Phoebe V Moore

The Quantified Worker

All about me!


Dr Phoebe V Moore is Professor of Management and the Futures of Work at the University of Essex Business School (Colchester, UK) and Senior Fellow at the International Labour Organization (UN, Geneva).

Moore is a globally recognised expert in digitalisation and the workplace. Her most recent book The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts (Routledge 2019) is a ground-breaking piece, analysing the use of wearable tracking technologies in workplaces and the implications for human resources and working conditions. Moore is a policy advisor and commissioned author who works with several institutions on the integration of big data, artificial intelligence systems, and old and new technologies into workplaces and spaces, and the risks and benefits these pose for working people. This includes, in the European Union, the European Safety and Health Agency and the European Parliament; and internationally, the International Labour Organization and the OECD. Moore is currently a policy advisor for the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) Responsible Investment in Technology Project Advisory Group and has reported here on her recent European Parliament report:

Moore, P.V. (2020) Data subjects, digital surveillance, AI and the future of work (European Parliament Science and Technology Office, Brussels). Policy report STOA brief and video  

Academia page Find many of my pre-print publications here!

Some of my speaking engagements

Twitter handle: @phoebemoore

The Quantified Self in Precarity:
Work, Technology and What Counts

Phoebe V. Moore, Routledge 2018.

Humans are accustomed to being tool bearers, but what happens when machines become tool bearers, calculating human labour via the use of big data and people analytics by metrics?

The Quantified Self in Precarity highlights how, whether it be in insecure ‘gig’ work or office work, such digitalisation is not an inevitable process – nor is it one that necessarily improves working conditions. Indeed, through unique research and empirical data, Moore demonstrates how workplace quantification leads to high turnover rates, workplace rationalisation and worker stress and anxiety, with these issues linked to increased rates of subjective and objective precarity.

Scientific management asked us to be efficient. Now, we are asked to be agile. But what does this mean for the everyday lives we lead? With a fresh perspective on how technology and the use of technology for management and self-management changes the ‘quantified’, precarious workplace today, The Quantified Self in Precarity will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in fields such as Science and Technology, Organisational Management, Sociology and Politics.

Financial Times appearance: The glimpses emerging of the future world of work

Financial Times, 30th March, 2020, Andrew Hill and Emma Jacobs 

I spoke to Emma about my research on the workplace and technology. I note that digitalisation has entered the workplace like notother time in the contemporary Covid-19 moment.

The consequences of full-scale shifts in many industries to ‘home working’, which actually means in most cases, ‘online working’, are to be seen. However, as my research indicates, as tracking and monitoring of workers and work itself increasingly shifts online, it becomes ever more important to pay attention to exactly what work and what aspects of work are measured, how work is measured and what is at stake for those who are measured.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey, did not expect to spend part of this year on the consulting firm’s “Dog Blog” forum, where staff are alleviating the stress of enforced remote working by showing off their pets online… In Germany, clusters of parents working for Unilever, the consumer products group, have set up a virtual childcare system, where one of the group tends to the others’ children online while the rest get on with their work. TED, the organiser of conferences and webcasts, has set up a virtual space where staff can work “alongside” each other — “separately, but not alone” — in an effort to replicate working in a coffee shop or a shared office. TED suggests breaking for five minutes every hour for activities such as “jumping jacks or push-ups” or “1-minute pep talks”.

This is part of a new daily series enabling you to interact with FT writers and editors on what to read, watch, eat and drink under lockdown — and how to tackle your garden, home and finances ..Others, like Headspace, the mindfulness app, recognise that normal outputs will have to be altered. Rich Pierson, the CEO, says, “if you’ve suddenly got children at home with you all day, it’s going to be extremely difficult to maintain the same level of productivity as you had going into the office all day . . . [we’ve adjusted] our expectations around productivity”. The lockdown has made some types of interaction more efficient. The HR director at a law firm says annual pay conversations have been easier as everyone can assemble on a call, rather than having to accommodate different work patterns. .. Matt Dean, co-founder of Byrne Dean, a workplace consultancy that works with financial services and law firms, says this is a big opportunity for leaders to show their human side. “Everyone is facing the same foe, there is something obvious and pressing that we can connect on and be human with each other about.” He suspects, however, that some of the more “emotionally repressed” partners at law firms might struggle to step up. Such a quick shift from the office to home raises concerns about where an employer’s responsibility to its workers becomes intrusive, says Phoebe Moore, associate professor of political economy and technology at Leicester University. Technology is a “great avenue for surveillance. In the home working environment it starts at the beginning when you open your laptop. As you’re managed remotely, the employer can work out when you start. Once these enter the home, the private-public workspace collapses”.

OHCHR Europe Regional Consultation: Women’s Human Rights in the changing world of Work. ICT & Digitalization.

I was the invited expert with knowledge about women working in STEM and ICT, to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)’s Europe Regional Consultation: Women’s Human Rights in the changing world of Work consultation, convened by the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice, on the occasion of its 25th session, Geneva, 13 June 2019 10:00am – 18:00pm. This is my talk.

How is technological change impacting on women’s experiences of work? (e.g. increasing access to ICTs, robotics, machine learning, automation)

ILO ACTRAV commissioned report informing Labour Standard C190: The Threat of Physical and Psychosocial Violence & Harassment in Digitalized Work

Text from my presentation at ILO ACTRAV Agora 06 FEB 2018

Find links to my slides and ILO ACTRAV commissioned report here

This report was commissioned by ILO ACTRAV to inform discussions for a new Labour Standard at the International Labour Conference 2019. The new Standard, now in place, focusses on the risks of violence and harassment against workers, in both traditional and digitalized workplaces.

I also regularly contribute to the International Journal of Labour Research, ACTRAV’s international journal. (See more information about my work with the ILO below.)

BBC World Service Panel: Is your boss watching you?

I was on the expert panel in the BBC World Service In the Balance programme, along with CEO for Humanyze Ben Weber, and Ekkehard Ernst from the International Labour Organization. The journalist was Ed Butler and the producer, Audrey Tinline.

The programme is about monitoring, tracking, measuring and analysising technologies and increasing applications in workplaces.

Here are some of the points I made:

  • It is often what is NOT counted that matters more than what is counted, because any time you create a series of metrics you leave out a whole range of qualitative detail that was once firmly part of the employment relationship.
  • Machines and computers can collect data and make calculations more quickly than humans, but when we start to say that machines are better at making decisions than humans, or we use machinic outputs to make decisions about other people, then we start to potentially encounter problems.
  • There are assumptions that some workforces are less resistant to monitoring technologies, but in fact, like in the case of the different cases of filming a factory console in Japan Vs the lack of the same in Germany, there are different labour laws and processes that determine how technologies may be used in the workplace. Germany has collective determination as part of its legal system, and unions and works councils must be consulted before these kinds of activities can be carried. That doesn’t necessarily mean that companies don’t do it, though.
  • Workers are now engaging in souveillance, which means that they are now ‘watching the watchers’. If companies want more and more data about workers, then workers will soon, or already do want more and more information about companies, because the flexibilised generation of today are entering a very unstable gig work infested job market.
  • The foundations for GDPR, listed in the first sections of the document, make it clear that: (71): The data subject has the right not to be subject to a decision, which may include a measure, evaluating personal aspects relating to him or her which is based solely on automated processing and which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significant affects him or her, such as… e-recruiting practices without any human intervention. Such processing includes profiling that consists of any form of automated processing of personal data evaluating the personal aspects of a natural person, in particular to analyse or predict aspects concerning the data subject’s performance at work… reliability or behaviour, location or movements, where it produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.

EU-OSHA commissioned report: OSH and the Future of Work: Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence tools in workplaces

Dr Phoebe V Moore’s report was commissioned by the European Union Agency for Safety and Health at Work EU-OSHA to write the report ‘OSH and the Future of Work: Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence tools in workplaces’.

Dr Moore launched this new report at the EU-OSHA headquarters in Bilbao, Spain, 14th February, 2019.

Social Europe invited blog: Capitalism’s mirror stage: artificial intelligence and the quantified worker

Phoebe V Moore, Social Europe blog.

Control panels are the obvious place to run operations centrally. The control rooms of Star Trek’s fantastical Enterprise (and the hub of the actual Project Cybersyn under Chile’s radical president Salvador Allende) in the 1960s and 70s were however operated by humans with relatively primitive technologies.

Today, much of the work of the people we imagined in these rooms—the bouffanted women in silver A-line dresses and men in blue boiler suits pushing buttons to operate the manoeuvres of galactical imperialism—is done by computers. But what will happen when the proverbial windows looking out to the galaxies only display a cadre of robots and the control panels’ blinking lights are the only reflective glimmer?……

2016-18 United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) ACTRAV. Dr Moore was invited as an expert advisor for the UNI Global Union Professionals and Managers section at the ILO meetings on Violence against Women and Men in the World of Work in October 2016.

Her work was cited in the ILO ACTRAV report that was published after this expert meeting ACTRAV (2017) on page 109, where Moore’s research for the BA/Leverhulme project is used in a case study. ACTRAV is the Labour Bureau of the ILO and this report feeds into discussions for a new labour standard or convention, entitled ‘Violence and Harrassment Against Women and Men in the World of Work: Trade Union Perspectives and Action’.

Dr Moore’s article, ‘The psycho-social impacts of technological change in contemporary workplaces and trade union responses’, co-authored with Pav Akhtar, has been published in the ILO ACTRAV’s International Journal of Labour Research on a special issue on this topic.

Dr Moore was commissioned to write a large discussion paper entitled The Threat of Physical and Psychosocial Violence in the World of Digitalized Work, which highlights the ways in which new technologies are being used for management purposes in the workplace today as professional environment that comprises factories, streets but also homes. This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. ACTRAV commissioned Dr Moore to carry out this research because of her recognized expertise in this field.

Dr Moore presented her discussion paper in an ILO ACTRAV “Agora” setting from 11am to 12pm on Tuesday, February 6th at ILO headquarters in Geneva, Room XI. A larger audience joined via FB live.

The paper is part of a research package prepared under the auspices of ACTRAV ahead of the first discussion of a proposed labour standard on “Ending violence and harassment towards women and men in the world of work” at the ILO’s International Labour Conference in June 2018.

2018 Financial Times. Interview featured in FT article by Sarah O’Connor:  ‘Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Algorithms at work signal a shift to management by numbers’

(Companies) should be wary of wading in too deep without limits or safeguards — of “surrendering power to numbers”, as Leicester University academic Phoebe Moore puts it. That is not just because of the nascent threats from regulators or trade unions. It is also because of what they might lose: the subtle flexibility of human judgment; decisions tempered by empathy or common sense; the simple ability to sort a problem out by sitting down across a table and talking about it. Companies remove the “human” from human resources at their peril.

2018 WIRED magazine. Interview featured in WIRED UK article by Phoebe Braithwaite: ‘The university pensions strike is a last resort for STEM academics’

“People go into higher education not just for the teaching part – they do it because they’re researchers; because they are socially active,” says Phoebe Moore, professor of political economy and technology at the University of Leicester, where David Willetts who oversaw the implementation of the Browne Review in 2010 has just been made chancellor. “If you’re talking about technology and STEM subjects, these people are genuinely creating the future.”

2017 Financial Times. Interview featured in FT article by Jane Wild: ‘Wearables in the Workplace and the Dangers of Employee Surveillance’ in the report on Employment: Best Practice

Transparency is crucial in forming [a wearables in workplace] strategy’, says Phoebe Moore, an academic who works with multinational companies and unions to devise codes of conduct about their data gathering practices. She adds that often workers do not realise the extent to which they are being observed, from their emails being read to voice and motion technology being used to analyse how great a contribution they make in meetings. Ms Moore recommends that employees are involved in the process of formulating a data policy and that the guidelines are very clear in stating why data are captured and what they are used for. “Communication [with staff] is very important,” she says. “Who owns the data? Who stores it? Can it be sold?”

2017 BizTech. Interview featured in article ‘Want to Improve Employee Productivity? Wearables Could be the Answer’

Businesses are looking to technology to measure workers’ activities, creating a more productive and efficient workforce, says Dr. Phoebe Moore, a senior lecturer at Middlesex University in London who has done extensive research on the subject.

The growing initiative, called the “quantified self at work” or the “quantified workplace,” comes in many forms, Moore says. In some cases, businesses equip employees with wearable sensors that track their movements and speech patterns. Through data analysis, employers then look for trends and make adjustments aimed at boosting performance — perhaps, by redesigning office spaces to encourage communication and collaboration.

In other instances, companies use gamified, goal-setting apps, which provide a central dashboard for managers and employees to track and discuss their progress.

According to Moore, one popular way for businesses to implement the quantified workplace is through corporate wellness programs that outfit workers with fitness trackers, measuring the distance they walk each day.

…balance is just what companies should strive for when pursuing the quantified workplace, Moore says: “The ideal scenario is one that benefits both the workers and the people who run the company.

2016 BBC Radio 4. Interview featured in the radio programme ‘Work‘ as part of the series FutureProofing, based on contribution to the Implant Party at FutureFest London

2016 The Atlantic. ‘How Fitness Trackers Make Leisure More Like Work’ Dr Moore’s academic work is referenced by Frank Pasquale

2015 Business Investors Daily. ‘Employee Time-Tracking Software Raises Privacy Issues’ Julia Chen interviewed and then discusses Dr Moore’s research, quoting her

2014 Index on Censorship. ‘From the Factory Floor’ Vicky Baker interviewed Dr Moore about her research and quotes her

2014 Imperica magazine. ‘Phoebe Moore: Wearable Politics’ A feature article was printed on Dr Moore’s research

Hear and see some of my talks:

2020 The Quantified Worker and Artificial Intelligence, on Prof Peter Bloom’s podcast series.

2018 AI and the Future of Work, NESTA The Innovation Foundation

2017 ‘The Algorithmic Self at Work’, NUI Galway ‘Algocracy and the Transhumanist Project’ talk

2016 ‘The Quantified Self at Work’, Cambridge University CRASSH Ethics of Big Data invited research seminar talk

2016 The Gig Economy and the Automation Revolution: Capitalism or Cooperativism? King’s College London invited plenary talk

2016 Self-tracking Wellcome Trust invited plenary talk

2016 Making sense of the Quantified Self data, Denmark Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, filmed discussant

Research Network Leadership:

2015-18 Executive Board Critical Political Economy Research Network (CPERN). Elected member.

2014-15 Executive Board British International Studies Association. Elected member.

2011-14 Convenor for International Political Economy Group Dr Moore created a new website and was responsible for the managing and updating, budget, organised several events and helped with events organised by members, managed the email list and mentored junior researchers.

Book Prize Judge: Dr Moore was the judge on the IPEG Book Prize panel (2011 – 2014)

IPEG Discussion Paper Series: Phoebe was the Editor for this series (2007 – 2011)

Convenor for the Conference of Socialist Economists (CSE) South Group

Editorial Boards:

Work in the Global Economy Editorial Board 2021

Capital & Class Senior Editor. Editorial board member since 2006

Globalizations Editorial Board member since 2013


ESRC Peer Review College member since 2012

Advisory and consultancy roles:

Dr Moore has provided paid consultancy for businesses interested in her research on the quantified self at work

Dr Moore is on the steering committee for a group organised by the Institution for Engineering and Technology that is looking at creating a code of conduct for Industrie 4.0 business strategy (2016+)

Dr Moore worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Training for the Trainers programmes in Ankara and Sarajevo presenting work on employability and UK education policy (2008 – 2009)

Phoebe presented research to the Korea Research Institute of the Korean Ministry of Labour on employability and UK education policy (2009)

Recent panel/stream organisation

2017 Organising Team IIPPE/CPERN as the CPERN Executive Board member and network liaison

2016 Section Co-Chair ‘Mapping Alternative Routes out of Capitalism’. International Initiatives in Political Economy, Lisbon (with Dr David Bailey)

2016 Symposium ‘Surveillance at Work’, International Labour Process Conference, Berlin (gained book contract with Dynamics of Virtual Work series edited by Prof Ursula Huws and Prof Rosalind Gill)

2011-14 IPEG Convenor. Dr Moore organised and helped colleagues organise several workshops and conferences in this role

One comment on “All about me!

  1. James Taddeo
    February 7, 2015

    Dear Dr. Moore,
    I just discovered your awesome website and it fascinates me! I am doing some independent research into political economy development models and I am wondering if you might have the time to add some perspective to some questions I have? Let me know at Thanks!

    James Taddeo

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