The Digital Brain Switch (DBS) project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is studying the changing nature of work-life balance as a result of digital technologies. It is a collaboration between Lancaster University; The Open University; Royal Holloway, University of London; and University of Kent.
The project members are particularly interested in how people switch between different work-life roles – parent, spouse, friend, co-worker, manager, employee – and how digital technologies either support this or act as a barrier.
In the age of modern communications, we all switch between multiple different roles on a daily basis. And these switches can be very rapid – one minute, we might check in with our friends on Facebook; the next we switch to work email; a minute later we go to Twitter where we see both work- and leisure-related information. How do we manage these very rapid switches? Do these rapid switches cause problems that we find hard to deal with? Or have we achieved a seamless integration of work and life where our various roles can co-exist?
Over a period of 22 months, DBS is carrying out an in-depth study of these phenomena and is developing new tools to allow us to manage switching between different roles. Some example images from our pilot study are included below.