Digital Communication Technologies: Productive or Problematic?
A proliferation of digital communication technologies is transforming the work and life of knowledge workers in organizations today. A multitude of technologies—such as smartphones, real-time collaboration tools and virtual or augmented reality meeting spaces, in addition to conventional email—are now available to help knowledge workers perform tasks and communicate across large geographic distances. Canadian business travellers currently spend more than $20 billion per year in Canada. Using available digital communication technologies more effectively could reduce this economic footprint.
Yet research shows that workers sometimes use digital communication technologies ineffectively. For example, they may use multiple technologies at the same time when they should focus on one: think of how many times you may have seen a colleague using their phone to tune out during a meeting. While these technologies offer opportunities, the challenge is how to use them in an integrated way to meaningfully transform organizational work.
Using qualitative observational techniques and quantitative experiments, Dr. Ann-Frances Cameron, Canada Research Chair in Digital Communication and Multitasking, is examining the use of digital communication technologies and their effects on employee communication and multitasking. Specifically, she and her research team are studying both the intended and unintended consequences of digital communication technology use for individual employees (such as impacts on their productivity and stress) and for workgroups (such as impacts on meeting effectiveness and group cohesion).
This research will produce data-driven guidelines for organizations and knowledge workers looking to enhance their use of digital communication technologies.