A social event in celebration of our new financial system

At Uppsala University, the administrative system Raindance has been updated to a new version. The HTO-group is doing collaborative work in relation to this project (the EASY project). Last Thursday afternoon, the project celebrated that the implementation phase in now complete, by inviting the users to a network meeting. Approximately 100 users came to the meeting. From the HTO-group, Gunilla and Thomas went.

The afternoon started with information regarding the process as a whole: from the procurement phase until today. Edrun Eriksson (Head of the Ledger Office unit at the Financial Administration and Procurement Division) reminded the users of what expectations and hopes they had forwarded themselves, early on in the process. She gave us some illustrative examples. Furthermore, she had made a printout of the complete list, which was put up on the wall, so that all participants could read them later on during the afternoon. She also presented a summary of all sub groups and sub projects that have been active in the process. They were quite many! For meetings, she had just marked the amount with a question mark – being a bit over conscious regarding the great number of hours put into the project!

Edrun also took the opportunity to express a big “Thank you!” to all the people that have contributed with energy, experience, and time! It is nice for everyone to be reminded about the great effort that has been put into the project, and to hear of everything that is already achieved. Furthermore, the audience was asked a couple of questions with the aid of Menti.com and participants’ cell phones. The first question was “In what area are you presently in biggest need of support?” By choosing from given alternatives, the answers showed up in a pie chart. The other question was regarding ideas for future improvements, which was a free text question; so that the participants could write whatever answers they wanted.

The presentation then continued with a section where we (Gunilla and Thomas) got the chance to present ourselves to the audience. We, of course, have not met so many of all the users previously. We talked in general about IT artifacts, and of how people in an organization often experience them at times of changes. IT artifacts holds not only the technological dimension, but also a social dimension. It is OK to feel lost sometimes, and one needs to hear someone tell you this. 🙂 We ended our section by talking more specifically about the survey we are preparing to distribute to the users. The purpose of the survey is to evaluate some issues that can – hopefully! – be described as successes, and to point out some specific areas where users would like to see further improvements.

After us, we all got some information regarding the closing of the year 2018, presented by Hanna Mörtberg (newly appointed University Director of Finance at the University Management and Management Council). She showed us some comparative numbers from the years 2010 until today. The university is growing at an amazing speed and has now reached over a 7 billion turnaround!

Spirits were quite high when the presentations were over and we started on some nice snacks with a glass of bubbling refreshments. Anyone had the opportunity to write down whatever ideas they wanted to share about the project, on a writing wall that was positioned at the back of the room. Still, I believe people mostly wanted to chat with friends, have some good food, and just relax after a great job done! Overall, the afternoon was a well-spent time to mark the end of the implementation phase. Now, the system will continue to change over time, as any IT system would. It is a never-ending story.

Digitaliseringen och arbetsmiljön

Idag var det officiellt boksläpp för Digitaliseringen och arbetsmiljön, en bok som professor emeritus Bengt Sandblad författat tillsammans med sina kollegor. Medförfattare är Jan Gulliksen, Ann Lantz, Åke Walldius och Carl Åborg – alla kända namn inom just digitalisering och arbetsmiljö.

Bokens redaktör Jens Fredholm passade på att ställa lite frågor till författarna. Bengt Sandblad slog fast att de flesta problem är onödiga idag, kunskap finns om hur de ska lösas. Åke Walldius fyllde i med att verktygen ska stödja, inte störa men att samverkan mellan alla parter är viktigt. Ann Lantz pekade på ständiga förbättringar som en viktig strategi. Carl Åborg underströk att vi måste sträva mot ett hållbart arbetsliv, det är inte hållbart om en ökande mental belastning ska göra att människor blir sjukskrivna. Jan Guliksen avrundade med att peka på att läget ändå är annorlunda idag, ledningen brukar vilja ta ett ansvar och det finns många fantastiska digitala verktyg vi använder utan problem.

På en fråga från publiken hur man nu ska komma till rätta med alla dessa problem var svaret givet: läs boken.

Shut Up and Write!

Writing is one of our main tasks as researchers: we author papers, books or book chapters, grant applications, blog posts, newspaper articles, etc. for a broad range of different audiences. However, setting time aside for writing is rather challenging, as it is so easy to fill up our schedule with the variety of other assignments we need to accomplish: teaching, supervision, administrative work, data collection, reviewing other researchers’ publications or grants, and more. In the HTO group, we have thus implemented several strategies to help us write more and better.

Following in the footseps of some of our colleagues at Uppsala University (see article above taken from Uppsala University’s magazine, Universen), we are launching afternoon “Shut Up and Write!” sessions every last Tuesday of the month. The idea is simply to sit together and write – each person working in silence on her or his own project – for a few hours at a time. We sit in a meeting room instead of our usual offices to create a change of scenery and atmosphere. The session schedule – the length of each writing slot – is decided beforehand. For example, we might write for an hour to an hour and a half, and then take a break together, possibly with a little fika. Then we move to the next slot. Since it is very focused work, three writing slots in an afternoon can result in significant progress.

Writing retreats, consisting of one or two days of writing in a row, have also become a tradition in our research group. We then gather in Åsa Cajander’s house in the countryside, and sit together the whole day, enjoying fika toghether between writing slots. We wrap up the day with a shared dinner we prepare together, which is a really nice teambuilding activity. Such writing retreats are thus not only an opportunity to be really productive and reach our writing goals, but also to get to know each other in a different context, and to develop friendly working relationships. The discussions that arise throughout the day also give us insights into what others are working on, and can inspire and guide us in our own work. Although writing for several hours is very energy-consuming, I always come back from such writing retreats with renewed motivation and fresh ideas!

Writing sessions and writing retreats can sound over-the-top, but they have definitley been opportunities for very productive work for me. In my experience, getting into the habit of writing often, for a few hours at a time, makes it possible to improve one’s writing and to become a more efficient writer. When are you starting?

The Year 2018 in Review

In retrospect, 2018 was a great year for our research group. So, as we move on to 2019, here are some of the hilights for this year.

The year began with Thomas Lind doing one of his first –but definitely not last– presentations as a PhD, on the topic of IT implementations in health care.

Just after that, the new course on Complex IT Systems in Large Organizations started, with Diane Golay as one of the teachers. In the field of education there were of course also a number of interesting master thesis (such as this, this, this and this).

The second quarter saw Åsa Cajander earn the title excellent teacher but more importantly she also became full professor. You can still view her inauguration speech here (in Swedish). As if that was not enough Bengt Sandblad’s new book on the digital work environment was published – and our colleague Rebecca had her half time seminar.

During the summer Shweta Premanandan visited us once again and she got to experience the Swedish midsummer festivities. Minna Salminen Karlsson escaped the same festivities and instead joined the OAP workshop in the Netherlands.

Of course there were a number of other conferences and events attended by members of the HTO group (here or there). Gunilla Myreteg enjoyed a workshop arranged by Birgitta Wallgren at EPJ (the department for Electronic Patient Records). The HTO group also was responsible for a workshop at Uppsala Health Summit on the topic of Using Data for Better Cancer Treatments.

Much of the research efforts were related to the DISA project. Among many other things Ida Löscher reflected on the use of Work Domain Analysis and Lars Oestreicher shared some observations on cognitive workspace design.

We celebrated Jonas Moll as he concluded his PostDoc in Uppsala, two years and quite a few presentations and papers later. The year finally ended in high spirits when Christiane defended her thesis and became Dr Grünloh.

So, what do we have in store for 2019? More courses, more papers and more conferences of course. Perhaps we could also land a grant or two, to fill the gaps of those who have moved on to new positions. But we will no doubt continue to collaborate with our HTO alumni, in academia you can check out—but you can never leave.

Lecture on Digitalization and our Work Environment

 

System development work is difficult, and many IT systems do not work satisfactorily despite intensive technology development. My research is about improving the situation and understanding what the problems are. I am working on developing improved working methods in the organizations and projects that develop and introduce IT. The focus here is user-centered methods, gender, sociotechnical perspective and agile development. I have also researched the skills that the people in the projects need to master to be able to work with the development of complex systems that support people in a good way.

If you are curious about my research – listen to the 12 min long lecture in Swedish

 

On Digitalisation and Fragmentation of Time

Diane Golay and Åsa Cajander did a presentation on Fragmentation of Time and Digitalisation for the Uppsala University Academic Senate this fall. This blog post captures some of what we said in the presentation.  Enjoy!

Digitalisation of work sometimes has the unintended side effect that it fragments our time. Fragmentation commonly refers to the separation of activities into many discrete pieces. It is usually calculated based on two different aspects: the length of continuous work episodes, and the number of interruptions. In those terms, fragmented work is characterized  by short work tasks and frequent interruptions, as opposed to a work rhythm made of few but long work episodes with no or few interruptions.

Several studies have pointed to the increasing fragmentation of our work.  For instance, a 2009 study found that people switched tasks about every 12 minutes. Two years later, another study found that a modern worker’s day comprised an average of 88 work episodes, most of which (90%) lasted for 10 minutes or less. The found average duration for those work episodes was of just under three minutes.

Work fragmentation is related to a perceived increase in work pace and work intensity. It is also detrimental to the actual work taking place. The causes of fragmentation can be both external, such as a phone call or a computer that stops working, or internal, i.e. self-initiated, such as looking up an information on the web while working on a report.

External interruptions have a particularly negative effect on work. A context switch requires cognitive overhead, and context- switching is related to time costs. Concrete negative consequences of external interruptions include errors, stress, work delay, difficulty resuming the interrupted task, and increased user frustration. Interruptions are however not always negative: inquiries, breaks, and adjustments can facilitate the primary task by providing valuable information or creating an environment that encourages increased productivity. Context plays a significant role in determining whether interruptions are considered to be beneficial or detrimental. In general, interruptions that occur outside of one’s current working sphere context are disruptive as they lead one to (sometimes radically) shift their thinking. In contrast, interruptions that concern one’s current working sphere are considered helpful.

However, it should be noted that fragmentation is also a natural part of our work. Work tasks are to a small or high degree woven together and fragmented in complex patterns. Workers seldom work with one task at the time. Interruptions are a to some extent also a natural part of our work. Breaks are for example crucial for collaboration and learning.

So we should not aim for a fully continuous workflow, but might want to try and reduce external and internal interruptions that are not related to the task(s) at hand. Finding an amount of fragmentation that works for us will enable us to boost our work performance, reduce our cognitive workload, and simply make us feel better at and about our work.

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[1] Jin, J., & Dabbish, L. A. (2009). Self-interruption on the computer. Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI 09, 1799. https://doi.org/10.1145/1518701.1518979

[2] Wajcman, J., & Rose, E. (2011). Constant connectivity: Rethinking interruptions at work. Organization Studies, 32(7), 941–961. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840611410829

Dr Grünloh did an Excellent Job Defending her PhD

We all knew that Christiane Grünloh of our team knows how to do great and important research. But we were still amazed by her skills at the defense! Also, the atmosphere was really super nice and the defense was really a discussion among true professionals more than a questioning. The opponent David Hendry did such an excellent job and was really well prepared. If you weren’t there you missed something special!

Minna Salminen Karlsson from the HTO team, who is indeed very experienced, said:

“This was one of the best PhD defences that I’ve been to!”

The title of the PhD thesis is “Harmful or Empowering? Stakeholders’ Expectations and Experiences of Patient Accessible Electronic Health Records”. The research deals with the national eHealth service in Sweden that gives people access to their electronic health records.

You can read more about the PhD thesis in Christiane’s blog found here

Two studies published on the effects of patient accessible electronic health records

Members of the HTO group recently got two journal articles published, on the effects of patients accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs) in Sweden.  Both studies were picked up by Swedish media after press releases had been published by Uppsala University.

The first article, “On threats and violence for staff and patient accessible electronic health records” was published September 28 and written by Ulrika Åkerstedt, Åsa Cajander, me and Ture Ålander. The open access article, which you can find here, is based on Ulrika’s masters thesis and presents results from a survey study conducted with healthcare professionals at the emergency and psychiatric departments at Uppsala University Hospital. Among other things, the study showed that the fear of being exposed to threats and violence from patients increased as a consequence of PAEHRs being launched in Region Uppsala. Shortly after the article was published this press release was published by Uppsala University. The news spread from there and Forskning.se, Dagens medicin, SVT Nyheter and Vetenskapsradion all published their own articles based on the press release. Åsa and I were also invited to write a popular science summary on Ciennce.se. The article by Dagens Medicin and the article by SVT Nyheter also took things further by e.g. adding interviews Åsa Cajander and representatives from the psychiatry department in Region Uppsala!

Our second article with a PAEHR theme, “Patients’ Experiences of Accessing Their Electronic Health Records: National Patient Survey in Sweden” was published November 1 and written by me, Åsa Cajander and Christiane Grünloh from the HTO-group as well as several other researchers in the DOME consortium (I introduced all researchers that are involved in the study in this blog post). In this article we focus on patients’ attitudes toward and experiences with PAEHRs in Sweden. It is clear from the results that patients really appreciate the possibilities that the Swedish PAEHR system, Journalen, gives them and that patients want access to new results in their PAEHR within a day after a new examination or visit. You can find many more results, and of course more details about the study, in the open access article published here (please help us share the news!). Even this article was presented in a press release from Uppsala University and the news was once again picked up by Forskning.se and we once again got an invitation to write a popular science version on Ciennce.se. This time around Inera (managing Journalen and several other Swedish eHealth systems), published their own press release about the study. The journal IT-Hälsa also wrote an article based on Inera’s release.

Winding Road to Become Professor of Human Computer Interaction

Next week it is time to celebrate that I have become a new professor of Human Computer Interaction. Up until a couple of years ago I would never had thought that this would happen. The typical professor in my world is odd or excentric, very smart and a man. Well, perhaps I am a bit excentric? Hmm. Especially when it comes to sleeping I do follow a slightly different orbit from the rest of society. I am indeed a proper party pooper and fall asleep early in the evenings  :-o. Also my winding background is not very traditional for professors. There was a recent paper about my background in ACM Crossroads found here for those who are curious. But I do not see myself as very smart at all, and I think I am quite an average person generally. Moreover, I am very happy about being a woman.

How did I then end up being a professor of Human Computer Interaction? Well, I think that my best abilities as a researcher is curiosity and being brave. Also I think that Human Computer Interaction is an area that fits well with my interests as it is transdisciplinary. In short: I can fit the areas that I am interested in well into the subject of Human Computer Interaction even though they transcend education, enterprise usability, eHealth, gender and wellbeing. There was a text about my research on the university’s web page found here. Finally, I am convinced that I would not have come this far without the fabulous people I work with both in the HTO group, the UpCERg group and internationally. In a good collaboration everyone is a winner and research becomes so much more fun. A good example of this is that my colleagues Mats Daniels and Arnold Pears are also inaugurated as full professors at the same ceremony as I am, and also the important research that my colleagues and I do.

The inauguration of full professors is a public ceremony with newly appointed professors and this year it takes place on the 16th of November at 15.00. The ceremony has its roots in the medieval times and has been held every year since 1625. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

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