INTERRUPTIONS AND INTERTASKING IN DISTRIBUTED KNOWLEDGE WORK

Authors


Abstract

I analyze ethnographic practices in a distributed, on-line research project. Through self-reflexive investigation of interactions with family and interviewees, I discuss challenges that I faced when doing distributed work from home and I problematize assumed benefits of “multitasking” and “flexible” home-based work. By examining remote work (such as interviewing people on-line), I show that “multitasking” inaccurately describes certain work processes which are not actually executed simultaneously. I propose the term intertasking to describe activities that are interleaved in short intervals to satisfy multiple and often-conflicting work demands. I explore whether multitasking and intertasking are gendered or smuggle in moralistic judgments and conclude that multitasking and intertasking may be effaced or judged differently by people with different work styles. I reveal these dynamics so that members of distributed projects and teams can design processes, tasks, and tools that accommodate different dispositions with regard to doing several things in a short amount of time.

Ancillary