The anatomy of the perfect office chair

June 12, 2017

If you’re looking to update your work chair, you’ve come to the right place. To help you pick out the ideal seating solution for your workstation, here are the five key features of the perfect office chair.

 
Lumbar support

Lumbar support is one feature that your chair simply can’t be without. Unless the model you go for offers a sufficient amount, you could be doing your physical wellbeing more harm than good. Lumbar support refers to the curvature and shape of the chair’s back section, and it’s a must if you want to keep your back and spine health in tiptop condition. Your chair should promote a natural, healthy sitting position, offering support to the small of your back.

 
Adjustable height

Since everyone is a different shape and size, having a seat that can be adjusted to suit your individual needs is crucial. So that you can use the chair properly and remain comfortable all day, it’s important that it can be altered in terms of height. The seat should allow you to sit at your desk with your feet placed firmly on the floor and your forearms and wrists should be able to rest comfortably on the work surface.

 
Padded seat and back sections
Since you’re probably going to be sitting in your office chair for long periods of time, a model with a padded seat and back is an absolute must. If you’re sitting comfortably, you’ll feel at ease, and in turn, you should find you’re much more productive in regards to your work. So, when you’re looking for the ideal seating solution, make sure you go for one that has plush, cushioned sections, especially where your lower back makes contact with the chair.

 

Supportive armrests

While it could be said that they’re not absolutely necessary, armrests can be an extremely useful feature. Armrests can help reduce pressure on your lower back and offer support during tasks such as writing and reading. They can also help ease shoulder and neck tension, as well as prevent carpal tunnel syndrome – a common complaint among office workers which can cause a tingling sensation, numbness and sometimes pain in the fingers and hands. Ideally, the armrests on your chair should be properly cushioned and comfortable, well contoured and fully adjustable so you can alter them to a height that suits you.

 

Breathable material

The material your chair is covered with is also an important feature. Preferably, the fabric should be strong and durable so as to make sure it not only feels good to sit in, but that it stays looking its best despite the general wear and tear associated with office life. The material should also be breathable and able to dispel moisture and heat. Mesh is particularly effective at dispersing heat and moisture, making it an increasingly popular choice in many workplaces.

 
With so many different chair shapes, sizes and specifications to choose from, keeping these five key features in mind should make picking out the perfect office chair easy and fuss-free.

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Is it time to make your office feel more like home?

June 5, 2017

Whether you’re a manager or an employee, as an office worker, it’s likely that you spend a large portion of your day in your place of work. As much as you may enjoy what you do, you might sometimes sit at your desk missing the the comfort and familiarity of your own abode. So, if you find yourself feeling discontented, it might be time to make your office feel more like home. In this blog, we look at three simple ways you can achieve a homely vibe at your place of work.

 

Go for some greenery

If you’re a fan of filling your home with decorative plants, you could take a leaf out of your own book and introduce some greenery into your office. There’s no denying that plants are aesthetically pleasing, so if anything, they will help enhance the look and feel of your overall work space.

 

Aside from the fact they look attractive, it’s thought that the presence of plants in an office can be beneficial in a range of different ways. For example, it’s widely believed that going for greenery in the workplace can help reduce negative feelings among employees. A 2010 study carried out by plant scientist Dr Margaret Burchett of the University of Technology Sydney showed that introducing indoor plants can decrease stress levels by up to 50 per cent, as well as significantly lower feelings of fatigue, anxiety and depression. From her study, Burchett claimed that “just one plant can make a difference”, so whether you go for a large, leafy shrub in the corner of the room or you position a tiny potted succulent on your desk, adding some greenery to your work environment could help transform your space into a happier and more relaxed place to be.

 

Let there be light

Lighting levels play a massive role in creating the right atmosphere at home, and your office is no different. You wouldn’t stand for a poorly lit living room or dark, shadowy kitchen, so why should you put up with substandard lighting at work? While your illuminations will need to meet the relevant health and safety requirements, there’s no reason why you can’t bring a homely vibe into your office through your choice of lighting. From super stylish overhead spotlights to sophisticated hanging pendant lampshades, there are a whole host of cool lighting designs that are guaranteed to give your workspaces a pleasant, homelike feel.

 

Keep it clutter-free
When it comes to your home, there’s no doubt that you take great pride in how it looks and feels, making sure you regularly tidy up – and the same should apply to your office space too. It’s unlikely you’ll feel fully settled in your work environment unless it’s suitably organised, and by keeping it neat and clutter-free, you stand a good chance of feeling at home even when you’re not.

The good news is, maintaining a clear, tidy workspace isn’t difficult, especially if you’re savvy when you’re choosing your storage options. From filing cabinets, to bookcases, to cupboards, there are a wide variety of useful furniture pieces that could help you keep your office well organised as a whole, while under-desk pedestals, filing trays and pin boards are perfect for maintaining desks that are clear of paper, Post It notes and note pads.

 
Although it might seem like a strange idea at first, making your office feel more like home could be a great move for you and your workforce. By adopting the “home sweet home” approach, you shouldn’t struggle to create a working environment for everyone to enjoy.

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5 tips for a perfectly organised desk

May 30, 2017

As the saying goes, a tidy desk makes for a tidy mind. So, if your workstation is looking a little on the messy side, it might be time to get organised. Below are five tips to help you arrange your office desk to sheer perfection.

 

1. Invest in an under-desk pedestal

When it comes to getting organised at work, you’re not going to get far unless you’re fully prepared with suitable storage solutions. And while your office is probably furnished with an array of cupboards, shelves and bookcases, having your own personal storage space could be just what you need to keep your workstation tidy and clutter-free. Under-desk pedestals are perfect for this purpose. Their design means they can slot underneath your desk, giving you an easy to reach place to keep all of your important documents. What’s more, many models feature secure locks, so you can trust your belongings are safe.

 

2. Stow away your stationery

From pens, to notepads, to staplers, to paperclips, it’s likely you’re more than familiar with the office stationery must-haves. There’s no denying that each accessory is useful in its own way, but how much use are they if you can’t find them on a messy desk? If you’re constantly in despair that you can’t locate your favourite pen or you can’t find a highlighter when you need one the most, you may want to consider upping your stationery storage game. From pen pots to filing trays, there are a plethora of handy desk accessories that can help you stay organised so that you can put your hands on exactly what you need.

 

3. Rearrange your equipment

If you’re keen to organise your desk to absolute perfection, you might want to consider rearranging your equipment. Apart from looking neat and tidy, repositioning your essentials could help you feel comfortable and content while you work. For example, it’s recommended that your computer monitor should be positioned at around an arm’s length way, and your keyboard and mouse should be next to each other so you can move your hand between the two with ease. If you require one, it might also help to have your telephone within easy reach so that you’re not straining yourself when you’re on a call.

 

4. Keep a recycling bin near by

In an office environment, it can be easy to accumulate various scraps and slips of paper over time, but if you’re not careful, hoarding these on your desk could lead to complete chaos. A messy desk that’s strewn with papers and Post-It notes is not a good look, so to help you keep on top of things, it’s a good idea to have a recycling bin near by. This way you can throw away any documents you don’t need. You could even take your organisational efforts to the next level and invest in a shredder so you can rid of confidential paperwork safely.

 

5. Schedule in regular clean-up sessions

Aside from creating a perfectly organised desk in the first instance, it’s important that you do what you can to maintain the tidiness. So, to make sure your workspace always looks it’s best, you could try scheduling in regular clean-up sessions. Whether you do this at some point each day or you take a few moments at the end of the week, planning in time to straighten up your workstation should help you keep it looking spick and span at all times.

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What are your workers really saying about your office?

May 22, 2017

It can be tricky to know what your employees are saying about their work environment. Even if no one is speaking up, you shouldn’t assume that everything is fine. To help you figure out what your workers truly think, keep reading.

 

It’s messy and unorganised

A messy and unorganised office is a huge no-no for many members of staff. A workspace that’s chaotic and unkempt can cause workers to feel unsettled, leaving them unhappy and dissatisfied – which can mean their productivity levels begin to dip too. From stacks of paperwork on the floor to untidy desk surfaces, being lax with your housekeeping in the office could be doing more harm than good.

So, to avoid upsetting your staff, it pays to get organised. With so many different storage solutions available, there’s no reason why your office can’t be neat, tidy and clutter-free. You can take your pick from a plethora of furnishings, including filing cabinets, cupboards, under-desk pedestals, bookcases and lockers to ensure your space is up to the standards expected by your personnel.

 

There’s too much noise and distraction

Another gripe for a lot of office workers is noise. Too much of it can be extremely distracting and annoying for your employees, and it can be especially problematic in open plan offices. From the hubbub of chitter chatter among colleagues, to clunky-sounding printers, fax machines and photocopiers, to the constant tapping of fingers on keyboards, there are many reasons why the workplace can become an irritating environment for some of your employees.

The good news is, there are a few simple things you can do to get the sound levels in your office under control. For instance, you could give your workers permission to use headphones to help block out surrounding noises while they work. Additionally, you could set up office partitions and screens, giving your staff a chance to separate themselves from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the office while they work on projects that require their concentration. No one wants a completely silent office, but by trying out a few tricks like this, you should find it much easier to find a middle ground when it comes to noise.

 

The temperature’s not right

An office that’s too hot or too cold can be a massive bugbear among employees. Some workers may find their environment to be on the chilly side, while others might feel it’s unbearably warm. Perfecting the temperature within your office space can be an ongoing struggle, and it can sometimes feel impossible to please absolutely everyone.

 

However, by listening to what your employees have to say about the matter, you stand a good chance of solving the problem once and for all. For example, for those who dislike the chill of the air conditioning, why not position their workstations away from the overhead units? For employees who find the warmth uncomfortable to work in, you could sit them near a window to give them the opportunity of enjoying the extra breeze. There are numerous studies that claim to have sussed out the ‘ideal’ office temperature – but the truth is, it’s completely up to you. By approaching the subject with your personnel, you should hopefully be able to come to a mutual agreement over climate control in your office.

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4 things you only realise when setting up your first office

May 12, 2017

Moving into a commercial workspace for the first time is an important milestone for many fledgling firms. So, if you’re planning to move into offices in the near future, you’re no doubt excited about what lies ahead. However, there’s a lot to get to grips with when you make this transition, so it’s essential that you’re prepared. In this blog, we look at four things that many bosses only realise when they’re setting up their first office.

 

  1. Finding a suitable workspace isn’t straightforward

The first potential hurdle in this process is finding suitable premises – and this may be more difficult than you anticipate. There are a whole range of issues that you’ll need to consider when you’re searching for a base for your business. For example, it’s critical that you choose an office that falls within your budget. If you end up tied into a lease that puts too much strain on your finances, your company’s bottom line will suffer. It might even spell the end for your business. When you’re calculating how affordable offices are, make sure you look beyond the basic rent. You’ll also need to factor in any bills that are applied on top of this. Depending on the type of agreement you sign up to, these could include service charges, utility bills and business rates.

 

Then there’s location to think about. Is the premises you have in mind convenient for your staff members to get to, and is it easy for your customers to find? Consider flexibility too. Will your lease agreement give you enough freedom to up or downsize as required? For start-ups, short-term lease agreements on serviced offices are often best because they tend to provide considerable flexibility. Your office should send the right signals about your business too. Bear in mind that people will associate your workplace with your brand, so it should reflect your general ethos.

 

Right down to things like how many car park spaces come with the premises, you should consider all the details before you sign on the dotted line.   

 

  1. The costs of kitting offices out can quickly spiral

In the excitement of moving to a new office, it’s extremely easy to overspend. If you don’t set a budget at the outset of this process and make a concerted effort to stick to it, you could put a big black hole in your company’s finances. From purchasing all-important office chairs, desks and storage solutions to kitting your new workplace out with all the tech you require, your costs could quickly start to spiral.

 

There are ways to keep your spending down though. For example, before you go on a shopping spree, it’s a good idea to break down exactly what your workplace needs to function properly and how much money you can afford to invest. This should help you to avoid unnecessary purchases and control your outlays. Also, keep an eye out for office furniture and equipment that represents good value for money. At Furniture At Work™, we appreciate the importance of providing affordable products. Highlighting our commitment to this, we run a Best Price Guarantee.

 

  1. There’s much more to effective workspace design that desks and chairs

If you’ve not put much thought towards office design before, you might assume it’s as simple as making sure you have enough workstations for your members of staff. In reality though, there is much more to effective design than this. As well as making sure that you have enough high-quality seats and desks, you’ll need to think carefully about the layout and décor of your office to ensure you create the best possible working environment.

 

You’ll have to consider everything from how to control noise levels to how much flexibility you want to give staff in terms of how and where they work in your office. You might want to create breakout zones to provide people with an area they can go to hold impromptu meetings and discussions with colleagues, and perhaps you’ll decide to incorporate a quiet area where employees can escape the hubbub of the main office to concentrate on tasks that require total focus. In terms of décor, try to create something that both boosts morale and reflects your brand.

 

  1. There are a wide range of health and safety issues to consider

The scrutiny you have to apply to issues of health and safety may come as a surprise. As an employer, you’re expected to adhere to strict rules when it comes to workplace risk management, and it can take a while to get your head around all of the regulations. Safety pervades virtually all aspects of workplace design, from the layout of workstations to lighting levels. For example, you’ll need to make sure you provide compliant seating that provides workers with proper support. You’ll also be expected to ensure that the items your workers use frequently are located within convenient reach, and take care to position work surfaces at the correct height.

 

 

To comply with the law, you’ll need to get used to doing frequent risk assessments too. This will ensure you identify and address any hazards. You can get all the safety information you need concerning these issues on the Health and Safety Executive website, and it’s a good idea to do some thorough research on this topic ahead of moving into your new premises. Being diligent at this stage could help you to avoid a whole range of problems further down the line.

 

There’s no avoiding the fact that moving into your first office can throw up some potentially challenging issues. From identifying a suitable premises to kitting it out properly and on budget and making sure you stick to the letter of the law on health and safety, there are a variety of things to consider. However, as long as you’re prepared for these issues, they needn’t cause strife for your startup.

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Tidy desk or messy desk: does it matter?

May 10, 2017

Are you a stickler for neatness when it comes to your office desk? Or do you have a more laissez-faire attitude to your workspace? Does being an everything-in-its-place kind of person make you a better, more organised worker? Or does having a relaxed attitude to the leaning tower of documents on your desk free you up to focus on more important things? Here we explore whether it’s better to be a neat freak or a slob in the office.

 

Vohs’ study

While many people may pour scorn on those who have a tendency to keep their desks cluttered, according to research, being of a messy persuasion may have its advantages. Likewise, those who run a tight ship when it comes to their workspace may give off a more professional impression, yet it seems their penchant for perfection may be holding them back when it comes to something a lot of businesses are looking for – creativity.

Research conducted by Kathleen Vohs, PhD, of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management found that working in a messy environment encourages creativity and non-conformist thinking, while working in a tidy setting encourages social responsibility and normatively moral behaviour like eating healthily and giving to charity.

 

Tidy environments promote social responsibility

As part of the study, which was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 34 participants spent time completing questionnaires, with half of the participants working in a tidy room and the other half working in a messy room. When they had finished, the participants were given the option to give to charity. They were also offered a choice between an apple or a chocolate bar as they left. The study found that 82 per cent of people in the neat room donated money to charity, whereas just 47 per cent of people in the messy room did. When it came to the healthy versus unhealthy food choice, the researchers found that 67 per cent of people in the tidy room chose the apple rather than the chocolate, while only 20 per cent of the participants in the messy room picked the healthier option. From this element of the research, it could be inferred that tidy environments promote more socially responsible and healthier behaviours.

 

Chaotic environments promote creativity

In the second part of the experiment, 48 participants were asked to generate novel uses for a pingpong ball. Again, the participants were split, with half working in the untidy room and half working in the tidy room. Each group came up with the same number of ideas. However, an independent panel rated the messy-room participants’ ideas as significantly more creative than those of the people who worked in the tidy room. This aspect of the study suggests that people working in more chaotic settings are better able to produce original and innovative ideas.

 

Conformism vs novelty

In the final part of the study, the researchers told 188 participants that they were examining menu preferences for a snack bar. The people were divided again, with half going to messy rooms and half going to tidy rooms. They were given the choice of vitamin boosts for a smoothie, with some labelled ‘new’ and some labelled ‘classic’. The study found that people in neat rooms had a greater tendency to choose the ‘classic’ boost, whereas people in the messy rooms were more likely to choose the one labelled ‘new’. Here we could conclude that people in orderly surroundings are more drawn to traditional frameworks, whereas those in disordered spaces are more open to novel ideas.

 

Judging vs perceiving

The results of the study resonate with Australian psychologist Susan Nicholson who believes that people who tend to have messy desks have very different personalities than those who prefer a neat and tidy working environment. People with messy desks are more likely to get a ‘perceiving’ outcome on the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI), a self-report personality questionnaire that sorts people into one of 16 personality types.This means that they likely prefer a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle. They also tend to be more creative and comfortable with chaos than their tidier counterparts. People with tidy desks, on the other hand, are more likely to score ‘judging’ on the MBTI. This indicates that they enjoy a more structured, organised and decided lifestyle.

According to Nicholson, ‘perceiving’ people can feel crushed in an organised environment and can fear closing things off before they have all the information. ‘Judging’ people, on the contrary, fear lack of closure so are more likely to make decisions and act quicker.

Nicholson remarks: “Neither is better than the other – just different.”

 

Successful people and their desks

It’s often said that there’s no recipe for success and it seems that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to success in relation to organised or disorganised working environments either. While many creatives geniuses, such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Roald Dahl, appeared to have thrived in chaotic workspaces, others, such as Jane Austen and Bill Gates, seem to have preferred the minimalist approach to their workstations.

 

Freedom to choose

In conclusion, it seems that what works well for some may not be the best fit for others. If you’re too stringent about creating a culture of clean around your office, be aware that creative ideas may suffer. If you promote a convention of clutter, on the other hand, keep in mind that some people may feel stressed out by the lack of organisation and the moral values of your team may decline. If you’re working with both creatives and non-creatives, the best approach might be to let each individual run their desk as they wish – within limits, of course. Simply by giving your workers this level of power and trust, you might find a boost in morale.

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The Basics of Health and Safety in the Workplace

May 5, 2017

When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, it can seem like there is a lot to get your head around. However, despite this being a complex and extremely important topic, it’s not necessarily as difficult to suss out as you might think. In this blog, we go back to basics to help you make sure your workspace is a safe, healthy and pleasant place for both you and your employees.

Create a safe, comfortable environment

First and foremost, you’ll need to ensure your office is safe and comfortable. Since it’s likely your workforce will be on the job for the majority of the day, it’s important that their surroundings are up-to-scratch. So, to help you create a suitable office, you should make sure it features the following:

 

 

  • Good lighting

A well-lit workspace is an absolute must. Poor quality lighting could seriously affect your employees’ moods and wellbeing, which in turn could have an impact on their ability to perform well. An office that is too bright or too dim could also cause physical problems, such as eyestrain, headaches and fatigue, so it’s important to pay attention to your lighting levels. To avoid issues like this, you should make sure you provide sufficient light at all workstations. To give your workers added control over brightness levels, you could consider providing employees with individual desk lamps to supplement your overhead light.

 

 

  • Reasonable temperature

It’s also important to make sure your workspace is at a reasonable temperature. Having your office too hot or too cold may leave some of your employees feeling unhappy, so it’s crucial that you try to set the temperature at a level that suits everyone. Although there isn’t a law that states a minimum or maximum temperature, it’s thought that the ideal setting in a workplace should be at least 16C. In an office environment, you may find that a slightly higher temperature is more suitable.

 

 

  • Ventilation

Making sure your office is well ventilated is essential. Ideally, you should have an effective ventilation system in place, or ensure that the space has a supply of clean, fresh air being drawn in from outside. Allowing air to enter and circulate freely in the space should help prevent your workers from spreading infectious illnesses, therefore reducing the number of employee absences.

 

 

  • Comfortable workstations

Especially if your workers are required to sit for long periods of time in front of a computer, comfortable workstations are a must. Ideally, each of your staff members should have their own individual desk accompanied by an adjustable and supportive chair. The setup of the space is important too. For example, computer screens should be at eye level and positioned about an arm’s length away, while the keyboard and mouse should be placed in close proximity so that the user can move their hand from one to the other with ease.

 

 

  • Clear walkways

Did you know that, according to the Health and Safety Executive, the majority of trips in the workplace are caused by obstructed walkways? Your workers should be able to move around your office without putting their wellbeing in any danger, so it’s paramount that you keep passageways clear at all times. To help enforce this, you could adopt a ‘see it, sort it’ attitude. If any of your staff see an obstructed walkway, you could encourage them to either fix the problem themselves or report the issue for someone of seniority to address. It’s also important to make sure you have an effective cleaning regime in place.

 

 

  • Tidy wires

 

You should also ensure that all computer cables, telephone wires and any other trailing cords are tidied away. Fortunately, there are a number of useful accessories you could use to help you organise any unruly wires. For example, you could group a number of wires together with plastic ties or fix a cable tray to the underside of each workstation. You could even invest in desks with integral cable management systems, such as models with inbuilt wire ports.


Provide sufficient welfare facilities

The wellbeing and happiness of your workers is crucial, so it’s important that you provide them with the basic amenities that will make them feel content and comfortable at work. For example, you will need to have working toilets and hand basins, in addition to soap and towels or hand dryers. You should also make sure your personnel have access to safe, clean drinking water and a place where they can eat meals and rest, like a kitchen or breakout area. Ideally, your workers should also have somewhere to keep their belongings, such as coats, bags and clothing if they are required to wear a special uniform. In this instance, your members of staff should also have use of a private area where they can get changed.

Put suitable first aid arrangements in place

Having suitable first aid arrangements in place is extremely important. In the event that an employee falls ill or is injured, you will need to have a process in place to ensure they’re looked after and receive the immediate attention they might need. Even in an office environment, an accident can occur or an illness can strike at any time, so it’s crucial that you’re fully prepared.

As a minimum requirement, your workplace should have a suitably stocked first aid box, as well as an appointed person to take charge. You may decide that you need a qualified first-aider. In this case, you could select a member of staff to undergo approved training to gain a certification in first aid.

Although there is much more to health and safety in the workplace, the points in this blog should help you understand the basics and how you can turn your office into a happy, healthy and safe environment for everyone to enjoy.

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How to make your reception area more inviting in 5 simple steps

April 26, 2017

It might be a cliché, but it’s true that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. This means that when you’re designing your office, it pays to put some extra time and effort into getting your reception area just right. This is the first thing that visitors to your premises will see. Whether they’re prospective employees, customers or investors, they are bound to make judgements about your business based on the look and feel of this area.

 

So, if you’re not completely satisfied with the way your reception is presented, now’s the time to make some changes. To help you along the way, the following five simple steps should make it easier for you to whip this part of your workplace into shape and create a positive impression among your guests.

 

  1. Refresh your colour scheme

 

Peeling paintwork and a tired, lacklustre colour scheme are big no nos in office entrance areas. So, if you think your reception is in need of a little TLC, now’s the time to make some changes. A new coat of paint and some vibrant accessories could completely transform your reception and give it a more professional, attractive vibe. Branding is particularly important in this part of your workplace, so try to incorporate your company’s colours into your design scheme. As well as repainting your walls, consider replacing your flooring to reflect your new colour theme, and don’t be afraid to inject added personality with the help of some bold, attractive artwork or branded signage.

 

Refreshing your colour scheme can be one of the cheapest yet most effective ways to improve your reception. It enables you to achieve impressive results with minimal expenditure.

 

  1. Improve your furnishings

 

A high-quality reception desk and some comfortable seats are must-have items in these areas, so if your reception furniture has seen better days, it’s well worth investing in new designs. As the focal point of your reception, your desk is arguably the most important furnishing in this part of your office, so it pays to make sure it looks just right and functions perfectly. Whether you go for a curved or a straight-edged design, a contemporary desk or a traditional model, make sure it complements the overall style you’re going for and is a suitable size.

 

When it comes to your seating, it’s essential that you select products that look the part and are comfortable to use. Also, make sure that you have enough seats to accommodate the number of people who may use your reception at any given time. Bear in mind that space-saving modular designs can help you to maximise the amount of seating on offer.

 

It’s also a good idea to include a coffee table for people to rest their drinks on, and these surfaces come in handy if you want to provide people with complementary reading material. The tables are also perfect for resting vases of fresh flowers and fruit bowls on.

 

  1. Get creative with your lighting

 

The importance of attractive lighting is sometimes overlooked in reception areas. However, with a little imagination, it’s possible to create stunning visual effects that transform the appearance of these spaces. For example, you could use spotlights to highlight specific features in your entrance area, such as your most prized awards and your favourite artworks. You might also want to add dramatic flair to your reception desk with the help of some strategically placed uplights. Different coloured illuminations can also help you to create a contemporary, stylish look in this part of your workplace.

 

 

Particularly if you have high ceilings, attractive pendant lights could make a good addition to your reception too. These accessories are ideal as high-impact design features above desks or seating areas. Meanwhile, why not complete your lighting effects with some illuminated signage?

 

 

  1. Integrate technology

 

Carefully chosen technology can also work wonders to enhance receptions. For example, the simple addition of a flat-screen TV positioned so that your guests can see it from the seating area can give this part of your office a more dynamic look. You could take this idea a step further and incorporate a video wall. These statement accessories create a striking focal point and they can give your office an ultra-modern look and feel. They also show that you take your tech seriously. Of course, it’s up to you what you display on your screen or video wall. Perhaps you’ll impress your guests with soothing images or maybe you’ll take the opportunity to educate them about your business.

 

Although it won’t affect the look of your reception, providing free Wi-Fi in this area can also make it more welcoming to guests. This small gesture makes it easier for people to stay connected while they are waiting in your office.

 

  1. Ensure it’s spotless

 

Last but not least, make sure this part of your office is always spotless. A layer of dust on surfaces, crumbs or litter on the floor and overflowing bins are guaranteed to give guests a bad impression of your company. This slapdash approach to caring for your reception may suggest you have a similarly lazy approach to managing other aspects of your business. The fact is, it only takes a matter of minutes to keep your reception spic and span – especially if you clean it on a daily basis – so it’s well worth putting in the time and effort.

 

As well as keeping the area clean, make sure it always smells inviting. A plugin air freshener is one of the easiest ways to do this. Just make sure the scent you choose isn’t too overpowering.

 

Taking these five straightforward but effective steps should help you to ensure your reception area ticks all the right boxes with your guests. Bear in mind though, as well as getting the space itself spot on, it’s essential that your reception staff are as welcoming as possible to visitors. An unmanned desk or an unprofessional greeting is bound to put people off, so it’s crucial that your personnel understand how important it is to make a positive impression on guests.

 

 

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How to harness creativity through office design

April 18, 2017

 

Creativity can be vital to a business’s stability and growth. Creative thinking can help solve problems, come up with improved ways of doing things and innovate new and unique products and services. You may have hired workers based on their cool video CVs and lateral-thinking responses to your interview questions, but are you really getting the most from them on a day-to-day basis? One way to ensure they’re living up to their potential is to review your office design. Start by asking yourself the following questions.

 

 

  1. Is your office dynamic?

 
Tedious repetition and routine can stifle creativity so try to engender an atmosphere of change and energy. You could do this by allowing workers to ‘hot desk’, i.e. employees find new desks to work at each day instead of having assigned desks. This can help to break down the silo mentality that occurs in some organisations and can result in personnel sharing information, expanding their knowledge, and finding new ways to approach problems.

 

  1. Is your office flexible?

 

If you want to shake things up but aren’t ready for hot desking, why not incorporate flexible office furniture into your office. For example, you could use modular workstations, which can be reconfigured according to your needs and room space. Office floor screens could also be used to give your staff privacy and the space to work alone when necessary, as well as the opportunity to hold impromptu discussions and brainstorming sessions.

 

  1. Is your office zoned?

 

Creativity is often associated with collaboration, but it’s important to recognise that original thinkers often do their best work solo, and some creative work may need to be carried out in isolation. To ensure that every worker and every project is given the right space, you could create loud zones that allow for conversation and interaction and quiet zones that allow for concentration and separation. For example, our Harmonica breakout seating is great for giving people the opportunity to hold and join in casual and formal discussions. By placing these in a corner of your office, you could create an instant loud zone. To create a quiet zone, think small and enclosed. For inspiration, check out Google’s workstation pods in its Sydney headquarters.

 

  1. Do you encourage self-expression?

 

The days of having a professional identity and a personal identity are gone. Millennials expect to be able to be themselves in the workplace and, if you want to get the best from your employees, you need to support this. Afterall, if you encourage self-expression on a personal level, workers are likely to feel more comfortable speaking up in the boardroom. You could promote self-expression in a myriad of ways. For example, you could implement a casual dress policy, allowing personnel to dress informally throughout the week or on one dedicated day. You could also encourage staff to decorate their space as they see fit, whether that be by keeping a framed picture of the family dog on their desk or by hanging a Confucius quote above their workstation.

 

Remember that every creative worker is different so what works well for some may not be right for others. To get a better understanding of the kinds of changes you need to make in your workplace, why not ask staff what they think? You could do this through one-to-one chats, group discussions, anonymous email polls or with suggestion boxes.

 

Posted in Uncategorized
Posted by Furniture@Work

 

Are managers and employees at odds over office noise?

March 30, 2017

When it comes to office design, open plan remains by far the most popular layout – and it’s not hard to understand why. This style of work area represents a highly efficient use of space, and it’s also effective at encouraging collaboration between colleagues. However, open plan offices do have their drawbacks, and it seems as though executives and employees may be somewhat at odds when it comes to what works and doesn’t work in these environments.

 

Study findings that may take managers by surprise

 

Working in collaboration with Plantronics, Oxford Economics polled over 600 executives and 600 employees on what they perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of open plan work areas. The study turned up some interesting results. For example, while 53 per cent of workers reported that ambient noise in their offices reduces their productivity and satisfaction in their roles, only 35 per cent of managers identified ambient noise as a problem for their personnel.

 

Also, executives seem to overestimate the extent to which workers have the tools they need to filter out excessive noise. While only 41 per cent of employees believe they have the tools they require to filter out the distractions around them, 63 per cent of managers thought their workers have what they need for this purpose. This may in part be because managers have such different experiences to regular employees in the workplace. Of the executives polled, 62 per cent had their own private offices. This compared to just 14 per cent of employees.

 

Fewer than a fifth of employees (18 per cent) said that their managers have taken steps to reduce noise in the workplace, and executives revealed that limiting distractions was low on their list of priorities when designing offices.

 

The team behind the study concluded by suggesting that noise and distraction are bigger issues than the majority of executives realise, adding that businesses should make more of an effort to understand their workers’ concerns and take steps to address them.

Simple design features that can limit noise levels

If you’re worried that noise levels are too high in your office and your personnel are struggling to focus on their tasks as a result, now’s the time to take action. After all, if your employees aren’t able to get on with their tasks properly, their productivity can plummet, which is bad news for your bottom line. Also, stress levels in your office may soar and morale could suffer, making it more difficult for you to retain your best talent.

 

The good news is, you don’t have to have a complete office refit in order to address this issue. There are some relatively simple steps you can take that should help to bring down noise levels and limit distractions. For example, if you don’t have them already, you might benefit from incorporating floor screens into your office design. You could use them to separate different departments, or you could cordon off breakout areas or your staff canteen. Meanwhile, desk screens can be used to give individual workers added privacy. Highly portable and available in a range of different colours, floor and desk screens can make a big difference to volume levels in any office environment.

 

Rethinking some of the materials you use in your office could help you to control noise levels too. As a general rule, hard surfaces cause echoes and therefore increase the volume in workspaces. So, when you’re trying to control sounds, it’s wise to use softer materials where possible. For example, carpets are better at limiting noise than tiles and polished floors, and acoustic ceiling tiles are also a savvy investment. It’s even possible to purchase decorative wall art that doubles as soundproofing. For example, you can get special panels that reduce the bounce-back of sounds. These panels can showcase anything from attractive prints to your company logo or pictures of your products.

 

Plants provide you with another simple way to turn down the volume in your office. They absorb sound and can provide people with added privacy. As well as regular pot plants, why not consider going a step further and using green walls in your workspace? These distinctive features are extremely effective at limiting sound levels and they make a style statement at the same time.

 

Be logical when it comes to your office layout

 

On a more general level, take noise into account when you’re designing your office layout. For example, try to avoid positioning loud departments (such as those that use phones a lot) next to quieter ones, and if possible don’t put equipment like printers and scanners in the middle of work areas.

 

Creating different zones can also help you to control the volume in your office. By providing your employees with an area away from the main office where they can go for discussions with colleagues and hold impromptu meetings and brainstorming sessions, you can reduce the number of potentially loud conversations that take place in the main part of your office. You might also want to provide your personnel with special quiet spaces that they can go to when they need to be away from distractions to focus on individual tasks.

 

Well worth the effort

 

As the Oxford Economics and Plantronics study reveals, not all managers are aware of the frustration that excessive noise can cause among employees. Those businesses that ignore this issue risk suffering a loss of productivity and they may struggle to keep hold of their workers.

 

In contrast, by showing that you do take this issue seriously and by designing your office accordingly, you stand to make your workers happier and more effective in their roles. Ultimately, this is great news for all concerned.

 

Posted in Uncategorized
Posted by Furniture@Work

 

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