Always connected at work? The role of information novelty and Individual needs

OnderzoeksoutputAcademic

Samenvatting

The world of work has changed. As a result of new ICT developments, many workers are almost constantly connected to job-relevant information and coworkers, regardless of when or where they are working. However, being connected to one’s work and coworkers through online media such as e-mail, Skype, and online file sharing might be a double-edged sword. Whether workers perceive connectedness favorably or unfavorably will, we argue, depend both on the content of the information received and the needs of the worker. Thus, in this research we study the effects of connectedness by addressing the role of (a) information novelty, (b) need for structure, and (c) need for autonomy.
Workers high in need for structure have a strong preference for clarity and predictability, and are averse to extensive information processing. These workers, we argue, will perceive connectedness negatively (i.e., as decreasing clarity), unless the information received is non-novel and unsurprising. The reason for this is that novel information adds complexity to the task and requires more information processing. In contrast, non-novel information fits their preference for clarity and for stereotypical information, which compensates the negative effects of being provided with extra information.
In contrast, workers high in need for autonomy have a strong preference for being in control of their actions, and are averse to external control. These workers, we argue, will perceive connectedness negatively (i.e., as controlling and interrupting their workflow), unless the information received is highly novel. The reason for this is that receiving non-novel information has no added value for executing the task at hand, leaving only an interruption. In contrast, receiving novel information has value for executing the task, which compensates the negative effects of being interrupted.
We tested these hypotheses in three experiments, in which we manipulated connectedness and measured participants’ individual needs. In Study 1, connectedness was manipulated by providing participants with non-novel ideas (vs. no ideas) during an idea generation task. In Study 2, participants received novel ideas (vs. no ideas). In Study 3, participants received either novel or non-novel ideas.
Overall, the results were largely in line with our expectations, suggesting that the effects of connectedness are indeed dependent on the content of the information received and on individual needs. More specifically, for participants high in need for autonomy, receiving non-novel ideas resulted in their feeling blocked and experiencing external control. In contrast, for participants high in need for structure, receiving novel ideas resulted in their feeling blocked, perceiving the task as unclear, and being less satisfied with the work process and their productivity. These results suggest that organizations moving towards increased connectedness should take individual needs into consideration, in order to reap the potential benefits from new ways of working, without incurring the potential costs.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 28-nov-2014
EvenementWAOP 2014 - , Netherlands
Duur: 28-nov-2014 → …

Conference

ConferenceWAOP 2014
LandNetherlands
Periode28/11/2014 → …

Citeer dit