About the Project

While several studies highlighted how strategies for managing work/life demands are varied, and how people appropriate technologies in highly personal and nuanced ways to support these personal strategies, technology design is still relying on either the limited “always-on” paradigm, or on the assumption that a separation of work and life is always the ideal management strategy. Also the technological perspective often ignores the complex nature of “work” and “life”, whereby “work” is not limited to the office/workplace (e.g. work done in people’s homes), and being in the workplace does not eliminate the need to attend to personal demands (e.g. managing personal issues during work hours); similarly “life” demands are not just about family, social or leisure activities (e.g. taxes; healthcare), as well as private time being pervaded with work tasks as expectations change in terms of availability.

Technology design  must consider these complexities. There is considerable room for innovation and creative thinking in this respect, to further the debate and strengthen impact around design and to elicit creative ideas that are more cognizant of human practices.

The “Managing Technology Around Work and Life” project comprises:

– An Interview Study investigating the strategies of technology appropriation  put in place to handle work and life demands

– A Workshop in Sheffield (December 13, 2016) where insights from the interview study will be used to create innovative design concepts for future technologies to support work and life demands

– Spearheading an interest group on technology design for work and life with the overall goal to overcome the divide between socio-scientific studies of work and life and technological innovation.

This project is funded by the EPSRC Balance Network and is part of a cluster of initiatives on the theme of “Work/Life Balance in the Digital Age”.

About the Researchers

Dr Luigina Ciolfi, Reader in Communication at Sheffield Hallam University, has worked on many projects exploring interaction with technology in public spaces, heritage settings, and practices of work/life on the move. She has recently co-edited a special issue of the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing journal on the theme of technology for work and life.
She has organised a variety of international workshops and seminars on this topic, as well as having extensive project experience investigating human-computer interaction and work practices. She is an Associate Editor for the CSCW Journal.

Dr Eleanor Lockley, Research Fellow in the Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute at SHU, has worked both in academic and commercial contexts, including multidisciplinary projects involving the design and development of qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has designed and implemented user centred design workshops, gathering user requirements for the development of mobile and web applications. Her doctoral research focused on the impact of the mobile phone on the public and private. Her research interests are concerned with the social impact of technology, the use of mobile devices and identity, and digital inclusion.

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