Value sensitive design of a virtual assistant for workload harmonization in teams

Maaike Harbers*, Mark A. Neerincx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Uneven workload distributions in teams can lead to suboptimal team performance. This paper therefore describes the design of a virtual assistant that supports workload harmonization in teams by measuring workload, informing team members about their own and other team members’ workload, and supporting team members in the redistribution of workload. The virtual assistant was developed in the context of train traffic control according to the situated Cognitive Engineering (sCE) methodology, which was extended to allow for a value sensitive design process. More specifically, the values ‘insight,’ ‘helping others’ and ‘privacy’ were explicitly accounted for throughout the design of the virtual assistant. A prototype of the virtual assistant was evaluated positively in a focus group. Thereby, the contribution of the paper is twofold. First, an improvement in a human-centered development methodology—sCE with values—is described and its use is demonstrated in an actual design case. Second, a novel, positively evaluated solution for workload harmonization in teams is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-343
Number of pages15
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Human–computer interaction
  • Situated Cognitive Engineering
  • Teamwork
  • Traffic control
  • Value sensitive design
  • Virtual assistant
  • Workload


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