Thesis defence in the University of Oulu

Doctoral Candidate

Master of Science (Technology) Maria Lindholm

Faculty and research unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Technology, Industrial Engineering and Management Research Unit

Field of study

Industrial Engineering and Management

Date and time of the thesis defence

12.5.2021 12:00

Place of the thesis defence

Remote connection:

Topic of the dissertation

Insights into undesired load factors at work now and tomorrow – Findings from different professions and working conditions


Docent Anna-Maria Teperi, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

Second opponent

Docent Jori Reijula, Vetrea


Professor Seppo Väyrynen, University of Oulu

Insights into undesired load factors at work now and tomorrow – Findings from different professions and working conditions

Globally recognised trends, such as changes in demographic structures and work organisations, the globalisation of economies and social activities, digitisation of work and climate change, are also affecting the Nordic countries. To address the wide range of changes and demands in working life, the length of working careers needs to be prolonged, and employees’ ability to stay at work needs to be improved. Promoting well-being at work and occupational safety are fundamental ways to do so. Undesired factors that hinder well-being at work need to be recognised in order to address them properly in both paid and informal work and to achieve an optimal load.

The main objective of this doctoral thesis is to recognise present and future undesired psychosocial and physical load factors in different professions and working conditions. A further objective is to provide information on how to address the recognised problematic issues at work. This knowledge can be applied to the societal challenges of prolonging working careers and improving well-being at work and occupational safety. The identified undesired load factors and how to eliminate and decrease them are discussed at both the micro- and macro-levels and through a work system framework. The four cases studied in this thesis present work in different forms: diverse paid work in a multi-professional company, paid work in a work environment that was not easily controlled, informal work as unpaid domestic work and work that does not yet exist but is being designed.

The results show that inadequate management actions, difficulties in organising work, client-related difficulties, the demanding state of physical working conditions and physical discomfort were common undesired load factors. These views compared well with occupational safety and health professionals’ perceptions and future challenges.

The knowledge provided can be applied at multiple levels in order to ensure decent work for all. For example, it is vital for companies and organisations to take their personnel into consideration, to develop well-being at work using a participatory and design-oriented process and to improve productivity. At the educational level, students need to be provided with the required information to ensure their and their co-workers’ well-being. At the societal and governmental level, guidance and policies are needed to improve education, and policies, and updated regulations are needed for the development of paid and informal work.



Last updated: 5.5.2021