Expectation Management in digital Communication


Knowledge workers’ often receive many written requests/questions via various communication channels, e.g. email, Slack, Teams, Skype, at work. At times, an ever-filling email inbox or dozens of unread chat-messages might be quite overwhelming, especially when the senders expect a timely response. Often, responding to every inquiry within a few minutes is not only impossible, but also not advisable, as the worker will neglect other tasks, and might be frustrated in the evening due to the few actual tasks completed. This is about to change, by adding an expectation management feature to today’s most used communication channels.

In the prototype you’ll build, workers will set times they want to focus on their tasks and want to avoid being interrupted by others. During these times, the sender of an inquiry will receive an automated message (think OOF-messages but short-term) stating that the person is currently focused and from when they are likely to respond. You could even think about something like “communication hours”, times that the worker planned in the calendar to answer inquiries.

Task description

  • Perform a small literature review to learn more about similar already existing approaches (e.g. Oh-Bother but for PC and in a work-related scenario)
  • Develop a component to block interruptions from communication apps at times the worker wants to focus
  • Develop a component to automatically send the OOF-message which states when the worker will be available again
  • Think about other useful additions to make the approach more useful in practice (e.g. automated vs manual focused blocks, more info in the OOF-message, communication hours)
  • Evaluate your approach in a small user study

Contact: André Meyer