Computers, Psychosocial, Work Environment, and Stress: A Comparative Theoretical Analysis of Organizations and Action Strategies

Computers, Psychosocial, Work Environment, and Stress: A Comparative Theoretical Analysis of Organizations and Action Strategies

Michelle M. Robertson (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and Health, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch010
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With the rapid rate of new technologies, coupled with telecommunications equipment being introduced into the workplace, further exploration is needed on how to effectively integrate and design these technologies to better support the roles of the individual, organization and society. Occupational roles are expanding along with new patterns of how individuals interact with these evolving technologies and their influences on different levels, that of the individual, organization and society. To more systematically analyze these technology based computerized information systems and their integrations with the physical workplace design, psychosocial issues, work organization and work/family balance factors, two theoretical models are presented and their relationship to workplace stressors and strain. These models highlight the importance of action strategies and applying a system analysis model that incorporates an interdisciplinary and macroergonomics perspective.
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Integration between computer technology and telecommunications equipment affects the design of occupation roles and our roles as citizens, as well as on new patterns of how these human roles will be combined and balanced. Education and training are essential for the individual’s potential to exert influence on her/his work environment and for the quality of life at computerization. This is especially important for preventing or coping with various problems like stress and musculoskeletal disorders in the information society and minimizing future segmentation of the labor force.

For almost two decades, beginning in the 70s, interdisciplinary research was carried out at Stockholm University on Work Life and Computerization and continued at other universities where Bradley served as professor and research leader. The problems studied are related to a theoretical model developed within a program for analyzing the interplay between computerized information systems < – > psychosocial work environment < – > family life/leisure time/ and health. Building upon this general theoretical model, we focused on one effect variable – stress. We further explored and focused on the formal work organization, work content, communication structure, leadership, role ambiguity and working hours.

Theoretical Analyses

The analyses of stress and working life can be focused on different levels: individual and societal. That is, stress experienced by the individual, fragmentation of the labor force, or marginalization and exclusion from the mainstream of society. Different action strategies must be adopted in order to prevent and counteract stress problems of all these levels. Some types of stress that occur in display terminal work have been counteracted with technical aids that affect response times, availability, screen layout, standardization, etc. However, most stress problems deal with work organization and psychosocial factors, making education and training design/redesign, crucial issues.

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