Working well under pressure

Apr 24, 2009

Many people work better under a tight deadline, but a new study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, suggest that it is a mistake to assume that a team can work effectively under constant time pressure and remain engaged and innovative with the work.

Consumer product design expert Ari Putkonen of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu, Finland, explains that conventionally approaches to project planning can fail because they do not take into account changes in efficiency and innovation of individual design team members throughout a project.

Putkonen has simulated and predicted the dynamic effects of mental workload caused by time pressure on design work. He has taken project management, work ergonomics and studies about occupational health as the framework for his study and found that time pressure and mental workload affect the overall performance, quality and innovativeness of design work. This ultimately affects the lead time of the entire project.

At first, Putkonen explains, mental workload, time pressure, and deadlines can have a positive effect on productivity. This is the encapsulated in the phrase: "I work best under pressure" often uttered by creative individuals and members of terms working in design and related areas where timing is often critical to success. However, this benefit usually only has a positive impact in the short term, Putkonen's study shows.

There are, he has demonstrated potentially negative effects in the long term because time pressure eventually leads to delayed mental fatigue, which affects quality and productivity detrimentally in the long term. Moreover, he says, mental fatigue decreases work engagement, which in turn reduces the innovativeness of a design group.

The failure to recognise these effects, the early burst of efficiency and the smouldering mental fatigue, give rise to unrealistic predictions about human resource needs. Such effects can lead managers and team leaders to make over-optimistic predictions about completion times and so reduce team morale when those deadlines are not met.

Putkonen suggests that effective design work requires management to balance project demands and human resources. "The dynamic simulation model developed in this study simulates the design project from the workers' well-being and management points of view," he explains, "This predicts project durations that are more realistic than those of conventional project-planning methods. It is especially important for management to understand the delayed effects of time pressure when a demanding and long-lasting design project is under way."

More information: "Predicting the effects of on design " in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2009, 6, 477-492, http://www.inderscience.com/ijil

Provided by Inderscience

Explore further: Digital native fallacy: Teachers still know better when it comes to using technology

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team-based e-learning turns a new page

Feb 26, 2008

How do students, who may be located across the globe, collaborate together on team-based project work? European researchers have developed the first online platform that integrates elements of e-learning, social networking ...

Moon jobs will tax mental health of workers

Jun 22, 2007

Think your job is tough? Can’t wait for summer vacation to “get away from it all”? Just wait, says a Rutgers University—Camden researcher. In the not-too-distant future, some jobs will challenge workers placed far, ...

Smart clothes can improve occupational safety

Mar 24, 2005

”Smart clothes” are clothes that employ new technologies: technological developments have made it possible to integrate electronic components into conventional garments. In demanding conditions, such as working in heavy ...

Hard work while fatigued affects blood pressure

Jun 26, 2008

Working hard when fatigued may be admired by many Americans, but it is a virtue that could be harmful to one's health, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The research ...

Recommended for you

Gypsies and travellers on the English Green Belt

Oct 17, 2014

The battle between Gypsies, Travellers and the settled community over how land can be used has moved to the Green Belt, observes Peter Kabachnik of the City University of New York.

Cadavers beat computers for learning anatomy

Oct 16, 2014

Despite the growing popularity of using computer simulation to help teach college anatomy, students learn much better through the traditional use of human cadavers, according to new research that has implications ...

User comments : 0