As I am currently working on my master’s thesis, I will be blogging about my progress and research here! My research is focused on the opportunities unobtrusive design could provide in the environments in which we work.
Be sure to check back for updates from time to time.
STRESSOR SURVEY DATA
For two weeks, I reached out to the community via Facebook and LinkedIn to collect perspectives of what others are experiencing in their own work environments. This was an opportunity for me to step outside of my own personal experiences to inform my user for my thesis in a broader sense.
This purpose of this Google Survey was to identify common workstation environments, workplaces stressors, average stress levels and stress relievers in the workplace setting. I sought out to learn what other young professionals in the working world were dealing with in their personal environments and incorporate the most common stressors into my investigation.
I limited the survey respondents to those working professionals between the ages of 21-30. Over the course of two weeks I received 83 responses. These 83 responses are not representative of the overall young professional working population in general, but rather represents what many may being dealing with at work.
Workplace Stress Results: The data shown above highlights the average stress level associate with the type of office setting. Those reaching farther than the average circle are surveyors who work in a cubicle setting.
This research explores the use of a system of anticipatory responsive smart objects as a vehicle for reducing stress within a workstation environment. Contemporary connected workplace technology often demands a user’s undivided attention, pushing the user from one task to the next via notifications, alerts, buzzes, beeps, and alarms. This constant demand for attention can increase worker productivity but, simultaneously, increase stress levels. Unobtrusive technology that lives on the periphery of the user’s attention—or moves smoothly from periphery to center and back—could create more calming workplace environments, particularly if such technology could anticipate and respond to user stress.
Through embedded means of input and output, smart objects could produce more natural and seamless interactions. Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown discuss this concept of calm technology in which objects can engage both the center and the periphery of our attention, allowing them to be more unobtrusive. Other researchers agree and have created their own frameworks for understanding user attention levels. In this investigation, focused, peripheral and implicit interactions will be considered through the lens of David Rose’s Designing for Subtlety scale, which defines ways that smart objects can communicate with users. As Rose suggests and Michael Haverkamp, synesthetic research engineer, describes, different bodily senses (modalities) can engage with input to produce peripheral and implicit interactions via connected devices. The intent of this study is to identify opportunities for such ambient, anticipatory design interventions to redefine the workstation user experience, in an attempt to lower stress via a more thoughtful engagement with human attention levels.