March 13, 2024

Does technology use impact UK workers’ quality of life?

This report is based on new research that has been done for the Pissarides Review to improve our understanding of the effect that exposure to new workplace technologies is having on workers' quality of life. Based on a survey of nearly 5000 UK workers, it has, for the first time, been done with reference to the most widely accepted, multidimensional measure of health-related quality of life and wellbeing, EuroQol EQ-5D-3L.

Read a concise Briefing Paper summarising this work here.

In the past, concepts of wellbeing have tended to be poorly conceptualised, resulting in, for example, general findings about ‘stress’ and ‘burnout’ but little insight into the causes or consequences of that stress. Additionally, most past studies have taken a very narrow view of technology types, making it difficult to disentangle these links. This new work attempts to address both of those weaknesses.

The adoption of new automation technologies and AI systems is happening rapidly across all sectors of the UK economy. As we have highlighted, for a long time public policy has principally cared about technology leading to people losing their jobs. Less attention has been given to how technologies that people are exposed to at work are impacting their quality of life.

How people feel about work is important; work is a golden thread that runs through individual lives, communities and economies, binding together people’s talents, capabilities and collaborations. This is why the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing - funded by the Nuffield Foundation - marries these two terms together. Our work and our wellbeing - individually and corporately - are interconnected, and as the future of work is impacted by new technologies, so we must pay due attention to wellbeing impacts at work.

This new research improves our understanding of the associations between exposure to different workplace technologies and workers' quality of life.

Key findings include:

  • Significant variation in employees’ quality of life correlated to increased levels of exposure to different workplace technologies.
  • Quality of life positively correlated with frequency of interaction with ICT such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and real-time messaging tools increased.
  • Quality of life negatively correlated with frequency of interaction with newer workplace technologies such as wearables, robotics, AI and ML software, rose.
  • Perceived rights at work, and HR philosophies that emphasise employee wellbeing, have a positive correlation with quality of life.
"As new technologies rapidly reach further into our working lives it is vital that we understand how our interactions with them impact our quality of life. This new report for the Review that I am leading into the future of work and wellbeing adds significantly to our knowledge in this area. Importantly, it does so with reference to widely-validated quality of life and technology exposure measures, thus offering - for the first time - new depths and breadths of insight, that also suggest rich areas for further work." - Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Laureate and lead on the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing
“This pioneering study shows clearly how new technology can damage workers’ wellbeing - unless employers explicitly ensure it does not.” - Lord Richard Layard, programme director of the Centre for Economic Performance, and co-editor of the World Happiness Report
“This flagship report for IFOW’s Pissarides Review interrogates the relationship between the exposure of AI and other automation technologies, human capabilities and quality of life for the first time. At a critical juncture, when government, policymakers and business leaders are often struggling to understand the social and wider impacts and implications of new technologies, the survey and analysis, led by Dr Magda Soffia and published today, reveals the extent of variation and trade-offs in people’s experience and their quality of life across the country. The report has significant implications for technology, health and work policy in the run-up to the General Election, inviting a much more nuanced, joined-up, participatory and systematic approach to policymaking.” - Anna Thomas, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Institute for the Future of Work

Read the ReportRead the Report


Dr Magdalena Soffia, Professor Jolene Skordis, Rolando Leiva-Granados and Xingzuo Zhou

Publication type



Pissarides Review into the Future of Work

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