“We spent good money on these height-adjustable consoles 7 years ago, and none of my dispatchers use them!” I can spot this problem immediately when I walk into a 911 dispatch center. Both the workstation surfaces are the exact same height, with paperwork and radios spread out across them. Most dispatchers in the center are not working in the best ergonomic position. What can I say? Some people simply do not like change.
It pains me to see this, because I strongly feel that dispatching is one of the toughest desk jobs around. It tests your endurance unlike any other. Just compare dispatching to a regular office job. For instance, at my job in sales, I can get up and walk around the office anytime I want. In fact, I make a point to not always email or call people in the building. Instead, I get up and go talk to them. This not only forces me to move, but also gives me the face-to-face conversation that humans crave. (My 14-year-old son may disagree with me there!) I work more than 8 hours a day, but I can also take extra work home with me, if I need to.
But dispatch managers know that my little excursions, while certainly enjoyable, cannot be done in a typical comm center environment. You barely have time to get up and walk to the bathroom, let alone stroll over to a colleague’s desk for a quick chat. Lunch is eaten at your desk or workstation. Your work hours are extended due to sick workers. I can go on and on, but you know the routine. It’s tough!
I also don’t need to reiterate the research that finds that standing a little each day will help improve your overall health. Height-adjustable consoles afford you, (yes you!) the opportunity to stand for as long or as little as you want each day. Dispatchers should take advantage of these products, especially if they’re already present in your comm center.
How can you get the most out of your height-adjustable furniture? Here are a few ideas:
- Encouragement! All it takes is one dispatcher to get the ball rolling. If you have a supervisor with experience who others look up to, this would be a good person to start with. Have them set an example, and follow up with encouragement.
- Highlight the success stories of dispatchers, friends or family members who have lost weight and changed their lifestyles.
- Make a game of it! Include rewards for the person who was the most committed to using these workstations in any given month. (And remember: Don’t buy gift cards to unhealthy restaurants!)
- Print some of these blogs on how important it is to not sit all day. Standing is critical to good health, and thankfully, anyone can do it! Almost all dispatch centers have height-adjustable furniture, but most offices do not. Take advantage of the tools you have, just like I take advantage of mine.
- Take the plunge and purchase a treadmill or bicycle for you dispatchers to use at their workstations. Start something new and exciting!
The idea here is to start small, but think big. Can you make a BIG difference in the dispatch center (and the lives of your employees) by making some smart changes? Yes, you can! We’ve seen many good things come from these simple changes, and our goal is to help every dispatch center hop on the health bandwagon and go for it!