Our work in Research Theme 1 examines the conceptual, regulatory and empirical foundations of emerging ideas about digitalisation, the connected worker and economy.

There are three related strands of research:

  1. Conceptualising Digital Futures at Work
  2. Comparative legal regulation of digital employment
  3. Mapping trends in time and place

Related work

Superstars and the concentration of technical labour markets

Can the concentration of technical talent in the largest companies explain the slow and concentrated adoption of digital technologies?

Q-commerce: the emerging rapid retail sector

Quick-commerce (q-commerce) startups are a growing part of the online grocery market. What does this mean for work in the retail sector?

Using AI to speed up recruitment in retail

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have greatly expanded the range of tasks that computers can perform, including their application to the hiring process. But how are organisations managing the process of implementation with their workforce?

The creator economy: understanding travel content creation as work in the digital age

This research project explores the work of travel content creators and considers whether it represents a new form of precarious work in both the creator economy and the tourism industry.

Generative AI and skills in digital and media SMEs

What kind of impact is Generative AI such as ChatGPT having on skills development in small businesses?

Can digital technologies contribute to inclusive and sustainable fisheries?

New digital technologies are transforming the way fish are harvested, traded and regulated. We know this can aid marine conservation, but what impact might it have on communities of fisherpeople?

Digital inclusion of disabled individuals in online and offline voluntary work

In today’s interconnected world, internet access is often considered critical for accessing work. However, reliance on the internet also poses challenges for some disabled people, who may be vulnerable to digital exclusion.

Digitalisation and work intensity in the UK and Europe

The increasing digitalisation of workplaces and wider economy has been accompanied by an increase in work intensification. But does digitalisation cause work intensification? And, if so, how?

The four-day week and reducing working time

Digit researchers have explored how the four day week can be implemented practically and equitably – and by a broader range of industries.

Digitalisation, connectedness and inequalities

This project explores the role of digitalisation in shaping working practices and experiences in two firms located in legal and IT services. 

Industry 4.0 and the role of human resource management

This Innovation Fund project explores the extent to which HR managers pursue, support or enable ‘good work’ outcomes from the implementation of digital technologies in Industry 4.0.

The Digitalisation of Access Work: fiction to policy recommendations

This Innovation Fund project explores how access workers' expertise and practices are changing due to the digitalisation of work.

Comparative legal regulation of digital employment

This project, led by Professor Simon Deakin, updates a key dataset for the comparative study of international labour laws in 117 countries. 

Where Automated Job Interviews Fall Short

This related project explores how HR departments and technology companies could improve on the interview experience when using automated job interviews. Funded by the UKRI- Higher Education Innovation Fund.


agiLab combines leading academic research with practice-based insights to inform the effective delivery and implementation of agile working.

Patterns of Digital Platform Employment and Regulatory Implications: A Comparative Analysis of China and Australia

This related project explores the plausibility of introducing a regulatory strategy for registering digital platforms by type. Funded by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) - CASS Joint Action Program.

Virtually the same thing as in-person internships? Mapping the virtual internship landscape and exploring intern and employer experience in the UK and Italy

This Innovation Fund project explores this growing but under- researched area through student intern and employer experience in two contrasting institutional contexts: the UK and Italy.

Disability, neurodiversity, and remote e- working: Promoting the creation of an inclusive workplace. ‘Remote for All’ (R4All)

This project aims to fill a gap in understanding the impact of remote e-working for Disabled and Neurodivergent Workers (DNW).

The Care Necessities: Developing Inclusive Digital Technologies for Scotland’s Post Pandemic Social Care

This Innovation Fund project explored the extent to which the introduction of technological innovation in social care has been characterized by care worker and service user participation in the choice, implementation and evaluation of technology. 

A Framework for Digital Strategy Work: Exploring Inclusion and Transparency in the Strategy Process

This Innovation Fund project conceptualises emerging changes in the nature of strategy work in organisations related to the use of digital technologies.

Towards privatised social and employment protections in the platform economy? Evidence from the UK courier sector

Why do digital platforms offer privatised social and employment protection provisions — and with what consequence for platforms and platform governance, workers, and regulators?

The role of co-working spaces in digital rural futures

This Round 1 Innovation Fund project investigated the growth of rural coworking and its contribution to local economic performance, business networks and wellbeing.

Coworking spaces and workplaces of the future: Critical perspectives on community, context and change

Jennifer Johns, Edward Yates, Greig Charnock, Frederick Harry Pitts, Ödül Bozkurt, Didem Derya and Ozdemir Kaya (2024), European Mangement Review

Varieties of digitalisation? A comparison of employment services digitalisation in the UK and Australia

Jo Ingold, Chris Forde and David Robertshaw (2024), Australian Journal of Social Science

The economic effects of changes in labour laws: new evidence for the UK

Simon Deakin and Kamelia Pourkermani (April 2024), Digit Policy Brief

Making It Stick: The UK Four-Day Week Pilot One Year On

Autonomy (2024), The UK’s four-day week pilot

Multinational firms as emissaries of decent work: worker responses to progressive HRM in a foreign retailer in Japan

Ödül Bozkurt, Chul Chung, Norifumi Kawai and Motoko Honda-Howard (2024), Critical Perspectives on International Business

The future of work and working time: introduction to special issue

Brendan Burchell, Simon Deakin, Jill Rubery and David A Spencer (2024), Cambridge Journal of Economics

Law As Code: Exploring Information, Communication and Power in Legal Systems

Bhumika Billa (2024), Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Computational Law

Better outcomes for everyone? The UK’s fragmented digital ecosystem of work and welfare

Jacqueline O’Reilly and Rachel Verdin (November 2023), Digit Policy Brief

Delivering flexible working in practice: an agile approach

Emma Russell (October 2023), Digit Policy Brief

Marx, Keynes and the future of working time

David A Spencer (2023), Cambridge Journal of Economics

From coworking to competing? Business models and strategies of UK coworking spaces beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

Edward Yates, Greig Charnock, Frederick Harry Pitts, Jennifer Johns and Ödül Bozkurt (2023), Competition & Change

Getting on top of work-email: A systematic review of 25 years of research to understand effective work-email activity

Emma Russell, Thomas W. Jackson, Marc Fullman and Petros Chamakiotis (2023), Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

Technology and work: Past lessons and future directions

David Spencer (2023), Technology in Society

Special Issue: The ‘new’ social relations of digital technology and the future of work

Simon Joyce, Charles Umney, Xanthe Whittaker and Mark Stuart (2023), New Technology, Work and Employment

Human resource management in the age of generative artificial intelligence: Perspectives and research directions on ChatGPT

Pawan Budhwar, Soumyadeb Chowdhury, Geoffrey Wood, Herman Aguinis, Greg J. Bamber, Jose R. Beltran, Paul Boselie, Fang Lee Cooke, Stephanie Decker, Angelo DeNisi, Prasanta Kumar Dey, David Guest, Andrew J. Knoblich, Ashish Malik, Jaap Paauwe, Savvas Papagiannidis, Charmi Patel, Vijay Pereira, Shuang Ren, Steven Rogelberg, Mark N. K. Saunders, Rosalie L. Tung and Arup Varma (2023), Human Resource Management Journal

New social relations of digital technology and the future of work: Beyond technological determinism

Simon Joyce, Charles Umney, Xanthe Whittaker and Mark Stuart (2023), New Technology, Work and Employment

How Cultural Workers Address Racism in the Digital Age

Francesca Sobande, Anamik Saha, David Hesmondhalgh (2023), Digit Report

Labor Unrest and the Future of Work: Global Struggles Against Food Delivery Platforms

Mark Stuart, Vera Trappmann, Ioulia Bessa, Simon Joyce, Denis Neumann and Charles Umney (2023), Labor Studies Journal

The changing shape of the Indian recorded music industry in the age of platformisation

Aditya Lal, David Hesmondhalgh and Charles Umney (2023), Contemporary South Asia

How health platforms can improve healthcare in the Global South

Dimitra Petrakaki, Petros Chamakiotis, Daniel Curto-Millet (2023), World Economic Forum

Risks to job quality from digital technologies: Are industrial relations in Europe ready for the challenge?

Janine Berg, Francis Green, Laura Nurski and David A Spencer (2023), European Journal of Industrial Relations

The results are in: The UK’s four-day week pilot

Autonomy (2023), The UK’s four-day week pilot

Building a sustainable ecosystem of human resource management research: reflections and suggestions

Fang Lee Cooke, Michael Dickmann and Emma Parry (2023), The International Journal of Human Resource Management

The US–China rivalry and the emergence of state platform capitalism

Steven Rolf and Seth Schindler (2023), Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space

Rural co-working: New network spaces and new opportunities for a smart countryside

Gary Bosworth, Jason Whalley, Anita Fuzi, Ian Merrell, Polly Chapman and Emma Russell (2023), Journal of Rural Studies

Automation and the future of work: A social shaping of technology approach

Howcroft, D., Taylor, P. (2022) New Technology, Work and Employment

Measuring the size, characteristics and consequences of digital work

Verdin, R. and O'Reilly, J. (2022), Digit Working Paper No. 1

How rural coworking hubs can facilitate well-being through the satisfaction of key psychological needs

Ian Merrell, Anita Füzi, Emma Russell and Gary Bosworth (2022) Local Economy

Can HR adapt to the paradoxes of artificial intelligence?

Charlwood, A., Guenole, N. (2022), Human Resource Management Journal

Digitalised management, control and resistance in platform work: a labour process analysis

Joyce, S., Stuart, M. (2021). Chapter 7 in Work and Labour Relations in Global Platform Capitalism. Cheltenham, UK

Reimagining e-leadership for reconfigured virtual teams due to Covid-19

Chamakiotis, P., Panteli, N., Davison, R. M. (2021), International Journal of Information Management

COVID-19 and the uncertain future of HRM: furlough, job retention and reform

Stuart, M., Spencer, David A., McLachlan, C, J., Forde, C. (2021), Human Resource Management Journal

Robots, Reshoring, and the Lot of Low-Skilled Workers

Krenz, A., Prettner, K., Strulik, H. (2021), European Economic Review

Digital automation and the future of work

Spencer, D., Cole, M., Joyce, S., Whittaker, X. and Stuart, M. (2021) Scientific Foresight Unit, Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament

HRM and the COVID-19 pandemic: How can we stop making a bad situation worse?

Butterick, M., Charlwood, A. (2021), Human Resource Management Journal

Will digitalisation of work worsen caste inequalities in India?

22 April 2024

Sudipa Sarkar and colleagues discuss their research into the possible impact of technological change on existing caste inequalities in India.

The dark side of social media influencer work

25 March 2024

Michael Beverland discusses his research into how social media influencers monetise their lifestyles.

Six ways that artificial intelligence will shape the future role of HR professionals

20 March 2024

Maarten Renkema and colleagues discuss their research exploring how artificial intelligence is reshaping the work of HR professionals.

What tourism content creators tell us about the future of work

12 March 2024

Stephanie Garrison and Claire Wallace discuss their research into the nature of work undertaken by travel content creators.

Effectively integrating human work with artificial intelligence

4 March 2024

Daniel Friel argues that AI is only capable of performing standardised tasks and that it is how we interact with AI, rather than AI per se, that will determine our future.

What role can local government play in the future of warehousing work?

23 January 2024

Abbie Winton, Charles Umney and Gabreilla Alberti on how technologies are changing warehousing work and what role can local government can play in its future.

Research identifies the four email management strategies that work… and why

6 December 2023

Dr Emma Russell explores the four ‘super’ work-email actions identified in her research.

Deliveroo judgment shows how gig economy platforms and courts are eroding workers’ rights

4 December 2023

Steve Rolf and Jacqueline O’Reilly say gig economy workers are less protected as more companies create benefits packages for self-employed workers. Originally published in The Conversation.

AI at work: can experts map the future?

24 July 2023

Will AI replace the humane in HR performance assessments, lead to a further boom in gig work or freeze worker voice in disputes?

What impact did Furlough Policies have on Workers’ Mental Health?

31 March 2023

Ioulia Bessa on new research comparing the wellbeing of those who experienced reduced working hours, or who stopped work completely, with those who continued to work full-time.

How to make automation work for workers

14 March 2023

David Spencer argues that if workers and society rather than big tech companies such as Amazon are to benefit from automation, they need to have a larger influence and stake in it.

Digital Presenteeism: The Pressure to be seen in the Virtual Office

21 February 2023

Laura Jarvis-King on how office workers, who once took care to be seen at their desks, are now adopting new forms of ‘digital’ presenteeism to signal their constant availability.

Four ways digital technologies are changing strategy-making

2 February 2023

Enabled by digital technologies, so-called ‘open strategy’ initiatives are showing greater transparency and inclusion.

Which skills are the skills of the future? That might depend on you!

12 January 2023

Fabian Stephany on why the value of learning a new skill is relative, as it depends on what we already know.

Disability, neurodivergence and remote working: what employers need to know…

21 November 2022

Dr Christine Grant and colleagues outline four steps employers can take to develop truly inclusive remote working practices.

Employers’ responses to the end of free movement: the rhetoric and realities of automation

8 November 2022

Chris Forde and colleagues consider whether automation offers a solution to post-Brexit migrant labour shortages as envisaged in some policy discourse.

‘They all know how to use their phones at home!’ Normalising and undervaluing digital skills in complex social care work

19 October 2022

Kendra Briken and colleagues on how the acquisition of new digital skills by social carers goes unrecognised, undervalued and unrewarded by managers.

Remote for All: Time to Include People with Disability and/or Neurodiversity in the Remote Working Discussion

21 June 2022

Remote working seems to offer a means to increase inclusion for workers with neurodiversity and/or disability, however, employers, line managers and colleagues may lack awareness, knowledge and understanding of the reasonable adjustments that are needed.

Lighter work for all

14 June 2022

The goals of both better and less work require us to rethink and reorganise work as well as technology, and to adopt new ideas about what it means to work and live well in society. 

Researching AI video interviews from a human perspective

7 June 2022

How are AVIs perceived by young job-seekers and do they contribute to an extra level of anxiety within the job seeking process?

Five questions about the future of work in blockchain

30 May 2022

Jobs in blockchain are a growing part of the labour market—but what are these jobs and do workers have the skills to do them?

Levelling up or levelling down gig work? Three reasons why platforms are offering privatised social and employment protections

10 May 2022

What is motivating platform firms to introduce private social and employment protection provisions for nominally self-employed workers?

Long-term care in the gig economy

4 May 2022

Advances in digital technologies have led to the development of a flourishing platform economy in the provision of long-term personal care at home.

Guiding principles for leaders of newly formed virtual teams

27 April 2022

Virtual teams are not a new phenomenon, so what can leaders of newly virtual teams learn from what we already know from the pre-pandemic context?

Rise of worker surveillance software

8 March 2022

How should we understand and respond to new technologies that enable workers to be monitored in new ways?

Three unanswered questions about the EU Directive on gig work

8 February 2022

Will the 'theoretical’ protection for platform workers offered by the new EU Directive translate into effective protection in practice?

“We organise in under ten minutes”: Rise of Germany’s wildcat strikers

1 February 2022

How a grassroots collective of delivery riders is challenging the German unicorn e-commerce company, Gorillas

Is the ‘right to disconnect’ a red herring?

24 January 2022

Right-to-disconnect policies are gaining traction but are they a distraction from the real problem—too much work?

Moving beyond lip service on work life balance: are UK workers being left behind on the right to disconnect?

17 January 2022

As countries across Europe introduce additional protections around working time, should the UK follow in their footsteps?

Can digital resale clothing platforms provide a stable income for young people in the UK?

14 December 2021

Some online marketplaces emphasise environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices but does this translate into material differences in the nature of work?

Coworking in the country: sign of a healthy rural economy?

6 December 2021

Can new models of hybrid-working act as a catalyst for the expansion of rural coworking spaces?

What has been happening to labour laws around the world?

7 December 2023

Professor Simon Deakin and colleagues present some of the trends and patterns revealed by the updated CBR Labour Regulation Index.

Working from home after COVID-19

23 November 2022

Pawel Adrjan asks how increasing and declining pandemic severity has influenced advertised telework from 2019 to today?

Shaping the Future of Work: An Activist Research Agenda

16 November 2022

Professor Thomas Kochan asks how researchers can take an activist role in studying how to best design and use technology for the common good.

Can we talk about strategic Human Resource Management in the gig economy?

12 October 2022

Professor Fang Lee Cooke provides an overview of research on digitally enabled gig employment and the implications for human resource management research and practice.

Is AI taking our jobs? Lessons from a survey of UK business leaders

16 March 2022

What can a survey of UK business leaders tell us about the impact of AI on jobs?

Threat or opportunity? (Social) media perspectives on AI and the future of work

9 March 2022

What can online discussions about AI and the future of work tell us about how the impacts and possible futures are understood?

Can HR adapt to artificial intelligence?

23 February 2022

How can the HR profession shape the future to put fairness and ethics at the heart of AI development and use?

Digit Debates: Do workers need a legal right to disconnect?

24 November 2021

Our Digit Debates Right to Disconnect panel, comprised of experts from law, academia, trade unionism and journalism, discuss whether workers should have the right to disconnect.

Digit Debates: Decoding employment status

3 February 2021

Simon Deakin discusses the classification of work relations.

Digit research on neurodiversity and remote working presented to Parliament

3 May 2024

The research project, Remote for All, was supported by the Digit Innovation Fund and explored the impact of remote e-working for Disabled and/or Neurodivergent workers.

Amazon still seems hell bent on turning workers into robots – here’s a better way forward – David Spencer in the Conversation

13 March 2023

Professor David Spencer has written a new article for The Conversation about ongoing strikes by Amazon workers protesting about pay, long hours and surveillance systems.

Call for papers: Summer School on digital transformation and its impact on workers

23 February 2023

WZB Berlin Social Science Center and the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre are holding a Summer School in Berlin on 18th and 19th May 2023.  

Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology cites Digit-funded research

16 January 2023

Research into the remote e-working experiences of Disabled and Neurodivergent Workers, supported by Digit's Innovation Fund, has been cited in a new briefing from the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.

Job opportunity: Research Fellow – Cambridge

16 September 2022

The University of Cambridge is seeking to appoint a new Research Fellow (Research Associate or Research Assistant) to work on a project exploring employment regulation and the digitalisation of work as part of Digit.

Coworking and the Future of Work – Extending the Debate Research and Stakeholder Workshop – 21-22 October 2022, Brighton

5 August 2022

Are you doing research on any aspect of coworking and coworking spaces and the future of work?

Digit Co-Director to give keynote at BAM HR Management conference

23 March 2022

Professor Jacqueline O’Reilly will be a keynote speaker at the BAM Human Resource Management SIG International Symposium in June 2022.

Digit co-lead quoted in the New Statesman

14 February 2022

Digit co-lead Dr. Emma Russell was quoted in an article in the New Statesman on: The development dip: Has remote working stopped us learning?

Digit researcher co-authors report on Working from Home

12 April 2021

Digit Co-Investigator, Professor Debra Howcroft, has co-authored a report on working from home (WFH) for the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).

Return to the office? Mark Stuart quoted in BBC article

30 March 2021

Digit Co-Director, Professor Mark Stuart, is quoted in an article by the BBC discussing the future for remote working as Covid-19 vaccinations are rolled out.

Digit researchers’ report for the European Parliament argues for a new ‘Digital Social Contract’

8 March 2021

Digit researchers have produced a report for the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) that argues for a new ‘Digital Social Contract’ to address the rapid technological progress underway in modern capitalist economies.   

Call for papers: Digit researchers edit special issue of Cambridge Journal of Economics

2 March 2021

Digit researchers have issued a call for papers for a special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Economics on the Future of Work and Working Time.

Agile working and working from home – Digit researcher Dr Emma Russell co-edits new book

9 February 2021

Dr Emma Russell has co-edited a groundbreaking new book on agile working and working from home, Agile Working and Well-Being in the Digital Age.

Agile Working and Wellbeing in the Digital Age

10 September 2020

Emma Russell's new book is soon to be published.

From Emergency to Empowerment – special Soldo report featuring Digit researchers

14 July 2020

A new Special Report from Soldo discussing the future of hybrid-remote working

Harnessing the power of home working

21 May 2020

Emma Russell and Chidi Ogbonnaya discuss the power of home working.

More trust, less fuss!

20 May 2020

Digit Co-Director Prof. Jackie O'Reilly discusses remote working in this interview with Soldo.

Digit’s Brendan Burchell discusses Covid-19 and working time in this video and blog

19 May 2020

Blog - Brendan Burchell discusses Covid-19 and working time.

In an interview for Soldo magazine, Digit Co-Director Mark Stuart talks about ‘Rewriting the Social Contract’

4 May 2020

Mark Stuart discusses Mark discusses how remote working is no longer a nice-to-have.