Work Systems Design

Optimising the performance and wellbeing of humans in complex human-machines systems

What we do

We are a team of researchers with a background in organisational, experimental, and cognitive psychology with expertise in 'work systems design', an area of applied research which sits at the intersection of organisational psychology, human factors, cognition, and systems engineering. We engage with industry and government to inform the design of optimised work systems using an integrative socio-technical approach. Our goal is to support the performance and wellbeing of employees working in complex and dynamic work systems.

What is a work system?


Work systems comprise both social systems (human-related) and technical systems (non-human). As the rise of digital technologies transforms the way we work and live, the design and integration of technical systems will be crucial to their uptake and success. The core principle underlying our approach is that the design of social and technical systems should co-evolve, and work systems optimisation can only be achieved when human and technical aspects are prioritised equally. 

Our Core Tenets

  • Consultative and collaborative: An optimised socio-technical system (STS) design process must include representation from end users in the work system as well as technical experts (e.g., designers/developers) and social system experts (e.g. psychologists) in order to capture key needs and system considerations and constraints.

  • Human-centric: Job roles should support wellbeing by ensuring challenging yet meaningful work for humans. Task allocation guided by good work design principles can enhance human strengths and ensure human limitations are supported by the technical system.

  • Sustainable design: A sustainable work system considers the ongoing endurance of workers over time. This includes not only sustained individual and team performance, but also ongoing attraction and retention of personnel.

  • Pragmatic & compatible: Development of socio-technical systems must be integrated within an organisation’s existing change processes and systems engineering processes.

  • Cross-disciplinary: Expertise is drawn from across a broad range of human sciences to ensure a holistic focus, e.g., how do biological processes, shift structures, work design, and design/technology features contribute to worker fatigue and endurance?

  • Recursive and iterative: A recursive and iterative approach allows for a flexible design process that can adapt to evolving design requirements.

For more information contact: Karina Jorritsma

Chief Investigators

Sharon Parker

Mark Griffin

Project Leader

Karina Jorritsma

Research team also includes

Katrina Hosszu

Belinda Cham

Alexandra Boeing

Michael Wilson

The Future of Work Institute (FoWI) promotes productive and meaningful work as essential foundations of a healthy economy and society.

FoWI’s researchers focus on how people contribute to and benefit from new knowledge and practices, and their mission is to support thriving people and organisations in the digital age.

The Future of Work Institute acknowledges the Wadjuk Nyungar people as the traditional owners of the land on which the Institute is situated.

Contact Us


Future of Work Institute

Curtin Graduate School of Business 

78 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000

Telephone: +61 8 9266 4668


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