Self-monitoring as work: office workers use of a self-monitoring device to critique their workplace culture
Paula Saukko (Loughborough University)
Paper short abstract:
Office workers are being encouraged to reduce their sitting time, as sedentary behaviour has emerged as a new health risk factor (NHS, 2014). This study sought to reduce the sitting time of office workers with a self-monitoring tool worn around the waist.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses preliminary findings from an on-going qualitative interview study, which found office workers use of a self-monitoring device to critique the intensification of their work.
Three main themes have emerged from the interviews. Firstly, participants stated how their sitting had deteriorated in the workplace. They told stories about how they used to go out for meetings, how the 'paperless' office had caused them to reduce even their trips to the printer and how technologies, such as Skype, were making them more desk-bound. Secondly, participants discussed how they 'tried' to sit less but were conscious of being seen as 'skiving' at work. Stories emerged about being in a meeting when the device 'buzzed' them to get up and feeling too self-conscious to act upon it. Thirdly, most participants did not wear the device during their free time, even when encouraged to do so. Some said that they were fairly active outside of work, whilst others described their weekends and evenings to be their "free time".
These preliminary findings suggest that self-monitoring is not merely used for changing behaviour, but is also used to "find meaning in everyday life", such as critiquing the work culture ((Rooksby, Rost, Morrison, & Chalmers, 2014, p.1164). Further, by refusing to wear the device in their free time, the participants associated self-monitoring with "work". These findings align with Lupton's ( 2013, p.216) critical account of self-monitoring as an accomplice of the broader culture seeking to conform bodies to certain agendas through digital surveillance.
Everyday analytics: The politics and practices of self-monitoring