You certainly have heard once or twice about ergonomics when it comes to office chairs, tables, and keyboards. And while those are certainly good applications of what ergonomics is and how it can help with your daily life around the workplace, this field has a lot more applications than you might not be aware of.
Simply put, ergonomics is considering the human factor: it’s a study of how we interact with the objects, systems, processes, and designs that we’ve created for ourselves, and optimizing the results based on this study. It aims to give us a better understanding of how we interact with the world around us, and in doing so, improve our quality of life.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just about designing a better chair for your back—ergonomics covers an extensive field of different sciences, including psychology, engineering, biomechanics, industrial design, physiology, interaction design, visual design, user experience, and user interface design. If we interact with it on some level, then ergonomics becomes involved.
The things that we touch
Of course, the biggest one that comes to mind is physical ergonomics. The foundation of the majority of our fixtures today, such as office furniture with a modern feel and the like, physical ergonomics deals with the way we interact with the physical systems that we have today.
As one of the most visible examples of ergonomics, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of this field. Since the majority of our activities takes place online (and the tools we use to interact with are online as well, there is an ever-present risk factor of being overworked. The majority of physical ergonomics is concerned with the type of lifestyle we lead and the tools and fixtures we interact with.
What we think
On the other hand, cognitive ergonomics arise from our need to understand the world around us. Concerning mental processes such as memory, processing, perception, and recall, cognitive ergonomics aims to understand how our thoughts influence the way we interact with one another and the world.
This is particularly useful in user-based design when it comes to applications. Cognitive functions play a critical role in app development, giving designers a clear view of how people can use their applications in a way that’s more aligned to the results they want to see.
How we work with one another
Finally, organizational ergonomics is a relatively new but rising field of study centered on peer-to-peer interaction. With a focus on socio-technical systems, such as communication, teamwork, and management, this field of ergonomics looks at the different ways we interact with one another as a society, relying on cultures, established cues, and group dynamics.
As a field of study, organizational ergonomics show a lot of promise in optimizing the way our current workspaces flow in our interconnected world today. Allowing both our current and future organizations to understand the best ways to work together, it’s a domain of ergonomics that show a great promise.
Ergonomics isn’t just about making us comfortable and healthy; it’s also about making our world better. By studying how we interact with what’s around us and how this behavior or design can be changed, we face a better tomorrow when it comes to the way we work and engage with the world.