[Research] Information Requirements of Distributed Workers

Dix, Alan, and Russell Beale: ‘Information requirements of distributed workers,’ in Alan Dix and Russell Beale (eds.): Remote Cooperation: CSCW Issues for Mobile and Teleworkers, Springer-Verlag, London etc., 1996, pp. 113-143.

This chapter concerns two groups of workers: the mobile worker using a portable computer whilst travelling or whilst at clients' premises; and the teleworker, working from home or at neighbourhood work centres. These workers are part of a larger organisation and access shared corporate information, and yet they lack the level of communication which would be expected within a normal office environment. In particular their work is often composed of periods of individual work isolated completely from the central information sources interspersed with relatively high bandwidth communications. The means of the latter may range from direct connection of mobile computers to office machines through communication over telephone lines or email links to transfer of media such as floppy disks. In short their communication with colleagues and corporate data is intermittent.

The chapter concentrates on two major areas:

  1. retrieval - making sure you have the right information when you need it.
  2. synchronisation - updating shared information in a way which makes sense.