Conducting fieldwork at the crossroads: a case study of hybrid meetings in the workplace
Banu Saatci (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses the experiences of conducting fieldwork at the crossroads of STS and ICT. Through the object of my study, hybrid meetings in companies, I reflect on problems of doing research, where accessibility, transparency and cooperation are central to research in private companies.
Paper long abstract:
Hybrid meetings are video-based meetings among co-located and remote participants with access to personal devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. The rise of new video conferencing tools and applications and blended interaction spaces has allowed companies to make hybrid meetings part of their work routine. However, despite the technical improvements, many people, regardless of the business sector, workplace or daily life, complain about their problems with hybrid meetings, considering hybrid meetings not only an indispensable activity, but also a constant source of problem. Especially for businesses with more time-constraints, even starting the meeting with proper technical tools and arrangements on time, and having a fluid meeting are still difficult. Analysing the intricacies of the problems faced in hybrid meetings and how they are constructed necessitates looking into the users' perspective in the business setting. While understanding such complex socio-technical phenomena requires on-site observations and ethnographic research, most of the companies are not accessible and reject cooperation for research due to non-disclosure agreements. Furthermore, it is mostly the IT companies, which do not let researchers conduct on-site observations for the sake of confidentiality. When we discuss inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice, companies' rejection of cooperation is a fundamental issue to be raised in terms of transparency and ethical responsibilities of companies in fostering STS research and collaboration with researchers. In this paper, I share my observations and thoughts about this "uneven" meeting of these two fields and open up discussions regarding conducting research at the crossroads.
The room where it happens: inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice