The purpose of this article is to describe and assess the participatory development process of a palm computer with special software from the work activity system point of view and analyse the benefits and drawbacks experienced by an employee while testing, implementing, and using a new communication and collaboration tool. This study focuses on the maintenance personnel of Company Alpha (the name has been changed for this study). The workers are responsible for the maintenance and serving of real estate.
Ergonomics is concerned with human-machine interface technology or user-interface technology, which is often also referred to as microergonomics (Hendrick & Kleiner, 2001). Larger work systems have to be considered when there is a need to better understand human–technology interaction, capabilities, and limitations. Work systems are complex sociotechnical systems (Carayon, 2006), and therefore, it is not relevant to focus on interface design alone when new tools are developed. Macroergonomics is an approach which attempts to achieve a fully harmonised work system at both the macro- and microergonomic levels by integrating principles and perspectives from industrial, work, and organisational psychology (Kleiner, 2006).
Figure 1 illustrates the generic work system adopted from Kleiner (2006). The work system consists of a personnel subsystem, where two or more people collaborate; a technical subsystem, where people are interacting with technology; and an organisational system, which includes physical and cultural internal environment of an organisation and an external environment.