A Practice Perspective on Transforming Mobile Work

A Practice Perspective on Transforming Mobile Work

Riikka Vuokko (Åbo Akademi University, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-042-6.ch068
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Abstract

This study explores users’ experiences during an organizational implementation. The implementation of a new mobile information technology took place in public home care environment. The home care case illustrates differences between implementation project goals and expectations, and on the other hand, the daily organizing and carrying out care work, where previously, no information technology was utilized. While implementing mobile technology was expected to enhance the efficiency of care working, the project outcomes include resistance due to surveillance aspect of the new technology as well as technological problems during the implementation. Successful outcomes of the implementation include better planning of working hours and more even distribution of work resources.
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Research Background

Home care is by nature mobile work, where the care workers visit their clients around the city area and also around the clock in day and night shifts. Implementing mobile information technology in the home care environment had several issues to deal with; the biggest problems associated with home care services were the inadequacy of planning and accounting the services, the quality of care, and work related fatigue or stress amongst the personnel due to constant feelings of haste at work. Management had the opinion that most of these issues could be solved with better planning of working hours and more even distribution of care resources. There is a growing body of evidence illustrating benefits of mobile technology implemented in the context of distributed care working (Turner, 2005; Tooey, 2004; Fisher, 2003; Sausser, 2002), and also in the home care, a mobile solution was seen as only possibility for the implementation of information technology. Successful outcomes of organizational implementation of various hand held devises would suggest, for example, the decrease of time spent on documenting care or exchanging information about the clients, and the increase of time spent in the actual care work.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Surveillance: Monitoring the behaviour and actions of the organizational members, based also on the information generated of various work tasks.

Ethnography: A qualitative and holistic research method that studies people in their everyday activities and in their own environment with e.g. observing and interviewing. Ethnography refers also to research as a produced text.

Work Practice: Users collective and routinized action within the organization’s socio-material boundaries.

Users: Members of the organization that work with the information technology in use.

Home Care: Helping elderly and vulnerable people in independent living at their homes as an alternative for institutionalised care.

Mobile Information Technology: Enables using information technology also when working is not stationary i.e. technology use is independent of office location or hours.

Organizational Implementation: Implementation as a process that concerns both technical implementation of new technology and a slower process of organizational members adopting the technology in use and aligning it to their work tasks, probably transforming routine work practices to fit the new situation.

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