7 of the most irritating office habits

March 4, 2016

In the workplace, manners and etiquette can often fall by the wayside. In fact, you’d be surprised by how many people don’t know, or choose to ignore, the basic rules of good office behavior. From messy desks, to being late, to taking personal phone calls, there are all sorts of irksome habits that can cause tension between coworkers, lead to low morale and create a stressful working environment. Ever wondered if you’ve rubbed your colleagues up the wrong way? Here are seven of the most irritating office habits and how to tackle them.
1. Being messy
Perhaps one of the most common bugbears for office workers is being messy. An untidy, disorganised desk can not only be a distraction to your coworkers, but it can also signify to your boss that you are struggling to keep on top of your workload. If you’re keen to remain on favourable terms with your workmates and superiors, it’s a good idea to keep the chaos and clutter under control. So, if your desk is piled high with paperwork, you’re surrounded by an ever growing collection of post-it notes and there’s a teetering stack of folders by your feet, now’s the time to invest in some new office storage solutions – such as filing cabinets and desk organisers. Once you have got your workspace shipshape, you will be surprised at how much more efficient and productive your day is.
2. Being late
We’ve all had to wait around for someone who’s running late. Annoying, isn’t it? Arriving late to collaborative work sessions or meetings can give the impression that you are unorganised or that you don’t take your job seriously, both of which are guaranteed to put you in your collegues’ bad books. To avoid placing strain on your workplace relationships, always be punctual. If you are someone who struggles with time management and is regularly late, make sure you leave enough time between meetings or schedule calendar reminders on your computer to ensure you turn up on time. Also, if you are giving a presentation or leading a discussion in a meeting room, be courteous and try to keep within the allotted time so that other groups don’t have to wait for you to finish.
3. Using mobile phones
We are all guilty of using our phones in work at some point or another, but there are certain times when it’s inappropriate. While sending a quick text to a friend may be excusable, when it happens constantly throughout the day, it can quickly become a problem. The constant buzz of social media notifications, replying to emails during meetings and taking personal phone calls when others are trying to work can be a real annoyance. Particularly if your workspace is open plan, try to avoid using your mobile during working hours. Put your mobile on silent mode, go into a different room to take calls and save that Twitter update for lunchtime.
4. Being too loud
Gossiping, holding meetings at your desk and having conversations across the room can be highly distracting for those sitting nearby. It’s true that speaking to coworkers and being sociable can be good for morale and bonding, but it’s important to keep volume levels in check. If those around you are constantly having to put their headphones in to get work done, chances are you are being too loud. Remember, people might not want to hear about your weekend plans or what you watched on TV last night. If you want to catch up with someone or bring up confidential information, move the conversation to a private spot. After all, you never know who could be listening.
5. Coming to work when you’re sick
OK, so you might want to make a good impression and look committed in front of your boss, but coming to work when you are ill is a big no-no. There’s nothing more annoying than having to sit near someone who coughs and sneezes at their desk all day and, let’s face it, the chance of you actually being productive when you feel under the weather is pretty low. As a general rule of thumb, if your illness is contagious and you are going to spread your sickness around the office, stay at home. Taking a couple days off work is far better than struggling your way through the day – and trust us, your workmates will thank you for it later.
6. Constant procrastination
We all know someone who takes an extra 10 minutes at lunch, has too many cigarette breaks and spends most of their time browsing the internet. While we all avoid doing work on occasions, constant procrastination is a sure fire way to vex your colleagues. Not only can it irk others who are hard working, but it can also mean that you have less time to complete your tasks, which could result in missed deadlines and a lower standard of work. If you want to avoid a disciplinary from your boss, kick your procrastinating habits by setting yourself a strict schedule and working on improving your time management skills.
7. Bad table manners
Leaving the kitchen messy, letting food go off in the fridge and eating smelly lunches at your desk are all up there with some of the most irritating workplace habits. And while we are on the subject of eating and drinking, not sharing food and never offering to do the tea round can also get on people’s nerves. To prevent food wars from erupting in the office, remember that you share your workplace with others and just as your mother would say, always mind your table manners.
The office can be a hotbed for clashing personalities and conflicting behavioural habits and unfortunately, you can’t always pick who you work with. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to make sure that you don’t get under anybody’s skin. By keeping your office manners in check and being considerate of those around you, you should be able to enjoy a happy and harmonious work environment.

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5 steps to giving the perfect presentation

March 3, 2016

There’s no getting around the fact that giving a presentation can be daunting. Whether you’re speaking in front of your colleagues, a potential client or at a large corporate event, communicating your message to an audience is not always an easy task, especially if it’s your first time giving a talk. Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you to boost your confidence, connect with your listeners and master your public speaking skills. Here are five steps to giving the perfect presentation.
1. Have the right equipment
First things first, it is important to make sure that you have the right equipment on hand. Start by making a list of all the essential items you will need on the day and find out about the availability of equipment at the venue. For example, will there be a microphone, projector and computer available? If not, you may want to think about arranging your own supplies. It is also a good idea to give any display and presentation equipment a quick test run beforehand to avoid any embarrassing technical failures.
As well as helping you to stay on track and supplement your points, being able to supplement your points with suitable display equipment can make it easier for your audience to understand and retain information. Some public speakers find that using PowerPoint , flipchart easels and other visual aids can help them to amplify their messages. However, it is important to make sure that you only use equipment to support your presentation rather than detract from its purpose.
2. Make sure there is a clear message
Perhaps the most vital part of the preparation stage is making sure that your presentation has a clear message and purpose. Remember, the aim of a presentation is to either inform your audience about something new or to try and convince them to adopt the same opinion as you – or perhaps a combination of both. When planning your talk, ask yourself what the key points are that you want your listeners to take away with them.
Try to keep your message simple and focus on a few powerful points and key topics you want to present. Avoid bombarding your audience with knowledge and long-winded anecdotes and steer clear of using convoluted sentences or complicated words that your listeners may not understand. Your talk should progress naturally with a logical beginning, middle and end and each point should be a development of the previous one.
3. Always keep your audience in mind
When planning your speech, remember to keep your audience in mind. Try to learn as much about them as you can so that you can tailor your speech to suit their needs. For example, you may want to call the organisers or host to find out the size of the group, the age range, their interests and their level of knowledge on the subject you will be speaking about. Try to think about what your audience already know, what they want to learn and what you can teach them. As you speak, ask questions and respond to their answers to make them feel involved. Bear in mind that your listeners are likely to only remember a few ideas and concepts, so it’s vital that you build your presentation around what they can get out of it.
Whether you are trying to inform or persuade, taking the perspective of your audience into account will ensure that what you are saying is relevant and it will help you to set a tone that will suit the crowd. It can also help you to connect with your audience better – and the more you connect with them, the more they will pay attention and engage with what you are saying.
4. Practise, practise, practise
It might sound obvious, but the more you practise your presentation the more effective it will be. Especially if you are new to public speaking, it is best to leave ad-libbing to the professionals and play it safe with plenty of preparation and practise. As well as helping to ensure things run smoothly on the day, giving yourself time to rehearse can ease any nerves or anxiety you may feel in the build up to your talk.
Whether you are practising your speech in front of the mirror, with friends or family members or recording yourself and playing it back, make sure you know it well enough so that you don’t have to rely too much on your notes to get by. There’s no need to know every word, but make sure that you familiarise yourself with your main points and ideas. It is also a good idea to time your run throughs to ensure you don’t go over your allocated slot on the day.
5. Relax and enjoy yourself

OK, so it might be easier said than done, but being able to relax and enjoy yourself while giving your presentation can make the experience far more pleasurable. It is natural to feel nervous when speaking in front of others, but there are simple things you can do to keep your jitters under control. When you take the stage, remember to speak slowly and clearly and take regular pauses after you’ve made a point to give yourself the chance to gather your thoughts. Breathing deeply is known to be a natural de-stressor and it can also stop you from talking too quickly.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid shuffling around or looking down at your notes for too long. The most effective speakers are the ones who use gestures, smile and make eye contact with their audience. If you are able to remain calm and collected while talking, you should find that you can build a rapport with your listeners more easily and deliver a far more effective presentation.
Public speaking is always going to be a challenge, but the more practise and preparation you do, the easier it will be. By following simple steps like these, you should be able to master your oratory skills and deliver a winning presentation.

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Your Essential Guide To Revamping Your Reception

March 2, 2016

Whatever industry you work in, the success of your business may be largely dependent on first impressions. As the initial point of contact with your company, your reception area is where potential clients, customers and employees will start to form an opinion of who you are and how you work. Unfortunately, many companies overlook the importance of having a welcoming, well-designed front of house, and this can prove to be a costly mistake. Not only can a disorganised, unattractive reception area leave an unfavourable impression on your guests, it can also have a negative effect on employee morale. So, whether you are planning on an entire design overhaul in this section of your workspace or you simply want to make a few updates, it’s well worth taking a look at this essential guide to revamping your reception.


Providing A Warm Welcome


The main purpose of a reception is to welcome people to your business. With that in mind, creating an inviting and comfortable space is essential. Steer clear of the clinical, waiting-room look and try to make the space appear and feel as homely as possible. As well as providing plenty of high-quality, comfortable chairs for visitors who may have to wait for you, it’s important to ensure the space is organised and well kept. After all, having a pile of teetering folders in the corner and a desk scattered with papers could give visitors the impression that you have a disorganised and sloppy approach in all your work. To keep the area looking presentable and clutter-free, it’s worth investing in filing cabinets, shelving systems and other storage solutions.


As well as choosing the right office furniture, you’ll need to make sure your facilities are up to scratch. To ensure that your guests are well looked after, consider having a range of refreshment options on offer, including a water dispenser, coffee machine or even some complimentary snacks to make their waiting time more pleasurable. You may also want to provide a selection of reading materials that are relevant to your industry for people to flick through while they wait.


Even simple touches, such as a vase of fresh flowers, soft accent lighting and soothing background music can help make your guests feel more at ease and create an inviting atmosphere. Paying attention to small details like this can go a long way towards imparting the best possible view of your business.


A Well Designed Space


When welcoming new clients and customers, a well presented front of house can be the difference between creating long lasting business relationships and losing custom. No matter how successful or well established your firm is, if your entrance is dated, scruffy and cramped, it is bound to reflect badly on your brand image. To increase your chances of making a good first impression, you need to think carefully about the design and layout of your reception.


As well as creating a stylish and aesthetically pleasing space, you need to take practical considerations into account. For example, if you regularly receive deliveries or have a large number of people visiting your office on a daily basis, space is a crucial factor. Remember that your reception is where people enter and leave the building, so it’s crucial that you make sure you accommodate high volumes of traffic. Without sacrificing style, it is also a good idea to opt for hardwearing, robust materials for the floor and furnishings so you won’t have to keep redecorating every few months due to wear and tear. In addition, your reception desk should also be clearly marked and your receptionist should have enough space and storage to work efficiently.  


Whether you are lucky enough to have a large room or you are working with a smaller area, you’ll no doubt want to put the space you have to its best possible use. To prevent your guests from feeling too cramped, choose furniture that matches the size of the room and avoid the temptation to go overboard with decorative, superfluous items. If you are lacking in square footage, using a corner reception desk can help to free up valuable floor space.


Reflect Your Brand Image


Much more than just a waiting room, your reception area can speak volumes about your company culture, values and aspirations. With that in mind, it is essential that the interior is representative of your corporate brand. Take a few minutes to think about the story behind your company and how you want others to view it. You can then use this to inform the design process. Every aspect of the interior design, from the furniture to the decor, should convey a sense of who you are as a company. For example, a creative agency with a young target audience may choose to have a vibrant, modern design while an accounting firm may suit a more formal, professional look. Whatever image you want to project, your reception should reflect your marketing message and set the tone for the rest of your office.


One simple yet powerful way to create an image that people will instantly recognise as your brand is to use your corporate colours. As well as incorporating the colours from your logo or website to decorate your walls, you may want to consider using brand-relevant hues for your reception furniture to further drive home the message.


Receptions also offer the perfect chance to show off the success and achievements of your firm. Consider having a trophy display cabinet, framed certificates and magazine articles that feature your company. This can help to project a sense of success and professionalism and give your visitors a better idea of who you are and what you do as a business before meetings or interviews begin.


So, if you want to make a bold statement and create strong relationships with your customers and clients, you may want to think carefully about the design of your reception. By bearing tips like these in mind, you should be able to promote your brand, create a welcoming feel and leave a favourable impression the minute someone walks through the door.

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Could Your Office Chairs Be Harming Worker Health?

February 26, 2016

In today’s digitally driven world, the majority of office jobs require employees to sit in front of a computer screen for the best part of the day. The bad news is, sedentary work can have an adverse impact on our health, and having an unsuitable chair only makes matters worse. In fact, sitting down for long periods of time, coupled with poor seating, can have serious long-term effects on our physical and mental wellbeing. This can result in increased staff absence rates and reduced productivity, both of which can damage your company’s bottom line. If you are concerned that your office chairs could be harming your worker’s health, this simple guide should help shed some light on the matter.


How chairs can harm your health


Standard office chairs can cause workers to adopt awkward postures and place added strain on the back, neck, shoulders, hips and legs. While this may not be a cause for concern in the short term, over time it can lead to a number of chronic musculoskeletal problems and health complaints. In some cases, poor posture caused by sitting incorrectly can result in more serious medical issues such as spinal damage, repetitive strain injury (RSI), arthritis and other joint ailments. Circulation problems and varicose veins can also be triggered by unhealthy sitting habits.


One of the main problems associated with inadequate office furniture is back pain. In fact, according to the NHS, backache is the number one cause of long-term worker illness in the UK – and often this problem is caused by unsuitable seating. When a chair does not provide sufficient back support, the natural ‘S’ shape of the spine can collapse to form a ‘C’ shape, adding pressure and tension to the supporting discs and muscles. As a result, your back grows weaker as it is unable to support itself, causing you to adopt a slouching posture.


As well as harming your physical health, poor quality office chairs can have a detrimental impact on your mental wellbeing. After all, there is nothing more frustrating than having to constantly shift, bend and stretch all day because your chair is causing you discomfort. Unsafe and uncomfortable working conditions can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety, which can have a knock on effect on concentration, morale and productivity.


How serious is it?


We’ve all experienced the feeling of a sore back and aching shoulders after a long slog at the office, but recent research has shown that sitting down all day is perhaps more harmful than many people realise. New studies have shown that sitting for just three hours every day can reduce a person’s life expectancy by around two years. However, there’s no need to panic just yet. Luckily, there are plenty of simple ways you can make improvements to a sedentary lifestyle and combat the health problems associated with it.


How ergonomic chairs can help


As an employer or manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that your staff are provided with comfortable seating that does not pose a risk to their health and safety. When it comes to improving your employee’s wellbeing at work, ergonomic furniture is key.


As well as providing high levels of comfort, ergonomic chairs can help encourage a suitable sitting posture. Unlike standard chairs, these user-friendly seating solutions are adjustable, meaning that they can be modified to suit the user’s individual proportions for a more pleasant seating experience. Ergonomic office chairs are usually adjustable by back, tilt, height and armrest. The backrest should be adjusted to provide sufficient lumbar support for the lower and middle back and to imitate the natural curve of the spine. The seat itself also needs to be padded and deep enough so workers can sit comfortably for extended periods of time. In addition, the armrests should be adjusted to the correct height to support the arms during long bouts of typing.


The correct way to sit


As well as investing in ergonomic furniture, it is important to make sure employees are sitting correctly to improve overall health. If your chair is properly adjusted, your thighs should be at right angles to your body with your knees slightly lower than your hips. To test whether your seat is adjusted to the right height, your arms should be level with the floor and your elbows by the side of your body when you are using the keyboard. This can help to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury. Your feet should also be flat on the floor and you should try to avoid crossing your legs, as this can cause poor blood circulation. While sitting, your computer screen should be at eye level. If the screen is too low or too high, meaning that you have to bend or stretch to see it, you will need to reposition the height of your chair to avoid neck strain. As a general rule of thumb, everything on your desk should be easily accessible so that you don’t have to reach or bend to use anything.  


Sitting in the correct position is one of the easiest ways you can avoid injury and reduce strain on your body. While it may be uncomfortable at first if you are not used to sitting properly, it can lead to long lasting health benefits in the future.


Encourage activity


In addition to having the right seating, it is also important to encourage workers to leave their workstations and have regular breaks throughout the day. Whether it is making a cup of coffee, doing some filing or going for a brief stroll at lunchtime, getting up and out of their chairs can help people to stave off the health problems associated with being too sedentary. Doing exercises at their desks while in their chairs can also help workers to promote circulation and prevent stiffness.


By investing in ergonomic furniture to improve your employees’ health and encouraging your personnel to stay active throughout the day, you should be able to enhance morale, reduce absenteeism and boost your bottom line.

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Simple Tricks To Help Improve Workplace Communication

February 24, 2016

Are you having problems connecting with a colleague? Do you struggle to get your message across to your team? Or perhaps your instructions keep getting misinterpreted? Effective communication plays a vital role in the success of any business. Not only can it help to foster a healthy and positive work environment, but it can also boost productivity and help build a more efficient workforce. However, inspiring employee engagement and collaboration is not always an easy task. If you are a manager looking for ways to improve communication between you and your team and across the entire company, here are some simple tricks to get you started.


Have an open door policy


One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve working relationships is to allow for frequent opportunities for interaction. Closed door environments can create a barrier and give the impression that you are removed from the rest of your team, which is a sure-fire way to stifle collaboration. Having an open door policy on the other hand can help to keep a constant flow of communication between you and your staff members, while showing your accessibility and readiness to listen. It will also give you quicker access to information and keep you in the loop of the daily goings on in your department and across the business as a whole.


Create a collaborative office layout


Thankfully, the days of claustrophobic cubicles and private offices are mostly a thing of the past. Today, an increasing number of companies are adopting a company culture which encourages personnel to work together as a team and share ideas. This is where the open plan office comes into its own. When done right, an open plan work environment can create bonds and promote knowledge sharing, both of which can encourage employee engagement and boost productivity. It can also help to nurture a mentality of ‘we are all in this together’, as people will be more willing to ask for help, share workloads and bounce ideas off each other. Having flexible seating plans can also prompt employees to mingle with people from different departments and have impromptu discussions.


Provide alternative working zones


While an open plan layout certainly has its merits, if you want everyone in your team to communicate effectively, there needs to be a variety of workspaces. After all, offices are full of all types of personalities, from introverts to extroverts, so it is important to cater for everyone’s needs. For some people, the increased noise levels and constant disturbances associated with open offices can be a hindrance when it comes to interacting with others. For those who prefer to voice their thoughts in a less exposed setting, consider providing a variety of different workspaces, including both open and private areas. An easy way to create flexible work zones and facilitate different activities within the office is by using room dividers. Office partitions can allow you to create enclosed, quiet areas ideal for team meetings and one-to-one discussions, which can then be taken down or moved elsewhere when open communication and collaboration is needed.


Encourage face-to-face conversation


In today’s digital age of smartphones, social media and instant messaging, the art of conversation can feel less and less important. Today, office workers are accustomed to using emails and phones as their main means of communication, even with people within the same building. In fact, it is not uncommon for office workers to send an email to the person they are sitting next to rather than speak directly with them. While technology does offer a useful and efficient way of interacting at work, it can have a negative impact on personal relationships and can often result in miscommunication. No matter how good your intentions may be, when you remove gestures, facial expressions and body language from the equation, things can easily be taken the wrong way. Not only can these misunderstandings lead to mistakes that could cost the business time and money, but they can also escalate into unnecessary disputes and place strain on colleague relationships. To avoid these pitfalls, try to encourage your staff to speak face-to-face as much as possible. Speaking directly to each other can eliminate the risk of misinterpretation and help to instil a sense of camaraderie, which can improve cooperation.


Be open and transparent


If you want to build an engaged team, open and honest communication is a must. Being transparent about the goings on of the business and sharing important information with your employees will help to create an affable, open company culture where everyone feels like a valued member of the team. After all, teams flourish most in environments that encourage involvement and are built on mutual support and trust. Hold regular company meetings and encourage everyone to bring something to the table by voicing their concerns, ideas and frustrations. This will provide a sense of having a shared goal and being part of something bigger than individual duties. The result? Stronger team bonds, a more efficient workforce and improved performance.


Balance work with play


Another simple way to improve staff engagement is by introducing fun into the workplace. After all, employees can only communicate successfully when morale and motivation are high. By incorporating team building activities into daily work routines, you can help to bring people together, reduce stress levels and strengthen office dynamics. By allowing more time for recreational activities at work, your staff can have fun and develop their communication skills at the same time. Go for team lunches, establish a social committee and provide break-out areas where employees can temporarily get away from their desks to socialise and blow off steam. This will help people to feel more at ease with each other and give them the chance to form friendships beyond work demands and schedules.


There is no denying that being able to communicate effectively at work can take some time and effort. But by bearing simple tricks and tips like these in mind, you should be able to create a more engaged, collaborative workforce.

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6 Steps To Aligning Your Office Design With Your Brand

February 2, 2016

Whether you’re a start up agency or an established corporate giant, how you utilise your office space can be incredibly telling. Office design can speak volumes about your company culture, goals and intentions and have a significant impact on the way in which potential customers, clients and employees view your business. It’s not just about creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing space – everything from the layout, colour scheme and choice of furniture can play an important role in promoting your image. If you want to make your office a seamless extension of your brand, here are six simple steps to follow.


  1. Have a clear message


First things first, it’s important to make sure that the message you want to convey is clear and consistent. Take a few minutes to think about the values, aspirations and story behind your company. In other words, what do you want your office to say about you? This will help you to set the tone of your space and establish a solid image that people will associate with your brand. For example, if you want to be seen as a cutting edge innovator, your interior should reflect this. Even if you are already an established leader in your industry, an office design that does not present a clear image of who you are could be damaging to your reputation. Remember, your workplace is a platform for putting your company culture on display, so it’s essential to make sure you are sending out the right message.


  1. Make a good first impression


When it comes to office design, first impressions matter. When someone walks through your front door, a disorganised, bland space with poor quality furniture and out of date equipment will only reflect badly on your business. Reception areas and boardrooms are particularly important, as this is where clients and customers will spend most time and begin to form an impression of the inner workings of your organisation. With that in mind, you’ll no doubt want to put these rooms to their best possible use. Your reception area should be as comfortable and inviting and possible and should set the tone for the rest of the office. As the place where ideas are born, pitches are won and important deals are secured, the boardroom is your chance to demonstrate the accomplishments and professionalism of your company. Everything within this space needs to project a sense of success.  


  1. Ask your employees for help


Branding your office is about much more than simply adding a company logo – your employees play an important role too. As well as clients and customers, the design of your workplace can have a significant impact on the people who spend the most time there. By taking the time to understand how your workforce sees your business, you should be able to get a better grasp of your brand, which can then help to inform the designing process. As the lifeblood of your business, your staff members need to feel proud of the company’s achievements and values. Start by asking them what it is about their jobs they enjoy and what inspires them. Surrounding your personnel with your marketing message can go along way towards engaging your workforce and helping them to feel more connected to their jobs. As a result, overall morale, productivity and performance are likely to benefit too.


  1. Consider your target audience


It’s impossible to align your office design with your brand without considering your target audience. You will probably already have a clear idea of the type of customer your business attracts. However, it might be worthwhile doing some extra market research to gain a deeper understanding of what your customers want to help you establish a suitable design for your office. For example, if you are aiming your business at a younger audience, a modern, creative vibe could be fitting, while a more traditional setting might be suitable for more mature clientele. You should also make sure that your office is a reflection of the style of customer service you provide, whether it’s fun and energetic or more formal. Branding your office to match your marketing message in this way can help your company to connect on a deeper level with your customer base.


  1. Choose your colour scheme carefully


Using colour offers an effortless yet powerful way to communicate your brand and create an image that people will immediately identify with your business. With that in mind, the colour scheme of your office will need some careful consideration. Bright hues such as reds, oranges and yellows can convey a sense of high energy and creativity, while blues can conjure up a feeling of loyalty and trust. It is also a good idea to use colours from your logo to decorate your workspace. As well as the walls, you may also want to consider using brand colours for your office furniture and soft furnishings to help amplify the message.


  1. Make your space unique


Finally, make sure your workplace design is unique. Any company can have a branded colour scheme, but what makes your offering different from your competition? Your workspace forms an integral part of your brand package, meaning that everything from desks to decoration need to show a purpose and provide a tangible sense of what makes you stand out from the rest. When decorating, make specific choices and fill your space with reminders of the products and services you offer. For example, if you provide a creative service to customers and clients, try to think outside the box with an imaginative layout and innovative decor that boosts your brand’s image. If you are providing customers with your expertise in a specific area, displaying your qualifications, certificates and awards can help you project a professional image, reassure your customers and give you a competitive edge.  

By utilising your office space as an opportunity to reinforce your corporate brand, you shouldn’t struggle to stand out from your competition, increase your success and boost your bottom line.



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5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Workspace

January 29, 2016

An efficient, well designed working environment can go a long way towards inspiring new ideas, encouraging productivity and helping you to perform better in your role. Whether you work at home or in an office, here are five simple ways to improve your workspace for 2016.


  1. Invest in ergonomic furniture


It is well documented that sedentary work can have a negative impact on our health, and this is only made worse when using poor-quality office furniture. If you find yourself constantly shifting in your seat, you have to hunch to see your computer screen or you suffer from a sore back, aching shoulders and a stiff neck at the end of the day, now is the time to upgrade your furniture. Not only can uncomfortable working conditions make it almost impossible to focus on your work, but it can also lead to long-term health issues over time.


To stave off these problems, invest in an ergonomic chair that properly supports your lower back. This can make all the difference when it comes to improving your health and performance at work. Your chair should be adjustable and ensure that when you are sitting your feet are flat on the floor, your thighs and elbows are at right angles and your computer screen is at eye level. By taking steps to enhance your comfort, you should find that your concentration and productivity levels benefit too.  


  1. Get the lighting right


While it may not seem like an important issue, lighting can have a significant impact on the way in which you work. Not only can sufficient lighting boost alertness and productivity, but it can also help to prevent headaches, fatigue and eyestrain – which can negatively affect your ability to focus on the task at hand.


While there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to what type of lighting is most effective for working, natural sunlight is generally considered best. However, if your workspace isn’t located near a window and relocating isn’t an option, it is important to make sure your desk is well lit. Interior designers usually recommend that offices have a balance of overhead lighting and task lighting. Rather than fluorescent lights, try to opt for bulbs that imitate natural light as they have been shown to reduce fatigue and improve mood. Try to minimise any glare on your screen too. You may also want to consider finding alternative spaces at work or home which have better light conditions to work in for part of the day, or take regular breaks outdoors for a natural mood booster.


  1. Clear the clutter


Ok, so keeping on top of your cleaning duties can be difficult during busy periods, but if you want to work more efficiently in 2016 and beyond, now is the time to clear the clutter. A desk that is piled high with paperwork and scattered with superfluous objects can slow you down both physically and mentally. Indeed, research suggests that messy workspaces can lead to increased levels of stress and have a detrimental effect on worker productivity.


As the focal point of your workstation, your desk needs to be a functional, organised space that is conducive to work. With this in mind, take the time to jettison the junk and purge your desk of anything that you don’t use on a regular basis. It is also a good idea to invest in a desk organiser or a filing cabinet to help keep your surfaces clean and tidy. This way, you’ll spend less time hunting down that important file or document you’ve misplaced and more time getting work done.


  1. Reduce noise distractions


Excessive noise is known to increase stress and anxiety, lead to low morale and hinder concentration. This means that noisy environments can be the bane of an office worker’s life. Especially if you’re based in an open plan space, colleague chit-chat, phone conversations and other noise distractions can cause your performance to seriously suffer.


Luckily, there are many easy ways you can drown out the hubbub at work. For example, office screens and partitions can be effective at reducing noise levels and they can also be used to create more privacy. Wearing earplugs or noise cancelling headphones can also help to lessen distracting sounds and can come in useful when you really need to knuckle down.


  1. Add some inspiration


While having a tidy desk can help to increase efficiency, it is also important to make sure your workspace inspires you. After all, when you take into account that many of us spend the majority of our day in the office, it only makes sense to make your workspace feel like your own. A sparse, lifeless desk can be demotivating and make the hours at work drag, while a welcoming, homely space with personal touches can help to foster a positive attitude and lift your spirits when the daily grind starts to get you down.


Whether it’s a family photo, changing your screensaver to an inspirational quote or hanging some artwork, adding personal elements to your office can help you to bounce back from stressful work demands and give you a much needed motivational boost. Decorating your workspace with objects and mementos that reflect your personality will also help you to feel more connected to your surroundings and make going to work every morning that little bit easier. However, be careful not to go overboard with your personal effects – too many knickknacks can be a distraction and project an unprofessional image.


By making simple alterations like these, you should be able to reap the benefits of a far more productive office and successful work life in 2016.



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5 Office Design Hacks To Help You Stay Organised In 2016

January 27, 2016

If you spent most of 2015 missing deadlines and struggling to stay on top of your workload, now is the time to take action. The New Year offers the perfect opportunity for a fresh start, so there’s no better time to improve your organisation than now. Staying organised has a lot to do with your approach to work, but did you know that office design can also be a big factor?


The fact is, a disorganised, poorly designed working environment can decrease productivity and have a detrimental impact on your quality of work. If you are struggling for inspiration on how to transform your office into an efficient, functional space, here are five design hacks that will help you stay organised in 2016.


  1. Establish activity zones


One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay organised in the office is to establish activity zones. By making sure you have designated areas for different types of activity, your workplace will soon begin to feel like the well oiled machine that it should be. For example, as well as having a main area set up primarily for work, it’s useful to create communal places for other tasks, such as printing, scanning and filing. As a general rule of thumb, when designing the layout of your office you should try to create an easy flow through the space to avoid congestion and enhance efficiency.


It is also a good idea to have both a quiet area, where employees can concentrate on individual tasks and escape the hubbub of the main office, and a collaborative zone for group projects and discussions. This can easily be achieved by using room partitions and floor screens.


  1. Give everything a home


Do you spend too much of your day shuffling things around trying to find what you need? Having paperwork and other office supplies scattered around your workspace is a sure fire way to increase stress levels and distract you from the task at hand. Without any order to your office, mess and clutter can quickly mount up and have a negative impact on your performance.


To prevent your office from descending into chaos, use storage boxes, bookcases, shelves and filing cabinets, and make sure that you and your colleagues are well versed in where everything is kept. Personal items, such as coats, should also be grouped together and given an allocated place. To maximise productivity, you may also want to consider labelling certain items to make them easier to locate in the future.


At the end of the day before you leave the office, make sure everything is returned to its proper place so you can start the next morning with a clear desk and mind.


  1. Keep frequently used items close at hand


Positioning your most frequently used items within easy reach will instantly make your workstation feel more efficient. To do this, you will need to determine what is essential and what is dispensable. That means novelty desk toys, last month’s meeting notes and empty coffee cups need to go. Remember, your computer, keyboard and phone should be the focal points of your desk – any additional supplies that you don’t use very often can be stored in an appropriate place. Using a top drawer or desk tray to keep important paperwork can also help you to quickly find the things you need the most.


By streamlining your surroundings and having your essential items readily accessible, you should find that you spend less time scrambling and searching and more time knuckling down and getting things done.


  1. Have a handy filing system


Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an entirely paperless office, which means having an effective filing system in place is crucial. A common mistake that many office workers make is to place filing cabinets in an inconvenient location – which in turn can result in unsightly stacks of papers ending up on desks. Ideally, shelves, filing cabinets and other storage solutions should be within close range of your workstation for convenience.


To help you prioritise your work between multiple projects, it is also a good idea to have a separate place to store paperwork that you are currently working on. This can either be a tray on your desk or a filing drawer that is within arm’s length of your workstation. Any work that is completed can then be stored elsewhere or thrown out. Having an efficient system for handling incoming tasks can help you improve your time management skills, keep on track with your workload and prioritise your most important jobs with minimal hassle.  


  1. Expand your desk space


There is nothing more distracting than trying to navigate your way around a cramped desk. If you are lacking surface area, there are many simple ways you can enlarge your desk space and give yourself extra room. For example, desks with built in storage units are great space saving options for small offices and can provide you with valuable extra workspace when you need it the most.


If your budget can’t quite stretch to a new desk, adding under desk pedestals can help to free up valuable workspace. Making use of vertical wall space and hanging shelves in the area behind, beside and underneath your desk can also provide a useful place to store office stationery, folders and printers, while wall-mounted notice boards can be used to keep letters, sticky note reminders and to-do lists within easy view.


There is no denying that staying organised at work can be a constant challenge. However, if you take the time to make improvements to your workspace now, you can save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run. By following useful office design hacks like these, you should be able to stay organised and look forward to a more enjoyable, productive and successful working life in 2016 and beyond. To get more ideas on how to better organise your workspace, take a look at the range of products featured on our website.



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Posture Problems Under The Microscope

December 30, 2015

From hunching over our smartphones to slumping at our desks, modern life is full of everyday activities that encourage poor posture. While you may not pay much attention to the way in which you stand or sit on a daily basis, it could be taking a serious toll on your health and wellbeing. As well as causing temporary aches and pains, adopting unhealthy postures can lead to all sorts of long-term musculoskeletal conditions. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to relieve muscle tension and lower your risk of injury. Ready to straighten yourself up? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common posture problems and how to resolve them.
Slouched sitting
Most of us are guilty of slouching in our chairs every now and then. Especially if you work in a sedentary environment that requires you to sit at a desk for long periods of time, the natural tendency is to slump down. However, this can be more damaging than you may think. While it may seem more comfortable than sitting up straight because your body has become conditioned to being this way, over time it can put added pressure on your back and overstretch the ligaments and discs that support the vertebrae. This increased tension can damage the spinal structure and lead to chronic back pain, as well as placing strain on the arms, neck, shoulders and legs.
To prevent these problems, choose an ergonomic chair that can be adjusted by height, back position and tilt. This will allow you to modify the chair to support your individual proportions. A correctly adjusted chair should relieve pressure from the lower spine and encourage you to sit upright. For added comfort, you can add a pressure relief cushion or lumbar support to your chair to further support the curvature of the spine.
However, simply having an ergonomic office chair is not enough – you’ll also need to get into the habit of sitting correctly. This may feel painful at first because your muscles are not used to supporting you in the correct position. Make sure that your knees are parallel with your hips and both your feet are flat on the floor. Try to avoid crossing your legs too, as this can cause your body to adopt an imbalanced posture. It’s also worth bearing in mind that prolonged static positions can aggravate postural related problems, so remember to take regular breaks and move around during the day to prevent your body from feeling stiff or sore.
Poorly set up desks
It may not be obvious at first, but the way in which your desk is set up could also be wreaking havoc on your posture. When you take into account the number of hours many of us spend sitting behind a computer screen each day, a poorly arranged workspace can only spell bad news for our health. Having your computer screen at an incorrect height can cause you to hunch and adopt a ‘forward head’ position where your chin juts forward, both of which can strain the neck, back and shoulders. Likewise, if your keyboard, phone and other desk objects are poorly positioned, it can cause you to repeatedly stretch and lean forward to reach the things you need. Over time, these repetitive movements can have a detrimental impact on your muscles.
To improve your posture at work, make sure that your screen is positioned straight in front of you, roughly an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at eye level, and you may need a stand for your monitor to sit on to ensure it’s at a comfortable height. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you so that your arms are straight and your elbows are under your shoulders and at your side when typing. Try to position frequently used objects, such as your stationary and phone, close at hand to avoid awkwardly stooping or stretching. If your job requires you to use your phone on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to ask for a hands-free headset to avoid muscle aches and cramp caused by holding the phone between your head and shoulders.
Standing incorrectly
Everyday habits such as texting, holding heavy bags on one shoulder and wearing heeled shoes can affect the way we stand and walk. While you may not notice at first, these common postural habits can cause muscle imbalances and place added strain on your back, neck, shoulders and buttocks. Stop and take the time to notice how your body looks when you are standing. Do you tilt your hips backwards? Are your shoulders hunched or rounded? Do you stoop forward or lean on one leg? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then now’s the time to take action.
To improve your standing posture, there are a number of corrective exercises you can do to strengthen your core, shoulders, buttocks, chest and neck. For example, doing the plank, side-lying leg raises, bridging and lunges can all be highly effective. Practising gentle yoga exercises that involve thigh, chest, hip and neck stretches can also help to make your muscles stronger and more flexible.
It’s also important to make a conscious effort to stand correctly. To keep your body in alignment and maintain the spine’s natural shape, the neck should be straight and the shoulders parallel to the hips. Draw in your pelvis, keep your shoulders back, put an even amount of weight on both feet, relax your knees and avoid leaning your head forward.
Of course, these are just some of the postural problems we face on a daily basis, but it should get you thinking about what you can do to improve the way you sit and stand. Correcting your posture may feel uncomfortable and strange at first because your body has gotten used to sitting and standing in a certain way, but it will be worth it in the end. By paying attention to your body and practicing picture-perfect posture, you should be able to reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall health.

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Why Your Office’s Reception Matters

December 23, 2015

Many relationships are forged within the first few minutes of a business encounter, with some figures suggesting that 75% of business is lost based on first impressions. As such, creating the right experience for those visiting your business could mean the difference between a customer for life and a negative word of mouth review.
Your office’s reception is the first thing visitors to your workplace will see. But it is not only your visitors whose impression of your business will be formed by what they see the moment they walk in through the door. A dismal, dreary and unwelcoming reception space can also have a significant impact on staff morale, setting the stage every day for disappointment. Even simply attracting the right employees in the first place will be a tricky proposition if the best candidates are greeted in a space that makes them think poorly of your company.
This means that an office reception will be important across the board, from employing the best workforce right through to converting the interest of potential clients into long-term customer relationships. Get the approach wrong here, and you will create a poor impression of your company that will be very hard to reverse.
There are a number of steps to take when looking to give your business the perfect environment in which to welcome existing employees and to greet new clients and workers alike.
The Right Design
To create the right reception environment, your interior design will very much need to suit your brand, while your seating will have to be comfortable and plentiful enough to cater for the very busiest of times. If your office’s reception is too big or too small, it could leave guests feeling cramped or, conversely, too exposed.
Once you have identified how much space you will need, the next job will be to identify the materials and furniture you will need. From the reception desk to the floor on which you place it, every single aspect of your design should be representative of your business and conducive to creating the right atmosphere for guests.
Each option will need to be chosen based on the company’s own specific needs, taking everything from space to style into consideration. Even the distance from the reception area to the outside world should be considered. If your reception is on the top floor of a high-rise building it may need very different flooring and heating to one whose doors open directly onto the street. With the latter, the wrong flooring choice may leave the entrance looking filthy every single time there is adverse weather.
This brings us neatly to organisation and cleanliness – a stack of boxes shoved carelessly in the corner and dirty marks across the walls will not inspire confidence, and may leave visitors wondering whether you are as slapdash in all your endeavours.
A Warm Welcome
When it comes to giving visitors a warm welcome, there will be more to think about than just setting the thermostat to the correct temperature. While leaving your guests shivering or sweating will not be advised, being courteous and offering them a pleasurable wait will be equally as important.
Because of this, it is wise to pay as much attention to finding the right reception staff as you pay to getting your reception’s interior design just so. There will be many occasions when your receptionist will be the face (and voice) of your business. Choosing the right candidate is therefore imperative if you want them to impart the best possible view of your business upon all those who visit your premises.
Receptionists are thought by some to be less important than other workers in an office, and as individuals who are easy to replace. This could not be further from the truth. The right candidate will be courteous, polite and welcoming, choosing to take care of their guests ahead of texting their friends. They will also have an image that is suitable for the company. This will be different for each and every business, and while some will need to have a very sleek and respectable individual to meet and greet, others may well want someone who looks extremely fashionable or edgy.
Facilities are another aspect to pay close attention to. Are you able to make your visitors a wide variety of beverages, and will they have something to do while they wait – whether that is watching television or reading material that is a little more recent than 1985? If visitors will have to wait for you in your reception area, then it is wise to make sure they feel well looked after, rather than being made to stand in the corner with nothing but a draught and a filing cabinet for company.
Some companies even choose to offer complimentary snacks such as nuts or fruit for guests to enjoy while they wait. Furthermore, when it comes to reading material, try to keep things as relevant as possible. While promotional leaflets about your business may be a good way to give them some background about your business before any meeting begins, consider providing other materials relevant to your industry as a whole to show you are knowledgeable about the related world beyond your four walls.
An Inviting Reception Makes A Big Difference
Many businesses overlook making important changes to their reception spaces, choosing to spend funds on areas they view as more important. In turn, far too many businesses have outdated furniture, designs and protocol that could well be losing them custom without them even realising it.
Simple touches can have a very positive impact too. Try doing away with harsh overhead lighting in favour of softer, wall-mounted lights, and don’t forget that the right artwork, some appropriate music and fresh flowers can go a long way to making your guests feel even more at home.
Your office reception is not just a place to keep people waiting until the person they are there to see is ready. Instead, it is the perfect place to instil confidence and the very best view of your business within your guests before the meeting has even begun.

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