Creativity Greenhouse: Family Rituals 2.0

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Computing Sciences

Abstract

Work can demand time away from home. For some employees being away from home might be a few days on a frequent basis, for others it may be much longer periods. Being away from home can impact on family life and participation in family rituals, creating a challenge to managing the competing demands of work and life. Information and communication technologies assist in overcoming the barrier of distance, between the absent worker and family.

This research will focus on mobile workers across a number of different employment sectors (for example, technology, construction, and tourism industries, and the armed forces). It will look at both family and organisational practices.

The research will find out what mobile workers and their family members consider to be family rituals (both secular and religious) and why it is important for these family members to share these moments together. Specifically, it will seek to understand what those rituals might be in different types of family setting. It will look at the role of existing digital technologies in supporting families to engage in such shared ritual activities.

The research will also explore, through a series of design-led activities, what the challenges and opportunities are for technology use in these family settings. And then, in close collaboration with the families, the project will design and develop some novel prototype digital technologies. This approach will use both high- and low-tech designs which participating families will live with and use, helping us to further explore the role of potential technologies in supporting remote engagement in family rituals.

Alongside working with families, the research will also find out how organisations consider the work-life balance of their mobile employees, and how these organisations may assist in helping a family to connect whilst the employee is away from home. These organisations will be invited to attend a workshop at the end of the project, to learn about the research findings, and debate how the outcomes should be taken forward in future research and their potential impact on the organisations.

Planned Impact

Family Rituals 2.0 brings a new multidisciplinary perspective to the topic of work-life balance, by examining how technology can enhance connection to family rituals for those family members who are located elsewhere due to work commitments (mobile workers).

The research impact will firstly enrich academic knowledge on work-life balance with a new multidisciplinary perspective on this topic; secondly, promote new understandings for stakeholders (e.g. employers, trade associations, support groups, etc) on work-life balance for mobile workers; and thirdly, demonstrate the technological opportunities that can support mobile workers through design probes and technological prototyping.

The creation of a multidisciplinary research group through this funding will develop new conceptual framings of work-life balance and digital technologies, and promote innovative research methodologies to examine the topic. The investment will benefit the career development of early career researcher through knowledge and skills building, and shape future research funding bids.

The impact to the wider academic community will be delivered through dissemination to the academic community. Findings will be published in a series of high quality peer reviewed journal papers and presented at technology, design, and social science academic conferences. Concurrently findings from the research will be dissemination through the work-life balance network.

The societal impact will be generated by engaging stakeholders within the research process, and packaging research knowledge appropriately to foster reflection and debate on the research topic.

The end of project workshop will be an awareness raising event with a diverse set of stakeholders, not only to deliver research perspectives on family life and work-life balance, but also to demonstrate emergent technological prototypes. The research team see this event as springboard for future research and development relationships, thus ensuring a research legacy beyond the duration of the proposed funding period.

The team has integrated non-academic dissemination into the work plan to engage a broader audience by publishing short articles in generalist and interest publications.

The technological impact will be made through the relationship between the social research methods and technological prototyping. Here the depth understandings of existing technology use by mobile workers to connect to family members, and identification of problems in existing communication offers, will be translated to develop solutions that respond to real life problems. The research intends that combination of social and technical knowledge developed will offer opportunities for future technological development beyond the project timeframe.
 
Title A Message in a Jam 
Description 'A Message in a Jam' is the product of our design research. Led by Research Associate David Chatting this 'Ritual Machine' has been developed as a phatic technology to support moments of connection between remote workers and their distant family. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has been presented internally at Newcastle University and externally at the Science Gallery at Dublin and at the Royal College of Art as part of the London Design Festival. 
 
Title Anticipation of Time Together 
Description 'Anticipation of Time Together' is the product of our design research. Led by Research Associate David Chatting this 'Ritual Machine' has been developed as a phatic technology to support moments of connection between remote workers and their distant family. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has been presented internally at Newcastle University and externally at the Science Gallery at Dublin and at the Royal College of Art as part of the London Design Festival. Detailed observations of user engagement have been collected and written up for publication. 
 
Title Connecting Through Housework 
Description 'Connecting Through Housework' is the product of our design research. Led by Research Associate David Chatting this 'Ritual Machine' has been developed as a phatic technology to support moments of connection between remote workers and their distant family. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has been presented internally at Newcastle University and externally at the Science Gallery at Dublin and at the Royal College of Art as part of the London Design Festival. Detailed observations of user engagement have been collected and written up for publication. 
 
Title Drinking Together Whilst Apart 
Description 'Drinking Together Whilst Apart' is the product of our design research. Led by Research Associate David Chatting this 'Ritual Machine' has been developed as a phatic technology to support moments of connection between remote workers and their distant family. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This work has been presented internally at Newcastle University and externally at Sheffield University, the Science Gallery at Dublin and at the Royal College of Art as part of the London Design Festival. Detailed observations of user engagement have been collected and written up for publication. 
 
Title Family Rituals 2.0: Apparatus for Domestic Rituals 
Description Exhibition as part of London Design Festival (2015) at Royal College of Art, 19-24th September 2015 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Some press coverage 
 
Title Our Machines 2 
Description The Anticipation Machine from Family Rituals 2.0 was included in the group exhibition Our machines 2, held at Brighton University as par of the Brighton Digital Festival. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The festival attracted an international audience. The Anticipation machine would b the ony work exhibited from a design research project. All other exhibits originated from arts practice. 
URL http://ourmachines.blogspot.co.uk/
 
Title Ritual Machines from the Family Rituals 2.0 Project 
Description HOME|SICK Exhibition, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, May1st-July 19th 2015 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Some press coverage 
 
Title Where Are You? 
Description 'Where Are You?' is the product of our design research. Led by Research Associate David Chatting this 'Ritual Machine' has been developed as a phatic technology to support moments of connection between remote workers and their distant family. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has been presented internally at Newcastle University and externally at the Royal College of Art as part of the London Design Festival. 
 
Description Our research project has explored the design and development of new interactive devices to support specific families working away from home for extended periods of time. We have developed a detailed understanding of how to design novel artefacts for these scenarios and have generated a variety of example technologies. Our social science research has also worked to understand the implications of HR and management practice on the within organisation management of alternative working arrangements in which people act as remote workers. We have uncovered various ways in which organisations support remote working and the attitudes and self-management practices that remote workers engage in, during periods of remote work.
Exploitation Route Our work will develop design inspiration for those interested in the development of communications technologies to support future remote working practices.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Transport
URL https://familyrituals2-0.org.uk/
 
Description Our work has been included in several gallery exhibitions, was part of London Design Festival, was invited for demonstration/discussion at a Digital Weekend at the V&A Museum and has been included in popular press in the UK (Northern Correspondent) and online in Germany (designreport.de).
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description Inclusive HCI
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Cambridge 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2013 
End 08/2015
 
Description Digital Families Scottish Insight Institute Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Research presentation a the Digital Families workshop organized by the Scottish Insight Institute involving a mixed audience (e.g. health visitors, media policy makers, academics, etc). The event had some break out sessions focusing on particular themes from the collective presentations, from which position papers will be written by the conveners. The presentations are available on the website, and soundbites were videoed for a film. This only happened at the end of Feb (26/2/2016) so the impact is difficult to measure at this stage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.crfr.ac.uk/digital-families-across-the-lifecourse/
 
Description Digital Research in Humanities and Arts (DRHA) 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Anticipation Machine from the Family Rituals 2.0 project was included in the group exhibition Our Machines 2 held at the University of Brighton as part of the Brighton Digital Festival 2016. I was invited to conribute to a panel discussion on the exhibition for the Digital Research in Arts and Humanities Conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.drha2016.com/
 
Description Participation in Visual Death and Dying workshop at Sheffield University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of ideas led to invitation to collaborate in an ESRC project proposal submission.

A proposal is currently in the early stages of preparation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Participation in Work-Life Balance network retreat 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interaction led to a variety of conversations and exploration of potential shared interests and publication opportunities.

Significant enthusiasm from Network partners to repeat activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The Ethnography of Absence: Mapping Emotions. Interactive workshop (Copenhagen, Denmark) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This interactive workshop was held as a methodological expereince of the Family Rituals 2.0 project. It was given to conference delegates over three sessions that included 25 delegates per session (total 75).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://kadk.dk/en/research-network-design-anthropology/conference-design-anthropological-futures