Digitalization and Time Use

Image Time

Photo by Nick J Webb / CC BY / Desaturated from original

Project Description

Every day, individuals take decisions about their allocation of time to their activities, which mainly determines the environmental impact of their individual lifestyle. For example, a sales employee can decide whether to conduct a business trip in person or replace the physical trip with videoconferencing, a decision with immediate environmental impacts. Individual lifestyles are not only a major driver of environmental impacts, but are also affected by ICT applications which modify the time and space constraints of various activities (e.g., telecommuting allows to work from home instead of the employer’s office). We propose a new assessment approach based on the relationship between ICT use, time use patterns, infrastructure utilization and environmental impact.

Framework Time

We demonstrate the approach by showing how time-use data can be analyzed and linked with data on the energy requirements of activities to assess the energy impacts of a change in time allocation using the example use case telecommuting. Telecommuting means substituting physical presence in the employer’s office with virtual presence and remote access to data, e.g. by working from home or from a local co-working space and thereby reducing commute time and the related energy consumption. Telecommuting is subject to time rebound effects. That is, reducing commuting allows telecommuters to spend the commute time saved on travel for other purposes and non-travel activities such as leisure, which are associated with their own energy requirements.

We apply the time-use approach using time-use and travel data collected in an actual co-working living laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden.


Project Phases

  1. Review of existing assessment methods and methodological challenges
  2. Development of a a conceptual  framework of ICT impacts on time and energy use
  3. Demonstration of the time-use approach at the example use case telecommuting with data collected in a co-working living laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden




Vaddadi, B.; Bieser, J.; Pohl, J.; Kramers, A.: Towards a conceptual framework of direct and indirect environmental effects of co-working. 6th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability, Bristol, 21 June 2020 - 27 June 2020.  Article


Bieser, J.; Hilty, L.: Conceptualizing the Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Individual Time and Energy Use. Telematics and Informatics (2020). DOI  Article (PDF, 775 KB)

2019                               Bieser, J.: Visual Exploration of Time Use Data to Support Environmental Assessment of Lifestyles. Presentation. 41st International Association for Time Use Research Conference, American University, Washington DC, 10 July 2019 - 12 July 2019. Presentation (PDF, 15 MB)
2019                               Bieser, J.; Haas, D.; Hilty, L.: VETUS – Visual Exploration of Time Use Data to Support Environmental Assessment of Lifestyles. 6th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability, Lappeenranta, 10 June 2019 - 14 June 2019. ZORA
2018 Bieser, J.; Hilty, L.: Assessing Indirect Environmental Effects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT): A Systematic Literature Review. Sustainability, 10:2662. ZORA
2018 Bieser, J.; Hilty, L.: An Approach to Assess Indirect Environmental Effects of Digitalization Based on a Time-Use Perspective. In: Advances and New Trends in Environmental Informatics. Cham: Springer (Bücher), 67-78. ZORA


2019 Lebiedz, M.: Digitalization: Analysis of its influence on individual time use and associated impacts on the environment (master thesis)
2019 Wyss, D.: Travel behavior and telecommuting: A research overview (master's basic module)
2019 Dora, M.: Use of time: Theories and application in the age of digitalisation (bachelor thesis)
2019 Piga, G.: Impacts of e-commerce on individual travel from a time-use perspective (bachelor thesis)
2019                          Wyss, D.: Lifestyle-based Analysis of Travel Behavior: Analyzing the applicability of Claritas PRIZM Premier for classifying travel behavior through sequence and state analysis on daily activity schedules (bachelor thesis)
2019        Schenker, R.: An agent-based model of individual time allocation (master thesis)
2018 Rüegge, V.: Investigation of the time-use substitution effect: Using exploratory data analysis and to better understand how individuals spend time saved on work travel and commute (master's basic module)
2018 Fuhrer, J.: Analysis of the Unitd Kingdom Time Use Survey 2014-2015 (master's basic module)
2018 Rüegge, V.: Data mining and a time-use approach: Using Decision Trees to Understand the impacts of socio-demographic factors and activity patterns on the time spent on work travel and commute (bachelor thesis)
2018 Haas, D.: Visualization of time-use data (bachelor thesis)