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Mobility in the digital era


More of our time and activities have shifted towards the digital arena. Now this is starting to influence the way we travel – or do not travel – to our workplaces with implications for everyday life. A group of human geographers at the School of Business, Economics and Law are studying how we move in time and urban space.

Illustration of mobility

There has long been an expectation that the development of digital possibilities will increase the amount of telework. However, the larger changes have only just started to be reflected in statistics.

“Since a few years, there is actually an increase. In one of our projects, we are looking at the impact of when the boundaries between personal and professional life become increasingly blurred as more of us begin to work from home or while we are commuting,” says Bertil Vilhelmson, professor and leader of the research group for mobility.

Is urban space changing?

One idea of telework is that it is possible to live far away from city centres and workplaces, yet still participate in the labour market.

“We are also conducting a research project in which we are looking at how spatial conditions play a part. Interestingly enough, there is a lot to suggest that distance work takes place in relatively dense regional structures. We are curious about how an increase in work at a distance can affect urban areas and long-term urban planning that aims towards increased density. Our towns and cities have become considerably spread out as car travel has changed transport possibilities,” says researcher Erik Elldér.

Where has time gone?

Another research project examines how daily time spending and management are affected as we focus more on virtual communication.

“There has been a phenomenal increase in screen time, not just amongst young people. In the home alone, we spend two hours per day on internet-based activities. Ten years ago, this was just 15 minutes. We want to know what activities are being pushed aside; at what places, and if we are developing increased fragmentation or changes to social contact patterns,” says associate professor Eva Thulin.


A research group in human geography at the Department of Economy and Society. The group researches urban and regional planning issues related to people’s everyday travel and how we use information and communication technology to reach other places.

This is an article from the School's Magazine 2017.