Category Archives: Digital work environment

Psychosocial work environment and nurses

Erebouni Arakelian is organising a very interesting session on psychosocial work environment and nurses and my research group has been invited to join. The conference is organised by Svensk förening för Anestesi och Intensivvård and will hopefully happen in Uppsala in September 2020. Diane Golay and I will be presenting our studies on digitalisation, work engagement and nursing, and we are presenting together with several other interesting talks!

The track called Psychosocial work environment will be on Friday the 19th of September and we hope that Corona is gone by then. You find the full schedule here:


Psychosocial work environment
Moderator: Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala

  1. Introduction to psychosocial work environment, negative health effects, organizational justice and prosperous workplaces Magnus Svartengren, Uppsala
  2. Why do anesthesia and surgical nurses choose to stay or leave their workplace? Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala
  3. Effort-reward imbalance, job-demand control and wellbeing among hospital workers in perioperative context. Robert Wålinder, Uppsala
  4. Nurses digital work environment: The situation today and what can be done to make it better. Diane Golay and Åsa Cajander, Uppsala
  5. Working hours and recovery – effects on health and patient safety
    Anna Dahlbert, Stockholm
  6. Daytime rhythms, light behavior, and sleep. We are affected by light at work
    Arne Lowden, Stockholm

Digital Work Environment and The Health Care Sector: Presentation at Vitalis 2020

Magdalena Stadin from Jönköping University, David Borgestig from Region Uppsala and I will be presenting at Vitalis 2020!

The abstract for the talk (transpated from Swedish)

Today, health care in Sweden is largely digitalised. The data that the business needs to function such as clinical data on patients such as administrative data on personnel, resources and costs are now primarily in digital form. This means that most healthcare and administrative processes are performed using one or more computer systems. This has had major consequences for the health care workers’ work environment.
This presentation begins by explaining what the digital work environment consists of, and some of the work environment problems that have arisen in connection with digitalisation. The digital work environment includes all the different digital systems required to carry out one’s work. The digital work environment can have a major impact on the physical, mental, and social work environment. For example, clicking and typing with a keyboard can cause physical problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders. Poorly designed systems can increase the cognitive load and lead to brain fatigue and overload, which can contribute to fatigue. The transition to digital communication can also change social patterns and power relations in depth.

The presenters have many years of experience in research on digitalisation of healthcare from a work environment perspective and will give examples from the studies they participated in as an introduction to the presentation.

In the presentation we will also elaborate on two different case studies we have done on digitization and the working environment. The first study is about a pilot project in primary care around triaging patients with the help of a chat function. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the staff with the new service? How is the staff’s working environment affected by the change? What can be learned for future implementations in primary care. The second study is an interview study with leaders in health care and their experiences of aspects in the digital work environment that are perceived to contribute to stress and frustration, and how these aspects are handled in a concrete manner. A further theme highlighted by the second study is what improvement measures would be required for the digital work environment to be improved, from the leaders’ perspective.

Finally, we will make recommendations for working with digital work environment in health care.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Writing Book Chapters for a Forthcoming Book in Medical Informatics

Martin Rydmark and Göran Petersson are editors of a forthcoming Swedish book for students and people interested in learning about Medical Informatics. The book will be an updated version of a very popular book written in 1996 named Medicinsk informatik with Liber utbildning as the publisher.

I will be contributing to two of the chapters in the book: 

  1. One about usability and the work environment for health care professionals written together with Diane Golay and Minna Salminen Karlsson
  2. One focusing on person centred care and eServices written together with Axel Wolf, Isabella Scandurra and Maria Hägglund

We will be working with these book chapters in the fall and the first deadline is in November. At this point the work consists of being creative, as the illustration of this blog post is supposed to highlight. We are discussing, and planning the content of each chapter using different colours for the areas that we are going to write about.

For me writing a course book is a new experience, and I also very seldom write in Swedish so this will be something new.



New Project – Methods for a Better Digital Work Environment

Marta Larusdottir and Åsa Cajander received funding from AFA for a project called Software Development for a Better Work Environment (the STRIA project). The project will run from May 2019 to May 2022.

Here is a text presenting the project. The text is a translation from an AFA article found here:

IT systems in health and medical care cause both physical and psychosocial work environment problems, but this is rarely considered when developing computer systems. Åsa Cajander, researcher at Uppsala University, will study the digital work environment in healthcare and administration and further develop three methods for system development.

– Earlier research on how to work in IT projects shows that one rarely or never thinks of work environment consequences, says Åsa Cajander, professor of human-computer interaction at Uppsala University.

– We will map the digital work environment in health care and in administrative work and look at how the latest technology affects the working environment. We plan to look more closely at automation and artificial intelligence.

Åsa Cajander worked as an IT consultant before she began researching digitization and work environment issues in 2002. She has, among other things, participated in a research project on digitization and health in the state and has an ongoing project on nurses’ digital work environment. Now she is going to investigate how to get the work environment perspective already in the development of computer systems.

– There are methods within system development that consider usability. The three methods that are most popular today are one that is based on personas, one that is called think aloud and a so-called heuristic evaluation, where one evaluates interfaces based on certain rules of thumb, says Åsa Cajander.

– We have chosen to try to further develop these three methods together with system developers in workshops and with the help of interviews. The idea is that we should include work environment issues in the toolbox used when working with IT development.

Examination of digital work environment in healthcare

The next step in the project is to investigate the digital work environment in health care and in administrative professions. Åsa Cajander and her colleagues will study how employees within both healthcare and administration work with IT systems and how it affects their work environment.

– We plan to study the digital work environment in Region Uppsala, both in healthcare and in other parts of their business. We also have contacts in Uppsala municipality and in Region Stockholm and hope to do the same there. We may supplement this with studies of the working environment within the administration at a university in Iceland and Uppsala, where one of my colleagues has contacts.

What do you hope for from the project?

– This project has an unusual component and it is that we cooperate with Prevent. They will be involved during the project and then they will receive and manage the results, that is, the further developed methods and a training material we will develop on how to work with the methods.

– Prevent will use our results in their education. It will also be a web education material on their website. I hope for the idea that someone takes care of the research results and markets it, manages it and ensures that it is used. I hope that this can contribute to real change in the field of digital work environment.

What got you from the beginning interested in digital work environment?

– I worked as a consultant around the year 2000 at a large international IT company and saw the consequences of the IT systems out in the workplaces. I saw the users’ frustration, I saw the technostress and how it affected the work structure and work processes. And I really wanted to try to help solve that problem and try to make the digital work environment better, says Åsa Cajander.


Public Seminar about Digitalisation and the Work Environment

A few weeks ago I did a public seminar related to digitalisation and the work environment at Tierp library. I talked about the very techno positive culture that we have in Sweden, and that people seem to think that with digitalisation we solve all problems. We will be more efficient, human errors will disappear and work will be based on rational processes. Examples of very successful IT systems are for example Watson to support decisions in health care and robots for surgery.

However, there is also another very parallel story to this. A story about how seldom IT projects are successful, and how often large IT projects fail completely. And a story about how much money that costs every year (44 billion SEK in 2016 according to Unionen).

There is also a story about people in different organisations who feel frustrated over their jobs, who lose the feeling of satisfaction and joy from working and some even burn out. We need to digitalise with human beings in mind. Digitalisation of work needs to include ideas of how to create a good and motivating work situation.

I think that the small audience that listened were very interested and gave many good examples from their work situation.

Improving the Digital Work Environment – Presenting at a NIVA Course on Digital Work Environments


Ever since I started as a PhD student I have worked with different action research projects related to improving the digital work environment in organizations. Actions research is the methodology that I have explained previously in my blog, see this blog post which is the first one is a series with five blog posts about action research.

As a PhD student, I worked in a being collaborative project called “Aim Healthy” (Satsa Friskt), where are we worked with digital work environments in eight different government organizations. You can read more about the story behind my PhD thesis here, and the actual thesis is found in DIVA.

Digitalization creates a new kind of work, and also affects the work environment. Many times, this is a positive thing, but many times it’s also quite troublesome. Research have come up with many good ideas about how to improve the digital work environment. These ideas include processes, methods, management principles and better design of the systems. However, it is a very difficult to implement these ideas in practice and to help organizations change in a direction that would lead to better digital work environments.

Last week I presented some of the experiences that I have made from working with this the last 15 years. My HTO research group currently have many projects related to the digital work environment. Below are posters presenting three of them, and the posters are also links to blog posts on the HTO group’s blog that present this work: