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Jan. 20, 2023

ReCast - How Can We Better Define “Mental Health”?

Taking a break this week, so here's our ReCast of Episode 236 where we talk about what the term “mental health” really means and its impact on Human Factors. We also check in with the community about what keeps us excited and motivated  about Human Factors and User Experience, how to store research, and our opinions on sign up vs. sign in.

Taking a break this week, so here's our ReCast of Episode 236 where we talk about what the term “mental health” really means and its impact on Human Factors. We also check in with the community about what keeps us excited and motivated  about Human Factors and User Experience, how to store research, and our opinions on sign up vs. sign in.

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Originally recorded live on February 24th, 2022, hosted by Nick Roome & Barry Kirby.

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Hey, listeners. Hope you're doing well. I wanted to let you know that this week's episode of the podcast won't be airing as scheduled. Reason for this is, like many of us, we've been feeling the effects of burnout and pressure to constantly produce stuff. So we're inspired by the recent example of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who recently stepped down to prioritize her mental health. Hey, if a Prime Minister can do it, we can do it too, right? We believe it's important to take care of ourselves and each other. And we want to lead by example. We want to be sure that we're always bringing you stuff that's the best content possible. And that means taking the time to recharge, refocus all that good stuff, right? Instead of a new episode this week, we're going to be recasting an episode on how to better define mental health as a reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other. We'll be back next week with some fresh stuff, and we appreciate you understanding. Thank you all for your continued support. Take care of yourselves and we hope you enjoy the recast.


Welcome to Human Factors Cast, your weekly podcast for human factors psychology and design.



Hello, everyone. Buddy. Welcome back to another episode of Human Factors Cast. This is episode 236. We're recording this live on February 24, 2022. I'm your host, Nick Rome, joined today by Mr. Barry Kirby. Hey, Nick, it's great to hear you. Oh, thanks, Barry. I really appreciate that one. We got a great show for you tonight. Barring no technical issues, we'll be talking about what the term mental health really means and its impact on human factors. And later, we're going to answer some questions from the community about what gets us excited and motivated about Human Factors UX, your job in general, how to store research at your work, and our opinions on sign up versus sign in. But first, here's a programming note for you all. We are going to have some upcoming coverage of the Human Factors Healthcare Symposium. This is something that we've done over the last couple of years. Currently, we're finalizing some plans with leadership to bring you a preview of what to expect. We're going to do that sometime soon. But I do want to mention that we have asked in our discord chat, if there's anything specific that you all want to hear about, let us know there. And that kind of goes for conference coverage in general. If there's any sort of things that you find most valuable about when we go out to conferences and come back, whether it's the interviews, whether it's talking about specific presentations that we went to, whether it's hearing about the program and what the experience was like. We want to hear about that because we want to produce content that's relevant to you and that you'll get something out of. Anyway, I think that's all I have for notes. So why don't we go ahead and get into the news? That's why you're here.



Yes. It's human factors news. I don't need to do this. If you've been here, you know what this is. Barry, what is the news story this week? So the standards are just lacking. Now, the story this week is researchers call for greater clarity over what constitutes a mental health problem. So a new review of the theoretical models used around the world to assess, diagnose, research, and treat mental health problems has highlighted the vast array of approaches which exist. So by examining over 100 publications which refer to mental health or mental illness in some way, the researchers have identified 34 different theoretical models used by practitioners, researchers, and users of mental health services to understand the nature of mental health problems. Importantly, they found that there was no criteria which could be used to prioritize why one model might be used over another. This really matters, they say, because how mental health problems are understood has lasted in ramifications for how people with mental health problems are assessed and supported. In view of the wide range of models that are used by practitioners. The researchers are now calling for greater clarity over how different and potentially contrasting mental health models can be used in practice. They argue that this debate needs greater input from non medical professionals and service users. Nick, we've talked about mental health issues a number of times over the past few episodes. What are your thoughts on this greater call for engagement from the wider community? Yeah, this one's tricky. Obviously. Mental health has been on my mind lately and I'm really glad that we found a topic to kind of channel some of this discussion. I think a couple of weeks ago, Frank, who was a previous guest on the show, mentioned in Discord that this would be an awesome topic to talk about. And he said that after hearing about my experience with ADHD and I'm just glad we found a story that goes well. In terms of my thoughts on how we define mental health and what they're mentioning here, I absolutely think this is true. I think when you think about mental health, or when the common person thinks about mental health, they think about issues or sort of non neurotypical thoughts, behaviors, actions, all these things. And so when we define mental health, we need to make sure that that is kind of treated equivalent to our physical health. Right. When you think about being in a good physical shape, meaning you don't get winded doing basic activities like myself, or basically that you are exercising your body, and that is physical health and mental health, we need to think about exercising our mind and making sure that we are in a good place psychologically. I've gone on quite a bit about my initial general impressions of the article. Barrier, what are you thinking about this? I think it's really insightful because I think it's a really long overdue review. The whole mental health piece is still we treat it like we know everything about it, right? That all we need to do is you're going to do some exercise or you throw some drugs at it and stuff like that. And we kind of have this perception that it's well and so. But actually this highlights that we're still very much feeling our way around it. We still don't truly know. We're kind of dealing with the symptoms rather than the causes because it's still a lot of work to be done. And that combined with the stigma around mental health, there is still a huge amount of stigma around mental health and I like to think that it's borne out of ignorance rather than malice that a lot of the stigma is there just because we don't truly understand what's going on. But the idea that this review gives us the or highlights the fact that we don't have a decent structure to be able to assess which are the right models to be applying to different causes, different ideas, I think is really good. So it feels like a starting point. It feels like there's still a lot of work to be done. I think it's probably worth diving into some of those issues around mental health, their understanding. So I was wondering if you could give us a bit of any sort of insights. Yeah, I do want to kind of preface our discussion today. I know a lot of people are probably listening and saying, well, what does mental health really have to do with human factors? We're going to jump into that. But really I want to kind of understand the foundation of mental health and I'm not going to read this verbatim, but I'm going to jump around a little bit. This is from Mentalhealth Gov, which is, I would imagine, a government funded effort to understand mental health. And so I think when we kind of think of our traditional understanding of mental health, this is kind of what they're saying, right? It includes our emotional, psychological, social wellbeing, it affects how we think, feel, act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. And this is a really important thing at every stage of life from childhood and adolescence all the way through adulthood. And they go on to say over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, basically your thinking, your mood or behavior could be affected because of what's going on in your head. And there's a lot of different things that go into mental health, right? So like biological factors, genes, brain chemistry, those types of things, life experiences. Trauma is a big one, abuse is another big one. Or family history with mental health issues or I shouldn't say issues. I shouldn't say issues. Mental health problems is what they say here. So obviously one big caveat to all this help is available. There are resources available and we'll link some of those on the description of the show notes here. But beyond sort of the textbook definition of mental health, I do want to kind of mention that some, some interesting stats here. All of us, everyone on this planet has mental health and that's something to remember. We, we all have this mental health. And when you think about everybody on the planet, approximately 25% of us will experience some difficulty with mental health. And getting into my personal story, I didn't realize that something was wrong until I started reading other people's experiences around. For me it's ADHD and I didn't understand that thinking in certain patterns or hyper focusing on something or sort of rationing out in my brain, these certain things weren't neurotypical and it was very surprising to me. And statistics like this kind of go to show it. I didn't know I was one of those four. And so I don't know there's help available. We'll link that. But anything to add to the understanding of what mental health is before we kind of get into the human factor side of this whole topic. No, I think actually, it's almost just to reinforce that last piece of what you said, is that mental health and mental health problems, clearly they're related. But just having an appreciation of your mental health, everybody needs to do it in the same way that we think about fitness. Or maybe I should think about that fitness thing a bit more and eating healthy again. I need to do more of that. We need to think more about our mental health and that type of thing, just because what I quite like is the fact that now the term mental health is so common in our vocabulary and actually younger generations as well are much more aware of mental health. And the fact that you need to be aware of it is a really good thing. And I would just strongly encourage everybody to be just willing to talk about it because like I said, it's something that we want to hide because, as you quite rightly say, everybody has mental health and we need to keep that healthy and be self aware. As you said, there's issues that I've not realized have been going on until you reflect somebody else's position and it can be quite a scary thing to try and talk about and admit such things, but I think these things are getting easier anyway. Should we dive into some of how mental health affects human factors? Yes, let's do it. Do you want to just kind of give us a brief state of mental health and human factors and then we can kind of dive into some specific examples? Yeah, to look at the generic bit, there's many applications for applying human factors to mental health care, but there's actually not a lot on how mental health impacts our ability to do things, how to use things before our jobs, monitor systems. There is a decent resource to Human Factors 101 com, where they talk about mental well being in the workplace, particularly through COVID-19, but it's worth highlighting some of the obligations, particularly for the employer, what you've got to be aware of. So employees do have a responsibility to ensure the mental wellbeing of their staff and actually that's quite a sensible thing, isn't it? Because certainly given a lot of what we're doing, you think that it would be a number one priority. In many countries, employees have a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of workers. So here in the UK, we have the Health and Safety at Work Act that requires employers to secure the health, including mental health, safety and welfare, and employees that whilst at work and amongst other things, basically provide a safe place of work, ensure you've got safe systems of work and provide information and training. And interestingly, we've just done our annual training on on on this type of thing, which is which is quite good. In Australia, organizations have obligations to do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimize work related risks to health and safety. This would include any psychological risks created by COVID-19, so but it is worth noting that all the laws only set a minimum standard and there's nothing to stop you going above and beyond these by setting greater improvements across a whole range of measures if you want to take additional actions. But a recent study by the World Health Organization estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy over a trillion dollars each year in lost productivity. So it's clear business benefits to be able to manage mental well being alongside. And that's aside from the moral and legal issues, fundamentally there is a driver on employers to not only look at the physical safety of what you're doing, but the mental health application as well. Yeah, it would be easy to do, wouldn't you? Yeah. I want to jump in here. Thank you for covering the UK side of the house. I want to mention the US side of the house for a second. So we have something similar, we have Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that's OSHA, and they have a bunch of standards for workplace. And when you think about mental health, I don't want to call it a gap, it's not a gap in OSHA. They have it covered in several standards. I'm looking at one right now, 19, four, five, which is specifically looking at determination of work relatedness. And so if you want to go look it up and read it for yourself, you can. But I'm just going to kind of briefly mention here that when they mentioned mental health in this capacity, they're basically asking if there's a situation where an injury or illness occurs in the workplace that is sort of work related, right? So is it related? Is it covered under one of these things? If the illness is a mental illness, it's not considered work related unless the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed therapist or professional who can basically vouch that the mental illness is work related. And so when you think about it from the US side, we don't really have that same kind of protection in place, which is not great. How do you define the difference? And I know we sort of get into discussion to some extent, but how do you really define the difference between whether something is a mental health issues work related or not? Because it's so from a mental perspective, you can't compartmentalize between home life in that way, can you? Look, I mean, if you get a therapist to sign off on it, then you're good. But the issue is that there's no obligation, there's no standard that is meant for mental health that says an employer has an obligation to protect the mental health of their employees. So that's just a picture from the US side of things. I just wanted to mention that in relation to your previous points there. I do want to jump into kind of well being at work in general. And so a lot of these you mentioned it right there's little separation between work life balance in some cases and how do you really pick apart which one is which. There's a lot of aspects of work that kind of contribute to some of these mental health issues. And as we saw with the pandemic over the last couple of years, this has really kind of flared up a lot of it. There's additional impacts on people in the workplace now. People are working from home. There's different family dynamics that are happening now between people who maybe weren't at home before and are at home now and there's children in the picture and it's a whole mess. But again, I want to kind of get away from the COVID situation because there's a lot of application here outside in like a typical working environment as well. And there's a whole laundry list here of ways in which the working environment can support well being or lead to mental health issues. And I want to mention a couple of these just right off the top just to kind of go through this list almost. And maybe we can pick apart some of our favorites, but I'm going to read off just a couple here. So there's a lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities can contribute to mental health issues, changes to those roles, routines, procedures or expectations set on employees, longer working hours, extra shifts, overtime, changes to work location. So like working from home, being not able to take annual leave, that's also a contributing factor here. Increased workload, work pressures, obviously those types of things, taking on additional duties, responsibilities with insufficient training, increased threat of workplace discrimination, aggression or violence from customers, clients or patients. Fear in the workplace. They talk about this in relation to COVID-19, but I imagine this applies to other things about sexual identity, gender, all those types of things as well. Concerns about exposure to COVID-19 while on public transport. I argue that that's outside of the workplace, but still relevant because you need public transport to get there. More COVID-19, specific stuff. Uncertainty about your employment. So that's another big one. Financial worries due to unstable or reduced employment, extended absence due to furlough. Rapid decision making that is required of the employees, logistical issues, obtaining materials, making difficult choices in healthcare settings. Wow, that's a heavy hitting one. We got the healthcare symposium coming up, y'all, if you want to hear about some of those serious illness or death of work colleagues and witnessing the serious illness or death of patients in the healthcare sector, wow, that is a huge list. There's other factors too. We'll get into those in a minute. Barry, I want to talk to you really quick. Are there a couple in this list that you want to focus on a little bit and talk through? Yeah, for me to hit is the working longer hours. And that really links in with this working from home around COVID. And so we're going to have the new normal, whatever the new hybrid working looks like. And I think that's going to be going for a while. And there's a bunch of things around the whole working from home piece that a lot of people say, no, you should get back to the office, this, that and the other. But in some respects there's a level of me agreeing with that because people tend to overwork when they're at home. So if they're at home, particularly if their home set up is maybe on the dining room table, or it's at the end of the living room, it's in the same room as where you socialize. People end up generally working longer hours than what you would do in the office, because the office, you can put the computer down, you leave and you go. Whereas with the whole working from home, people have found that you're going to be working longer hours. So I think that whole change into the work location mixed with the longer hours actually is something that you can see how that would burn people out and make that go longer. So I think that is something we should particularly be aware of. I've got a bit of a bandwagon thing at the moment about whatever this new normal looks like. We need to work out about how to ensure people's safety at home, not just physical safety, but our mental health safety just around the bits of work. I think it's easy to guilt people into working longer. Is there anything in there that particularly tickled you off on things? Yeah, there's a couple. It's hard reading through this list and not trying to identify with some of them because at some point I've identified with a lot of these barring, some of the more serious ones in like a healthcare setting. But I think certainly a lot of us have experienced some sort of lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities, especially as human factors practitioners. I think a lot of times it's our job to kind of come up with who's doing what and how that whole process happens. And so that comes with the job, but it's also kind of, I guess, unsettling to not know something set in stone. Another one that's interesting to me and relevant to me is uncertainty about employment. In my head, I have a network of connections. I'm not afraid of finding another job. But when you work on contract work, it's sort of this really intense pressure on you to not only finish up the project that you're working on, but to find another job in that same time frame. So that way you have continued work afterwards. And I know that has burned out a lot of colleagues of mine, that uncertainty about employment with continuing on through contract work and that's kind of another one that I wanted to bring up, and I'm bringing these up through the lens of human factors professionals. You can kind of look at this list and think of a lot of different things that can really impact your ability to work and your mental health. And that's kind of what we're talking about here. All these are human factors issues. All these can be solved with human factors applications, right? Well, most of them anyway. Let's talk about other impacts that kind of contribute to mental health but maybe outside the workplace, but could still impact your performance at work. So in the case of the pandemic, right, we all have social isolation from family, from friends, sort of an increase in domestic violence. That is something that we saw numbers spike early days of the pandemic because everyone was not used to being in the same space. It's really sad. You also have sort of pressures for caring, for independence, sick relatives, those types of things, child care, homeschooling and employment. All these things are kind of competing interests for time and energy. You have illness or bereavement for family and friends. And this is especially true during the pandemic as well. And just a general note to kind of top off this whole section here. Basically, when you have poor mental well being or poor mental health or whatever you're attributing, whatever you're calling it, your ability to perform some of these everyday duties is compromised. A lot of these are influencing your human performance, right? If you think about human factors terms, it's weakening your human performance in the workplace and in your personal life as well. And so if you address some of these factors, any of these factors, really, it's going to improve that reliability of the human to do their job and really just function properly, right? If you think about a human functioning, the ability to function properly is probably what we're talking about most here. If you think about sort of jobs with high risk or high safety critical incidents like a pilot or a doctor or TSA or something where it really is mission critical that you are on 100% good health or firefighter, any one of these first responders. There could be a variety of different professions in which these contributing factors are really going to make or break even saving a life. And so we got to think about all these things holistically, all these different issues that impact mental health and then also how mental health impacts our performance on the job. Okay, I've talked a lot, barry, I want to give you an opportunity to kind of clean up if there's anything in this section before we kind of move on to actually discussing the article itself. Yeah, I think this really does highlight really there is a strong responsibility, an employer and colleagues actually, to look out for each other. But we should be driving in the same way as we do from a physical aspect. We encourage the right set of the desk, we do DSC assessments, all that, all that type of stuff, from a health and safety perspective. And we physically ensure that our employees and our staff and our colleagues physically are set up to do this properly. We should also be doing this from a mental health perspective. We as human factor practitioners are in an ideal position to push that through. And really the argument to the employer should be quite easy because as you quite rightly just said, if we're suffering from not necessarily mental health problems is such in the full on form, but even just that poor mental health well being, our performance isn't on top. So therefore we're not being as productive as we could be in the workplace. So there is a value for money thing there for employers to ensure that everyone's in tiptop mental health form because you'll be more productive. So that's it. So I think we assume practice practitioners probably have a bit of a job to do in flying this banner, a bit more than possibly we have been doing today. That is a huge understatement. So we're cutting content for time, but if you're sticking around on our live version, or if you're listening to this later, our patrons get the full audio version. If you're listening to this later, listen to the post show or go find us our PO on any of our video platforms, we're going to be talking about things like risk assessment, communication, consultation, work design, mental well being, resources, all that stuff. As it relates to human factors issues on the story, we just got to cut a little bit for time. But I do want to make sure we do have some time to talk about the article itself. So getting back to this main issue of, like, how do we categorize mental illness or how do we define it? And sort of also how do we sort of standardize these models for a lot of us, in terms of our knowledge from a psych background we know of the DSM and that's kind of like I don't want to say the Bible, but it is a reliable source for some of these maybe more abnormal. I don't even want to say abnormal. It's just less typical neurodivergent mental health patterns. And so there's that. But I think what this article is saying is that we need to go beyond that. We need to look at some of these models themselves and talk about what are mental health problems, what counts as a mental illness, what kind of impacts do these have within health care, those types of things. Barry, are there any sort of cherry picked talking points that you want to bring out from this article itself? So I think there is. The one element that you just touched on there is being very almost careful in our language or allowing us to define that language a bit better around what are things around just mental health about allowing us to be more reflective on mental health and what helps and detracts gives us better or worse mental health in of itself. In the same way that going for a run will make you a bit fitter and all that sort of stuff. So just general, how do we affect that? And then getting to the difference between, right, well, what's a problem, what's an illness, and really being able to define that in the same way as we would physically. But what I thought was interesting around the article was the end is the fact that we have a broad range of perspectives around who does this. And what the researchers are suggesting is that rather than just engaging with doctors and specialists which are bringing in opinions from those people who are outside, from the people who use the services, and what they highlight is that could be a real issue for them in the long term, but actually might be a way to go in the short term. What about you, Nick? Is there anything there that strikes you that we should be highlighting before we finish this bit? Yeah, I do want to kind of follow up on that point of not necessarily counting on specialists and researchers, but asking service users which model they feel to be most appropriate for them. And I think it's almost like democratization of models, and I think that's really helpful. Right. You think about these models as like tools and a toolkit, not necessarily the end all, be all. And when you kind of take that approach, people can sort of think about mental health and the way that's best suited to them. And the one thing that this might have consequentially is you might think that the non medical models might become a little bit more important or quote unquote important than some of these clinicians would be willing to accept because it is kind of based on the subjective experience of the person. There's all sorts of models right? There's biological, psychological, social models. And if you think about these models kind of fracturing, the researchers are showing that these types of models are fracturing into different sub models, if you will, and they're thinking about this field being dominated by psychiatry, psychology. You really need to bring in the perspectives of the people who are actually experiencing these issues and other professionals in other settings, like nurses or social workers who experience this on a day to day basis. And you need to have them be heard to kind of incorporate their feedback into this larger discussion about what constitutes mental health. I think that's really all I had about the article. Barry, any other closing thoughts? No, not in particular. I think it's a really good starting point. I like the idea in this particular element that we spent a long time developing approaches and different bits now feels like. An appropriate time to go back to basics, almost restructure, look at refresh what we're doing and to see whether we now know more and can apply things better. So I look forward to hopefully at some point, maybe six months time or something, being able to maybe revisit this and see where we've got to with it. It feels like an exciting time. Yeah, I agree. I do want to just pose the question to you. In Barry's words, how would you define mental health? Put you on the spot, clever Barry wouldn't, but no, for me it's everything that we do, it's what defines us actually as people because everything that goes, it's about us feeling comfortable with ourselves and what we do on a day to day basis. Because if you're feeling comfortable with being free enough to express yourself, do what it is that you want to do, work in the way that you want to work and just generally exist in a way that it doesn't necessarily have to be exciting to you all the time, but just content. I think that means everything is sort of an equilibrium in some way, but it's still a big known for me. There's loads of different definitions and I'm going to bow out at this point. Dan Barry, you stole my answer. No, I think ultimately if you think about mental health, to me you kind of hit it with that equilibrium comment. You're going to experience a wide range of either ailments or sort of phases where there's little to no issues or problems that you experience. And I think to me what healthy mental health is, is somewhere right in the middle where you don't let one strong feeling on either side of that gamut really pull you in the direction so hard that everything else in your life is kind of impacted by it. That is the simplest way I can put it. I'm not an expert. Barry's experts, but not in mental health. We're not mental health experts, let's put it that way. And so with that, I think we kind of handled this delicately. There's a larger conversation to be had. I'm excited because we got to talk about it in the Human Factors lens. But with that, let's move on. I just want to thank our patrons this week for selecting this topic. We've been looking for a mental health topic for a while. And thank you to our friends over at University of Bath for our news story this week. If you want to follow along, we do post the links to all the original articles on the weekly roundups that we put on our blog. You can also join us in our discord for more discussion on these stories. We're going to take a quick break and then we'll be back to see what's going on in the Human Factors community right after this. Human Factors Cast brings you the best in Human Factors news interviews, conference coverage and overall fun conversations into each and every episode we produce. But we can't do it without you. The human factors. Cast network is 100% listener supported. All the funds that go into running the show come from our listeners. Our patrons are our priority and we want to ensure we're giving back to you for supporting us. Pledges start at just $1 per month and include rewards like access to our weekly Q and A's with the hosts personalized professional reviews and Human Factors Minute, a patreon only weekly podcast where the hosts break down unique, obscure and interesting Human Factors topics in just 1 minute. Patreon rewards are always evolving. So stop by Human Factors Cast to see what support level may be right for you. Thank you. And remember, it depends. Yes, huge thank you as always to our patrons. Especially want to thank our honorary Human Factors Cast Staff patrons. Michelle Tripp. I do want to mention we always talk about patreon and I want to mention another resource for you all. I think one thing that kind of goes often undiscovered is our website. We have an awesome website with a bunch of functionality built in for you all. You can do all sorts of fun stuff over there. So some of the things that are kind of standard for most podcast websites, you got detailed show notes, including links to any guests that were on this week, some embedded YouTube videos that kind of link up with the episodes. You can see how handsome Mr. Berry is. And we also got other things on there aside from the podcasting stuff that we do, all the stuff that comes out of the Digital Media Lab, that's what we put on our website. We have News Roundups, weekly roundups, monthly roundups, and this is a good opportunity to check in with some of the other stories that we may not cover on the show. We used to do three stories, I think, in one week on the show, which actually was kind of insane now that I think about it, because there's no way you could cover those in depth. And now that we're doing one story a week, I think it's much better. Let's see here. Like I said, additional information on our guests there's deep dives onto different topics that we have and there's ways to submit your own stories on our website. So if you come across something that's Human Factors related, you want us to talk about it, you want us to know about it, there's a way for you to submit it there. You can go in, search all the episodes for content. If you want to learn more about mental health, you can go to our website and search it. We have conference recaps on there. I'm going on, right? If it's been a minute since you've checked out our website, or if you don't know that we even have a website, go check it out. It's Human Factorscast media. It's a media website. Not but Human Factorscast media. Again, we'll put the link in the show notes, but again, a really valuable resource. Just wanted to make sure that the community knows about it. Speaking of the community, we're going to get into this next part of the show we like to call It Came From. Yes, it came from. This is the part of the show where we search all over the Internet, or we've already searched. It's not like we're actively searching in this part of the show. We've already searched. We got it for you. And this is where we find topics that the community is talking about. If you find any of these useful, be sure to give us a like to help other people find this content. Okay, we got three up this week. First one is a question for established professionals. What has gotten you excited about UX and your job in the last quarter? This is from hither and yon on the user experience subreddit. We're going to apply this to Human Factors as well. As the subject says, I'm just trying to amplify my interest in work right now and I'm curious what's been getting you going. So Barry, how do you stay motivated at work and how do you stay motivated in Human Factors and with your job in general? The Human Factors bit is easy, I think, because everything that we do, because you can apply what we do to pretty much anything, then a lot of the fun bit around Human Factors is getting the nitty gritty of what are human issues around B. This is anything to do with man system or all the way through to a piece of equipment in your kitchen. There is generally that bit. But around the job itself, I keep myself motivated by a not having my project being too long and about having more than one thing on the go at any one time. And so generally, as much as I love all of my projects and they're all like small children to me and I care for them dearly, some of them can get a bit annoying. And that happens with any sort of long project. And a long project for me is maybe typically said maybe 18 months to two years. So if I've got something going like that, I generally like to have something else to at least one other to put into the mix. And that means that when you're getting maybe a bit tired of one project, rather than having to keep slogging on with it, you can take a break by going to do something else and keep mixing it up. And I think that's generally what you got to do is mix up what you do. Our field allows us to basically take on a broad variety of jobs that just keeps everything fresh and you'll find a new problem and new issue and ways of applying what you do generally into a new domain. So yeah, I think that is one of the massive selling factors about human factors and UX is the fact that we are so broadly applicable that if you get bored or you get frustrated or whatever happens in one domain or job or something else, you can then go on and do the same thing somewhere else quite easily. What about you, Nick? What gets you excited about your job? That's a great question and I want to comment on one of your points there about our work in general is working on a bunch of different things and you're right. Except in the case where you are working for a company and it's one product, there's still variety within the product, but you're still working on the same thing. And I think that is a little harder to maintain sort of this excitement and motivation to keep going. And really you do have to take the approach that you're talking about here, find new things that get you excited about it. And that really hasn't been an issue for me. But I know some excitement about the product is not the issue. I think the motivation within Human Factors is maybe a bigger issue and I think it's easy for us. We have a podcast every week that we discuss human factors. It gives me that outlet to discuss topics that maybe I'm not working on and still gives me that excitement of connecting over another topic. So I still get my fix, right. So I guess my advice would be like, talk to other people who maybe aren't working on the same thing that you're working on and if you hear about the way that they talk about it, then you might get excited about that topic again. Right? So, I don't know. You're working on a product, you press a button that does something very simple, right? But what if that something is so beneficial to that person's job? I'm describing a user here, by the way, so beneficial to that person's job that they would love to have that button. They just want that button. Well, then your motivation should be to make that button the best button it could be in the right place so that way that person can do their job. Bad analogy, probably. I don't know. I get motivated talking to the people who actually use the product. That's my point. I get motivated by talking to users. The work that we're doing actually matters. I think that is the part that really just gets me to get up in the morning. All right, let's get into this next one here. This one is titled long Term Archive of Research Outputs. This is by Fox 91. Again on the user experience subreddit here. They're wondering what other teams use to store their past research efforts, whether this is customer research, competitive analysis or something like that. They have a wiki at their company which works, but it's not really conducive to holding all the artifacts and such. However, it is nice because with the Wiki search it makes it at least able to find an older test or a project. They use Mirror, which is another tool for some of their work, but they're finding that other than titles, you can't really search within the boards, so work gets lost over time. Barry, storage of work and artifacts is incredibly important because there might be something that you've worked on in the past that you need to go and look at. What are your thoughts on storage of documents and information at work? So you're absolutely right. It is important because it's not necessarily going to lose stuff that you gain. You don't gain the advantage you could get by being able to quickly call up the stuff that you've done before and be able to reuse previous stuff and you might be just crying out for stuff and you've actually already got it within you've already got it within your ecosystem somewhere. So we've had this problem with my company, APAC, quite recently. It's something I've actually been trying to solve over, wow, about ten years now. About the thing, I've almost come to a perfect solution for us. We've obviously highlighted a couple of tools there already. We use the Microsoft tool and really what we've done and you could do this, it doesn't have to be share point, I don't think you could do it in Google Drive and things like that as well. But we've set up the way that we deal with project in, not in a closely regimented format, but in a way that we can pick up a project, show that it's live, but when it then dies down and finishes that, we can archive that project in such a way that nothing truly disappears. We do a clean up job on the project now because it's within our process. So you get rid of all of the NIF Nap and trivia the various document evolutions that you've had. So the stuff that you're definitely not going to use, but we still keep all the project artifacts and all the deliverables that we have, we actually extract into a different repository within that same size. So that allows us to use the global search function, which will then dive into not only the different document names on the titles, but actually search within the documents themselves, which has just proven now really powerful. And actually it was this week that I was then searching for something, some research, it was a topic around simulation, and we actually did some simulation work eight years ago that I completely forgotten about. And because we've done this reorganization, I was able to search for it and it popped up. I was like, oh yeah. And this works on two levels. One is not only the work that you've done, so the final reports you produce, the artifacts you produce, but if you're doing some sort of literature review. You might have reviewed literature already that you've kind of just forgotten about because it was ten years ago. But you keep that literature in a repository and be able to be able to pull that out as well. So, yeah, for me, the newer cloud technologies is working really well. Like I said, we don't use SharePoint in the way that it flows, and I think it's certainly the evolution just in the past twelve months has been quite phenomenal. So, yeah, that's my solution, and I'm very evangelical about it because it now works for me, which it hasn't done in the past. What about you, Nick? What do you use for your long term archive? This it came from, brought to you by SharePoint. I've used a variety of different things in the past. I've used Wikis, I've used shared drives where stuff gets lost in folders and it's really inefficient. I've used Wikis where people don't check the pages, and it's really inefficient. I've used SharePoint where people don't know where to store things or where things are stored, and it's really inefficient. The thing that I think I want you to take away from this is not necessarily the tool or the way in which you store the information. It's who's using it, are they trained to use it, and can you find stuff on it? There's probably an optimal way, I think Barry's way is probably fine and probably works best for their company. But for me, what I've found success with is when you have everybody using something like a Wiki, you can store things on a wiki. You can link to other repositories and have information on. There an archive, if you will, of past projects that have worked well. You can also implement a tagging system. If you know something was like a results or an outcomes brief, you can tag it outcomes or results or keep it consistent, but whatever it is, you can tag it and then search across all of your stuff and say, okay, well, here's results from this project. Or if you have a certain project that you're doing for a certain contract, get a hashtag for that contract. HFC 2022. Human Factors. Cast 2022. Right. And that way you can see all the things that were associated with that project and be consistent about it. Put it in the file name. So that way, you know, you might need to look for the methods that you did for HSC 2022, and you can type in hashtag methods, hashtag HSC 2022. Go back and find it really easily, because you have put it in the file name or at the header of the document. And if it has robust enough search, if your platform has robust enough search, it will find that really easily. That tagging is really crucial too, especially when it comes to user feedback. But that's a whole other separate thing. That's not file storage, that's analysis. We'll get into that another time. That's my thoughts on it. I don't know. Well, just before you do that, I think the most important bit that probably both of us come out with is none of this happens by accident. It takes a little bit of planning, it takes a little bit of thought, it might take a little bit of evolution, but it does take the process word, but it does take a little bit of agreeing a process and working with it and then briefing everybody else into it. So everybody uses it in the same way no matter what platform you use, get the process right and then everything else actually you reap the rewards later on. Yeah, I agree. This last one is something that we don't typically do, but we're going to do it anyway. This question is why is sign up ultra prominent nowadays but sign in gets buried? This is by adequate elderberry on the User Experience subreddit. We don't typically talk about UI stuff too much. They say hello, UX folks. I've noticed over some time that a lot of popular platforms seem to be making account creation procedures more and more central, older, eye catching, et cetera. The reasoning here is not too hard to understand. They all want more users and are streamlining the processes, but I'm baffled why they often do it at the expense of a login procedures for existing accounts. It's gotten to the point where I'm actually annoyed having to look up some small non bold sign in text link the upper right hand corner or something like that. I also noticed the wording in general seems to shift from registerlogin to sign in versus sign up, which brings no obvious advantage, but is more likely to get mixed up. So please tell me, from a professional, human factors or UX perspective, is there any underlying rationale behind some of these developments that escapes my layman's awareness as there is so often in UX? So from my perspective, I think the majority of it is because we now make so much use of auto sign in that the actual times you go and click in the actual sign in button is so limited compared to when you first land on something and they really want to drive you into signing up. Moving forward, especially now, there's a whole lot of problems around using either your Google ID, your Facebook ID, Apple ID, all the other ideas already exist. They're trying to get you to training with that. And because when you normally now go on it and you'll be auto logged in if you've already signed up, the chances of you seeing that page are actually slim, very low. Now, there is an interesting flip on this that there are some pages out there now some sites out there that in fact we've used recently that actually just trying to find the sign up element is really, really difficult. Yet the sign in is really prominent, which seems to fly in the face of this to a certain extent, but that also does seem to be a bit of a trend, which I can't justify my head as easily as I can justify this one. But, yeah, I think for me, that fundamentally that's what that's why it is, because so many people don't really actually see the the login page now because we do the auto signing. Nick, have you got a different take to that? No, I have the same take. I think the other piece of this I don't know. It's probably a back end thing, honestly, but I don't understand why at this point in 2022, we can't just put in our credentials what we think they are and if they exist. Log in, great. Found a user for this user name, great. If they don't exist, hey, would you like to make an account? And it's just all one unified login. That's my grumbly take. I think more seriously, I think you're right. Everyone's going to be logged into these systems 90% of the time and the 10% of the time that you're not. You just got to do a little hunting. And they've kind of weighed that with the sort of benefit of having one of these sign up things available and easy to get to. So that way people get in their system. That's ultimately what it comes down to. I don't think we're sort of overthinking it at all. I think that's kind of it. And I think just in terms of the wording register versus sign up, I think register has a more it's a different connotation to it. It's almost like you're committing to something where signing up is like kind of an industry standard right now for getting into a platform. That's my two cent. I don't want to spend too much time on this. We don't normally do these, but it was a fun one. I'm grumbly about it just proves that we can still do that whole UX thing. Yeah, we can do stuff. We do this in our day job. Oh, yeah, I remember. All right, well, this next part of the show needs no introduction. It's just one more thing. Barry, what is your one more thing this week? And I'm going to stick with one more thing rather than my two. I'm going on holiday next week. We talked about mental health and needing to refresh and regenerate and all that sort of stuff, and I'd like to say that I very much volunteered to go on holiday next week. But as is my usual thing, I was told I'm going to holiday next week because apparently, who knew? I'm a little bit stressed in quite a while. And we come into the end of a couple of very large jobs and this, that and the other that amanda very kindly suggested in a very forthright manner, that we're going on holiday. And so I'm really very much looking forward to it. We've got a stressful couple of days just to finish out a couple of bits of work next week. I'm not allowed to take my laptop. I think my phone is going to be slightly restricted. So, yeah, I'm going to try and practice what we preach today and go and look after myself a little bit. I am thrilled for you. So that means you're going to leave me high and dry next week for content? Yeah, sorry. I want to say don't worry about it because like I said, we are trying to get some of that healthcare symposium preview out for you in place of a regular scheduled podcast next week. So that's why we didn't put it in the programming notes. Anyway, if nothing's next week, Barry is on holiday. As for me, I had a I don't know, it was a weird moment over the last couple of weeks. We've had some technical sat backs on the show. Last week it was my microphone and two weeks ago it was the fact that the service that we used to broadcast kind of froze up on us towards the end of the show, so we lost some content. Really. This has kind of got me down. I know it's just a podcast, but really we do put a lot of effort and time into this thing on a weekly basis and genuinely it's something that we feel passionate about and so when it doesn't go as well as it could, it really bums me out. It's a hobby, but it's also a way for me to connect with the community. And I felt like one week after another, it was something outside of our control or really just a dumb little mistake that kind of impacted the quality of the show. There's a comment on Discord this week that actually gave me a big chuckle and I want to call it out. This one's from Asami that says only some of us are bots this was after saying that they really liked the show. So it's always just refreshing to hear from people on the other side of the headphones because we're sitting here, we're talking into a microphone. Like I said, we put a lot of time and effort into this thing and sometimes it feels like no one's listening, even though we know there are. We see the numbers, we know people are listening. But hearing from you all, it's like hearing from the users, right? Ultimately, it's refreshing. So thank you. And really, that goes for anyone who's ever left a kind comment about the podcast. I can't thank you enough for your kind words. It means a lot to me. So that's it. That's it for today, everyone. If you like this episode and enjoy some of the discussion about mental health and what it and want to hear about some potential solutions to monitoring mental health, I'll encourage you all to go listen to Episode 174. We discussed researchers creating an app basically to monitor some mental health by measuring emotions. You can always comment wherever you're listening with what you think of a story this week for a more in depth discussion and join us on our after show, or join us on our Discord community. You can visit our official website, like I mentioned, and sign up for our newsletter. Stay up to date with all the latest Human Factors news. If you like what you hear, you want to support the show, there's a couple of things you can do. One, just jump in our discord, let us know that we're doing all right. That's really awesome. You can always leave us a five star review. That's something you can do too. We see those and we appreciate those. You can tell your friends about us. The more people that listen to the show, we grow by word of mouth, so that really helps us out too. And if you're really feeling generous, you can always support us on Patreon. That financial stuff helps with some of the behind the scenes stuff here. As always, links to all of our socials and our website are going to be in the description of this episode. I want to thank Mr. Barry Kirby for being on the show today. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to figure out where they can bother you on holiday? If you want to bother me on a holiday, then you can hit me up on Twitter at Bath underscore K, or you can go and listen to my podcast at Twelve Two And that's our website for the twelve two human factors. Podcast. As for me, I've been your host, Nick Rome. You can find me across social media at nick underscore Rome. Thanks again for tuning in to Human Factors cast. Until next time.

Barry KirbyProfile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.