Rachel Macrorie (and co-organisers Faye Wade (UCL), Kathryn Buchanan (University of Essex), and Roxana Morosanu (University of Loughborough) led a successful working party symposium on the 26th and 27th November sponsored by the Urban Institute, at the University of Sheffield.

Following a networking grant award (by the EPSRC Creativity Greenhouse: Balance Network, Exploring Work-Life Balance in the Digital Economy), this event formed the first in a series of collaborative and interdisciplinary activities.

The aim of the event was to bring together early career researchers, and representatives from policy, industry and the third sector, to discuss the changing rhythms, routines, and relationships associated with the increasing adoption of digital technologies into everyday life. In particular, the workshop aimed to consider how the incorporation of digital technologies into daily life might influence patterns of energy demand.

Attendees included academics from the; Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability (PBES) Research Network, the Balance Network, the Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand (DEMAND) Centre, TEDDINET, and the British Environment Psychology Society. Invited representatives from industry and key speakers included: Ian Preston (Head of Household Energy Services, Centre for Sustainable Energy), Matthew Lipson (Head of Consumer Insight, Energy Technologies Institute), and Jeremy Yapp (Deputy Director, BEAMA).

This interactive two-day workshop provided the opportunity for invitees to present their research interests, debate points of intersection, and consider how these perspectives help to respond to pertinent ‘real world’ challenges. In particular, fantastic discussions were had during the interactive video sessions that (i) compared ideas of smart presented by Samsung SmartThings and Uninvited guests by Superflux Lab for the ThingTank project, and (ii) sought to encourage academic partnerships through speed-dating!

The symposium enabled a rich series of topics probing the role of digital technologies in everyday life and energy demand to be identified. These will be explored over the coming months during a series of webinars, with a view to developing a set of collaborative thinking notes.

The thinking note collection will be published online and will be presented on Monday June 27th 2016 at the ‘Beyond Balance: how digital technologies are affecting our work, our homes and everything in between’ event, co-hosted by the Balance Network and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place, London.