Work Practice Technology

Our vision is to design technology that is grounded in actual work practices and provides an appropriate balance between automating tasks and leveraging user expertise.

Our research aims to improve the design of systems by grounding design in a thorough understanding of the workplace, the people who work there, and how they organise themselves to get their work done. The Work Practice Technology team is a multi-disciplinary group, consisting of field workers and computer scientists. We base our research primarily on ethnographic methods of study and analysis, and our orientation in these studies is ethnomethodological. Our field studies cover numerous work domains, focusing on the 'office' and other industrial and commercial enterprises.

There are now many groups similarly involved within industry and academia. At XRCE our research has strong links with Xerox Business Groups and their customers and we continue to operate at the forefront of such workplace research. We do this through our ongoing policy of researching constitutive work practices and employing this material to assist in developing technology and service innovations

For further details of our approach click here.

Current activities

Remote Call Assistance

This project set out to investigate how new and improved ‘instruments’ for self-troubleshooting and remote technical support could be developed to better assist in office device repair. To this end we have conducted field studies in the Xerox Welcome and Support Centre based in Dublin to understand the current nature of troubleshooting and coupled these with in-lab studies of the usability of the Xerox.com portal. These have been a resource for the proposal of recommendations and opportunities to provide enhanced technological support. We are in the process of developing a number of new technological solutions based on our research.

Easy to Use Colour Workflow

The lifecycle of a colour document from its conception to its eventual consumption is a complicated process that involves a number of different people performing a range of tasks. Documents can only be conceptualized, designed and printed in an efficient and successful manner if each party involved in the document lifecycle adheres to certain workflow conventions and communicates their work unambiguously. Unfortunately this is difficult to achieve in practice for a number of reasons.

The aim of the 'Easy to Use Colour Workflows' project is to use the results of detailed work practice studies of all stages in the colour document lifecycle to develop improved and extended colour workflows based on the way that colour documents are actually conceptualized, designed, created and used in the 'real world'. A key part of the project is the development of colour tools with appropriate user interfaces that will enable these real-world customer driven workflows.

The XRCE Work Practice Technology research group currently co-organises a workshop at the COOP 2014 conference