ICT Boundary Strategies and Spatio-temporal Rhythms in Everyday Working Life

By: Calle Rosengren   Kristina Palm   Ann Bergman  

The previous clearly defined spatial and temporal boundaries between work and private life are weakening in the trail of new technology and the digitalization of society. Access to ICT functions (email and text messages) enables employees to continue working after they leave the office. This study explores the process of how digital technology interacts with and affects relationships between work and private life, working conditions and wellbeing. It focuses on how digital technology is actively used by employees to manage accessibility to the different spheres. Using technology to achieve a balance between work and private life spheres is described as ICT boundary strategies. A case study was carried out involving three multinational industrial companies in Sweden. Time diaries and semi-structured interviews with a sample of 40 employees were used to see on how they manage the challenges of digital working life. The results indicate a wide variation in the participants’ ICT boundary strategies for balancing work and private life. The presentation highlights: how technology is tweaked to manage accessibility to different spheres by using multiple devices, keeping the spheres separate on ICT devices, and active use of ringtones; how work and private life are separated by dedicating technology to certain places (sedentarization); how the permeability of the domain boundaries varies depending on whether the sender is a family member, friend, work colleague or manager. Different strategies appear to be related to personal preferences, contextual variables such as workload, and the strategies of other colleagues and family members.

Digitalization, Work-life Balance, Boundary Theory
Technologies and Human Usability
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Calle Rosengren

Assistant Professor, Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Sweden

Kristina Palm

Assistant Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Ann Bergman

Professor, Karlstad University, Sweden