Generational shift will impact business markets and the industry sectors as the older generation (e.g. baby boomers) retires. One challenge will be to attract the next generation of operators, often referred to as the Generation Y, Gaming Generation or Multitasking Generation, into the control room working environment. An average gamer executes up to 300 actions per minute, while a non-gamer can perform maximum 100 actions per minute.
Personal ergonomics are becoming more and more important in order to improve health and well-being in the control room working environment. Human Factors involvement in the early stage of design layout is even more important in future control rooms or control centers with the entry of the next generation into the industrial field. We must seriously consider the needs, requirements, behaviors and values of the next generation of operators that need to be attracted to the industrial world.
The only way to encourage the next generation of operators to work in control rooms is an holistic approach to the control room working environment. Acoustic disturbances will play a key role if operators have to share a common working space, communication devices, navigation keyboards, etc.
Improved illumination is another area of concern, because we know that interrupting individual circadian rhythms can have devastating consequences for shift operators. Air quality, heating, air conditioning and ventilation also matter in order to enhance human performance in the control room working environment. Dedicated Operator Fatigue Management minimizes the influence of fatigue.
The knowledge gap is another problem that we will face as baby boomers retire. One way of transferring knowledge from baby boomers to the gaming & multitasking generation is by introducing gamification as a motivation for learning, education and passing knowledge onto the next generation of operators.
Human-centered design that creates intelligent and individual working places is the way forward to meet these demands for the next generation of operators.