ICT Use and 21st Century Employment: Implications for Job Conditions, Work Strain, and Worker Distress
Chesley, Noelle (2011) ICT Use and 21st Century Employment: Implications for Job Conditions, Work Strain, and Worker Distress. pp. 1-39. In: Proceedings of the A DECADE IN INTERNET TIME: OII SYMPOSIUM ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIETY, 21 - 24 September 2011, University of Oxford.
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Recent scholarship on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for work suggests that this use may be significantly altering three specific working conditions: 1) the pacing of work; 2) the level of interruptions workers experience, and 3) the level of multitasking behavior in which workers engage. All three of these job conditions are expected to contribute to a more intense work environment that underlies levels of work-based strain and detracts from workers’ general psychological well-being. I use structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques to analyze survey data drawn from The 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce to assess direct and indirect pathways through which work-related and personal ICT use may influence levels of work-based strain and worker distress. This analysis indicates that work-related ICT use is indirectly linked to higher levels of work-based strain and employee distress through its influence on faster job pacing and greater levels of interruptions and multitasking. However, there is also evidence that personal ICT use may mitigate these influences, and, further, that work-related ICT use is directly connected to lower levels of work-based strain, a finding that suggests positive influences of work-related ICT use apart from its influence on the job conditions studied. While the findings do suggest that work-related ICT use can have specific negative implications for workers, as a whole the pattern of results does not support a “technologically-tethered” worker hypothesis in which ICT-use is holistically responsible for greater levels of worker distress.
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