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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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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