Playful work environment conference in Lund

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It was Sweden’s turn in August to arrange the largest work environment conference in the Nordic countries, arranged annually by the Nordic Ergonomics and the Human Factor Society (NES). Lund University hosted the conference with the theme of Joy At Work and almost 150 participants from 19 different countries made sure that job satisfaction was high on the list! The three-day long NES conferences usually have a great mix of work environment experts. It is a forum where researchers and more practically-oriented players can meet to share research results and experience. The conference provides a good opportunity for skills development and networking for everybody who is interested in the work environment. There were some presentations that specifically concerned shipping. From the Maritime Academy, we presented our study on the work environment for service personnel, with the focus on participation in work environment efforts. Since so many of the challenges in today’s work environments are shared with most other industries, there were plenty of interesting talks to listen to and learn from. On the theme of Joy at Work, we had some lively inspiration from researcher Samuel West to work with our playfulness for a creative and inclusive workplace: if people were not allowed to be silly sometimes, nothing valuable would ever be done. The message was to create work environments where it is safe to take risks, so that we have the courage to take a step forward and drive innovation.
In Swedish, ergonomics is often associated with physiotherapy and office chairs. It is not wrong, but it’s not at all complete. The Greek term means “people at work” and it covers so much more. Ergonomics can be defined as a multidisciplinary research and application field, centred on the interaction between people, technology and organisations. The aim is to optimise not only health and well-being but also the entire system’s performance when designing products and work. So it is about the individual and the system as a whole, and creating jobs which are adapted for people. This means that we have to consider differences in size, strength and ability to absorb and manage information when we design workplaces, tasks and tools. If you want to know more, you can find all the conference topics at www.nes2017.se. Next year’s anniversary conference will take place on Iceland the week after midsummer. NES will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and I hope that there will be even more of us talking about the maritime work environment!
Cecilia Österman/researcher at the Kalmar Maritime Academy

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