Here’s another thought for a worker placement mechanic. The idea is you’re trying to complete missions, let’s say space exploration. Missions have a difficulty rating – this is how many dice you’ll roll when you run the mission. In this version of the idea, the dice you’re rolling when you run the mission have custom faces. Two of the faces are blank, which is a success (Nothing went wrong!). The other four faces show failures. If one of these is rolled, you fail the mission.
The failure symbols correspond to the various stations workers can be placed on before running the mission: you’ve got engineering, science and defense. Each worker placed on one of these stations can soak up a failure of that type. If a science failure is rolled but you’ve got a worker placed on the science station, you’re fine. The mission still succeeds. You can choose to run the mission any time you like, with any number of workers placed. They’re just you’re insurance for if things go wrong.
The core idea here is: You can always choose to take the risk of running a mission without much protection from randomness. It might work out fine! There’s always the chance of not rolling any failures. Or, you can spend the time and resources in getting it right and be much more sure of the mission’s success.