Better flowing brain work through cognitive ergonomics

An increasing number of work tasks emphasize the importance of well-flowing brain work. However, working conditions and working methods do not always support the success of our work in the best possible way. For example, unnecessary distractions, interruptions and information overload reduce the efficiency and quality of work. The improvement of brain work is important in terms of both individual well-being and workplace productivity.

This manual offers methods for improving cognitive ergonomics at the workplace. Cognitive ergonomics means designing work to suit a person, so that its cognitive requirements, that is, the demands of working with information and conditions promote smoothly flowing work. The manual is intended for all those who do brain work; for example, experts, supervisors and other knowledge workers. Work developers and consultants, occupational safety and health and well-being actors, and occupational health services can also use the manual in their various development processes.

The manual can help you:

  • you’ll understand what good brain work means
  • you’ll recognize the obstacles to well-flowing work and how to resolve them
  • you’ll get concrete ground rules, models and practices that have proven effective for developing better-flowing brain work.

The manual focuses on three load factors of brain work: distractions, interruptions and information overload. These themes have emerged strongly in our R&D projects as general and straining issues, in all kinds of industries. Brain work also involves other requirements and strenuous situations. In the What next section you will find solutions and services for improving brain work.

Brain strain barometer

What cognitive ergonomics solutions do you most need at your workplace at the moment? Choose from the following three goals.

The material of this manual is based on the study , implemented in four workplaces and 36 units, the aim of which was to reduce unnecessary brain strain. During the study, concrete working methods and ground rules were developed at the workplaces to reduce distractions, manage interruptions and control information overload. This manual makes these good practices and approaches accessible to everyone. We hope they provide you with practices for yourself and your work community. We suggest you also discuss these practices, decide which ones you will try at your workplace and, if necessary, modify the proposed ground rules to suit you.

The manual is free of charge and freely available. It is produced by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund.


Our experts

Virpi Kalakoski,

Virpi Kalakoski

Kirsi Luokkala,

Kirsi Luokkala

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