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Recently, a customer’s procurement team asked why the dispatchers required 911 dispatch console work stations - versus standard desks. This is a great question and something public agencies should ask when allocating public funds as it is not always easy to balance limited funding across multiple agencies. Being informed about why certain tools are right for the job is one way organizations demonstrate good stewardship of the funds, and respect for the teams and communities they serve.


Why do you need "special" 911 dispatch console desks?

This question comes up periodically and especially when the procurement team is not familiar with the unique working needs of public safety answering points. Since this is not the first time we’ve been asked, in this two-part series we’ll share what we have come to value as the preferred, industry solutions for 24/7 desk-bound, shift workers.

If your purchasing team inquires, this will help you answer the question: Why should we invest in "special" dispatch furniture?

console v desk

Value extends beyond function

When selecting consoles for 911 dispatch, campus police, and emergency management teams, it is critical to

  1. Fully understand the functional requirements of the three primary user groups – operators, IT, and facilities.
  2. Be aware of the long-reaching value and ROI of a specialized furniture purchase. The value extends beyond basic function and durability:
  • More efficient call-response times
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Healthier field and comm-center team dynamics
  • Faster call recovery and reduced operator stress
  • Reduction in position down-time
  • Fewer call-outs
  • Fewer L&I claims
  • Reduced churn

Great console design focuses on eliminating user pain-points

For more than 35+ years, Watson has been researching and creating furniture specifically for mission-critical monitoring teams. We have developed dispatch consoles that address safety concerns and user pain points as identified by operators, IT technicians and facilities managers. Not only do we understand the functional requirements of the job, we understand the unintended consequences of the job - increased sick-days, dissatisfaction, burn-out, turnover.

We have seen how the right furniture can help.


Operator pain-points impact the agency's staffing and budget

The table, below, summarizes the topmost needs for the first of three unique stakeholder groups.


Sectors: 911 Dispatcher, Campus Police Dispatch, Emergency Management Monitoring

Work Requirements Summary: Operators are tethered to their work stations, typically for 8-10 hour shifts. This means that effective service requires immediate availability. Efficient service relies on acute focus, maintaining a calm and clear demeanor, seamlessly transitioning from one critical task to another. Operators use multiple technologies and equipment to communicate with field teams. Some of this equipment must be located within the operator’s primary reach zone, where they can use it within view of their monitors.






Back strain

Becomes a distraction, requires medical attention, can lead to absenteeism

Creates scheduling conflicts, short-staffed, L&I claims

Height-adjustable surfacescan be fine-tuned to the operator’s body proportion, accommodates movement throughout the day contributing to core muscular-skeletal health.

Adjust height for optimal ergo positioning

Some commercial desks provide height-adjustment, check for range

Carpal tunnel

Becomes a distraction, requires medical attention, can lead to absenteeism

Creates scheduling conflicts, short-staffed, L&I claims

Height-adjustable surface, in conjunction with proper seating, helps operators achieve healthy elbow to wrist angles.

Some commercial desks provide height-adjustment, check for range

Joint and muscle aches from long hours at a desk

Becomes a distraction, requires medical attention, can lead to absenteeism

Creates scheduling conflicts, short-staffed, burdens other team members with longer-than-normal shifts

Height-adjustable surface provides opportunity to stand and stretch while actively monitoring.

height-adjustability reduces back strain

Some commercial desks provide height-adjustment, check for range

Eye strain, headaches

Compromises interpreting and relaying visual cues, may require medical attention/downtime

Long-term discomforted, especially when compounded can increase dissatisfaction and contributes to churn

Focal depth adjustment and user-controlled task and ambient lighting allows operators to adjust the environment over the course of a shift.

individual control over temperature increases operator focus and satisfaction


Stress of the job, irritability, emotional strain

(especially 911)

Hard to decompress, negatively affects relationships among team members, is one of the primary reasons noted when dispatchers opt out and leave

Creates scheduling conflicts, short-staffed, highest churn rate in the public safety sectors

Individual environment controls promote comfort and focus. Providing for the operator’s basic comfort needs, reduces stress and distraction. Adjusting heat and air throughout the day can also help with rapid recovery after stressful calls.

Centers can supply freestanding heaters, air flow and additional desk lights.
This method can contribute to messy cable management and un-supported power draw.

Lack of focus, exhaustion

Burn out, compassion fatigue

Negatively affects team, creates scheduling conflicts, short-staffed, contributes to highest churn rate in the public safety sectors

Focal depth adjustment, Individual environment controls, Height-adjustable surface

Each of these feature sets allow operators to adjust position, retain or regain focus.


Personal belongings are not secure

Lack of trust

Negatively affects team, undermines perception of personal safety

Personal storage stacksprovide small or midsize lockable compartments within the console footprint.



Untidy stations (when shared)

Team-member conflict, increases spread of cold and flu germs

Negative impact on team cohesion, increased sick days/short-staffed

Designed for shift work: When everything has its place, it is easier to maintain clutter-free work space - tech cabinets, concealed cable channels, personal and shared-tools storage.


If you are a dispatcher, you have experienced the challenges.

For those of us on the outside of the profession, it can be hard to understand the cumulative impact multiple pain-points can have. Especially because we, generally, do not endure the same level of mental/ emotional stressors over the course of our work day.

The data doesn't lie, however. The highest churn in the public safety sector, short-staffing, and training costs elevate the importance of retention strategies.

Having the right tools for the job, including a workstation that promotes safety, focus and comfort is an important piece of the puzzle.


What about the IT Tech and Facility Manager?

In part two we'll cover pain points and solutions for the IT and Facilities Manager. They have markedly different concerns. You'll find the impact to the agency can be in over-time pay, service down-time, accessibility, compliance and safety issues.

Share this free e-guide with your purchasing team. It provides guidance about asking questions and discovering features that will positively impact the operator and agency.

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