The technology involved with public safety has changed dramatically in recent years. So has our understanding of how workplace design and practices can influence the performance of our dispatchers.
If you're reading this blog, chances are you're considering consolidating your call center into a modern, high-functioning PSAP. And it's also likely that you're finding the task somewhat daunting. Don't worry - you're not alone. There are many factors to be considered, from broad questions about your particular needs to the minute details involved in furniture choice and placement, but there's no need for you to plan your PSAP consolidation alone.
The first step in any consolidation plan is to assess your needs - you must be able to support not only your current needs but those of the foreseeable future. Will your PSAP be scalable? How will it cope with future changes in work load? How long do you envision this facility being used before it can be replaced? 10 years? Perhaps 20? Longer? No community can afford unlimited capacity for its PSAP, but neither can it tolerate insufficient capacity. With limited resources, your consolidation plan must not only accurately assess the workload, but be configured to adapt to future changes.
- Do you expect the community to grow in the future or contract?
- Is new industry coming to the area?
- Does that new industry present special or new challenges to your public safety services?
These are some of the broad, "big picture" factors to think about.
After thinking about "big picture" factors, you will then want to consider the details to make your new PSAP as effective and efficient as possible. Studies have shown that workplace design can have significant impact on worker performance and job satisfaction. Some things to consider include:
- Lighting: Proper lighting can reduce the stress of hours behind a computer monitor. Indirect lighting is generally more pleasing and less glaring than direct lighting. Each dispatcher should be able to control their own lighting level.
- Windows: Many people prefer natural lighting to artificial light. Natural lighting is also cheaper than electric light. Having a pleasing exterior view can provide a relaxing break for dispatchers.
- Acoustics: A loud PSAP is distracting and tiring for dispatchers. Reducing the volume of the PSAP can reduce stress levels and make communicating easier and more effective.
- Ergonomics: Sit/stand workstations are not only fashionable, they have proven health benefits. Standing just one to two hours per day will increase energy and productivity while decreasing fatigue and the risk of major diseases.
- Rest: To stay at peak performance levels, dispatchers need relaxing, restful breaks . Consider comfortable lounge furniture, exercise machines, TVs, games and food service.
- Quality: Everyone is looking to save money these days, but if you don't buy quality equipment now, you'll only have to replace broken cheap furniture before long. Again, consider how long this equipment will need to remain in service.
- Antimicrobial: Can the furniture you select help keep your dispatchers healthier? Some can. Xybix's furniture features antimicrobial worksurfaces and a unique UV-C light to eliminate airborne germs. This same system is used in hospitals and has proven highly effective in reducing airborne sicknesses.
Consolidating your PSAP can provide many benefits to your organization, but there are numerous factors to be considered. After all, it's imperative that public safety responders have the facilities, tools and resources necessary to protect the community.