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Sensory ergonomics – a practical way to adapt space for productivity

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Corporate, Wellness, Workspace


“Sen·so·ry” – adj. Pertaining to sensation; That aspect of consciousness resulting from the stimulation of a nerve process beginning at any point in the body and passing through the brain, especially by those stimuli affecting any of the sense organs: hearing, taste, touch, smell, sight and movement.

“Er·go·om·ics” – n. The study of the relationship between man and his working environment, with special reference to anatomical, physiological and psychological factors; human engineering.

Sensory ergonomics, therefore, means the act of manipulating an environment through either adding or withdrawing sensory stimuli to meet the needs of the individuals functioning within that environment. Sensory Ergonomics can only be performed effectively after sensory self-assessments will determine the degree of seeking or sensitivity to sensory stimulation.

  • Low threshold individuals are more sensitive to the environment, they need very little sensory stimuli to meet the threshold and fire a response in the brain.
  • In contrast, high threshold individuals need more sensory stimuli to meet the threshold and fire a response in the brain.

Some Sensory ergonomics for low threshold individuals:

  • Reduce ringer volume on phones (↓ noise)
  • Reduce clutter and create harmonious spaces (↓ visual)
  • Move an individual away from air conditioner outflow (↓ touch)

Some Sensory ergonomics for high threshold individuals:

  • Extend phone cords for individuals who make and/or take phone calls. It gives them the opportunity to walk while talking (↑ movement)
  • Use background noise (↑ noise)
  • Use bright lighting (↑ visual)

A Sensory Intelligence® Consultation will include:

Self-awareness and self-management are both critical to helping individuals and organisations be more successful and productive.