Topics for Human Factors and Ergonomics Research and Interventions in Future Workplace

Ying Hua
<span title="">2018</span> <i title="OMICS Publishing Group"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">Journal of Ergonomics</a> </i> &nbsp;
Megatrends such as demographic change, technological breakthroughs, global economic power shift, climate change, rapid urbanization [1] , and their interactions are driving some significant changes in business, society, as well as the built environments as their physical manifestations. Workplace, as a fundamental space type, continues to evolve, responding to socioeconomic forces as well as changes in lifestyle. Headquarters of a company are now seen not only as real estate, but as a powerful
more &raquo; ... ommunication means and a strategic tool for growth [2] . Several trends can be observed in workplaces. First, there is continuous discussion on the future mode of work and the affordance of office or workplace as a dedicated building type. A shift away from a supply-side dominated delivery system and culture has been taking place for decades and the Taylorist type of workplace that focused on efficiency and standardization has finally phased out. The dominant type now, viewing office as "ba" [3] borrowing the Japanese word for "place", orients to the individuality of knowledge workers and emphasizes collaboration. A strong feature of this idea is that, in order to enhance performance, various types of spaces are provided so that individuals can choose settings that they think is best facilitating their tasks and most comfortable for them the so-called "activity-based workplace" [4, 5] . Meanwhile, a new view angle is emerging, which looks at workplace in a more flexible and diverse way as platforms for value generation and branding both internally and externally, rather than as an architecture that is complete and selfevident ( Figure 1 ). The symbolic meanings of workspace for status and seniority are fading; design goals for workplaces increasingly center on human beings rather than on capital; the language communicating features of work settings are increasingly dominated by terms about human experience and potential. Second, changes in how people work are widely observed and seem to be progressing at an accelerating rate. The typical pattern of shifting between concentrating and convening for individuals at work is altered by the fact that a lot more work is done collectively on shared virtual platforms through new technologies. Though the support for both individual work and collaborative work is still a common requirement for workplace design [6, 7] , collaboration and interaction are often the major drivers for design and management decisions, when the key motivation of going to the office is for interpersonal connection and human networks. On the other hand, the term "personalization" is no longer about having family photos in the office, but about how individual work environments, which may not always link to ownership, can be tailored to individual needs, in physical, ambient and technological dimensions. Also changing are the meanings of many other phrases frequently used in workplace strategy context, including mobility, flexibility, and individual control over personal environment. These changes and new demands open up a lot of opportunities for human factors and ergonomics research and interventions. Figure 1: Evolvement of workplace, driving forces, characteristics and indicators. Another strong trend in workplace is the increasing level of attention on health and well-being [8] , in addition to the pursuit of productivity, innovation and collaboration performance. A more holistic understanding of health and well-being and its association with aspects of work environment at multiple scales moved our focus from simply avoiding work injuries and sick building syndromes (SBS) (e.g. IAQ-induced irreversible health problems) to both the physical health and mental health of knowledge workers, and further extended to the cultivation of a healthier lifestyle. The improved awareness by both management and employees, supported by better data and stronger evidence, has led to many workplace designs with highlyvisible staircases, quick adoption of standing desks or even treadmill workstations, and wide use of ergonomic furniture. While tasks at work continue to evolve, enabled by technology (e.g. the shift from typing to voice-based input technology), people are less tied down to their desks and chairs or to specific locations in workplace. The line between indoor and outdoor is also blurred. There is a particular area highly promising for integrated workplace strategy and human factors research, for interventions that are above product or element level. This includes biophilic solutions that allow office workers to benefit from connections and immersion in nature [9, 10] . A lot of the aforesaid issues were reflected in my recent work with the RAND Corporation a leading public policy consulting organization to evaluate the outcomes of its Future Workspace (FWS) pilot project. The pilot space, designed by Herman Miller, features Jo u r n a l of Erg o n o m ic s
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