Beyond 'yesterday's tomorrow': Towards the design of awareness technologies for the contemporary worker

Abstract

Modern office work practices increasingly breach traditional boundaries of time and place, increasing breakdowns workers encounter when coordinating interaction with colleagues. We conducted interviews with 12 workers and identified key problems introduced by these practices. To address these problems we developed myUnity, a fully functional platform enabling rich workplace awareness and coordination. myUnity is one of the first integrated platforms to span mobile and desktop environments, both in terms of access and sensing. It uses multiple sources to report user location, availability, tasks, and communication channels. A pilot field study of myUnity demonstrated the significant value of pervasive access to workplace awareness and communication facilities, as well as positive behavioral change in day-to-day communication practices for most users. We present resulting insights about the utility of awareness technology in flexible work environments.