Current Research Topics

Please refer to the guidelines for preparing and submitting a proposal, which can be found here.

OERC 2017 Areas of Interest

    The OERC has created the following list of Research Priorities for 2017. In each of the priorities, we are interested in understanding the “ergonomic effects” on productivity and/or behavior for each topic and practical recommendations for applying the research findings. The term effects can encompass both positive and negative effects (benefits/risks).

    Productivity has been challenging to measure for white-collar workers, but is important to understand because it gives a measurement that could affect a company’s profitability. Understanding how ergonomic design, setup, or strategies affect productivity can provide the end users and companies with these valuable measures.

    How do you get workers to change behavior and make it sustainable? How can you optimize the use of the hardware, software, or real-time exposure for productivity? How can you collect data that is more objective, accurate, and helps to shape behaviors?

    The term technology is not limited to current computing devices but includes software, furniture, fitness monitoring/wearable devices, smart buildings, etc., as well as new computing devices and new ways of interacting with technology. How does changing technology affect the ergonomic risks or effects in the office environment? How can technology be used to improve assessment of ergonomic effects, help change worker behavior, or improve outcomes?

    The workplace environment is changing and is no longer just a landscape of traditional workspaces (closed offices, cubicles, etc.). People work in many different locations: work, conference rooms, shared spaces, cafes, home, or public transportation. The office environment is not the only place for the ergonomic challenges—they can also occur in healthcare, higher education, and other workplaces.

    Demographics and Office Factors
    There may be compounding factors in understanding the effects and risks of ergonomics. Some of those include (but are not limited to): age, nationality, office culture, type of work performed, gender, where people work (cubicle, open area, café, hotel, etc.), how they work (standing, sitting), and time of exposures. These are important factors to consider in the design of research.

    NOTE: The research priorities are presented in random order.  Position on the list does not indicate importance, and all topics should be considered as of equal interest to OERC.

    2017 Research Topics

  • What are the ergonomic effects of smaller form factors of devices such as ultra-low travel keyboards (<1.5mm), notebooks, tablets, and smartphones on outcomes such as usability, comfort, injury risk, tradeoffs in size for usability, screen size vs. ability to hold and comfort, and weight to grip force and or torque?
  • What are the ergonomic effects of new technology such as wearable displays, virtual reality, and augmented reality, or interaction input methods such as gesture, eye-tracking, voice and multi-modal input, and pens?
  • What are the ergonomic effects of new display technologies (such as high resolution, curved, high dynamic range, and higher refresh rates) or the use of multiple monitors and or very large monitors on user performance and or comfort?
  • What are the recommendations regarding sit/stand with regard to frequency and duration, transitions from sit to stand and are there limits to the frequency or duration of sitting or standing? Are there different ergonomic effects of standing biased, platform, height adjustable tables, etc. for sit/stand work?
  • What are the ergonomic effects associated with the use of unassigned workspaces (e.g. physical accommodation of diverse users in drop-in spaces or hot-desking work environments), or what are ideal setups to enhance group as well as individual interaction and ergonomics?
  • How do age, culture or generational differences, work type, pattern of sit/stand use, location of where one works, etc. affect exposure and expectations with regard to ergonomics in the workplace?
  • Are there new methodologies that can be developed to measure productivity, return on investment, ergonomic workplace assessments, objective measurements of workplace behaviors and practices?
  • What are the ergonomic interventions that will be effective for my company to get me the best return on investment? Do I need to implement all of the ergonomic recommendations, or are there some that might be more effective? How do I know which one(s) to use?