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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Why Give Your Office A Festive Makeover

December 21, 2015

It will take a very special type of person not to get even a little bit excited as the Christmas period looms. Decking the halls with boughs of holly not only makes the world seem a little bit brighter and more interesting for a few short weeks, but it also brings people together and instills a sense of excitement and verve that may well be depleted at other times of the year.
 
But will giving your office a festive makeover be money and time well spent, or will it merely be an exercise in satisfying outdated expectations and keeping up with the industry Joneses?
 
Staff benefits
 
Decorating your workplace over the yuletide period is not just about making your company seem more appealing and welcoming. According to business experts Business 2 Community, not decorating the workplace over the festive period can leave employees feeling neglected, giving the impression that “they are not valued by their company and just seen as mere human capital”.
 
Investing in Christmas trees and decorations will send a very positive message to your team and show that you care about their well-being, boosting morale and potentially boosting productivity in the process.
 
Customer benefits
 
It is not just your workforce who will benefit from a well-appointed festive workplace either. Existing customers and potential clients alike may well be wooed by your decorations if you present them in the correct way. An aesthetically appealing office is likely to create a great feeling of community that will extend beyond employees to all those who visit your offices, and at the same time, present your business as one that has its priorities in order.
 
Even those businesses that have no face-to-face interaction with the public on their premises can reap the same benefits, simply by posting pictures of their festively-improved workspace on social media. According to The Formations Company, it is estimated that 86 per cent of customers browse online before making a purchase’, so even if you do not use your online presence specifically to sell products, it’s important that you present the right image on your website and social media channels to attract customers during the Christmas period.
 
Bringing your team together
 
If you really want to get the most from decorating your office in the run up to Christmas, why not get the whole team involved? Allowing your workforce to have an input as to how the space is decorated will not only make them feel far more involved and valued, but it will also make the job far less time-consuming and stressful. Just giving your employees a couple of hours away from their usual tasks may be enough to totally transform your workplace. At the same time, this could give your workforce an even bigger boost by treating them to some well-earned downtime.
 
They say a change is as good as a rest, and for those businesses that wish to boost morale, get the most from their workforce and be as appealing as possible to customers both old and new, a festive makeover is likely to work wonders all round, offering a brighter, warmer and more inviting space for you and all of your employees to work in.
 
 

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Create A More Efficient Office For 2016 In 5 Easy Steps

December 7, 2015

Increased efficiency in the workplace will help companies see greater profits and allow them to be even more competitive within their industry. Furthermore, being efficient will help businesses to satisfy customers more effectively and improve customer retention in the process, something that will almost certainly lead to long-term prosperity.
 
When it comes to getting more out of your employees, longer working hours, increased pressure, and tighter deadlines are rarely going to be the way to go. Such pressures reduce morale, increase stress and impair focus. In fact, in one study, the motor company Ford uncovered that, should an employee work 60 hours per week instead of the recommended 40, there was an increase in productivity for just three or four weeks before productivity turned negative. Therefore, by increasing the hours your employees work, you may actually end up paying far more in wages for less productivity.
 
Instead, increasing the efficiency of your workspace may well be the best way to go. Here, we look at five ways to make your office more efficient in 2016, and in turn reap the many rewards of increased productivity.
 
1. Create a stimulating space
 
The truth of the matter is, sitting at a desk for hours on end while very little around you changes is hardly likely to put one in the most creative of moods. As such, offering employees other places to sit or stand to talk through ideas and collaborate may make a big difference to the efficiency of your workplace. Whether you have higher tables at which people can stand and talk over a coffee, modular seating to encourage collaboration or comfortable furniture where employees can sink back and get inspired, offering a change of scenery can have a very positive impact.
 
Getting people inspired will help them to problem solve more effectively and can even cut down on the amount of time individuals have to spend in meetings and away from their core role.
 
2. Don’t obscure the view
 
Having as much natural light in the office as possible is always going to be a good idea. The more natural light your workers receive, the more positive they are likely to be, and the less likely it is that they will get the headaches or eye-strain that can result from working in poor light. One US company, VeriFone, recently reported a 5% increase in productivity and a total product output increase of over 25%, simply through increasing the amount of natural daylight in their workplace.
 
Opening the blinds and even increasing the number of windows you have is not all about natural light though. One UK study showed that offering workers a view can dramatically improve performance. In the study, those workers with window views spent 15% more time on their primary task, compared to colleagues without views who spent 15% more time talking with others.
 
Don’t just give them plants and flowers outside though. The Journal of Environmental Psychology recently reported that participants in a study had recovered from mental fatigue much faster when exposed to pictures of nature. Another study showed how plants made employee reactions 12% quicker and reduced stress and blood pressure. So don’t leave all that lovely nature as just a distant view – try bringing pot plants and flowers inside the office too.
 
3. Cut out the background noise
 
Opening up your office with an open-plan design can certainly aid collaboration and help you to make the most effective use of your space. However, such design can have a negative impact on efficiency. One University of Sydney study uncovered the top complaint amongst office workers today was a lack of sound privacy. Those exposed to higher levels of noise in the workplace are more likely to experience higher levels of stress, and concentration will almost certainly be affected too.
 
There are of course ways to beat the noise. From suggesting that those carrying out familiar tasks listen to music to buying earplugs for workers in busy open-plan spaces, there are plenty of ways to cut out the distraction of noise without altering the way your employees work. Of course, office screens are another great choice, and those that do not need every inch of their office to be open plan, or those businesses that will benefit from creating ‘quiet zones’, will almost certainly see productivity increase through the employment of such dividers.
 
4. Keep it clean
 
A cluttered space is a distracting one. Furthermore, if your office space looks like it has been invaded by the Tasmanian Devil, there is a good chance that your employees will constantly struggle to find the items they need, when they need them. Even extremely creative industries that may well thrive when things are not regimented will benefit from giving employees the option to get organised as and when they need to.
 
Finding the right storage solutions will be a great start. It may be that you need filing cabinets for the many reams of paperwork you generate on a daily basis, or it may be that you need to give your workers the ability to organise their desks more effectively. Either way, identifying your own unique storage needs and having a thorough spring (or autumn) clean will make it far easier for you to run an efficient business.
 
5. Get decorating
 
It is easiest to assume that the colour of your office walls will have very little impact on the productivity of your workforce. After all, no one spends all day staring at the walls. In reality though, the colour of your office walls can have a major impact on how efficient your staff are.
A recent study carried out by The University of Texas found that certain colours can lead to individuals feeling sad or depressed, with grey and beige being the biggest offenders for women and orange and purple having a negative effect on men. Other studies have shown that colours affect our productivity just as much as our mood.
The right colours for you will vary, depending on the industry you are working in, with the likes of yellow being stimulating and cosy, and subtle greens and blues being calming. If you are looking for a boost to creativity and passion though, you may find that red is the best way to get your employees’ pulses racing.
 
Following these simple steps could mean the difference between a 2016 that mirrors 2015 almost exactly and one that is more productive, more exciting and far more rewarding.
 
 

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What Your Guests Really Think Of Your Office Chairs

December 1, 2015

They say that first impressions last. More importantly, in business, first impressions are sometimes the only impressions you get to leave. When it comes to office design, knowing this could help you to create an office space that shows you in very the best light – something which could do wonders for customer retention.
 
Creating the right first impression is not just about the big things. Being attended to on time in a well-decorated office by a representative with a warm smile and good listening skills will certainly be a great start, but if you leave your guests physically uncomfortable for your entire meeting, there is a good chance they will focus more on wanting to wrap things up than on the important information you hope to impart.
 
Chair Design
 
The benefits of ergonomic desk chairs have been talked about at great length over the past few years. Recent studies have shown time and time again that the wrong office seating can lead to everything from back pain to poor circulation, and in turn many bosses have started to look at what they can do to protect their workers’ health. However, when it comes to giving the best first impression to customers there may be even more to think about.
 
The design of your office chairs is likely to be just as important as their comfort and practicality. If you choose meeting chairs, desk chairs and sofas upon which guests can wait purely on the basis of ergonomics, you may not only leave them sitting in a position they are not used to, but you may also find that they get completely the wrong impression about your business.
 
Comfort
 
A recent Guardian article highlighted the major issues of certain types of chairs – namely hard-backed, backwards sloping seats that left those using them extremely restless, making two hours feel longer than “all five seasons of Game of Thrones”.
 
Guests want to sit in comfort both while they wait and during any meeting they have on your premises. If a potential client spends all their time fidgeting to get comfortable while you make your pitch, there is a good chance they won’t be fully focussed on anything you say. This doesn’t mean that you have to find the most plush and padded office chairs on the market though. Instead, balancing comfort and style will be vital if you want to give them a good overall view of your business.
 
By taking the time to research the many options available, it will be possible to find office chairs that suit your budget and your image while providing all the comfort needed to keep your guests’ attention. This will be as important in your foyer as your office too. After all, no one likes to wait, but if they have to, waiting in a comfortable and stylish seat, with some good reading material and a nice cup of coffee will make it far more appealing.
 
So what do your guests think of your office chairs? If they are bought solely on the basis of price, they probably think they are uncomfortable and potentially tacky. If they are bought with only comfort in mind, they possibly think that those plush leather wingbacks look totally incongruous in your ultra-modern boardroom. If they are bought merely for their looks, then your guests may wonder if your business opts for style over substance. As such, finding the right mix of all of the above will be the best way to help you create that perfect first impression.
 
 

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Style Over Substance? Why Choosing Quality Office Furniture Matters

November 26, 2015

Whether you’re looking to give your current office a modern update or you’re starting from scratch with an entire refurbishment, deciding what furniture to choose requires some careful consideration. It’s surprising how many businesses opt for style over substance when selecting furniture, but this can often prove to be a costly mistake. Of course, you’ll no doubt want your workplace to look stylish and modern, but when it comes to keeping your employees happy and healthy, only the best furnishings will do. Let’s take a look at why choosing quality office furniture matters.
 
Boost productivity
 
Having the right furniture can play an important role in boosting productivity and overall performance. Bear in mind that most of your employees spend around eight hours a day at the office and the majority of this time is spent sitting at a desk. As such, poorly made workstations and uncomfortable chairs can be highly distracting and can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. By ensuring that your personnel are as comfortable as possible and have the right equipment, they will in turn be able to work more efficiently and maintain their concentration to produce better quality work.
 
Cut down on staff illness
 
From backache and swollen ankles, to headaches and fatigue, there are numerous health problems associated with sedentary work that can result in an increase in the levels of staff illness. Picking the right furniture can help you to improve your employees’ wellbeing and reduce absenteeism. To get the most out of your staff, you need to provide ergonomically designed chairs and tables. Office chairs should be adjustable by height, tilt and back position while desks need to provide enough space so that the computer and other objects can be positioned at a suitable distance to prevent posture related problems. Showing your personnel that you have taken measures to improve their health can also be an effective morale-booster. After all, a healthier workforce is a happier workforce.
 
Stand the test of time
 
As well as looking good and providing optimum comfort, well-made furniture will stand the test of time. With daily wear and tear, your chairs and desks need to be able to withstand constant use if you want them to last. By choosing furnishings and fittings that are made with craftsmanship and are manufactured from sturdy, hardwearing materials, you won’t have to worry about forking out for new chairs and tables a few years down the line.
 
Make a good impression
 
When it comes to offices, first impressions matter. As well as improving your employees’ experiences, investing in first-rate office furniture can also do wonders for your brand. When clients and visitors walk through the door, the first thing they notice is often your furnishings. If your chairs and tables look drab and dated, this will reflect badly on your business. On the other hand, high quality fittings can help to project a sense of success and leave a favourable impression on clients and other people who may visit your office.
 
Here at Furniture at Work™, we understand the importance of office furniture that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but highly functional and comfortable. Take a look around our site to browse our product range.
 
 

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5 Office Horror Stories

November 23, 2015

Sometimes, there’s no need to visit a haunted house or watch a scary film to feel a chill down your spine. From bullying bosses to nightmare Christmas parties, the office can be full of hair-raising scenarios. With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would help put you in the mood for the spooky season by sharing some shocking workplace tales with you. Here are five office horror stories that will make you thankful they’re not your own.
 
1. A messy colleague
 
‘I used to sit next to someone at work whose messy habits were out of control. Their desk was constantly cluttered with an ever-growing collection of coffee cups, scattered stationary, towering piles of paperwork and dirty dishes left over from lunch. It used to drive me mad. It looked more like a dumping ground than a workspace and it was a constant source of distraction.’
 
Dave, Marketing Manager, York
 
2. A boss from hell
 
‘After I left college, I worked in a job where my boss treated me like I was their personal servant. Almost everyday, they would make me perform all sorts of tasks that were outside of my job description, like making their drinks, sorting through their personal mail and fetching their print-outs for them. When they wanted something done, they would tap on the window of their office to summon me in. I’m not sure they could even remember my name most of the time. Talk about a lack of respect!’
 
Sarah, Sales Executive, London
 
3. A cringe-worthy Christmas party
 
A few years ago, my manager made the mistake of having one too many drinks at the office Christmas party. Not only did they proceed to tell inappropriate stories and make offensive quips to staff members, but at the end of the evening they decided it would be a good idea to perform a solo dance on top of the boardroom table while everyone watched in horror. Needless to say all eye contact was avoided on Monday morning’.
 
Fiona, Administrative Assistant, Manchester
 
4. An over-sharer
 
‘I used to know a colleague who would use working hours to catch up on their personal grooming. After lunch, they would use a paperclip to pick food from their teeth and I even caught them clipping their nails at their desk on more than one occasion. It would gross everyone out but they didn’t seem to notice. There is definitely a fine line between being comfortable and creepy at work’.
 
Carol, Legal Secretary, Newcastle
 
5. A lack of privacy
 
‘At my last job, I worked in an open plan office that had absolutely no privacy. We were all packed into a cramped room without enough workspaces so that it felt like we were working on top of each other. Everyday I had to endure loud phone conversations, smelly lunches and cluttered surfaces that made it pretty much impossible to get any work done. Working in such a poorly designed, claustrophobic environment every day was completely demotivating and stressful.’
 
John, IT Consultant, Kent
 
 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Office Etiquette

November 17, 2015

From table manners and queuing to minding your P’s and Q’s, we’re a nation renowned for our customs and protocol. However, when it comes to the workplace, it’s quite often a different story. By ignoring the unwritten codes of office behaviour, strife between co-workers can quickly mount up and result in a stressful working environment. To ensure a happy and productive workforce, here are some do’s and don’ts of office etiquette.
 
Do make sure your desk is tidy
 
You’re surrounded by empty coffee cups and your ever-growing pile of paperwork is spilling onto your neighbour’s desk. Sound familiar? OK, so keeping on top of your cleaning duties is unlikely to be at the top of your agenda when you’ve got a looming deadline and you’re swamped with work. However, if you want to stay on good terms with your boss and colleagues, now might be the time to de-clutter. Make the most of your space by taking advantage of desk organisers and filing cabinets and avoid any more tut-tut’s of disapproval.
 
Don’t come to work when you’re sick
 
You might want to make a good impression and look productive in front of your superiors, but there’s nothing that irritates office workers more than someone who coughs, sneezes and splutters from nine to five. The general rule of thumb is, if your illness is contagious and there’s a chance you’ll make others sick, stay at home. Trust us, both your manager and workmates will thank you for it.
 
Do make sure you are punctual
 
If you’re someone who is always late for meetings, set your watch a few minutes early or schedule in enough time to ensure you’ll be punctual. Turning up late can give the impression that you’re unorganised or you simply don’t care about the work at hand, which is a surefire way to strain workplace relationships. And while we’re on the subject of punctuality, make sure you keep meetings to the designated amount of time to avoid annoying other people who may be waiting to use the room after you.
 
Don’t use your mobile phone at work
 
Especially if you work in an open plan office, try to refrain from using your mobile phone during working hours. Taking personal phone calls, scrolling through emails during meetings and constant ‘pings’ alerting you to new messages can be highly distracting for others. Keep your phone on silent and go into a private room to take phone calls to avoid disturbing those around you.
 
Do know your audience
 
While being sociable and bonding with your colleagues is good for morale, remember to keep your noise levels in check. If you notice that your colleagues are constantly having to use headphones and keep throwing irked sideways glances your way, it might be time to put an end to your office chit chat. After all, not everyone wants to hear about what you got up to at the weekend or the latest office gossip. If you want to have a quick chat with a workmate, head to a quieter spot or wait until lunch. Likewise, if you need to discuss confidential information, suggest heading to another room for more privacy. Take care to be wary of your surroundings and think about who might be listening.
 
 

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Three Things Your Rivals Can Teach You About Office Design

November 13, 2015

With corporate giants like Google setting the trend for innovative offices, more and more companies are looking to create inspiring workplaces in a bid to increase productivity, boost morale and gain a competitive edge. However, that’s often easier said than done. If you’re struggling for ideas on how to transform your office, it might be time to turn your attention to your opponents for design inspiration. What are they doing better than you? What are you getting wrong? To help you stay ahead of competition and create a boast-worthy workplace, here are three things your rivals can teach you about office design.
 
1. Comfort is key
 
It may seem like an obvious point, but it’s surprising how many businesses overlook the importance of their staff’s comfort. When you consider that most of your employees spend the majority of their day sitting in front of a computer, it’s important to invest in high quality furniture if you want to get the most out of them. Ergonomic office chairs that are adjustable by height and tilt are a must in today’s offices, as are spacious desks that allow enough room for workers to carry out their tasks comfortably.
 
Having adequate furniture will not only enhance your employees’ experiences and foster a more productive workforce, but it will also give the right impression to clients and other third parties when they visit your office.
 
2. Place more importance on fun
 
Long gone are the days of depressing office cubicles and drab boardrooms. A new era of fun, dynamic workplaces is upon us with an increasing number of businesses finding a balance between work and play. If you want to get those creative juices flowing and boost productivity, you need to think beyond the traditional desk and chair set up and turn your attention to more stimulating surroundings.
 
Whether it’s a games room, a relaxing break-out area or an on-site gym, having recreational spaces where employees can socialise, recharge and temporarily escape their workstations will work wonders for staff morale. Ok, so maybe you won’t be punching alongside Google with gigantic slides and fireman’s poles, but by including fun areas within the office environment, you’ll have a far happier and more efficient workforce.
 
3. Flexible workspaces
 
If you’re not doing it already, now might be the time to change to a flexible seating plan. For many companies, the secret behind their success is providing staff with alternative workspaces. By choosing not to have allocated seats, your personnel will be encouraged to have impromptu meetings and mix with other departments, which can boost collaboration and improve your company culture. Not only will you be encouraging teamwork among different employees, but you’ll also be catering to their different work requirements. By having a mixture of private working spaces and open plan seating areas, your staff will feel like they have a choice in how they work, which can lead to increased performance.
 
By following these tips, you should be able to match your rivals in terms of office design and create an environment that your employees love to work in.
 
 

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Revamp Your Boring Boardroom In Five Easy Steps

November 10, 2015

The boardroom. A place where pitches are won, important decisions are made and ideas are born. A well designed meeting room can inspire creativity, encourage collaboration and boost productivity. With so much importance placed on this area of the office, it only makes sense to ensure that it looks the part. If you want to transform your boring boardroom into an appealing and inspiring space, follow these five easy steps.
 
1. Make sure your furniture is up to scratch
 
When giving your boardroom a makeover, your first port of call should be to make sure that the furniture is up to scratch. After all, we all know that meetings and conferences can sometimes go on for longer than expected, so it’s important to ensure that you and your attendees are as comfortable as possible. As well as preventing aches and pains, having high quality furniture can also work wonders for your brand. If your chairs and tables look worn out and shabby, this is what others will think of your business. By giving your furniture a modern update, you’ll be able to project a sense of success and instil confidence in your employees and clients that you are sufficiently equipped to complete the task at hand.
 
With such a wide selection of high quality, affordable ergonomic tables and chairs now available, there really is no excuse for having inadequate office furniture. When selecting chairs, make sure that they can be adjusted by height and tilt. It’s also important to choose a table that is suited to the purpose of the room. For example, round tables can help to encourage collaboration and promote teamwork, while long, rectangular tables are suitable for more formal meetings or conferences.
 
2. Focus on the aesthetics
 
When it comes to boardrooms, first impressions count. The appearance of the room can have an impact on both productivity and how your business is perceived by others. Whether you’re conducting an interview, trying to impress a prospective client or delivering an important presentation to your team, having an aesthetically pleasing space will help you to leave a favourable impression.
 
Sometimes, a fresh lick of paint is all you need to breathe new life into a room. Forget monotonous beiges and opt for colours that mirror your company’s personality. For example, if you want to project a sense of fun and innovation, choose bold, bright hues such as oranges, reds and yellows. Greens and blues can be used to achieve a sophisticated, professional look while blacks and dark shades are more commanding and can project a sense of authority. Be careful not to go overboard with your colour scheme though – you don’t want your walls to become too much of a distraction.
 
Having the right lighting can also help to set the tone and mood of a space. If possible, try to let lots of natural light into the room, as this can make people feel more relaxed and nurture productivity. Get rid of those headache-inducing fluorescent lights you had installed 10 years ago and replace them with something more subtle and up to date. Dimming lights work especially well in rooms where meetings are held as they can help to create a more intimate atmosphere.
 
3. Make the room reflect your brand
 
Office design provides the perfect opportunity to express your company culture and aspirations. Whether you’re a new creative agency or an established law firm, your boardroom should be a seamless extension of your brand. Think beyond simply displaying your logo and having branded stationery and try to base the entire design of the room on how you want others to view your business. For example, to create a formal, traditional appearance, opt for a classic wooden table and black leather chairs. For something a little more cutting edge, choose a high gloss table and colourful, modern chair designs. Whether it’s ultra modern and creative or trustworthy and traditional, be consistent with your style. Displaying awards and accomplishments in your boardroom is also a great way to help boost your brand.
 
4. Leave plenty of space
 
Another important consideration is space. Having plenty of room helps to foster creativity and promote free thinking. If you have to shuffle against the wall to get to your seat and you’ve got a filing cabinet blocking the entrance, now’s the time to rethink your layout.
 
A well designed boardroom not only leaves enough space for the table and chairs, but it also allows ample room for people to move about freely. It’s important to ensure that the room is clutter-free too. Having glass partitions and hanging large mirrors can also help to create the illusion of extra space.
 
For companies that are continually fluctuating in size, it can be hard to know how much room you need around the table. For added flexibility, consider investing in a modular boardroom table that can be adapted to suit your changing requirements and accommodate for the growth of your company. This way, you can add more space as and when you need it.
 
5. Update your facilities
 
As well as the appearance, you’ll also need to think about functionality. If you want to create a contemporary, multi-functional space that isn’t just style over substance, it’s important to make sure that your boardroom is well equipped.
 
Whether it’s being used by employees or clients, your meeting room should include all the essential amenities, including presentation aids, projectors, white boards, lecterns and any video conference equipment you need. However, that’s not to say you have to splash out on state-of-the-art technology. Small touches like a water cooler, air conditioning units and promotional pens and paper can also make a big difference and will show your staff and visitors that you’ve taken their needs into consideration.
Your boardroom says a lot about the success, aspirations and personality of your company, so it’s crucial that the design scheme is carefully considered. Here at Furniture At Work™, we offer a wide range of boardroom furniture that can help transform a lacklustre room into a stylish, boast-worthy meeting space. Whether you’re looking to accommodate 10 or 50 people, we have a solution to suit your specific needs and budget.
 
 

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