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Ubiquitous Working: Challenges and Prospects of the Interconnected Working Environment

Working groupKnowledge Construction Lab
Duration04/2014 - 09/2018
FundingLeibniz Association (SAW-Procedure), IWM budget resources
Project description

The evolution of ubiquitous computing technologies made it possible to access information and work materials independently from time and space. Due to small mobile devices such as notebooks, smartphones, or tablets, and continuous interconnection with the workplace, work can be done anywhere and anytime – work became ubiquitous. Research already deals with consequences of modern, flexible work forms like ubiquitous working (UW) regarding social or health aspects but there is little research regarding impacts of location-independent UW on other psychological variables such as work performance and cognitive functioning.

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Ubiquitous Working

Nowadays, employees are able to work in multiple, varying environments – in parks, in cafés, or in the living room at home. Much effort has been invested to clarify how to design an office ideally to enhance performance. It seems that the fundamental change of work context, from traditional, thoughtfully designed offices up to various locations that are originally not conceptualized for work (such as trains or hotel lobbies), has already overtaken these achievements. By now it is more relevant to understand how and under which circumstances the work context influences performance. Flexible and location-independent work models such as UW generally presume that professionals show the same performance and work behavior in any context. But is it even possible to work as effectively in a train as in the office? If performance and work behavior differs in diverse environments, is ubiquitous working then useful at all? Or can these differences be utilized intentionally to foster certain types of cognitive performance and shape work behavior? To answer these questions, we investigate cognitive performance and work behavior of ubiquitous workers in the laboratory and by means of quasi-experimental designs. In the laboratory we simulate typical and untypical work environments with help of virtual 3D-environments to control for confounding variables (such as temperature, noise or light). Additionally, we investigate work behavior and characteristics of ubiquitous workers with help of a smartphone App-based diary study to determine which personal factors and individual differences account for successful UW and to identify specific characteristics of the environment that account for context effects (UbiWork Diary App).

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UbiWork Diary App

An interdisciplinary network of scholars examines the diverse dimensions of UW that are relevant from the perspective of the involved disciplines – economics, work psychology, media psychology, occupational medicine, and sociology. The project’s objective is to develop practical implications for a beneficial application of location-independent, ubiquitous working.


Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim

Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund (IfADo), Dortmund

VU University Amsterdam, NL

University of Amsterdam, NL

University of Mannheim

Mannheim Institute of Public Health (MIPH)


Burmeister C., Moskaliuk, J., & Cress, U. (in press). Have a look around: The effect of physical environments on risk behaviour in work-related vs. non-work related decision-making tasks. Ergonomics. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2018.1494308 

Burmeister, C. P., Moskaliuk, J., & Cress, U. (2018). Ubiquitous Working: Do Work Versus Non-Work Environments Affect Decision Making and Concentration? Frontiers in Psychology, 9:310. https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00310

Moskaliuk, J., Burmeister, C. P., Landkammer, F., Renner, B., & Cress, U. (2017). Environmental effects on cognition and decision making of knowledge workers. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 49, 43-54. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.12.001

Renner, B., Moskaliuk, J., & Cress, U. (2014). Ubiquitous Working – Chancen & Risiken für die Wissensarbeit. Wissensmanagement – Das Magazin für Führungskräfte, 8, 8-10.


Project Website: UbiWork