Is Your Office Furniture Stifling Worker Productivity?

June 29, 2015

If you think that chairs and desks are simply functional items of furniture, you may be missing a trick. Investing in well-crafted, ergonomically designed furniture can have numerous benefits, not only in terms of employee morale, but also when it comes to boosting productivity. If you feel that your staff are flagging but can’t figure out why, it may be time to reconsider your office furnishings.
The importance of a comfy chair
Do your workers spend more time complaining about backache than they do working? If so, it may be time to invest in new chairs. For people who spend most of their day sitting down, poorly designed seats can be highly distracting and cause concentration levels to quickly plummet. It can also put them at risk of a number of health problems, such as muscle pain, joint stiffness and poor circulation. While bad posture may not seem like a particularly pressing issue, if not addressed, it can cause absenteeism rates to increase. Indeed, backache is the main cause of long-term illness in the UK and resulted in more than 15 million lost working days in 2013.
To prevent these issues and help staff stay motivated, chairs need to be adjustable by height and tilt and must provide proper support for the back and thighs. By making simple changes like these, you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make to both productivity and morale.
The dos and don’ts of workstation setup
Workstations also play an important role in determining how comfortable and healthy your employees are. Cramped, uncomfortable desks can leave staff feeling depressed and unmotivated, making it harder for them to complete their work. For maximum productivity, desks need to be appropriately sized so that employees have enough space to move around freely without feeling swamped under paper work. Under-desk drawers can be particularly useful when trying to combat clutter.
Partitioning is another important consideration. Workspaces that are too open between colleagues can be overly distracting, whereas too much division can stifle collaboration.
Layout matters
The way in which your furniture is positioned can also have an affect on mood and performance. Knowing how employees prefer to work is crucial if you want to prevent productivity from dwindling during the day. For example, open plan office environments with rows of desks can work wonders for colleague collaboration, but they can also be noisy and disruptive.
Investing in office furniture that can be easily repositioned into different configurations is the easiest way to accommodate for workers’ changing needs. Office screens can also be used to create private areas and can easily be taken down when open space is needed.
As your employees spend the majority of their day in the office, it’s important to make sure that every piece of furniture makes the working day a little more comfortable. If you think that your office furnishings could do with a makeover, you can browse our selection of ergonomic furniture here at Furniture At Work™.

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5 Office Design Trends That Are Here To Stay

June 26, 2015

The world of office design stands still for no one and if you want to prevent your firm from getting left behind, it’s important to stay up to speed with all the latest advances. With this in mind, here are five of the latest office design trends that you can rest assured are here to stay.
1) Greater emphasis on collaboration
One major change in many workspaces over recent years has been a move towards greater integration and collaboration. One of the firms leading the charge in this respect is technology giant Apple. It is currently in the process of constructing a huge O-shaped building as its new headquarters in California. The space will house around 14,000 employees and it is being designed to facilitate more interaction between colleagues. Staff members will be encouraged to move around the vast open plan campus rather than restrict themselves to one small area within it. Companies increasingly believe that this more dynamic approach helps to improve communication.
2) A focus on creating distinct zones
Another major trend concerns the inclusion of different zones within offices. These separate areas are designed to cater for different working styles and they often include quiet spaces where personnel can go to concentrate and louder areas where employees can hold informal meetings and discussions. A classic example can be found in the BBC’s new Broadcasting House headquarters in London. The office features large units designed in the style of American diner booths where staff can have chance meetings.
3) The inclusion of recreational areas
Recreational areas are becoming more common in offices too, and they are particularly popular among companies that expect their workers to put in long hours. From table tennis to video games and even bowling alleys, a growing range of extras are available in workspaces to help people let off steam and socialise with their colleagues. Meanwhile, the new White Collar Factory commercial premises, which is currently under construction and is set to open in London next year, will feature a running track to help workers burn energy and stay in shape.
4) Less hierarchical layouts
Offices are typically less hierarchical in layout than they used to be. In the past, it was common for managers to have their own personal offices that separated them from other workers, with the ultimate status symbol for bosses being the cherished corner office. However, companies are moving away from this model in favour of greater cooperation between colleagues. Now, it is common for managers to mingle with other workers in open plan areas.
5) Fewer desks
Yet another major trend is the move towards having fewer desks within offices. Thanks to more flexible working patterns, many companies no longer need to have all their staff members within their buildings at once, meaning they simply don’t need as many workstations. Meanwhile, by removing some desks, businesses can make room for features like breakout zones that help to give their offices a more dynamic look and feel.
Of course, you might not want to adopt all or indeed any of these design innovations for your own office, but it’s important to be aware of the options.

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Does Your Office Send Out The Right Signals To Visitors?

June 24, 2015

Effective office design is about much more than simply making sure your staff members have comfortable and practical furnishings to use. It’s also about sending a signal out to the people who visit your premises. With this in mind, it’s worth asking yourself a few questions concerning the look and feel of your workspace.
Are your fixtures and fittings up to scratch?
For example, are your fixtures and fittings up to the required standards? Old or poorly designed seating, desks and storage can give visitors the impression that you’re struggling to make ends meet, and this could cause them to question your viability as an enterprise. The same applies to dilapidated doors, peeling paintwork and any other tell-tale signs that you’re letting things slip.
This is why it’s so important to ensure you have top-quality furnishings in place and, more generally, to maintain your office to the highest possible specifications.
Does the space reflect your brand?
It’s also important to consider whether your workspace really reflects your business’ brand. Bear in mind that branding doesn’t only apply to things like marketing material, products and packaging. It runs right through your company’s operations and so it should be reflected in your workspace. This means you must consider the image you want your premises to project. If you’re keen to come across as a young, dynamic, forward looking firm, some colourful, quirky furnishings could be ideal. On the other hand, if you’d like to present your enterprise as traditional in outlook and style, more conventional furniture might be better.
Think about your décor too. Ideally, your corporate colours will appear around your workspace to help reinforce your brand message. It’s also worth including plenty of branded signage around your premises featuring your firm’s name and logo.
Do you appear organised and on top of your tasks?
Then there’s the issue of organisation to consider. If when people enter your office they see piles of paperwork and disordered desks, they might get the impression that you’re unable to stay on top of your tasks. After all, a chaotic working environment is a recipe for mistakes and delays.
To ensure you don’t fall into this trap, it’s well worth investing in effective storage, and plenty of it. Of course, it’s not enough to just buy shelves, cabinets and other similar solutions. You must also use these furnishings properly by instituting effective filing systems. You may benefit from operating a clear desk policy too to ensure that your employees can’t amass lots of items on their workstations. It’s also important to make sure your office is cleaned on a regular basis and the bins and recycling are emptied frequently.
As long as you consider all of these issues carefully and take action if you notice any shortcomings in your workspace, you should succeed in making a positive impression on the people who visit your office. In turn, this could help you to secure contracts, attract investors and recruit the best personnel – so it really is worth making the effort.

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How To Make The Most Of Your Office Space

June 23, 2015

Commercial space comes at a premium these days and like many businesses, yours may be making do with a working environment that’s a little on the cramped side. The good news is, as long as you’re savvy, you can make even the smallest offices work as a base for your business. This brief guide will talk you through the basics of getting the most from bijou work areas.
Use space saving storage solutions
One top tip is to take advantage of space saving storage solutions. For example, be sure to invest in plenty of full-height cabinets and shelves. These furnishings allow you to utilise vertical space that may otherwise be wasted. Bear in mind that if your storage systems stretch up a long way, you’ll also need to be able to access equipment like step ladders so that you can safely reach the upper shelves.
You might also benefit from taking advantage of under desk storage pedestals. These handy solutions can be tucked neatly out of the way and they give you extra room to house your documents and other resources.
Consider hot desking
If the nature of your day to day tasks allows for it, you might also benefit from providing your employees with flexible working options. For example, perhaps some of your personnel could work non-standard hours, or maybe they could complete their tasks from home on certain days. This will mean you don’t have to have one desk for each of your staff members. Instead, you can use a hot desking system whereby people simply use any free workstation that’s available when they enter your office.
Cutting down the number of desks you need in this way can help to ensure that you and your colleagues don’t feel cramped when you’re in the office.
Use screens for added flexibility
Another tip is to make imaginative use of office screens. These partitions come in a range of sizes, colours and styles, and you can utilise them in a number of different ways. For example, versions with foam cushioning can come in handy if you want to cut noise levels in your workspace. By cordoning off certain departments or separating individual personnel, you can help to keep the volume in your workspace under control.
You can also use these screens to provide you with added flexibility in terms of your office design. Because they are so easy to move around, you can take advantage of the screens to create temporary meeting areas, interview spaces and other zones.
As you can see, with some careful planning, it’s possible to make even the smallest offices work for your company. As long as you use your imagination and invest in appropriate furniture, you shouldn’t struggle to make the most of every square inch of your premises. Meanwhile, if you do run into problems, you can always enlist the assistance of expert designers to come up with some novel space saving suggestions on your behalf. Although this may require some investment upfront, it could save you money and hassle in the long run.

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How To Give A Successful Presentation

June 15, 2015

If the thought of getting up in front of a group of your colleagues or customers to give a presentation fills you with dread, you can rest assured you’re not alone. According to a poll commissioned by Ripley’s ‘Believe It or Not!’ London, people dread standing up and addressing an audience even more than they do their own deaths. The only things that topped public speaking in the fear stakes were losing family members and being buried alive.
Don’t panic if a presentation looms large on your horizon though. By following these simple tips, you should be able to ensure your talk is a success.
Make sure you’re fully equipped
First and foremost, make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need to deliver your presentation. No matter how well prepared you are, you risk looking amateur if you lack the necessary gear. Depending on the style of talk you’re giving, you might need a lectern with space for a laptop, a flip board, a whiteboard or various other pieces of kit.
Take some time to familiarise yourself with these tools ahead of the big day too. The last thing you’ll want is to lose your train of thought because you’re struggling to operate your equipment.
Do plenty of preparation
Plenty of preparation is a must when you’re gearing up for these events as well. Plan your talk with your audience firmly in mind, and make sure you’re familiar with all the relevant details so that you won’t get caught out by a lack of knowledge when you’re giving your presentation. Practice giving your speech to your family or friends too, or simply run through it in front of the mirror if no one’s around. This will help to ensure you don’t stumble over your words when you’re giving the talk for real and it will enable you to hone your timing.
The sooner you start prepping your presentation, the better it’s likely to be. After all, if you’ve run through the material several times before doing your talk, you’ll stand a good chance of coming across as natural and confident. In contrast, if you try to wing it, there’s a big danger that you’ll dry up.
Engage your audience
When it’s actually time to step up in front of people and start speaking, take a few deep breaths and try to relax as much as possible. The calmer you are, the clearer and more persuasive your presentation will be. Make sure you engage with your audience too by being conversational in tone and making eye contact with people as often as possible. Also, try to be dynamic and show a little emotion. For example, depending on the type of talk you’re giving, it might be useful to include a joke or two. This will help to ensure you hold the attention of your audience and make a positive impression.
There’s no getting around the fact that presentations can be nerve racking, but by following advice like this, you should be able to give top quality talks that impress your colleagues or customers.

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5 Ways Every Office Workers Can Improve Their Posture

June 12, 2015

Poor posture can be triggered by numerous activities in the office, from sitting incorrectly to the way you hold your phone. Over time, this can lead to all sorts of health ailments, including backache, muscle pain and joint stiffness. Luckily, there are plenty of ways office workers can improve their posture and stave off these problems – and here are some of the most effective.
1) Sitting correctly
We all know that sedentary work environments are bad news for our posture and can cause a range of aches and pains from the neck down to the lower back. One way to prevent this is by sitting correctly. While sitting in an office chair, your back should be supported, your thighs at right angles to your body and your feet firmly on the floor. Try to distribute your body weight evenly by avoiding unbalanced postures such as crossing your legs, leaning to the side, tilting your head or hunching forward. Investing in ergonomically designed office chairs that are adjustable by tilt and height can also help to encourage good posture.
2) Keep moving
When you spend the majority of the day sitting down, your muscles can begin to tire over time. This can make slouching far more tempting. To help maintain good posture, it’s important to move around frequently. Try to shift your sitting position every so often to help to alleviate pressure to the neck and back muscles. Experts recommend taking a break from your desk every 30 minutes to prevent you from becoming stiff. These doesn’t necessarily have to be long breaks; they could involve making a coffee or going for a brief walk.
3) Use posture-enhancing aids
To help ease the strain on your spine when sitting, it’s worth taking advantage of supportive aids. For example, footrests can be used to help you position your feet at a comfortable level. Ergonomic back supports can also be fixed to office chairs to minimise pressure on the lower back.
Cradling your phone between your head and shoulder can also cause posture problems and strain your neck muscles. If you use your phone a lot at work, try swapping your handset for a headset to prevent this problem.
4) Change your computer screen position
Make sure that your computer screen is directly in front of you and at eye level. It should also be at about an arm’s length away. This can help you to avoid leaning forward or straining your neck.
5) Arrange your desk correctly
The setup of your desk can also have an impact on posture. Make sure that your keyboard is in directly front of you when typing, with a gap of about four to six inches at the front of the desk to rest your wrists. Your mouse should also be as close to you as possible to avoid awkward bending.
It’s also a good idea to position frequently-used items on your desk as close to you as possible to avoid repeatedly stretching or leaning forward to reach things.

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How to give your office a spring makeover

June 10, 2015

There’s no escaping the fact that most of us spend a huge amount of our waking life in the workplace. No matter how much someone enjoys their job, being confined to one space for so much of one’s time can lead to mental fatigue, unless that space looks and feels as inviting and as comfortable as possible. However, even the most exciting state-of-the-art office space will eventually feel tired and even oppressive unless companies take the time to give these spaces a makeover from time to time.
With the warmer weather on its way, spring is the perfect time to clear out those cobwebs and reinvent the workplace. Clearing out the clutter and rearranging your office space will give workers a much needed mental boost and will help to ensure that their perception of your business is one that is extremely positive.
Starting off
Knowing where to start with a spring makeover can be a difficult. With so many options and, in some cases, so much that could do with being altered, it’s not always easy to see where you can make best use of your time and resources. A thorough spring clean will be invaluable to start with, allowing you to create a huge amount of extra space. Once your space is clean, tidy and focussed, you will find it far easier to see what changes should be made.
At this point, creating a floor plan of your space will help no end. Buying an array of new and fun additions for your office may well help brighten up both the space and your workforce, but unless you are focussed on a specific end goal, you may find that the finished result is not as effective as you had envisaged.
The right space
While planning your new spring makeover, be sure that you decide which type of workspace is right for you. Although open-plan working areas are the most common choice for modern workspaces, they are not the best choice for every single company. So be sure not to follow the herd and instead base each and every decision you make on your business’s own specific needs.
With this in mind, when giving your workplace a makeover, you might want to take the time to address specific issues that have arisen in the past. If staff members have complained of distractions, or you have noticed that dwindling morale has been an problem, this could be the perfect time to make changes to combat such problems. Offering games (who doesn’t want to play air hockey on their break?) and relaxed seating areas (bean bag meeting anyone?) could give your employees the little lift they need during a long day.
Don’t forget comfort
An office makeover is not just about aesthetics. While the right colours, artwork and ornamentation can and should be chosen accordingly when you transform your workspace, simply ensuring your employees are comfortable and indeed sitting in a way that will keep them healthy will have a huge impact on productivity and morale. Aesthetics will of course remain important when choosing furniture, but if you want the best from your staff, it’s important to give them the best too, offering furniture that will give them both a physical and mental boost.
With the right planning, a little bit of thought about the potential problems your staff might face and a thorough sort out before you choose your furniture, it should be easy to find the right solutions for your business and your own unique workforce.

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What Type Of Office Design Is Right For My Business?

June 8, 2015

Getting your office design right is essential if your firm is to fulfil its potential. The look and feel of your workspace can have a major impact on the productivity and morale of your employees, and it can affect your company’s image. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to designing offices. Every organisation has its individual needs and preferences, and it’s important to make sure that your premises perfectly reflect the requirements of your business.
To help ensure you get your design spot on, it helps to ask yourself the following questions when you’re planning your work environment.
One open space or separate areas?
One thing you’ll need to decide on is whether you want to create one open space or you’d like separate areas within your office. A rising number of businesses are knocking down walls and cubicles to create open plan workspaces, and top officials and managers now often sit alongside other employees rather than in their own personal offices. This approach can help to encourage a culture of openness and transparency, and it can also foster team spirit.
Of course, this approach doesn’t suit all enterprises. As an alternative, you may prefer to have certain parts of your office cordoned off for your high-ranking personnel. Meanwhile, as a hybrid solution, you could use glass instead of solid walls for any personal offices, giving managers more privacy but still creating a working environment with an open plan feel.
Designated desks or freedom to move around?
Another question you must ask is whether you’d like your personnel to have their own designated desks or you’d prefer them to have the freedom to move around and work from different parts of your premises. There are benefits to both approaches. By creating different zones within your workspace, such as breakout areas where workers can have impromptu meetings and discussions and quiet spaces where people can concentrate on their work, you can ensure your personnel can always find an environment that suits the tasks they are completing.
On the other hand, if your personnel have their own desks, they can create a personalised area and they can keep any documents or stationery that they may need in one place.
Conventional or quirky?
When it comes to the overall style of your workspace, you have to decide whether to go for a conventional look or to opt for something more contemporary and quirky. The route you take will depend on the image you want to convey both to your workers and to your customers. If you want to come across as traditional, leather seating, square-edged desks and other such design features will work best. Alternatively, for a more modern take on office design, rounded-edged furnishings and colourful seating will work better.
It’s only once you’ve decided exactly what it is you want your office to achieve that you should start the process of designing this space. Whatever route you take, make sure that your overall design scheme is cohesive and that it perfectly reflects your brand and business ethos.

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Simple Ways To Increase Morale At Work

June 3, 2015

As a boss, you might be looking for ways to raise morale among your employees. After all, by boosting people’s spirits, you not only make their working lives better, you also stand to reap a range of business benefits. When workers are happy, they tend to be more productive. It’s also easier to recruit and retain the best personnel if your staff members are contented. With this in mind, here are some simple ways to increase morale in your office.
Improve your seating
One top tip is to improve your seating. People can spend many long hours at their desks these days and if their chairs aren’t top-quality, their comfort and even their health can suffer. Workers can develop everything from sore backs to stiff necks and problems with their legs and arms if they don’t have access to suitable seats.
When you’re on the hunt for new chairs, it’s best to opt for adjustable versions that can be adapted to suit the specific needs of your employees. Seats should also offer impressive levels of back support and sufficient cushioning.
Keep noise levels under control
It’s important to keep noise levels under control as well. One major worker gripe, especially among people who are based in open plan offices, is the volume levels they have to put up with on a daily basis. As well as preventing people from concentrating on their tasks, excessive noise can cause stress levels to soar and it can lead to disagreements between colleagues.
One way to limit volume levels is to install desk and floor screens around your office. For maximum sound absorbency, make sure you select versions with foam cushioning. Whether you use them to partition individual workers or to separate departments, these screens can bring the noise in your work environment down.
Encourage people to take their allocated breaks
Especially if they feel under pressure to complete their tasks, workers can be tempted to skip their breaks. By foregoing quick tea breaks during the day and hurriedly eating their lunches at their desks, workers often fail to get the rest they need. This is bad news for their stress levels, eyesight and morale.
To encourage your employees to take their breaks, try to make sure they have manageable workloads. You might also want to create appealing rest areas where personnel can meet to eat, socialise and even play games. A rising number of companies are switching onto the benefits of including recreational areas in their offices, with tech giants like Google and Facebook leading the charge.
Show you care
Last but not least on this list, it is important to show you care about your employees. Simple things, like providing fruit bowls, water dispensers and free teas and coffees, can do wonders to raise morale. Make an effort with your office décor too. Adding some plants and attractive artwork to your workspace can elevate staff satisfaction levels.
By following tips like these, you should succeed in increasing the morale among your personnel.

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Simple Ways To Boost Worker Health

May 12, 2015

Promoting a healthy culture at work can reap numerous benefits for both your employees and your business. By making health a priority in the workplace and ensuring that your staff are on top form, you stand to reduce absenteeism, increase performance levels and improve retention – all of which are good news for your bottom line. In fact, more and more companies are now cottoning on to the fact that a healthy workforce equates to a successful business and are making efforts to invest in their staff members’ wellbeing. If you’re keen to find out more about how you can boost worker health, here are some top tips.
The importance of the right workstation
For people who spend a large chunk of their days sat at their desks, uncomfortable chairs and poorly designed desks can increase the risk of a number of health problems, including muscle aches and pains and poor circulation. To keep your employees in tiptop condition, it’s crucial that you provide them with high quality, ergonomically designed workstations. Desktop monitors must also be at the right height and free from glare to prevent eyestrain and headaches.
Encourage staff to exercise
Keeping your employees fighting fit doesn’t necessarily mean you have to splash out on a state of the art onsite fitness facility. On the contrary, there are plenty of simple but effective ways in which you can encourage your personnel to engage in physical activity. For example, why not create a cycle to work scheme, organise a charity run or host a group walk at lunchtime? By incorporating such activities into your office environment, you can make a healthy lifestyle more convenient for your staff. Not only can this lead to a healthier workforce, it can also remind your personnel that you are committed to promoting their wellbeing, which can give morale a helpful boost too.
Curb unhealthy eating habits
Sure, we’re all guilty of treating ourselves to a sugary snack or a fatty meal when we need a little pick-me-up during a gruelling shift, but these unhealthy eating habits can take their toll on our health. To help encourage your staff to swap junk food for more nutritious, wholesome options, make sure the canteen menu and vending machines offer a variety of healthy alternatives. You can even provide fruit bowls to help keep hunger pangs at bay.
Manage stress levels
Of course, as well as physical wellbeing, it’s important to support workers’ mental health. Excessive levels of stress and anxiety can make your staff more vulnerable to fatigue and mental burnout, as well as putting them at an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. By providing your personnel with breakout areas where they can get away from stressful work demands and have some downtime, you can help to reduce their stress levels and improve their overall working day.
More generally, managers and employers should keep an eye out for symptoms of stress and ensure that they don’t overload workers with unrealistic demands and deadlines.

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