Fast or Slow: How Temporal Work Design Shapes Time Perception and Job Performance

Helen Hailin Zhao, Hong Deng, Rocky Chen, Wei Zhang

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


Time perception, the extent to which employees perceive the passage of time as being fast or slow, is a fundamental aspect of workers’ job experience that has been overlooked in work design theory. We identify two novel work characteristics that can speed up employees’ time perception: low temporal expectancy and high time segmentation. Low temporal expectancy means the job is organized such that employees do not need to wait for something to happen in the uncertain near future. High time segmentation occurs when a large chunk of work time is divided into shorter time segments. These work characteristics divert employees’ attention away from thinking about time, such that time seems to pass more quickly and employees can focus and perform more effectively. We tested this theory in three studies. First, in a serendipitous field study (N=221), we showed that these work characteristics exist and shape time perceptions as hypothesized. Second, in two laboratory experiments, (N = 116 and N = 112), we manipulated temporal expectancy and time segmentation, respectively, to affect employees’ time perception and task performance. Third, in a time-lagged design (N=284), we showed that time perception mediates the relationships between temporal work characteristics and job performance."
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings 2020
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Event80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2020: Broadening our Sight - Virtual
Duration: 7 Aug 202011 Aug 2020 (Conference website) (Conference proceedings)

Publication series

NameAcademy of Management Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0065-0668
ISSN (Electronic)2151-6561


Conference80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2020
Internet address


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