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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Is your time well spent? : reflecting on knowledge work more holistically Guillou, Hayley


The modern workplace is more demanding than ever before. Yet, since the industrial age, productivity measures have predominantly stayed narrowly focused on the output of the work, and not accounted for the big shift in the cognitive demands placed on the workers or the interleaving of work and life that is so common today. We posit that a more holistic conceptualization of Time Well Spent (TWS) at work could mitigate this issue. In our 1-week study, 40 knowledge workers used the experience sampling method (ESM) to rate their TWS and then define TWS at the end of the week. We found this rating was heavily dependent on physical and emotional state for some. Thus we ran a 4-week study (n=22) with an intervention inspired by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and we found that, relative to the control group, our ESM-based intervention shaped participants’ personal concept of TWS, especially by giving some participants awareness of the impact of their feelings during and towards work. Our work contributes a preliminary characterization of TWS, empirical evidence that this term can capture a more holistic notion of work that also includes the worker’s feelings and well-being, and design implications for future tracking tools that support knowledge workers.

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