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The day trader's guide to an ergonomic trading room


guide for an ergonomic trading desk setup

Many businesses, both small and large, where trading and portfolio management take place currently invest in trading rooms. These trading rooms are made up of "desks" otherwise known as trading desks, or trading control consoles. The characteristics of these specialized work environments depend heavily on the particularities of the business and the software used.


How to set up a modern trading room? 

These trading rooms are electronic sources of financial and investment data, meaning that the trading desks used today are specifically adapted to IT intensive requirements (as are all other types of control consoles used in mission critical environments).


Render of a trading room by Sustema


The distribution and layout of trading desks will be determined by two types of factors. Tangible and intangible. In other words, tangible factors refer to things like electrical sources, ventilation and data requirements. On the other hand, intangible factors englobe elements like noise management, lighting and colors in the room, the grouping of people, and abstract considerations like overall feel and atmosphere of the room - something that can be easily (and often) overlooked when designing a trading room layout design. 

So, how do you maximize the floor layout in the trading room? Ask yourself these questions: How does the trading desk help the overall workflow of the user? If something happens, is there anything in the room or on the desk itself working against the user in their immediate personal space?


A proffessional ergonomic trading room with trading desks built by Sustema

Secondly, ask yourself if there is anything working against team collaboration and assistance inside the trading floor. Does the layout of the trading desks enhance or undermine team collaboration? Is it easy to walk from one workstation to another? 

And thirdly, is the trading room contributing or reducing stress? This one is tricky, but paying attention to lighting, background noise, monitor placement, trading desk angles and the capacity for the console to adapt to the user's needs can all make or break a trading room.


Needs of a trading desk 

Given the collaborative nature of a trading floor and its fast pace, the requirements of any trading desk will be different. These consoles are designed for a high-density of IT equipment, as well as intensive use throughout the day while also providing a comfortable workspace that adapts to the user’s needs. 


Technical drawing of an ergonomic trading desk setup by Sustema

To properly set up an ergonomic trading desk we will focus on addressing the most common needs of any mission critical environment. The primary work surface, where the operator carries out their daily duties, and the underlying substructure which supports the weight of the equipment, plays a key role in storing and managing all the cables as well as IT equipment, and provides long lasting support.


The work surface of a trading desk: 

For starters, any type of trading desks must meet the specific requirements of the managers responsible for the brokerage rooms as well as fit into a highly computerized environment. We can start by talking about the primary work surface, which in all of our trading desks (and every other control console) is made from high-pressure laminate instead of being made from cheaper wood composites like most office furniture. 


To determine the size of the work surface we need to determine how many monitors and monitor rows will be used, and how you plan to mount them on the trading desk. For consoles inside a trading room, the primary work surfaces require a strong load capacity, usually around 150 kilograms or more, this is to ensure a good shock resistance. Work. surfaces usually range from 36 inches to 84 inches in width to accommodate all the equipment and peripherals used.


When thinking about monitors and their required monitor arms, consider the width, height, and weight of the screens. This will help us ensure that the support arm will safely support your monitors. Read our guide on how to choose a monitor arm for a more comprehensive view or watch this video to learn how to choose the right monitor arms for you trading room.



It is possible to equip the trading desk with adaptable monitor arms that stay in place either with clamps or that are mounted directly on the work surface with a slat wall. Monitor arms must be flexible and allow for precise changes that adapt to the user's sight-line to create an adequate buffer-space between the operator and the screens they are interacting with. 


Speaking of peripherals, to allow full-time access to power and data, an outlet combining electrical supply and network (USB) plugs is usually installed in the center of each station. These monument systems are retractable and blend out of sight when they are not in use, and they are paired with a power bar secured underneath the work surface. Depending on the needs of the organization, some trading rooms incorporate a metallic slat wall to organize accessories, monitors and other items in order to keep them out of the way and create a clutter free workspace.


Monument system accesories for trading desks setup


Another essential accessory is the task light, this differs from a normal office light in the sense that it should be designed for heavy duty use - meaning that the materials and build quality are meant to last long periods of uninterrupted work. Also, they allow for minute and precise adjustments in the intensity of light that is used at any given moment, as well as offer many different color temperatures.


Heavy duty task lights for trading desk clean setup


For items and tools that are not used that often, like documents or personal effects, a good trading desk requires the installation of storage accessories for office supplies. Our consoles feature storage units underneath the primary work surface with sliding trays and lockable doors. As a leading manufacturer of control consoles, we offer a comprehensive range of storage solutions that are fully integrated with our trading desks, either standalone pieces or built into the steel substructure of the consoles.



Organization and storage options for trading rooms by sustema


Underneath a trading desk: 

The primary work surface of any trading desk rests on a steel substructure, which is part of what makes it different from ordinary office furniture. The frame, also known as substructure, is made from high grade steel (12-gauge steel to be precise) to prevent the work surface from bending over time.


steel substructure for professional & ergonomic trading desk setup by Sustema


A reliable trading desk can be trusted to support all the critical tasks a trader has to perform on a daily basis. Meaning that in trading rooms, the console will always work as intended. For example, to create an ergonomic setup at your trading desk, incorporating a height adjustable desk can help prevent stress and reduce fatigue from working long hours. When the user wishes to switch from a sitting position and continue their work while standing for the next hour or so, the trading desk should adapt to the user's needs efficiently. We offer height adjustable trading desks with heavy duty lifting columns, each with a 250-pound capacity to ensure continuous operations throughout the years.


Technical drawing of height adjustable trading desk setup for enhanced ergonomics


Another crucial aspect of a high-density IT environment like a trading room, is the cable management side of things. We previously mentioned that trading desks incorporate monument systems directly on the work surface, providing data and power connections. For this approach to work, our consoles are designed with electrical pathways and incorporate cable routing into their substructure so that all cables stay secured throughout the workday but are also easily accessible in case of troubleshooting. In the case of a height adjustable trading desk, we use cable chains that protect the cables while the console is in motion.


Trading desk setup with professional and clean cable management solutions


Depending on the organization, traders can use the monument system to access data and power directly on the work surface with a portable computer, or they can use a desktop solution. When working with desktop computers, the trading desks should be able to handle all the equipment required for day trading and leave room for further future expansion. Our consoles integrate steel CPU enclosures to house multiple computers and are equipped with a sliding tray and a lockable door which can be accessed on the front or the back of the console.


CPU enclosures for clean and minimal trading desk setup


In order to create a truly adaptable and ergonomic trading desk setup, it is crucial that every action like adjusting the height of the work surface or performing maintenance like cable management or updating IT equipment, should not interrupt the operator's workflow and contribute towards stress. If you are renovating your trading room or need assistance in building a trading desk setup for your business, chat with a member of our team of design specialists to help you get started. Or you can fill out this contact form and we will contact you shortly.


A note on accessories for trading desks. 

A reliable trading desk setup helps to maintain a pleasant and professional aesthetic. But if the traders have to constantly perform workarounds to complete basic daily tasks like troubleshooting their actuators, then all of these inconveniences will continue to build up. When integrating any accessory or functionality to an ergonomic workspace, keep in mind that they should never interfere with critical tasks. 

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