top of page


Below are details of the latest research being conducted by agiLab

Understanding experiences of agile working amongst different groups in the NHS

With the move to agile working arrangements for many in the NHS, worker groups may be experiencing quite different feelings and attitudes about what they (and their colleagues) are doing. Those working in clinical roles may be reporting that the blurring of boundaries between where, when and how they work has been accompanied by work intensification and an expectation to pick up the work of unavailable colleagues. Far from being ‘agile’ they may feel compelled to do more, more often, as services struggle to recover from the pandemic. Those working in non-clinical roles may now be working in different settings and at different times (often off-site and from home). Whilst potentially more convenient, this may lead to feelings of isolation and abandonment, with concerns about the costs involved in sustaining their own work infrastructure within non-work locations. In this research project (funded by NHS Confederation), we examine how clinical and non-clinical groups experience and perceive agile working, the emotions it conveys and its impact on attitudes. Findings will be used to help understand how best to organise and communicate agile working arrangements across the NHS.

Project Leads: Emma Russell (Sussex) & Smadar Cohen-Chen (Sussex)

Understanding the agile working needs of lower socio-economic status workers

This research project, funded by NHS Employers used qualitative research methods to investigate the agile working experiences of workers from a lower socio-economic status (SES) background. NHS leaders and trade union colleagues were concerned that lower SES workers experienced more challenges than other workers to access and adjust to agile work. We interviewed lower SES workers, stakeholders and employers and found that ‘appreciation’ was a key factor that influenced the experiences of low SES workers engaged in agile work. Experience of appreciation was also found to be symbolic of the value and worth that low SES workers perceived in their roles. Workers reported that feeling appreciated was associated with feeling seen, being heard and significant others (governments, leaders) taking action. Read the detailed report to understand what appreciation in agile working means for low SES workers. We also share recommendations that employers can put in place in order to embed appreciation in agile work. Members can access the report in the members section here

Project Leads: Deepali Dmello (Sussex), Hannah Tibbutt (Sussex), Emma Russell (Sussex)

Agile Leadership in the NHS

In this research project, funded by the NHS Leadership Academy (Alison Jennings) we investigated how leaders can facilitate effective agile working for workers in the NHS. We found that ‘Professional Intimacy’ is a key interpersonal resource interpersonal resource that allows workers to feel heard, acknowledged, appreciated and cared for. In this research, we found that when leaders had Professional Intimacy with their teams reciprocal trust, a sense of camaraderie and dedication, empathy and compassion were enjoyed. When PI was reported to be absent, workers reported issues with lower well-being, mental health difficulties, a sense of isolation, and intentions to quit. Read our research report to find out more about this fascinating concept, and for practical tips on how the NHS can now work towards fostering Professional Intimacy for leaders and their teams.  Members can access this report in the members' section here Project Leads: Emma Russell (Sussex), Zahira Jaser (Sussex), Alison Jennings (NHS Leadership Academy), Jay McCloskey (Sussex)

Our latest research publications

See some of our very latest research publications looking at aspects of agile working. Copy and paste any of the following papers into GOOGLE Scholar for links and access, or contact us.

Russell, E., Jackson, T.W., Fullman, M. & Chamakiotis, P. (2023). Getting on top of work-email: A systematic review of 25 years of research to understand effective work-email activity. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/joop.12462

Russell, E. and Grant, C. (forthcoming). Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to facilitate effectiveness and well-being for agile workers. In G. Kinman and P. Brough (Eds.), Wellbeing at Work in a Turbulent Era. Edward Elgar.

Daniels, K.A., Russell, E., Michaelides, G., Nasamu, E. & Connolly, S. (2023). The measurement of stress and wellbeing at work. In: Cooper, C. and Lapierre, L.M. (Eds), Organisational Stress and Well-Being. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace, C., Mytna-Kurekova, L., Leon, M., O’Reilly, J., Blome, C., Bussi, M., Faith, V., Finney, M., Leschke, J., Ruffa, C., Russell, E., Schoyen, M.A., Thurer, M., Unt, M. & Verdin, R. (2023). Community versus Governmentality: The Impact of the COVID Lockdowns. International Journal of Community Wellbeing.

Bosworth, G., Whalley, J., Merrell, I., Fuzi, A., Chapman, P. & Russell, E. (2023). Rural co-working: New network spaces and new opportunities for a smart countryside. Journal of Rural Studies. DOI:

Russell, E., Murphy, C. and Terry, E. (2022). What Leaders need to know before trying a 4-day week. Harvard Business Review.

Merrell, I., Fuezi, A., Russell, E. and Bosworth, G. (2022). How rural coworking hubs can facilitate well-being through the satisfaction of key psychological needs. Local Economy. DOI: 10.1177/02690942221075598

Russell, E., Woods, S.A. and Banks, A.P. (2021). Does Extraversion predict energy levels after dealing with work-email? European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 31(3), 440-452. DOI:

Russell, E., Daniels, K.A., Jackson, T. & Fullman, M. (2021). The work-habits intervention model: a 12-month study to change work-email habits. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 94 (4), 808-835. DOI:

Russell, E., Jackson T.W. and Banks, A.P. (2021). Classifying computer-mediated communication (CMC) interruptions at work using control as a key delineator. Behaviour and Information Technology, 40 (2), 191-205. DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2019.1683606

Russell, E., McDowall, A. & Hough, L. (2020). The fair and appropriate testing of disabled candidates using psychological testing. Assessment and Development Matters, 12, 29-37.

Grant, C. and Russell, E. (Eds.) (2020). Agile working and well-being in the digital age. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Russell, E. and Woods, S.A. (2020). Personality differences as predictors of action-goal relationships in work-email activity. Computers in Human Behavior, 103, 67-79.

Russell, E., Lloyd-Houldey, A., Memon, A. and Yarker, J. (2019). Factors influencing uptake and use of a new health information app for young-people. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 36 (4), 222-240.

Russell, E. and Daniels, K.A. (2018). Measuring affective wellbeing at work using short-form scales: implications for affective structures and participant instructions. Human Relations, 71 (11), 1478-1511.

Russell, E., Woods, S.A. and Banks, A.P. (2017). Examining conscientiousness as a key resource in resisting email interruptions: implications for volatile resources and goal achievement. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90 (3), 407-435.

Remote4All: supporting neurodiverse and disabled workers in working from home

In this ESRC Digit funded research project, workers with a range of disabilities and neurodiverse conditions (along with key stakeholders and support groups) are being interviewed about their experiences of working from home. We will be asking what have they found useful about working from home, and what have been their biggest challenges? How have employers and stakeholders provided support and what more is there to do? What resources do people with neurodiverse and disabled conditions need to facilitate and support this type of work in the future? You can read more about this project here Project Lead: Chris Grant (Coventry); Co-I: Maria Charalampous (Cyprus); Carlo Tramontano (Coventry); Emma Russell

Does moving to a 4-day week create neurobiological changes for workers?

In this research, workers moving to a 4-day week on full pay are examined in terms of whether this change is associated with improved subjective changes to their work experience (lower stress, better engagement and satisfaction, etc.) and also in changes to neurobiological systems associated with stress and fatigue. MRI brain scanners are used to monitor, alongside surveys and time-use data over a 14-week period. Project Lead: Charlotte Rae (Sussex); Co-I: Sarah Garfinkel (Sussex); Emma Russell; Jessica Eccles (Sussex); Lisa Mullen (Sussex) and Gergios Tertikas (Sussex).

Well-being and co-working hubs

In this ESRC-funded project (Digit Innovation Fund) we are researching why people are attracted to working in rural cowork hubs, what makes them stay, what makes them leave, and how membership of hubs impacts the local community, local economies and people’s well-being. The research is qualitative, involving interviews and discussion groups with cowork users and managers. For more information and for a free toolkit, click here Project Lead: Gary Bosworth; Co-I: Emma Russell and others

Is ‘problematic work-email use’ the reason why people can’t switch off?

In this 4-study programme of research, a scale for measuring problematic work-email use (PWEU: a compulsive and addictive form of behaviour) has been developed and validated. Subsequent studies examine if PWEU can predict why some people are resistant to interventions to improve or switch off from work-email use. Project Lead: Emma Russell; Co-I: Tom Jackson (Loughborough); Kevin Daniels (UEA); Carlo Tramontano (Coventry); RA: Jay McCloskey

Working well from home: a best practice toolkit for business

This project has just been awarded HEIF funding. Working with project leaders in Psychology, this project involves local small-businesses. The aim is to understand concerns about how to make home working ‘work’ post Covid, and suggest a best-practice toolkit (and source of resources) to help small businesses manage this transition. Project Leads: Fran Meeten & Faith Orchard; Co-I’s: Emma Russell & Laura Chapman

‘Flim-flam and padding’: Why people perpetrate uncivil email exchanges

A 3-part project with a large UK organisation has now come to a close. Using online surveys and in-depth interviews, we found that when people are (i) resource depleted – e.g. tired, busy, overloaded, lack of skills, knowledge and/or (ii) egoistic – e.g. believe their own work and standards are more important and should take priority, they are more likely to engage in uncivil exchanges. Project Lead: Emma Russell

The agency delusion: A diary study examining why people employ or abandon control on their digital communication

In the first part of this multi-part project we found that workers employ different strategies in order to control the ‘always on’ nature of digital communication. The next phase of the study investigates factors that support workers to employ or abandon those strategies of control and how that may impact well-being and work-related outcomes. Project Lead: Deepali D’mello

Virtual teamwork and well-being

Working in the international commercial sector, a funded two-stage project is underway. In stage 1, research partners in Spain have now completed interviews to understand more about the impact of virtual teamwork on well-being and performance. Stage 2 will begin around September and will involve daily surveys to capture how day-to-day teamwork impacts well-being, using themes emerging from stage 1. Project Leads: Petros Chamakiotis and Almudena Canibano; Co-I: Emma Russell

agiLab project: Leading an agile workforce in the NHS

Sponsored by the NHS Leadership Academy, this research project aims to understand the different leadership needs of agile workers, and how to equip tomorrow’s leaders to manage an agile workforce. This is a qualitative study that will involve interviewing participants across different groups within the NHS. The intention is to use findings to feed into leadership training programmes within the NHS. Project Lead: Emma Russell; Co-I: Zahira Jaser

bottom of page