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Work typically requires attention, multitasking, memory, decision-making and problem-solving. The constant need for learning involves upgrading one’s skills and adopting new tools and ways of working. This kind of work puts a strain on the brain. Information overload, distractions, interruptions and time pressure also burden the brain.

Knowledge-intensive tasks are characterised by a high level of responsibility, their challenging nature, project-specificity and creativity. These factors, combined with a strong commitment to the work of knowledge workers, may lead to a situation where the boundaries between work and leisure become blurred and the working days become unreasonably long. In this case, the employee’s well-being may be affected. In expert work, working alone can be a significant workload factor.

The aim of cognitive ergonomics is to adjust the sources of cognitive strain of work to the characteristics of human information processing. Identifying sources of cognitive strain is particularly important when features of knowledge work are emphasised in the work.

Good cognitive ergonomics improves the functioning of the brain and the profitability and safety of work: the work runs more smoothly, human errors are reduced and well-being at work is improved.

Cognitive functioning

Information ergonomics deals with a person’s capability of observing and controlling the information needed at work and provides support for good planning of work. In an information processing system, the entire chain must be in order: information reception, processing, conclusion and action. The machine, device or process being handled should also provide feedback on the performance. The availability of technical support in case of problems is important.

In addition to information systems, attention must also be paid to the usability of the information itself. If the system provides too much information or it is so confusingly structured that the user cannot find what they need, the information and understanding will be lost. Usability should be based on supporting the work of users.