Work / Life Ecologies

The Work / Life Ecologies Project aims to understand staff and students’ broader lifestyles as part of a work-life ecology, occurring a cross a range of spaces, both physical and virtual. In using the term work-life ecology, rather than the more common term ‘work-life balance’, we argue that these two realms have become interrelated in contemporary society. The opportunities for these domains to infiltrate each other are increasing, be it through attending to email after hours, or through flexible work arrangements.

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  • One of the key findings of the Work Life Ecologies Project is that academic collaboration often entails physical co-presence, and that this is one of the main reasons academics undertake air travel. This aligns with research into business travel more generally, as professionals often use air travel to meet partners and clients.
    This raises the question: to what extent can work be performed remotely, without the need for frequent travel?

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  • Bhavna Middha, one of the recipients of the Sustainable Urban Precinct Program’s PhD scholarship, as a part of its work-life ecologies project, has recently completed and passed her PhD examination with flying colours.

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  • In our research on academic air travel, we learned that one of the main reasons academics go to conferences is for the opportunity to interact with other academics in an informal setting. Academics commonly cited the conversations they have during conference breaks and meals as being particularly beneficial for professional and personal networking. But given that eating meals is such an embodied and material experience, what would it look like to experience that remotely? Can we really eat a meal with someone on the opposite side of the world in the same way as though they were sitting next to us?

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  • Have you ever wanted to attend a conference that was right up your alley, but just couldn’t find a way to get there? Perhaps the flights were too expensive, and you or your employer didn’t feel it was worth the time and money to make the trip. You may have caring obligations where spending multiple days away from home just isn’t feasible. In either case, you would miss the event.

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  • The last few decades have seen the increasingly pervasive use of the term ‘smart’ when it comes to technologies and the built environment. Technology is the material backbone and sustainability a significant aspiration for the designers and organisations developing and occupying ‘smart’ built environments. Allister Hill’s project aims to address the relationship between materiality, space and sustainability in what may be considered a ‘smart’ building – RMIT’s ‘Swanson Academic Building’ (the SAB). The SAB, located on an inner urban university campus, is a 5-star Green Star rated, multi-award winning and hailed as a successful example of a technologically innovative and sustainable building.

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