The most obvious impact of a treadmill or bike desk is on the worker: increased caloric burn, energy, and mitigation of the worst effects of sitting still all day long. (See Xybix's previous blog post).
But let’s get down to brass tacks: What about a 911 dispatch operation itself?
By now, a host of media outlets, consumer magazines and private companies have researched these mobile workstations and weighed in, and we all can benefit from the knowledge they’ve gained. Resoundingly, users say that working while walking (or pedaling) does not take their focus off their work. In fact, most are finding that they take better care of their daily tasks.
It makes some sense, actually: Everyone knows that going on a short walk during a long afternoon can get the juices flowing again; working on a treadmill or bike, the data shows, can provide that kind of boost perpetually.
CBS reported last year that users of treadmill desks faced a very brief acclimation period at the start, during which they got the hang of walking 1-2 miles per hour (quite a slow pace—manufacturers’ marketing materials sometimes show female staff working in heels) while performing unrelated tasks on computers, phones, etc. Some have compared this challenge to walking and chewing gum at the same time. But after the brief learning curve, the experience leaves users feeling “fit and focused” on the tasks at hand. Some people report being downright amused by their productivity.
(The New Yorker, in its coverage of the new equipment, jokingly noted “the biggest problem with working at a treadmill desk: the compulsion to announce constantly that you are working at a treadmill desk.” It is likely that as 911 dispatch managers, you should also anticipate the pleasure of bragging rights…
Already, conscientious companies like Intel, Microsoft and Google have devoted serious resources to making mobile workstations available to their employees. Intel alone has installed tens of thousands of standing and treadmill desks. Workwhilewalking.com cites studies that suggest up to a 15-percent increase in productivity when standing and treadmill desks are used—promising, of course, that these companies’ financial investments will pay off sooner than they might have imagined.
These leading private-sector companies have seen the return on investment. Now the time has come for other organizations around the country to take note. Even if individual workers’ health gains don’t sway 911 dispatch managers, there’s reason to believe that mobile workstations are good for the organization’s productivity—translating, of course, to a healthy budget and trim operations.
And in the 911-dispatch world, better health is better for…well, everyone.