5 Office Design Trends All Managers Should Know About

April 20, 2016

Over the last few decades, workplace design has taken numerous different twists and turns. From the cramped cubicle-dominated spaces of the 1980s to today’s open plan work environments, the idea of what makes a good office is forever shifting and evolving. However, what remains constant is the fact that the physical workplace plays a key role in attracting and retaining top talent and enhancing worker performance. If you are looking to give your workplace a makeover, here are five office design trends you’ll want to know about.

 

  1. Alternative work zones

 

Today, more and more companies are realising that when it comes to working styles, one size does not fit all. In the modern office, we are seeing far fewer fixed workspaces and far more flexible settings that enable employees to choose how and where they work. The open plan office is still largely considered to be an effective way to encourage collaboration and camaraderie among colleagues, but it is also important to think about what happens when workers need private spaces to focus on an individual task. The solution? Provide various work zones where employees can carry out a range of different activities, including both collaborative spaces for group work and private spots away from distractions. This can help to make the working day far less repetitive and give employees a sense of autonomy, which in turn can enhance morale, boost productivity and improve companies’ bottom lines.

 

  1. Hot desking

 

Chances are, you have probably heard the term ‘hot desking’ or ‘free desking’ before. Hot desking is where office workers don’t have their own personal desk and instead choose any available workstation – and it’s a trend that many forward-thinking firms are adopting in a bid to increase social engagement and improve collaboration in the workplace. By having non-assigned seating plans and promoting movement around the office, staff members are encouraged to stray from the comfort of their departments and cliques and build relationships with other people they may not have otherwise associated with. This helps to break down the barriers of hierarchy that can stifle communication, bring more of a relaxed atmosphere to the office and foster a wider sense of community. It can also be great for aiding knowledge sharing as it increases the chance of colleagues having spontaneous discussions and impromptu brainstorming sessions, which can help to stimulate creativity and innovation. In fact, studies have shown that some of the best business ideas are born out of chance encounters between colleagues in informal settings.

 

  1. Break out areas

 

Another increasingly popular office design trend is the inclusion of break out areas and entertainment rooms. Following the examples set by cutting-edge tech companies like Google and Facebook, an increasing number of businesses are creating more informal workplaces that blur the boundary between work and play. Whether it’s a games room or a relaxed lounge area, providing designated spaces where workers can go to recharge their batteries and socialise with colleagues can strengthen relationships and make the working day far more enjoyable. While you may be worried that encouraging recreational activities during working hours will lead to procrastination and distract people from their tasks, it could in fact have the opposite effect. It’s now well known that downtime can be just as important as work in terms of productivity, as it can help to improve job satisfaction, inspire creativity and actually increase worker performance in the long run. After all, when you consider that your employees spend long hours in the office, it’s easy to see why they need to be able to take regular breaks and wind down.

 

  1. Flexible layouts

 

With the ever evolving business landscape, the benefit of having a flexible layout is becoming an increasingly appealing option for managers and business owners. Many companies are now doing away with the permanent office layout in favour of more flexible designs that can adapt and flex with their changing needs. Modular, portable and reconfigurable furniture can be mixed and matched, stacked, folded away and moved around to create a variety of multi-purpose spaces as and when they are needed. Rather than having a traditional boardroom, many offices are now using modular tables and office partitions to create pop-up meeting areas, allowing employees to modify their workspaces according to how much collaboration is needed. These space-saving, adaptable furniture designs can be especially useful for small, start-up companies that are growing at a rapid pace and need flexibility in their office layout. For the environmentally conscious, it also means less waste as you won’t have to get rid of permanent fittings and fixtures if you ever need to move location.

 

  1. Branding

 

If you want to reinforce a sense of community and increase loyalty and engagement among your employees, you might need to hop on the branding bandwagon. Forget company logos in the reception room and branded stationery in the boardroom – today, a company’s image needs to be embodied in every aspect of office design in order to be truly effective. Branded workplaces are all about creating a memorable experience for clients and an inspiring environment for employees. It is a way of telling the story behind your business and communicating your values, aspirations and personality to anyone who walks through the door. Everything within the building should represent a clear image of who you are as a company and be instantly recognisable, from the colours of your walls to your choice of office furniture. Not only can a branded interior be used as part of your marketing strategy to promote your business, but it can also give your workers a greater sense of purpose and make them feel more connected to their jobs.

 

So, if you’re a manager looking to revamp your office space, why not try some of the design trends listed above and see how much of a difference they can make? For more ideas on how to create a comfortable, inspiring and efficient workplace, take a look around our website and browse our selection of products.

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Elevenses in the Office

March 30, 2016

Following the success of our Healthy Desk Lunch eBook, we have decided to bring you a second installment… Welcome to the Elevenses in the Office Recipe eBook. This time, we’ve complied a curation of quick, easy and delicious recipes for those mid-morning snacks that beckon us all come 11am on a working day.

 

We believe your break times during the working week should be all about you. This book features a selection of healthy and wholesome snacks alongside some real ‘sweet treats’ as per true office tradition. After all, you work hard so you deserve it!

 

All recipes are certified to be eaten in the office during a well-earnt break, but they can also be enjoyed any time, any place. Some make the perfect breakfast alternative or afternoon pick-me-up too. Thank you to all the lovely bloggers for sharing their unique recipes.

 

Download the eBook for free below & let us know your favourite recipes on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #OfficeElevenses – we would love to hear from you!

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5 sure signs your office design is letting you down

March 18, 2016

In today’s working world, overlooking the importance of office design can prove to be a costly mistake. Shrewd bosses understand that there is a direct link between poor workplace design and increased employee stress, lowered productivity and poor business performance. From a lack of privacy, to poor communication, to messy workstations, there are all sorts of indicators that point towards an ineffective, unproductive work environment. If you want to avoid these common pitfalls, here are five sure signs your office design is letting you down.

 

  1. Your productivity levels are too low

 

Deadlines are being missed, work production has slowed down and your staff are taking twice as long to complete a simple task. Sound familiar? A decrease in productivity can be bad news for your bottom line, and it could be that your office design is to blame. After all, if the environment around them does not support your employees’ needs, the quality of their work is bound to suffer. One possible reason for a decline in performance could be a poorly thought out open plan office design. While these shared work spaces can be great for collaboration, they can also be a hindrance when employees need to concentrate. Placing staff members who need to work in a quiet environment in the same room as those who use their phones all day is a recipe for disaster. One way to combat this problem is to provide private areas where workers can retreat from noisy distractions and focus on individual tasks. A simple and cost effective way to do this is to use office screens to create secluded areas in open plan rooms.

 

  1. There’s not enough interaction or collaboration

 

While there’s no doubt that some degree of privacy is needed in the workplace, that’s not to say open plan environments can’t work. When planned well, an open plan office can strengthen colleague relationships and boost employee engagement. Individual offices, cubicles and fixed seating plans, on the other hand, can cut off the flow of communication between workers and lead to a lack of cooperation. If your personnel aren’t working together effectively and there is a need for more interaction, it may be that you could benefit from incorporating more collaborative spaces within your office. Providing communal areas where colleagues can get together, have impromptu meetings and share ideas and knowledge can help to foster camaraderie, inspire creativity and promote a healthy work environment. You may also want to think about having a flexible seating plan to encourage employees to mingle with people from other departments and improve communication across the company.

 

  1. The number of sick days has increased

 

If your workers are taking lots of sick days and complaining about their health, you may want to turn your attention to your furniture. Bear in mind that your staff can spend up to eight hours a day, or potentially even longer, sitting at their desks, so it’s important to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. An unsuitable chair and incorrectly set up workstation can cause a great deal of stress and frustration and lead to physical ailments such as bad posture, backache, headaches and repetitive strain injury. To avoid these issues and make sure that your workforce is happy and healthy, it pays to invest in high-quality, ergonomic furniture that supports healthy posture and allows staff members to work more efficiently. Showing your workforce that you have made your best efforts to improve their health and safety can not only help to reduce absenteeism and staff turnover, but it can also bolster morale and enhance performance.

 

  1. There’s constant clutter

 

If desks are piled high with files and paper and your employees spend more time searching for the things they need than actually getting work done, it’s time to rethink your office design. A disorganised and messy workspace can be highly distracting and slow you down both physically and mentally. If the clutter in your office is getting out of hand, you should consider investing in additional filing cabinets, shelves, desk organisers and other storage solutions to keep your workspace clean and tidy. Make sure everything has a proper home and get rid of anything that isn’t essential. Establishing zones for different activities such as printing, filing and working can also help to keep congestion and clutter to a minimum. You may also want to consider reconfiguring your layout to make better use of the space available and schedule time for a clear out every week or so to keep your office organised all year round.

 

  1.  Your workers are stressed

 

Office designs that deny workers the chance to get away from their workstations can lead to increased stress and tension, which in turn can have a negative impact on productivity and worker engagement. With that in mind, if your employees seem mentally worn out, under too much pressure or generally down in the dumps, it might be time to inject some fun into the workplace. To keep spirits high and stave off the negative effects of sedentary working environments, it’s important to give your staff the chance to get out of their seats and to take a break from their daily schedule. Whether it’s a relaxing break out area, a games room or a canteen, a change of scenery can work wonders for morale and allow workers to bounce back from stressful work demands. Providing recreational spaces where colleagues can relax and socialise with each other is crucial when it comes to improving bonds and lowering stress levels.

 

As you can see, a poorly planned workplace can be extremely detrimental to the happiness of your employees and the success of your business. However, by looking out for the tell tale signs of shoddy workspace design, you should be able to create a much more efficient and pleasant place to work.

 

At Furniture At Work™, we understand the importance of a well thought out office. If you think your workplace is in need of a revamp, why not browse our selection of practical and stylish office furniture today?
 
 

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Healthy Desk Lunch Recipe eBook

March 17, 2016

Who says lunch at work has to be unhealthy? Here at Furniture at Work, we pride ourselves on having a great office lunch, from the comfort of our desks. It’s that one hour of the working day to yourself and what better way to spend it than with one of these fantastic healthy desk lunch recipes.

 

We’ve teamed up with sixteen of our favourite food bloggers to bring you a free and downloadable collection of quick, easy and delicious recipes for those lunch breaks at work.

 

These recipes combine speed & goodness to keep you going throughout the day, whether they are prepared the day before or on your break (if you work at home).

 

Download the eBook for free below & let us know your favourite recipes using the hash tag #HealthyDeskLunch on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

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5 space saving tips for small offices

March 16, 2016

When it comes to cramped workspaces, staying productive can prove to be a challenge. If you are surrounded by teetering piles of paperwork, your chair functions as a coat rack and you spend much of your time rearranging your desk to try and find what you need, now could be the perfect opportunity to take action. Luckily, there are plenty of simple, practical ways you can make the most of your limited space. If you want to create an organised, comfortable and practical work environment, here are five space saving tips for small offices.
 
1. Clear out the clutter
 
A messy workspace can cause high levels of stress, impede productivity and have a negative impact on your quality of work. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that your office is as neat and tidy as possible. However, when you are lacking in square footage, it can be easy for the clutter to build up. To prevent your office from descending into chaos, try and get into the habit of having a regular spring clean. Start by looking at your surroundings and thinking about what is essential and what is superfluous. For example, do you really need those novelty desk toys or that broken guest chair that’s been gathering dust in the corner? Go through all of your equipment, supplies and knick knacks and purge your office of anything you don’t need. As a general rule of thumb, if you haven’t used something within the last few months, it is probably not that important. Giving your office a thorough clear out should help you to make the most of every bit of space available, minimise potential distractions and help you work far more efficiently.
 
2. Use space saving office furniture
 
One of the easiest ways to open up a small working environment is to use space saving office furniture. Rather than taking up valuable room with bulky fittings and furnishings, opt for narrow, slimline designs to utilise every sliver of available space. For example, L-shaped desks and space-efficient storage solutions such as full-height bookcases, modular filing cabinets and under desk pedestals can be a simple and effective way to transform redundant areas into productive ones. You may also want to consider getting workstations with built in storage. These multi-functional desks can extend your workspace and save you from having to buy additional storage units that eat into your floor space. Rollout desktops can also come in useful in bijou offices, as they can be conveniently pulled out when an extra work surface is needed and tucked away when not in use.
 
3. Give everything a home
 
A disorganised office can be a barrier for any worker, but it’s even more of a problem if you are lacking space. In order to streamline your surroundings, it is important to make sure everything has a proper home. Keeping frequently used items within easy reach and storing less used objects out of sight can instantly make your space feel more efficient and functional. Remember that your desk should only contain essential, everyday objects such as your computer, keyboard, phone and some stationary. Anything you don’t use on a day to day basis can be put away in filing cabinets, organisers or drawers. As a result, you should find that you spend less time trying to navigate around the clutter and more time getting things done. Before you leave the office every day, take a few minutes to do a quick spruce up and make sure everything is returned to its proper home so you can start the next day with a clear mind.
 
4. Take advantage of unused wall space
 
When you are starved of space, your desk can soon become a dumping ground for paperwork, stationary and everything in between. Exploiting empty wall space will help to keep your worksurfaces clean and organised and make the room feel far more spacious. Adding shelves to vertical space can provide handy places to store folders, books, coats and other office essentials while freeing up your desktop and floor. As well as using the space between the top of your desk and the ceiling, why not make use of the area below the desk too with low level shelving systems? Hanging display boards and whiteboards on the wall is also a great way to keep to-do lists and reminders within easy view. If you’re lacking a place to store your coats and bags, try adding hooks to the walls or the back of doors for some much-needed extra storage.
 
5. Use portable and modular furniture
 
The key to making the most of a confined space is flexibility. Using portable and modular office furniture can help you to maximise each square foot and turn your office into a multi-purpose room. For example, if you don’t have the luxury of a designated boardroom, a set of stackable tables can be reconfigured to create a meeting space and accommodate any number of guests you require. By allowing for quick and easy changes in furniture arrangement, you can create a variety of flexible work zones as and when you need them. When the furniture is no longer in use, it can simply be stored away. Office screens and room dividers can also be used to change the function of a room and create pop-up work spaces and booths when more privacy is needed.
 
Whatever small space challenges you face, it is still possible to transform your workplace into an efficient and functional environment. All you need is a little bit of creative planning and some smart furniture solutions – and the above tips should help you to achieve your goals. At Furniture At Work™, we offer a wide range of space saving office furnishings that are ideal for small or awkwardly shaped work environments. To find out more about the variety of products we provide, take a look around our website. You can also contact our expert team members by phone or email if you have any questions.
 
 

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Understanding what your boardroom says about your business

March 15, 2016

The boardroom is a place where business deals are won or lost, important ideas are discussed and client pitches are made. As one of the most important areas in your office, how you utilise this space can be extremely telling. The way you choose to design your meeting room can have a profound impact on how potential clients, customers and employees view your business as a whole. Everything from your choice of table to the décor scheme can speak volumes about your values, accomplishments, ambitions and company culture. Ever wondered what your boardroom says about your business? Read on to find out more.
 
Does it reflect your brand image?
 
The interior of your boardroom can play an important role in promoting your corporate brand. If the décor is generic, scruffy or inconsistent, you run the risk of sending out the wrong message and damaging your reputation. Remember, your boardroom may be where clients and customers begin to form their first impressions of your company, so it’s important that this space clearly defines who you are as a business. Whether you’re delivering a presentation to a prospective client or conducting an interview with a potential employee, your surroundings can help to set the tone and reinforce your message.
 
To create a solid image that people will instantly recognise as your brand, the interior should reflect your company’s persona. For example, if you’re a high-tech, forward-thinking firm, your boardroom might include sleek tables and modern chairs, and be packed full of creative design elements to emphasise your status as an ultra-modern innovator. On the other hand, if you’re a more traditional firm, classic wooden tables, leather chairs and a traditional décor scheme might be more fitting. Not only can having an on-brand interior help to communicate your company’s story to clients and visitors, but it can also instill a sense of unity among employees and make them feel more engaged with their roles. In turn, this can improve productivity, collaboration and performance.
 
Are you showing off your success?
 
No matter how successful your business is, if your boardroom does not show off your accomplishments, you could be missing the mark. To put this room to its best possible use, everything within it should exude a sense of success and professionalism. After all, a boardroom that looks drab, has poor quality office furniture and worn out equipment is bound to reflect badly on your business and it could give the impression that you are careless and unprofessional in your endeavours.
 
This is why it’s crucial to make sure the fittings and furnishings are up to scratch, as they will likely be the first things that people notice as they walk through the door. Meeting spaces also offer the ideal opportunity to display awards, certificates and achievements and demonstrate to visitors and employees what gives you an edge over your competitors. If you have a wealth of experience and expertise, make sure it is clearly visible. If you’ve won numerous awards, let it be known. Whether it’s a trophy cabinet, framed certificates or displayed testimonials from your most prestigious clients, showing off your accomplishments is a great way to help you win business and instill pride in your staff.
 
What does it say about your work ethic?
 
The layout and design of your boardroom can say a lot about your company’s attitudes towards work. For example, a creative business that has a fun, casual approach to business may choose to break away from the traditional set up and incorporate more playful designs and vibrant colour schemes to create a high energy vibe. Alternatively, if you want to emphasise your expertise and be viewed as a respected authority in your industry, your interior design may need to exude a more formal, conventional look.
 
Even your choice of table and chairs can be representative of how your firm likes to do business. For example, round meeting tables with matching chairs can help to create a relaxed environment and promote a sense of equality and collaboration. A traditional, rectangular boardroom table creates a more formal structure where there is a clear head of the meeting. Modular or portable furniture, on other other hand, can show that your company has a flexible approach to work. When designing this room and choosing your boardroom furniture and fittings, it’s important to think carefully about how your company operates to help you establish the right tone for the space.
 
Do you have good attention to detail?
 
It’s all well and good having an on-brand design, high-quality furniture and framed awards on display, but sometimes it’s the less obvious touches that can make all the difference. Unfortunately, many companies fall flat when it comes to the finer details, and in turn this can prove to be a costly oversight when it comes to losing out on valuable custom. If you want to create a meeting space that isn’t simply style over substance, it’s crucial to have all the amenities and facilities in place.
 
Remember, boardrooms are multi-functional spaces, so it’s important that they are well equipped to accommodate a variety of activities. For example, if you regularly use your boardroom for presentations, it’s a good idea to have a computer, projector and other visual aids readily available. If your budget can’t quite stretch to state of the art equipment, simple touches like a water dispenser, complimentary snacks and branded stationery will show staff and visitors that you have taken their needs into consideration and reflect positively on your company as a whole. Being properly equipped demonstrates to others that you are well prepared and have excellent attention to detail.
 
The way you decorate your boardroom can say a lot about your company’s achievements, goals and work ethic, so it’s important that you get the design spot on. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to create the perfect meeting space for your business, why not browse the collection of boardroom furniture available on our website? You shouldn’t struggle to find something to suit your specific needs and budget.
 
 

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Title: Beyond pay packets: what really matters to employees

March 11, 2016

When thinking about what employees look for in a job, a large paycheck might spring to mind. However, the truth is that salaries and financial bonuses aren’t the only ways to create a motivated and engaged workforce. Unfortunately, far too many companies focus their time and effort on ineffective tactics in an attempt to keep their staff satisfied, which can often prove to be an expensive mistake. When you’re trying to recruit top talent and build a loyal workforce, it’s important to look beyond pay packets and give your staff what they truly want. Want to find out the secret behind attracting and retaining the very best and brightest staff? Read on to learn more about what really matters to your employees.
 
Comfort is key
 
One of the simplest and most effective ways that businesses can get the most out of their staff is by providing a comfortable working environment. Bear in mind that many office workers spend around eight hours a day, five days a week sitting at their desks. It is well documented that long periods of inactivity can have a detrimental impact on our physical and mental health, and there’s no doubt that low-quality furniture adds to this problem. Not only can uncomfortable chairs and poorly set up workstations cause aches and pains, but they can also be highly distracting and make it difficult for workers to focus on the task at hand.
 
To maintain a happy and healthy workforce, it’s important to invest in high-quality, ergonomically designed office furniture. By ensuring that your staff are as comfortable as possible, you can improve their wellbeing, reduce absenteeism and enhance productivity. Showing your personnel that you care about their health and safety can also be an effective morale booster.
 
Stimulating surroundings
 
Let’s face it, no one wants to spend the best part of their day in a drab, depressing office. With employees often spending more time at work than they do at home, having a pleasant environment is crucial. To build an enthusiastic and energised workforce, try to think beyond the traditional office setup and focus on creating more stimulating surroundings. With big brands such as Google leading the way with fun, creative workplace designs, an increasing number of companies are starting to embrace this trend in a bid to make the office more of a home from home.
 
However, there’s no need to install three-storey slides to engage your employees. Simple changes such as modernising your décor or providing recreational spaces where employees can socialise and blow off steam can go a long way towards creating a positive company culture. Having a dynamic office design that goes beyond dull cubicles and whitewashed walls can work wonders for morale and performance.
 
Training and mentoring
 
It’s also important to make sure that you invest time in training and mentoring your staff. After all, being stuck in a dead end job with no chance for progression can easily send your staff looking for work elsewhere. Employees value on the job learning and the chance to develop in their roles. With that in mind, providing the opportunity for growth and giving your staff the chance to contribute to a firm they believe in should help you attract and retain the best talent.
 
Providing ongoing training and conducting regular appraisals can help make your workers feel more involved and engaged with their work. Remember to take the time to ask your staff what their individual career goals and needs are. This will show them that you are looking out for their best interests and that you want them to succeed in their roles. Even if training costs money and means that employees are temporarily removed from their work, it will benefit everyone in the long run. As a result, you should find that your staff pay less attention to their paychecks and focus more on contributing to the success of your company.
 
Being inspired
 
Everyone wants to feel that their job has a purpose. Sadly, many companies fall short when it comes to inspiring their employees. If you don’t spend time engaging your staff, you run the risk of them experiencing low job satisfaction, which can ultimately affect performance and be bad news for your bottom line.
 
To create a dedicated workforce, make sure both employees and managers are clear about what your organisation is trying to achieve. Always be transparent and encourage open communication across the firm. Everyone should have a clearly defined role and know what part they play in helping the company to reach its goals. Establishing a common objective across the board and uniting everyone in a single purpose can foster a sense of camaraderie, which can help to bring an organisation together and drive success.
 
Recognition and rewards
 
To retain valuable members of staff, achievements need to recognised and celebrated. In fact, a lack a recognition and praise can be one of the main factors that pushes employees to leave their jobs. People thrive when they are respected and noticed for their achievements, so try to focus on creating an environment which encourages recognition and inspires your workforce to take pride in their work.
 
Take the time to identify the skills and expertise that your employees bring to the business. Rewarding high performers can highlight role models for people to follow and encourage employees to excel in their jobs. In others words, the more respected and valued your employees feel, the better they will perform in their roles and the more loyal to the company they will be. Whether it’s giving a special announcement in a company meeting or granting an extra day’s holiday, even small, non-monetary rewards can go a long way towards letting your staff know that they are valued members of the team.
 
When it comes to employees’ needs, money isn’t everything. By following useful tips like these, you should find that you are able to minimise staff turnover, increase morale and job satisfaction and create an environment that your personnel enjoy working in.
 
 

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Setting up a new office: the design dos and don’ts

March 8, 2016

When it comes to setting up a new office, the stakes are high. Get it wrong and you could lower employee morale, hinder productivity and damage the reputation of your business. Get it right and you can maximise efficiency, improve workplace satisfaction and promote your brand. With that in mind, it’s crucial to put plenty of thought into your office design. Everything from the ambience to the layout plays an important role in creating the perfect environment for you and your workforce. If you are setting up a new office but don’t know where to start, help is at hand. Here are the dos and don’ts of workplace design.
 
Don’t cut corners with low quality furniture
 
It can be tempting for cash-strapped, start-up businesses to save money by buying cheap, substandard furniture. However, cutting corners and opting for low-quality desks and chairs can cost you more in the long run. Not only will you need to replace your furnishings more regularly due to continual wear and tear, but poorly made furniture can also reflect badly on your business. While it may cost you more initially, investing in high-quality fittings and furnishings from the outset can help to project a sense of success and leave a good first impression on potential clients and customers, increasing your chances of building long lasting business relationships.
 
Do invest in ergonomic furniture
 
While you no doubt want your furniture to look the part, be careful not to opt for style over substance. Uncomfortable furniture can be distracting for workers and cause a range of health problems, leading to increased absenteeism. Bear in mind that most office workers spend the majority of their day sat at their workstations, so it is important to make sure they are as comfortable as possible if you want to get the most from them. As well as adjustable task chairs, you may want to consider investing in spacious desks, ergonomic mouse mats and keyboards and foot rests to enhance comfort levels. By opting for ergonomically designed furniture, you should find that you have a healthier, happier and generally more productive workforce – as well as far fewer sick days.
 
Don’t forget practical considerations
 
All too often, companies make the mistake of overlooking practical considerations when designing their office layout. To create an efficient, functional workplace, you will need to take into account space, storage requirements, IT infrastructure and communication between departments. You should also consider positioning desks so that they benefit from as much natural light as possible and ensure that communal equipment such as printers and filing cabinets will be easily accessible. Think carefully about how people will use the space on a day to day basis and how work activities will be performed. It is also worth thinking about the future of your business. For example, if your company plans on expanding in the next few years, the layout will need to be flexible to accommodate your changing needs.
 
Do consider the need for privacy
 
Noise level is another important consideration. Open plan offices are a great space saving option and they can help to improve collaboration and foster camaraderie among colleagues. However, shared work spaces can also mean loud noises and constant disruptions, which can lead to increased stress levels and have a negative effect on concentration and performance. The solution? A workplace that accommodates for both individual and collaborative work. A flexible work environment that includes both private and open plan spaces will enable workers to have a choice in how and where they work, which can help to boost performance. Office screens and room dividers offer a simple and cost effective way to create quiet, private areas.
 
Don’t forget to ask your employees for their input
 
The layout, decor and furnishings you choose for your office can have a significant impact on worker morale and performance. To highlight this, a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers found that employees named their workplace as one of the most important factors that determined whether they would remain in or quit their job. With that in mind, it only makes sense to ask your employees for their advice and opinions on how they want the office to look. Allowing your staff to help with the design of their workspace will make them feel more comfortable with their surroundings, which can in turn inspire creativity, innovation and productivity.
 
Do align the design with your brand image
 
Whether you are a start up agency or an established firm, how you utilise your office space can speak volumes about your goals, values and company culture. When designing your space, think about what you want your office to say about your business. Think beyond logos and branded business cards – everything within the workplace, from the colour scheme to the furniture, should be representative of your company’s identity. By aligning your office design with your brand image, you can help to instill a sense of unity and belonging within the business and communicate your marketing message to potential clients and customers every time they walk through the door.
 
Don’t forget recreational areas
 
And finally, don’t forget to incorporate recreational areas where workers can relax and recharge their batteries. Rather than distracting employees from their work, having social spaces helps to build bonds between co workers and can actually aid creativity and increase productivity in the long run. Whether it is a games room or a comfy lounge area, giving your staff the chance to temporarily escape their desks and work demands with a change of scenery can work wonders for morale and actually make them more efficient in their jobs.
 
There’s no denying that creating the ideal office space can be challenging and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will work for every company. However, with a little bit of forward thinking and careful planning, you should be able to create a workplace that encourages productivity, reinforces your brand image and helps to ensure the success of your business.
 
 

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7 of the most irritating office habits

March 4, 2016

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

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5 steps to giving the perfect presentation

March 3, 2016

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


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

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