The Workplace Communication Ecology Thea Turner, Pernilla Qvarfordt, Jake Biehl, Gene Golovchinsky, Maribeth Back FX Palo Alto Laboratory turner@fxpal.com

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