Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Enacting Work Space in the Flow: Sensemaking about Mobile Practices and Blurring Boundaries"

Loni Davis, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development


An increasing portion of the contemporary workforce is using mobile devices to create new kinds of work-space-flows characterized by emergence, liquidity, and the blurring of all kinds of boundaries. This changes the traditional notion of the term workplace. The present study focuses on how people enact and make sense of new work space boundaries enabled by their mobile practices. A unique method of data collection—the use of cultural probes—was adapted to an online format to facilitate participant reflection and documentation of mobile practices. Coupled with in-depth interviews, this methodology enabled the thick description of how individuals enacted spatial, temporal and psychosocial boundaries of work spaces through their mobile practices. Key findings include (a) evidence of the increasing individuation of work space enacted through mobile devices, (b) an observable collapse in the boundaries between work and personal and/or leisure domains, (c) diversity in an individual’s sensemaking about reconstituted lifespace, and (d) evolving social norms as prior office-based norms are called into question. These findings contribute a more accurate picture of the contemporary workplace by providing insight into what kinds of work space, time, and psychosocial structures and flows are emerging through mobile practices—insight that bears on designing, developing, and managing the workplace under conditions of mobile technology use.

Keywords: enactment, mobile practices, boundaries, workplace, emergent organization

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