A short piece about a research project I was involved with, comparing the biometric measures of workers in the digital industries with a more traditional industry

At the start of the project a central theme brought us all together. We all became keenly aware within our separate areas, (Art, academia, creative industry and arts organisation) that over time our working and personal lives have merged. This was polarised most clearly when compared with the traditional 8 hours work, 8 hours play and 8 hours sleep model – mentioned frequently across the different projects within Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life.

Our thoughts quickly turned to how these changing working methods could be affecting our health and natural rhythms, then to how the tools required to measure and monitor these rhythms are increasingly to be found in cheap consumer products and apps

This led to the central core of our research in comparing the biological rhythms of workers in the digital industries to those in a more traditional workplace. What really struck me was how outdated the legislation behind our 40-hour week is becoming. Can we draw any comparisons between workers rights, successfully fought for during the industrial revolution and the changing working practices of the digital revolution?

The main difference is that it is no longer obvious when and where we are working and it is the individual rather than the state whom now makes this value judgment. “I must finish that report before i go to bed!”

We are fortunate that the same technology behind our new rhythms and behavioural patterns can also be used to test their physiological affects. So for me the big questions that Rhythmanalysis raises is.

As technology allows us to profile and monitor our health, wellbeing and productivity in real-time and at an individual and corporate level, is new legislation necessary for the state to protect workers and provide for a non-linear and healthy work – life balance?