Designing Sustainable Digital Work
The individual and digital ergonomics. Theme 2022
The digital transformation affects how and where we work. Long days in front of the screen, lack of digital systems and being constantly available is a reality for many workers. This contributes to unsustainable working conditions and work environments. The Theme examines how we can design and use digital technology to create healthy, efficient and sustainable workplaces.
Digitalization transforms and affects work practices in many ways, such as remote work, automation, work performance monitoring, gigification, and for most professions. The effects on individuals of increased exposure to digital work environments include fatigue from spending too much time in front of the screen, frustration from using digital systems that do not support work in the intended way, and a limitless access which makes it possible to work wherever and whenever. There is a need to understand and improve how digital technology can be designed to reduce the mental workload on its users, and thus improve the working conditions for the many working hours that are spend in a digital work environment.
The digitalization of work is a complex and multi-faceted issue that ranges from the individual worker’s interaction with technology (micro level), to the organizations and employers responsible for the physical, digital, and psycho-socials environments in which people work (meso level), to the overarching societal impact related to the financial, political, and legal aspects of digital work (macro level). It is significant that the designers of the digital transformation of work takes current professional roles and work routines in account. Otherwise, the digital transformation can be considered as a threat, since work life health and productivity requires considering both the human and the technical perspectives at each of the three levels (micro, meso and macro). When this occurs, technology can support and enhance human workers’ ability to perform work in an effective and sustainable way.
The Theme Designing Sustainable Digital Work will investigate the digital transformation of work from the perspective of the individual workers and their interactions with digital systems and tools. The aim is to increase the connection of the human and technical perspectives, and identify areas for future research that, in the long term, can facilitate healthy work conditions for the individual, within organizations, and in our society. The team brings together researchers with backgrounds in cognitive science, occupational medicine, humanities, informatics, and technology, and thus combines competences on technology development with those that focus on human aspects. Together, we will define a multi-disciplinary research agenda for improved design of digital work environments and sustainable work.