Control room operators spend hours at their desks every day, pouring over mission-critical data. Well thought-out control room furniture setup and layout can not only dramatically improve efficiency, but reduce common injuries like neck and eye strain. Read on to learn how to choose a layout, lighting, and computer control room furniture to support operator efficiency.
The First Step is Choosing Ergonomic Control Room Furniture
Ergonomics are vital to keeping your operations center running efficiently. While some operators may not notice discomfort or strain from poorly set up console furniture in the short term, over time, it will lead to increased repetitive injuries and back pain. Here are a few basic ergonomic guidelines your operators should be able to follow to maintain their health:
- The operator’s feet should be resting flat on the ground, either directly below the knees or slightly in front of them. Their thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor.
- Operators should be able to type with their lower arms roughly parallel to the floor and their wrists flat or angled slightly downwards.
- The chair should have a curve in the back that supports the operator’s lower spine and roughly follows the natural curve of their lower back. It should also allow the user to leave at least an inch between their inner knees and the edge of the seat while their back is pressed against the lumbar support.
- Armrests should be at a height that keeps the operator’s arms parallel to the floor and doesn’t cause their shoulders to hunch.
- Monitors should be 20-40” away from the operator’s eyes. The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level to avoid neck strain, and the tilt should be no more than 10 to 20 degrees.
- There should be no glare on the monitor.
Unfortunately, there is no single console or chair height that will create a good ergonomic setup for all employees. If you choose standardized furniture that does not allow for adjustments, you will inevitably end up with some operators feeling cramped and slumped over while others get neck and wrist strain from equipment placed too high up. Look for computer control room furniture with plenty of ergonomic adjustability options to fit each user’s exact needs. As a minimum, your control consoles, chairs, and monitors should all have adjustable heights. You should also look for chairs with the option to adjust the arm rests and recline. Additionally, consider investing in ergonomically designed keyboards. Most keyboards are angled so the the back of the keyboard is higher than the front, even though it should be the other way around to avoid causing wrists to bend up to type on the keys. If you do not want to buy new keyboards, consider getting keyboard stands or trays that reposition the keyboards to point downward.
Use Operator-Friendly Control Room Furniture Design Principles
A well-designed control room will meet the exact needs of your operators and allow for potential future growth. That’s why the highest-functioning control centers often arise from collaboration between management, operators, and computer control room furniture suppliers.
Plan Your Layout Around Function
Before designing your computer control room, make sure you understand your operators’ workflow and typical maintenance needs. What equipment do they need close at hand? Which people need to be relatively near each other to ease operations? Knowing the flow of a typical work shift is critical to designing a good workspace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you will also need to ensure all your operators remain at least six feet apart. Your staff will need to make sure there is enough space in the operations center to keep everyone appropriately distanced to avoid an outbreak.
Don’t Forget About Lighting
It’s also important to consider the quality of lighting in your computer control room. While natural light is the most beneficial for health, there may be times when your operators are working at night, depending on the type of operations center you manage. It’s important to use quality lighting that won’t cause eye strain or stress. Lighting should be fairly uniform throughout the room so there isn’t monitor glare. You will likely want to use a variety of light sources, including task lighting on your console furniture, ambient lighting, and other operator-friendly light sources throughout the room.
Use Color to Create a Calming Environment
Color is one of the most prominent design elements in any workspace, including mission-critical control rooms. In an operations center where employees will often have their gaze on a screen, we recommend using neutral colors and patterns throughout the room to avoid eye strain. Computer control room furniture and consoles often come in a variety of finishes you can use to determine the base of your color scheme. Some finishes are recommended by designers for professional public safety spaces, so be sure to check in with your supplier’s design services team for assistance. Once you have a console furniture finish, you can choose complementary colors to create a cohesive control room. If you wish to use bright colors to reinforce agency pride, keep them limited to certain areas as accent colors. A single wall or a few accessories can go a long way, and the other neutral colors will serve as a pleasing backdrop.
Leave Room for Future Growth
Don’t forget to plan for future changes when you are designing your control room. We live in an era of rapid technological advancements and churn, and you may find that you need more operators later on. Ideally, your operations center should include enough space to add more consoles, monitors, and other equipment if needed.
Reach out to Russ Bassett for Personalized Assistance With Your Computer Control Room Furniture
Russ Bassett is an industry leader in console furniture and control room design. Our Design Services team has the expertise you need to choose a layout, finish scheme, and console style that will help your team stay at its best for years. Reach out to us today for assistance!