Creativity Greenhouse: Balance Network, Exploring Work-Life Balance in the Digital Economy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Lancashire Business School


The Balance Network will provide a new, interdisciplinary research community to explore Work-Life Balance in the Digital Economy (WLB in DE). It will cultivate new linkages and promote exchanges within and beyond the research base of projects funded under the theme of Sustainable Society: Achieving work-life balance in a digitally dependent world. Through a range of virtual and face-to-face interactions the network will support new, collaborative, multidisciplinary research proposals that develop into virtual centres of excellence. As well as supporting funded projects the network aims to create opportunities for interaction between diverse communities over the next 3 years. It aims to provide resources and activities to bring about a critical mass of expertise thus ensuring a strong foundation for the continuation of the network beyond 2016. The Balance Network will operate as an interdisciplinary community of practice to not only support to core network membership but also engage the wider network membership. The open nature of the network will provide opportunities to share research and engage with a wide variety of individuals and organisations including government, opinion-formers and policy makers, the general public, public and private sector organisations. The network will:
- Support communication and collaboration across the funded research projects
- Foster a research community of multi-disciplinary teams to further explore the ideas generated on WLB in DE
- Discuss future funding opportunities, form collaborative bids and provide a forum for peer review between members.
- Facilitate discussion and the exchange of knowledge between network participants and wider audiences including the public, business and industrial as well as academics.
- Compile and disseminate activities and findings of WLB in DE projects and related activities to the wider academic and other communities, including. promotion of work under the Digital Economy Theme across the Research Councils
- Provide a coherent 'home' for the projects and to act as a single point of communication for theme of WLB in DE, from a UK and International perspective.
Aim to achieve a critical mass by widening the network to other national and international groups in order to provide self-sufficiency beyond EPSRC support

Planned Impact

The Proposed Balance Network: Exploring Work-Life Balance in the Digital Economy aims to build on the Creativity Greenhouse activities which brought together over 16 researchers, mentors and facilitators for an intensive discussion over 2 days face-to-face and 4 days online. It will build on the creative and intellectual collaborations generated during the intensive Creativity workshop and support the funded projects. However the proposed network will continue to build on the collaborations built during the Creativity Greenhouse, o generate new ideas for future projects and to support all members of the network not just the funded projects. The three levels of network membership will ensure that the research findings from the core network are disseminated and shared with a wider research group interested in WLB in DE. The Balance Network will also collate resources from other sources including the wider network and recorded events and webinars as well as providing a social network to share experiences and facilitate debate and discussion in an open network.
The ultimate beneficiaries of the collaborative research will be the societal. The research projects working together with the Balance Network, offer a significant academic platform from which has the potential to transform lifestyles and improve quality of life, having an impact on society as a whole. In the short term, the beneficiaries will be academic researchers who are influenced by the activities of the Network and its projects. The case studies within the projects will also offer engagement with specific social and industrial communities in the early stages. As the projects develop and the network activities engage a range of audiences it is anticipated that government and industry will benefit. Therefore it is intended that the network will operate as an interdisciplinary Community of Practice for researchers and the wider community interested in issues of WLB in the DE. Thus the Balance Network will not only support the research activities of the funded projects but also support the network as a community of practice. As a result the network has the potential to provide benefits to organisations and institutions regarding WLB in DE and not just to academic researchers.


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