New technologies for ageing workers

The extension of retirement age across the globe is inspiring technologists and ergonomics experts to rethink working conditions to accommodate them.

In addition to Age-Friendly Cities (WHO) and Age-Friendly Brands we also need to consider Age-Friendly Employment.

A well documented case study on how companies can modify work environments to increase productivity and worker satisfaction, is the BMW assembly plant case covered in our book and elsewhere.design_story_envelop_1

This article from MIT Technology Review has some great examples of how business is rising to the challenge;

  1. Older workers have a diminished ability to focus on nearby objects. Furthermore, the eyes of 60-year-olds take in only about a third as much light as those of 20-year-olds, because their pupils are smaller and their lenses cloudier. That necessitates brighter office lighting, with as few shadows and dark spots as possible. To minimise digital eyestrain, Carl Zeiss shifts the reading area in its progressive lenses higher and closer to the eyes, taking into account the position in which people hold their smartphones.
  2. One Herman Miller solution for older workers who often need more back support is a desk with a sliding surface that can be drawn nearer to the user, making it possible to sit upright and rest against a chair back while using a mobile device at close range.
  3. Microsoft has for years provided an online “Guide for Individuals with Age-Related Impairments,” showing older workers how to create slower-moving pointers or magnified screen displays by adjusting their computer’s settings.
  4. Ai Squared has developed software for people with macular degeneration, a condition predominantly affecting older people, in which a deteriorating retina causes vision loss in the center of the visual field.
  5. Anti-fatigue mats designed for older workers who stand—rather than sit—on the job. These specialised floor pads better balance the load on ankles, knees, and hips. Hospitals are major buyers for ageing nurses.

All of these concepts relate to one or more of the 25 effects of ageing on which our Age-Friendly philosophy is based.