Posts tagged IT desks
Expert Series Part II: Can trading desk design affect productivity of the trader?

by Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & DevelopmentimageLast month, I shared some thoughts on what furniture manufacturers are (or are not) doing to deliver productivity benefits to high pressure, high performance employees (traders) in dense, open plan trading room environments. I concluded that for the most part, the limited list of trading desk manufacturers have primarily developed their products to accommodate the IT personnel who service the product. Additionally, a single direction trend to compete on cost has resulted in value engineering to the point where the bulk of the market for trading desks is essentially mature and commoditized. As a result, many trading desks are being specified at a baseline quality level with little to offer in terms of end user benefit (beyond a 60x30 worktop with the same cable and technology management features that have been in place since the 90’s). Though adjustable height work surfaces that allow traders to stand while working is a significant contributor towards enhancing productivity, the reality is that height adjustability was introduced into trading desk design as much, if not more so, for the IT servicing benefit.

In the past few years, our efforts at Innovant to position ourselves apart from competition in a maturing, commodity-like market were focused on dominating the higher end of the market; essentially attracting clients seeking a sophisticated, tailored aesthetic with high quality detailing. It has paid dividends in terms of revenue, but working with more quality- and performance-conscience clients has also provided Innovant’s team with significant insight on design considerations that may deliver productivity benefits to the traders.  

One “high” hurdle question that has been raised is “Can the furniture and technology support at the desk quickly morph the personal environment for the trader from open, interactive and collaborative to closed, concentrative and focused?” The grid-like, high density space planning of most trading floors combined with multi-tier monitor arrays has all but killed the line-of-sight communication and collaboration that the trading floor was intended to deliver in the first place.  

I offered an idea to a friend of mine who trades at a prominent Wall Street bank, “What if the entire trading desk, complete with CPU, phone and display technology could rotate in situ somehow?”  We used business cards on a tabletop to represent the footprint of a trading desk in a common cluster and started rotating them at different angles to see how possible visual sightlines could open up across a room, or how privacy could be accomplished by “cocooning” to achieve better focus.   He loved the idea, but it became clear that the conflicts of rotating rectangles created big problems in terms of practicality. The answer may lie in a radical rethink of how a trading desk is engineered, opening up the concept of separating the raceway, technology supports and displays into free standing elements that can move independently of one another. My colleagues in the Innovant rendering department will be the first to help me conceptualize this. Stay tuned.

Expert Series: Can trading desk design affect productivity of the trader?

by Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development

imageFor decades, trading desk manufacturers have attempted to leapfrog each other’s product value by building what I have always called “the better mousetrap.” Predominantly, this has involved a never-ending development cycle to improve the performance of IT and cable management as technology changes from year to year and client to client, which ultimately results in faster, more efficient moves, adds and changes. This design evolution, however, has mostly effected the efficiency of the IT and facilities support teams that keep the trading floor functioning.  

One noticeable design evolution, for which I believe trading desk manufacturers deserve significant credit, is the development of multi-screen monitor arm products. These now ubiquitous products directly improve user productivity. However, my experience tells me that monitor arm selection for the trading room continues to lie in the hands of IT as they are the ones tasked with installing, relocating and servicing the product, not the traders.

So, can we say that trading desk design development over the past two decades has had a direct impact on the productivity of the traders themselves? No doubt, some in our field will take offense to this question. Designers and engineers of leading trading desk manufacturers take great pride in their work, seeing their efforts as sophisticated, unique and forward-thinking. These meticulous efforts are all undertaken in the name of delivering ROI and garnering respect amongst IT leaders and facility management in the financial marketplace. 

Over the past 18 years I have been involved in the development of four highly successful trading desk product lines that have been deployed worldwide by many of the most prestigious financial institutions. But when a marketplace design consultant recently asked me, “Can you help me understand how trading desk design directly impacts trader productivity?” I had to acknowledge the reality that this has not been the focus of trading desk manufacturers because our “client” is largely facilities and IT, not the end user. Most trading desks, irrespective of manufacturer and internal design, are essentially the same in: height (including adjustable height), depth, legroom, width, etc. – all predetermined by industry norms or client standards.  Additionally, notwithstanding noticeable variances in workmanship and design quality, all trading desks are fundamentally made of the same materials. With such limitations, what can be done in trading desk design to boost trader productivity without sacrificing the impact on those who service the trading desks and the technology within them?

In the coming weeks I will be posting some personal conclusions from my experiences within the niche world of the trading floor. I will also discuss some of the exciting new furniture designs and workplace strategies being deployed outside of the financial sector by some of the fastest growing companies in the world.  I can tell you from recent experience that these bold moves will inevitably draw attention from Wall Street.

FORm Review from Wille Design

“For a recent client located in the San Francisco area, we provided the Form product for their command and control centers and in their training area. Form was the right fit for their complexity and ability to manage change over the long term. After the installation was complete, the customer, of their own initiative, expanded the extent of product and areas to receive Innovant’s Form product. I think that speaks for itself. The customer’s IT services team were also extremely impressed with the accessibility and ease of integrating their technology requirements within the consoles. Innovant’s consoles have now been successfully installed in several of facilities with very positive reception in all instances." Read More>

- Robin Wille, LEED AP, President at Wille Design

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