In contemporary workplaces, urgency is symbolic of workers' experience of time as accelerated, and often associated with use of digital technologies. Yet we know little about how urgency is constructed at work, including the agentic roles of technology and other materialities. Based on interviews with railway workers, we extend Rosa's conceptualisation of temporal junctures to explain how urgency as a temporal framing is sociomaterially constituted, sustained and challenged across and between workers and their managers, particularly through smartphone-use. Our analysis extends existing thinking on temporality at work by demonstrating how urgency narratives at sociomaterially complex configurations of temporal junctures shield workers, managers and the organisation against the temporal fragility of the rail infrastructure, such that each narration of urgency carries forward an illusion of temporal control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-471
Number of pages19
JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
Issue number3
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • narrative, railway workers, smartphone, sociomateriality, time, urgency

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