If it’s not Intuitive, it’s engineered wrong
When designing a workstation, it is important that the user be given all of the tools necessary within arms-length. The tools should need little or no instruction on how they are use. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that out. That’s where “intuitive engineering” comes into play. Intuitive engineering is the backbone of Ergonomics. The designer is tasked to create an environment where the user can manipulate essential tools without being distracted from important tasks.
Make it simple, stupid!
One of the best examples can be found in the auto industry. In the early days, the radios, heaters, windshield wipers and gear shifts were always in the same place in almost all cars. Changing a station or turning on the air conditioning didn’t distract the driver from driving the car. Then came the computer age and cars now have navigation and touch screens that controlled a myriad of new and personalized creature comforts. You need a manual and a few hours of training just to figure out how everything works.
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
The same thing has happened in dispatch centers and call center environments where sit/stand functions and environmental controls are part of a paradigm mandated for call takers and dispatch operators. Replacing simple control knobs and toggle switches with more sophisticated and complicated touch screen dashboards has become popular. A simple thing like holding down a switch until your desk reaches the right standing height has been replaced by a number of programmable memory controls that force the user to identify his or herself before picking the desired work surface layouts. Then hold down a virtual switch until the program cycles to the desired layout. Before controlling things like heaters, fans and light dimmers, you have to select from different screen menus to do simple tasks. Try juggling all of this while responding to a frantic caller on the other end and staying focused just doesn’t work very well.
Breaking the mold on technology
At Americon, we subscribe to the notion that nothing should be distracting and difficult. The Personal Workspace Manager is a perfect example of intuitive engineering. Although functionally identical to more expensive touch screen systems, it employs simple rotary switches for controlling above counter air and below counter heating. Lift control is as simple as holding down a toggle switch until the workstation reaches the desired height. Add to it AC power receptacles above and below the worksurface, USB ports and a communications hub and you can see why the Personal Workspace Manager is the choice of many calltakers and dispatchers.