Advances in pervasive computing are rapidly changing the way we work. Pervasive computing can improve the way workers connect into productive teams; it vastly improves the ability of organizations to collect and process data; and it provides new tools for using data in feedback loops that affect the physical or virtual world, both as personalized, small-scale interventions and as broad, large-scale actions.
These changes are accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. This crisis resulted in a sudden and dramatic change in how we work. For many of us, the well-known mainstays of work—the eight-hour workday, the office building, the morning commute, the salient boundaries between work and personal life, in-person conversations with coworkers, and sending children to school or daycare—are gone or drastically different than they were before. Even worse, millions of workers lost their jobs, and their prospects of future employment are uncertain. The issues of inequality and racial injustice are even more pronounced than before; sections of the population are bearing the brunt far more than others, and there is a real risk of leaving behind workers who are unable to balance rapidly changing work responsibilities with increased demands placed on their personal life.
While we all hope that the COVID-19 crisis will soon subside, some of its effects are likely to remain; not all office buildings will open back up, not all jobs lost will be available again, and the way we used to think about productivity and work-life balance may never be the same. Given these changes, how can pervasive computing support worker and organization productivity? How can it support workers in balancing productivity with well-being? How can it support workers as they seek new skills and new jobs? Furthermore, how do these new circumstances provide a window into the long-term future of work and the role of pervasive computing in this future? And, while we are primarily interested in how pervasive computing can support work, we must be mindful of helping workers maintain their overall well-being. What is the role of pervasive computing in this?
In this special issue, we seek to provide a broad set of answers to these questions. The guest editors invite original and high-quality submissions addressing any aspect of the role of pervasive computing in supporting the future of work. Review or summary articles—for example, critical evaluations of the state of the art, or an insightful analysis of established and upcoming technologies—may be accepted if they demonstrate academic rigor and relevance.
Example topics include, but are not limited to:
Tools for remote work: working from home, working while commuting, and meetings with remote participants
New ways of getting work done: techniques for interleaving work; easy resumption, engagement, and disengagement; and incorporating well-being needs in productivity tools
Technologies for the future of work: networking, augmented reality, virtual reality, wearable devices, and human-robot collaboration
Supporting worker well-being: maintaining work-life boundaries, supporting physical movement, and facilitating work attachment and detachment
Matching worker skills with job opportunities: assessing worker skills, matching existing skills to new job opportunities, and peer-networks for learning new skills
Inclusion and accessibility: technology that is built for equality and technology that supports all abilities
Security and privacy: protecting the pervasive-computing work infrastructure from malicious actors and maintaining privacy while providing personalized support for work and well-being
Novel ways of measuring outcome:rewarding performance so that it takes into account an individual’s unique needs, incorporating well-being as an integral part of productivity, fostering and measuring creativity and innovation, and supporting self-reflection by workers
Novel applications of pervasive computing to support future jobs and work practices
Articles submitted to IEEE Pervasive Computing should not exceed 6,000 words, including all text, abstract, keywords, bibliography, biographies, and table text. The word count must include 250 words for each table and figure. References should be limited to 20 citations (40 for survey papers). Authors are encouraged, but not required, to use a template for submission (accepted articles will ultimately be typeset by magazine staff for publication). Submissions should not have been submitted or published elsewhere.