What is workload?

Workload is the direct effect of different factors. Work has to be done and a certain performance needs to be delivered. Workload does not just involve the work itself, but also the work environment and the individual aspects are important.

There are a lot of different terms used to describe workload. This can cause misunderstanding and frustration. Terms as stress, workload, work pressure and effort are used for similar feelings of workload. When we use the word ‘stress’ we mean not being able to cope with demands or pressure. By modelling all the different terms used for workload, we have more grip on the problem.


Workload is the direct effect of different factors, for example the objective task demands, the work surroundings and individual factors.


Usually people use the word stress to describe an off-balance between the external factors (such as task demands and work surroundings) and individual capabilities. But the term stress is also being used to describe the long-term effects of a high workload. In English stress has a more neutral meaning just for the external factors (ISO 10075). It is exactly this confusion that causes a lot of uncertainty and emotion. The term stress is therefore not used in the Intergo workload model.

Experienced workload

The experienced workload is the subjective experience of the external factors task demands and work environment. Experienced workload is influenced by individual factors as knowledge, experience, private circumstances, coping style health, motivation and activation.

Task demands

This is the performance in terms of amount of work, time, quality, attention, information processing, responsibilities etc.

Work environment

This describes the physical, social and organisational environment in which the task needs to be performed. It includes the workplace, work climate, lighting, sounds, social support, atmosphere, leading style, salary, cooperation, procedures, communication, etc.