12 Jan 2021

Invitation to an event: The new work normal – The impact on ICT on work practices during the pandemic

Please find details below of an event organised by the TIME research centre at Kent Business School, The International Journal of Information Management, UK Academy for Information Systems, and the SIG eBusiness and eGovernment of the British Academy of Management. The event will be held on Monday 18th January 2021 from 09:00-10:20am over Zoom (https://newcastleuniversity.zoom.us/j/89897540847). The event timetable can be found below:

Event Timetable.pdf

The International Journal of Information Management (IJIM) is an international, peer-reviewed journal which aims to bring its readers the very best analysis and discussion in the developing field of information management. In 2020 IJIM organised a special issue on the impact of the pandemic (https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/international-journal-of-information-management/vol/55/suppl/C). In this event we will have the opportunity to find out more about 3 papers featured in the special issue and discuss any updates the authors may have as to how things are developing. Participants will also have an opportunity to find out more about the Journal by the Editor-in-Chief Prof Yogesh K. Dwivedi, School of Management, Swansea University, UK.

Crispin Coombs, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK

Will COVID-19 be the tipping point for the Intelligent Automation of work? A review of the debate and implications for research

As part of the urgent need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments, healthcare providers, and businesses have looked to applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to compensate for the unavailability of human workers. This interest has renewed the debate regarding the use of AI for the automation of work, which has been described as Intelligent Automation (IA). A new dimension to this debate is whether COVID-19 will be the catalyst for higher IA adoption levels. This article reviews arguments in favour of COVID-19 increasing the level of IA adoption and possible counter-arguments. Key arguments in favour of increased IA adoption include consumer preferences changing to favour IA, increasing familiarity of IA technologies, and increased business confidence in IA. Counter-arguments include big data availability and reliability limitations, many tasks still favouring human skills over IA, the narrow capabilities of IA technologies, and a high availability of human workers. The article also discusses the implications of this debate for information management research and practice.

Noel Carroll, NUI Galway, Ireland

Normalising the “new normal”: Changing tech-driven work practices under pandemic time pressure

The COVID-19 pandemic has had massive implications for the nature of work and the role technology plays in the workplace. Organisations have been forced into rapid ‘big bang’ introduction of technology and ‘tech-driven’ practices in an unprecedented and time pressured manner. In many cases there has been little training or reflection on how the practices and associated technology should be introduced and integrated or adapted to suit the new workplace context. We argue that there is a need for a more reflective ‘normalisation’ of work practices and the role technology plays. The paper draws on normalisation process theory (NPT) and its underlying components of cohesion, cognitive participation, collective action and reflexive monitoring. As an exemplar, we focus on the changing nature of work and adoption of remote working practices. The paper uses NPT to examine current thinking and approaches and offering some guidelines to inform research and practice.

Rahul De, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India

Impact of digital surge during Covid-19 pandemic: A viewpoint on research and practice

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an inevitable surge in the use of digital technologies due to the social distancing norms and nationwide lockdowns. People and organizations all over the world have had to adjust to new ways of work and life. We explore possible scenarios of the digital surge and the research issues that arise. An increase in digitalization is leading firms and educational institutions to shift to work-from-home (WFH). Blockchain technology will become important and will entail research on design and regulations. Gig workers and the gig economy is likely to increase in scale, raising questions of work allocation, collaboration, motivation, and aspects of work overload and presenteeism. Workplace monitoring and technostress issues will become prominent with an increase in digital presence. Online fraud is likely to grow, along with research on managing security. The regulation of the internet, a key resource, will be crucial post-pandemic. Research may address the consequences and causes of the digital divide. Further, the issues of net neutrality and zero-rating plans will merit scrutiny. A key research issue will also be the impact and consequences of internet shutdowns, frequently resorted to by countries. Digital money, too, assumes importance in crisis situations and research will address their adoption, consequences, and mode. Aspects of surveillance and privacy gain importance with increased digital usage.