State of science: The future of work–ergonomics and human factors contributions to the field

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title



Taylor & Francis


School of Business and Law




Bentley, T., Green, N., Tappin, D., & Haslam, R. (2021). State of science: The future of work–ergonomics and human factors contributions to the field. Ergonomics, 64(4), 427-439. https://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2020.1841308


© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article is concerned with scholarly ergonomics and human factors (E/HF) contributions to date to the field of research inquiry known as the ‘future of work’. The review considers E/HF perspectives on how the nature of work is changing and what this means for the practice of E/HF and for human performance and wellbeing at work. This field of research has attracted much attention from scholars from various disciplines as flexible working arrangements and casualised employment, in particular, have come under the microscope during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article begins by setting out the future of work field, focussing on the mega trends and future of work forces that are most relevant to the discipline. Next, E/HF contributions to this field are identified and discussed. Surprisingly, given the E/HF tradition as a system discipline fundamentally concerned with the study of human work, and as a contributor to transdisciplinary research related to the design of work systems, a search of the scholarly literature found few contributions outside of the automation systems field that addressed the future of work and E/HF directly. A research agenda is presented to address gaps in current knowledge in a number of key future of work domains. Practitioner’s Summary: We reflect on E/HF contributions to the ‘future of work’ field and how the practice of E/HF needs to consider the changing nature of work. We outline future of work concerns and suggest research areas for further E/HF attention towards the design of decent and sustainable work for all. Abbreviations: E/HF: ergonomics and human factors; ILO: International Labour Organisation; COVID-19.



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