On The Future of Work

Hancock, P.A. (1997). On the future of work. Ergonomics in Design, 5(4), 25-29.

     Ergonomics represents the laws of work. Therefore, to understand the role of ergonomics in design, we must be vary sure that we know what work is. But isn’t this obvious? I believe that the answer to this question is not as obvious as it first seems and that our conception of what work is now, and what work can or will be in the future, has to evolve.
     In the ergonomics field, we have been overwhelmed by references to the change in the composition of work from largely physical to a largely cognitive pursuit. However, this transition represents a change in the form of the demand imposed on the worker, not the fundamental conception of work as demand itself. I propose that in the future, the division between what are now thought of as work and leisure will dissolve. Furthermore, I assert that this dissolution should be an explicit aim of design. Consequently, future human-system interaction that is not intrinsically enjoyable will, by definition, be poorly designed. How the change in concept of work occurs depends on not only future design but also the societal attitudes predicted on such design.

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