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Computer use @ work. Psychosocial work environment and attitudes toward computers from a work content perspective

Wanek, Birgitta LU (2006)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Utgångspunkten för denna avhandling har varit att studera användningen av datorer i arbetet utifrån ett mer holistiskt perspektiv än vad som varit brukligt i tidigare traditionell hälsoforskning om datoranvändning, genom att även inkludera arbetsinnehållet som inte utförs med hjälp av datorn. Avhandlingens ansatts skiljer sig således från tidigare traditionell hälsoforskning av datorarbete där själva datorarbetet i huvudsak enbart har studerats.



I avhandlingen argumenteras det för att även det icke datoriserade arbetet har fått stor betydelse för hur datoranvändaren upplever sin arbetssituation. En av anledningarna till detta är att datoranvändningen har förändrats under de... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Utgångspunkten för denna avhandling har varit att studera användningen av datorer i arbetet utifrån ett mer holistiskt perspektiv än vad som varit brukligt i tidigare traditionell hälsoforskning om datoranvändning, genom att även inkludera arbetsinnehållet som inte utförs med hjälp av datorn. Avhandlingens ansatts skiljer sig således från tidigare traditionell hälsoforskning av datorarbete där själva datorarbetet i huvudsak enbart har studerats.



I avhandlingen argumenteras det för att även det icke datoriserade arbetet har fått stor betydelse för hur datoranvändaren upplever sin arbetssituation. En av anledningarna till detta är att datoranvändningen har förändrats under de senaste 20 åren. Från att datorer främst använts av ett begränsat antal personer vars hela arbetstid bestod av datorarbete (t.ex. processoperatörer och terminalanvändare) till en i antal ständigt ökande grupp av användare vilkas huvudarbetsuppgift inte främst är heltids datoranvändning. Detta innebär att datorn används som stöd eller som ett hjälpmedel för att utföra de primära arbetsuppgifterna. I och med att datorn används som ett stöd för de primära arbetsuppgifterna blir frågan om för vilka primära arbetsuppgifter datorn använts till allt mer centralt. Det är dock inte bara frågan om vad datorn används till som har ökar i betydelse, utan även frågan om hur datorn används, det vill säga datorarbetsinnehållet. Jämfört med tidigare terminalsarbete har datorarbetsinnehållet högst sannolikt förändrats till att vara av en mer komplex natur. Trots detta så har metoderna för att undersöka datorarbetsinnehållet inte förnyats nämnvärt. Ett syfte med denna avhandling har därför varit att skapa och utvärdera nya metoder för att försöka fånga dagens datorarbetsinnehåll bland dem som använder datorn som ett stöd (artikel II- IV).



Artiklarna som ingår i avhandlingen undersöker hur datorattityder och psykosociala aspekter i arbetet är relaterade till de båda typerna av arbetsinnehåll (d.v.s. datorarbetsinnehållet och arbetsinnehållet som inte utförs med hjälp av datorn). I artikel två till och med fyra, där de anställdas primära arbetsuppgift inte var datorarbete på heltid, betraktas i denna avhandling det primära arbetsinnehållet och icke datoriserade arbetsinnehållet som samma sak.



I den första artikeln jämfördes två grupper av processoperatörer beträffande deras psykosociala arbetsmiljö. Båda grupperna arbetade primärt med datorer i ett kontrollrum, men arbetsuppgiften som processen genererade skiljde sig åt. Trots att nätoperatörernas huvudsakliga arbetsuppgift var att övervaka elnätet, en arbetsuppgift som i tidigare forskning har visat sig ge operatörer en sämre arbetssituation, så skattade de sin psykosociala arbetsmiljö lika gynnsam som produktionsoperatörerna, vilkas arbetsuppgifter bestod av ett flöde av realtidsuppgifter. Dessa resultat föreslogs bero på att nätoperatörerna även utförde andra arbetsuppgifter än de processgenererade. Effekten av en viss typ av datorarbete, i detta fall övervakning, på den psykosociala arbetsmiljö kan troligtvis förbättras genom tillförseln av andra väl valda arbetsuppgifter som ligger utanför datorarbetet.



I den andra artikeln studerades datorattityder bland personer som använder datorstöd utifrån ett arbetsplats-, och arbetsinnehållsperspektiv, i konstrast mot gängse attitydstudie där individ aspekter i huvudsak har studerats. Arbetsplatsaspekten i fokus var arbetsplatsens tekniknivå (hög resp. låg). Två aspekter av arbetsinnehållet studerades, nämligen datorarbetsinnehållet (d.v.s. hur datorn användes) och tekniknivån på det primära arbetsinnehållet (d.v.s. för vad datorn användes till som stöd). Resultaten visade att de som var anställda i den lågtekniska organisationen och som samtidigt hade primära arbetsuppgifter med en låg teknisk karaktär hade mindre positiva datorattityder än de som arbetade antingen i den högtekniska organisationen eller hade primära arbetsuppgifter med hög teknisk karaktär. Detta resultat kvarstod även efter det att graden av datoranvändning, vilket hade visat sig vara positivt korrelerat med datorattityder, kontrollerades. Varken kön, ålder eller utbildningsnivå var relaterade till datorattityderna. Dessa resultat indikerar således att det fortsättningsvis torde vara relevant att närmare studera anställdas datorattityder utifrån arbetsplats-, och arbetsinnehållsperspektiv. Ett annat delsyfte med denna studie var att undersöka om datorn användes på flera olika sätt. Resultaten visade på förekomsten av multifunktionell dator användning. Förekomsten av multifunktionella datoranvändningen innebär att datorarbetsinnehållet var mer komplext än ett enda användningsområde. Denna datoranvändning kunde dessutom ta olika form, beroende hur många användningsområden som tillämpades, vilka av dem, och hur arbetstiden var fördelad på dessa. Detta stödjer tidigare förslag om att det finns ett behov av nya metoder för att kunna beskriva och därmed för att kunna förstå dagens datoranvändning.



Artikel tre undersökte hur psykosociala aspekter var relaterade till datoranvändnings- aspekterna ?variation i datorarbetsinnehållet? och ?grad av datoranvändning? bland anställda som använder datorstöd. Vidare studerades huruvida dessa relationer (mellan psykosociala aspekter och de två datorarbetsinnehållsaspekterna) skiljde sig åt sig beroende på datorns användningsområde (den tekniska karaktären på de primära arbetsuppgifterna). Resultaten visade att personer med mindre datorarbete upplevde mer variation och stimulans, samt mindre maskinbundenhet, än de med mer datorarbete. Dessa skillnader påverkades dock inte av vad datorn användes till (d.v.s. den primära arbetsuppgiftens tekniska karaktär).



I den fjärde artikeln undersöktes huruvida hög respektive låg mängd av datorstött arbete, och huruvida datorarbete med höga respektive låga kognitiva krav, var relaterade till psykosociala arbetsaspekter. Resultaten visade att socialarbetare med mer datoranvändning rapporterade mindre stimulans än de med mindre datoranvändning.



Denna avhandling har försökt att studera datorarbete utifrån ett mer holistiskt synsätt, än traditionell forskning om datoranvändning i arbetet, genom att beröra flera av de interagerande aspekterna rörande: den sektoriserade arbetsmarknaden, på vilken typ av arbetsplats används datorn, för vad (d.v.s. för vilka primära arbetsuppgifter som datorn används till som stöd), hur datorn används (multifunktionell användning och vilken form det tar sig), samt graden av datoranvändning. Även om de inkluderade artiklarna inte ger svar på alla frågor, så visar de på behovet av att analysera fler användaraspekter än vad som traditionellt studeras. Dessutom belyser avhandlingen de komplexa interaktionerna som finns mellan de ovan angivna aspekterna, något som bör studeras närmare i kommande studier. (Less)
Abstract
This thesis aims at investigating computer use at work from a more holistic work content perspective by also studying non-computer work content, in contrast to the previous approach in occupational health research that focused almost solely on computer work content. It was argued here that non-computer work content has also become significant to the overall work situation for computer users. This is due to changes in computer use that have occurred over the past two decades, that is, from a small number of persons performing fulltime computer work (e.g., process operator work or terminal work) to the dramatically increasing number of employees who work with computers, but whose main work does not involve fulltime computer use. Instead,... (More)
This thesis aims at investigating computer use at work from a more holistic work content perspective by also studying non-computer work content, in contrast to the previous approach in occupational health research that focused almost solely on computer work content. It was argued here that non-computer work content has also become significant to the overall work situation for computer users. This is due to changes in computer use that have occurred over the past two decades, that is, from a small number of persons performing fulltime computer work (e.g., process operator work or terminal work) to the dramatically increasing number of employees who work with computers, but whose main work does not involve fulltime computer use. Instead, many employees today use a computer as an aid for performing their main work task. Therefore, when the computer is used as an aid, the question of for what kind of work is it used becomes more central, along with the question of how it is used. Computer work content appears also to have become more complex than traditional terminal work, yet methods for describing this content have not changed. One of the present purposes, therefore, was to create and test new methods in an attempt to capture this new computer work content (Paper II-IV).



The papers collected in this thesis examined how psychosocial aspects and computer attitudes are related to both types of work content (computer work content and non-computer work content). In Paper II to IV where the employee's main work task was not primarily fulltime computer work, the main work task and the non-computer work content was identical.



Paper I investigated and compared the psychosocial work aspects of two groups of process operators with fulltime computer work, but with different kinds of process-generated work tasks. Although the grid operators? work tasks mainly involved monitoring, which has previously been identified as problematic for operators, they assessed their work environment as being as favorable as did production operators who dealt with a flow of real-time tasks. The results were suggested to be due to the off-line tasks performed by the grid operators. Thus, the impact of a certain kind of computer work (monitoring) on psychosocial aspects appears to be reduced by other non-computer work tasks.



Paper II investigated computer attitudes from a workplace (i.e., kind of workplace) and work content (i.e., how the computer is used ? the computer work content, and for what ? the non-computer work content) perspective, among employees who performed computer-aided work. This approach is in contrast to the predominant computer attitude research that investigated primarily individual aspects. The results showed that the employees working in a low-tech organization and who in addition had a departmental main work task of low-technical character had less positive computer attitudes than did employees working in either a high-tech organization or department, or both. This result remained significant also after the effect of extent of computer use, which was positively correlated with computer attitudes, was controlled for. Neither gender, age nor education was related to computer attitudes. Thus, these results indicate that both workplace and work content aspects are important to investigate more thoroughly when studying employees? computer attitudes. Another purpose in this study was to investigate whether the computer was used in several different ways. The result showed multifunctional computer use. The presences of multifunctional computer use imply that the computer work content was more complex than a single type of computer work task. Further, this multifunctional computer use took different shapes depending on, how many different types of computer work categories were used, which types, and how the work time was distributed between them. These results support previous suggestion that there is a need of new methods to describe and thereby also to be able to understand the computer use at work of today.



Paper III investigated how psychosocial work aspects were related to computer work (?degree of variation? and ?extent?) among employees who performed computer-aided work, and whether these relationships differed depending on the technical character of the main work task for which the computer was used. The results showed that employees with less computer work experienced more variation and stimulation at work, and less machine dependency, than did those with more computer work. These differences were not found to interact with employees? main work task.



Paper IV investigated whether a high or low extent of computer work and whether computer work content with high or low cognitive demands were related to psychosocial aspects. The results showed that social workers with a high extent of computer work reported less skill discretion than did those with less computer work.



The present thesis constituted an attempt to address computer use using a holistic approach by looking at issues such as: labor market differences, where the computer is used (kind of workplace), for what it is used as an aid (main work task), how it is used (multifunctional use and the shape of this use) as well as the extent of computer use (the time distribution between computer work and non-computer work). The complex interactions between these aspects, illustrated in this thesis, ought to be addressed future research on computer use at work. Although the papers did not give answers to all issues addressed, they do reveal several aspects of computer use that may be investigated in future research on computer use at work and, thus, constitute one step on the way toward a better understanding of the phenomenon. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Docent Åborg, Carl, Institutionen för beteende-, social- och rättsvetenskap. Örebro universitet
organization
alternative title
Användning av datorer i arbetet. Psykosocial arbetsmiljö och datorattityder från ett arbetsinnehållsperspektiv.
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
work content, employees, work tasks, computer use, process operators, VDU use, computer-aided work, psychosocial work environment, computer attitudes, measurements, Occupational health, industrial medicine, Industrial psychology, Socialpsykologi, Social psychology, Psykologi, Psychology, arbetsmiljömedicin, Yrkesmedicin, Arbetspsykologi, industripsykologi
pages
144 pages
publisher
Department of Psychology, Lund University
defense location
Hörsal Spoletorp Spolegantan 1R Lund
defense date
2006-09-22 10:15
ISBN
91-628-6914-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3197ff2b-4290-4f5d-8995-a16cbf3b0817 (old id 547107)
date added to LUP
2007-09-11 11:38:54
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:04
@phdthesis{3197ff2b-4290-4f5d-8995-a16cbf3b0817,
  abstract     = {This thesis aims at investigating computer use at work from a more holistic work content perspective by also studying non-computer work content, in contrast to the previous approach in occupational health research that focused almost solely on computer work content. It was argued here that non-computer work content has also become significant to the overall work situation for computer users. This is due to changes in computer use that have occurred over the past two decades, that is, from a small number of persons performing fulltime computer work (e.g., process operator work or terminal work) to the dramatically increasing number of employees who work with computers, but whose main work does not involve fulltime computer use. Instead, many employees today use a computer as an aid for performing their main work task. Therefore, when the computer is used as an aid, the question of for what kind of work is it used becomes more central, along with the question of how it is used. Computer work content appears also to have become more complex than traditional terminal work, yet methods for describing this content have not changed. One of the present purposes, therefore, was to create and test new methods in an attempt to capture this new computer work content (Paper II-IV).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The papers collected in this thesis examined how psychosocial aspects and computer attitudes are related to both types of work content (computer work content and non-computer work content). In Paper II to IV where the employee's main work task was not primarily fulltime computer work, the main work task and the non-computer work content was identical.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Paper I investigated and compared the psychosocial work aspects of two groups of process operators with fulltime computer work, but with different kinds of process-generated work tasks. Although the grid operators? work tasks mainly involved monitoring, which has previously been identified as problematic for operators, they assessed their work environment as being as favorable as did production operators who dealt with a flow of real-time tasks. The results were suggested to be due to the off-line tasks performed by the grid operators. Thus, the impact of a certain kind of computer work (monitoring) on psychosocial aspects appears to be reduced by other non-computer work tasks.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Paper II investigated computer attitudes from a workplace (i.e., kind of workplace) and work content (i.e., how the computer is used ? the computer work content, and for what ? the non-computer work content) perspective, among employees who performed computer-aided work. This approach is in contrast to the predominant computer attitude research that investigated primarily individual aspects. The results showed that the employees working in a low-tech organization and who in addition had a departmental main work task of low-technical character had less positive computer attitudes than did employees working in either a high-tech organization or department, or both. This result remained significant also after the effect of extent of computer use, which was positively correlated with computer attitudes, was controlled for. Neither gender, age nor education was related to computer attitudes. Thus, these results indicate that both workplace and work content aspects are important to investigate more thoroughly when studying employees? computer attitudes. Another purpose in this study was to investigate whether the computer was used in several different ways. The result showed multifunctional computer use. The presences of multifunctional computer use imply that the computer work content was more complex than a single type of computer work task. Further, this multifunctional computer use took different shapes depending on, how many different types of computer work categories were used, which types, and how the work time was distributed between them. These results support previous suggestion that there is a need of new methods to describe and thereby also to be able to understand the computer use at work of today.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Paper III investigated how psychosocial work aspects were related to computer work (?degree of variation? and ?extent?) among employees who performed computer-aided work, and whether these relationships differed depending on the technical character of the main work task for which the computer was used. The results showed that employees with less computer work experienced more variation and stimulation at work, and less machine dependency, than did those with more computer work. These differences were not found to interact with employees? main work task.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Paper IV investigated whether a high or low extent of computer work and whether computer work content with high or low cognitive demands were related to psychosocial aspects. The results showed that social workers with a high extent of computer work reported less skill discretion than did those with less computer work.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The present thesis constituted an attempt to address computer use using a holistic approach by looking at issues such as: labor market differences, where the computer is used (kind of workplace), for what it is used as an aid (main work task), how it is used (multifunctional use and the shape of this use) as well as the extent of computer use (the time distribution between computer work and non-computer work). The complex interactions between these aspects, illustrated in this thesis, ought to be addressed future research on computer use at work. Although the papers did not give answers to all issues addressed, they do reveal several aspects of computer use that may be investigated in future research on computer use at work and, thus, constitute one step on the way toward a better understanding of the phenomenon.},
  author       = {Wanek, Birgitta},
  isbn         = {91-628-6914-0},
  keyword      = {work content,employees,work tasks,computer use,process operators,VDU use,computer-aided work,psychosocial work environment,computer attitudes,measurements,Occupational health,industrial medicine,Industrial psychology,Socialpsykologi,Social psychology,Psykologi,Psychology,arbetsmiljömedicin,Yrkesmedicin,Arbetspsykologi,industripsykologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {144},
  publisher    = {Department of Psychology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Computer use @ work. Psychosocial work environment and attitudes toward computers from a work content perspective},
  year         = {2006},
}