Skip to Main Content
Robots are becoming increasingly integrated into the workplace, impacting organizational structures and processes, and affecting products and services created by these organizations. While robots promise significant benefits to organizations, their introduction poses a variety of design challenges. In this paper, we use ethnographic data collected at a hospital using an autonomous delivery robot to examine how organizational factors affect the way its members respond to robots and the changes engendered by their use. Our analysis uncovered dramatic differences between the medical and post-partum units in how people integrated the robot into their workflow and their perceptions of and interactions with it. Different patient profiles in these units led to differences in workflow, goals, social dynamics, and the use of the physical environment. In medical units, low tolerance for interruptions, a discrepancy between the perceived cost and benefits of using the robot, and breakdowns due to high traffic and clutter in the robot's path caused the robot to have a negative impact on the workflow and staff resistance. On the contrary, post-partum units integrated the robot into their workflow and social context. Based on our findings, we provide design guidelines for the development of robots for organizations.
Date of Conference: 12-15 March 2008