What is the phenomena called where features of the work environment
such as type of pen or color of paper influence productivity or
Definition: According to the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (Reber & Reber, 2001, p. 248), ergonomics is "the science of the 'fit' between jobs and persons, the study of the relationship between an individual's anatomy, physiology and psychology and the demands of particular forms of work".
How can such features be used to improve productivity?
I would rather say: How do such features improve productivity?
Answer: By reducing or eliminating superfluous effort or even noxious effects on health while going after work tasks. In practice, according to Sonntag (2001, p. 568), this can be achieved through the "identification of regulation requirements and cognitive demands" as well as the "identification of regulation obstacles in industrial work" (ibid.). Many theoretical assumptions behind such an approach are outlined by Leitner and Resch (2005) as well as by Hacker (2003). In short, regulation obstacles refers to the psychic regulation of work activity. Even more details can be found in Rau (2004).
Hacker, W. (2003). Action Regulation Theory: A practical tool for the design of modern work processes? European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology, 12(2), 105. https://doi.org/10.1080/13594320344000075
Leitner, K., & Resch, M. G. (2005). Do the Effects of Job Stressors on Health Persist Over Time? A Longitudinal Study With Observational Stressor Measures. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 10(1), 18–30. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-89188.8.131.52
Rau, R. (2004). Job Strain or Healthy Work: A Question of Task Design. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 9(4), 322–338. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-89184.108.40.2062
Reber, A. S., & Reber, E. S. (2001). The Penguin dictionary of psychology (3rd ed). London ; New York: Penguin Books.
Sonntag, K. (2001). Psychological Approaches to OSH Research—An Evaluation of 20 Years of Psychological Research on Industrial Safety and Health in Germany. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 7(4), 561–573. https://doi.org/10.1080/10803548.2001.11076508