Mixing work and private activities in the digital working life. A diary study.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Laptops and smartphones are now challenging the traditional boarders of work and have contributed to new ways of combining work and other parts of life. Both time and room dimensions have been resolved or taken new forms through the new information and communication technology. Questions like when and where you are supposed to, or can or want to work are likewise important to companies and employees. Issues around the relationship between working life and family life have in addition to this become more important when the traditional roles between men and women are changing. When work is being done on the cost of engagement in the private sphere it often leads to stress and role conflicts, so-called spillover. Spillover is a risk factor for health and well-being, but there are still knowledge gaps on how this risk can be managed by organizations as well as individuals.

This conference paper is based on an ongoing research project with the overall aim of developing guidelines for how organisations may work to promote a sustainable working life. There is a special focus on how women and men in different periods of life can be offered good prerequisites in combining work and private life. In close collaboration with two global companies in Sweden we are doing an explorative diary and interview study with employees, the employees’ families and managers and human resource on how they manage the challenges of the digital working life.

Specific research questions:
1)What strategies do employees use to handle the demands on and possibilities that the digital technology creates for being available to work and family?
2)How do the employee, its partner and children experience the effects of digital technology on family life?
3)How do managers and human resources handle the digital technology in relation to a sustainable working environment?

In this conference paper we are presenting preliminary results from the diary study that will be carried out by about 40 – 50 employees. These employees have been chosen because they have the possibility to locate part of their work outside the workplace and outside normal office hours. The respondents should during seven days in a manual diary log how they 1) during normal office hours are doing private related activities (such as talking to the phone with the partner or child, or booking a doctor’s appointment) and 2) outside normal office hours perform work tasks (such as reading and answering emails on the phone or preparing meetings in the computer). The diary entails what kind of task has been performed, with what technology, how long it did take, when and where it was performed, who else were in the room and with what feeling it was made. The diary is divided into seven time slots during a day, and the respondent should also summarize each time slot with words like stressful, relaxed, and chaos. Finally the respondents should describe if the time slot is “normal” or not, and if not how it differed from the “normal”.

The diary data material will be analyzed from dimensions of sex, period in life and the experiences of the work-life relation, but also the working conditions and well-being.

The overall results of the study should contribute to improving the systematic work on work environment that also include the work conditions that managers normally don’t see and have control over. That is when work is done outside the four walls of the office and the normal office hours. This is up-to-date crucial in Sweden since the Swedish work environment authority has new regulations on organizational and social work environment (AFS 2015:4) that also includes workloads and working hours.


External organisations
  • Karlstad University
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Work Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch
EventWork2017: The 3rd International Interdisciplinary Conference on Research on Work and Working Life. -
Duration: 2017 Aug 162017 Aug 18