Researchers in Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) School of Health Sciences, in collaboration with the Irish Work Study Institute and a number of European Universities have begun working on an EU funded project to address concerns of work-life balance since the onset of COVID-19. Remote working has become the norm for many the past year and, while it has its advantages, employees have struggled to  separate work and home life in the same physical space.

The EU Erasmus Plus funded project, WORK-LIFE-FLOW: Excellence based profiling to identify and apply tools and training for a better and sustainable Work-Life-Flow (WLF)’ aims to foster positive wellbeing by promoting a dynamic equilibrium or ‘flow’ between an individual’s professional and social lives. To do this WLF will develop two tools that employers and employees can use: 1) a self- and company assessment tool to diagnose challenges and demands of remote work, resources, and wellbeing, and 2) a blended e-learning tool for employees to help manage their challenges of remote work and increase resources to come to a positive work-life-flow. 

Led by the University of Barcelona, Spain, the WLF consortium consists of seven partners from higher education institutions and businesses across five European countries; Portugal, Ireland, Germany, Kosovo, and Spain. Leading the Irish component of the project is the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Safety Management Systems (IIESMS). 

Prof John Wells, the WLF lead from the School of Health Sciences in WIT, stresses the importance of the project. “Never has a project about the relationship between work and home life been more timely and more needed. The psychological and physical challenges as to how people manage their home space as their regular workspace has been one of the defining features of the pandemic, particularly onerous for those who also have children at home. It’s a feature of 21st-century life that is likely to grow not to recede after the pandemic impacts are finally contained. As such the WLF project is proactively thinking about this future and coming up with practical aids. I am delighted that WIT, along with the IIESMS, is placing Ireland in the foreground of this future-thinking approach.” 

Donal Nolan, Director of Development at the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Safety Management Systems and Irish Work Study Institute Ltd echoed Prof Wells comments on the timeliness of the project and added, “the results of this project will form the basis for how work is designed in modern times, ensuring a safe and productive work-life flow that meets the expectations of both employees and employers.”