The product of availability: Understanding the economicunderpinnings of constant connectivity

Melissa Mazmanian, Ingrid Erickson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Constant connectivity and total availability to clients is the rule rather than the exception in many contemporary workplaces. Enabled by developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs), total availability of employees is possible and presumed. Scholars have explored how new technological affordances, cultural shifts, individual personality traits, and/or the development of social expectations that reinforce norms of constant connectivity have led to this state of affairs. We argue that a key factor has been overlooked in current scholarship about stress, intensive work, and constant connectivity. That is, current economic conditions are creating a marketplace in which firms increasing sell the availability of their employees as part of the services offered by the firm. In this paper we use qualitative data to illustrate how total availability is an integral aspect of the 'product' offered by professional service firms and is becoming increasingly prevalent in other service industries. We conclude with a discussion of how the HCI community might address this situation as a design challenge. Drawing on the work of Goffman and Perlow, we suggest that designers attend to the ways in which organizations might maintain front stage impressions of total availability while collectively managing individual time to restrict total availability behind the scenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOne of a CHInd - Conference Proceedings, 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages763-772
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450324731
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014 - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: Apr 26 2014May 1 2014

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014
CountryCanada
CityToronto, ON
Period4/26/145/1/14

Keywords

  • Economic constraints
  • Knowledge work
  • Markets of availability
  • Mobile technology
  • Service work
  • Time and temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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  • Cite this

    Mazmanian, M., & Erickson, I. (2014). The product of availability: Understanding the economicunderpinnings of constant connectivity. In CHI 2014: One of a CHInd - Conference Proceedings, 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 763-772). (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557381