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Is ‘flexible’ work flexible enough to be adapted to people’s routines and preferences?

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr Sandy Gould, Dr Katarzyna Stawarz  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

You might have heard of the idea of ‘morning’ people and ‘evening’ people, or ‘larks’ and ‘owls’. We know these circadian rhythms play a role in for example, performance at School. A 9-5 job suits some people’s rhythms better than others.

One of the promises of the ‘future of work’ is that technology-mediated work platforms and remote work will give people more control over where and when they work. Could this flexibility give ‘owls’ and ‘larks’ the chance to be productive at times that best suit them?

Work has changed substantially and very quickly over the last year and answering questions about the ability of flexible working technology to serve workers’ needs is imperative if these changes are going to have a positive and lasting effect.

Project goals

The goal of the project is to understand relations between flexible work technologies and people’s daily rhythms, work preferences and routines. To do this, the project will need to:

·    Build a deep understanding of flexible work technologies, especially the gap between what these tools promise and what they actually deliver;

·    Empirically explore the connection between people’s circadian rhythms and work flexibility; and

·    Develop new knowledge about the connections between working routines, flexible work technologies and rhythms.

The project could focus on different working contexts, for example where flexibility is ostensibly built-in (crowdsourcing platform work) and/or in more traditional forms of work where the nature of flexible work is changing.


The project will make use of empirical methods to understand people’s attitudes and behaviours in relation to work, routines and technology. Methods will adapt to the prior experience of the successful applicant, but could include:

·      Telemetry-based data collection from digital devices (e.g., to understand people’s daily working patterns)

·      Field experiments/interventions (e.g., to test whether theory-led changes to routines can be supported by technology)

·      Diary collection

·      Questionnaires (e.g., to understand workers’ attitudes toward flexible work technology)

·      Interviews and focus groups

The supervisors will support the successful applicant in developing research methods skills suitable for conducting high-quality mixed-methods and multidisciplinary research.

Keywords: Work, flexible work technologies, platform work, crowdwork, gig economy, habits, routines, circadian rhythms

For more information about the project, please contact Sandy Gould PhD Student Supervision (

Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject or a 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree in a behavioural science (e.g., psychology). Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

How to apply:

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below

Please submit your application before the application deadline 29th April 2022 via Computer Science and Informatics - Study - Cardiff University

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 

  • Supporting statement 
  • CV 
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD
  • In the funding field of your application, insert “I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship in Computer Science and Informatics”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

Interview - If the application meets the entrance requirements, you will be invited to an interview

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD Scholarship is available for entry 2022/23.
In the Funding field of your application, insert "I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship" and specify the project title and supervisor of this project in the fields provided.


Stawarz et al. (2020) What influences the selection of contextual cues when starting a new routine behaviour? BMC Psychology
Lascau et al. (2019) Monotasking or Multitasking: Designing for Crowdworkers’ Preferences. ACM CHI
Rudnicka et al. (2020) Eworklife: Developing effective strategies for remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Future of Work Microsoft Symposium.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Computer Science and Informatics?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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