Think your basic metal filing cabinet will protect your company’s vital documents in the event of a fire? Think again. Paper is destroyed at temperatures of 400 degrees and a the temperatures of a structure fire are often much, much hotter, according to SafeteyFile.com.
Despite the trend of digitizing records and storing them in “The Cloud” businesses and individuals still have plenty of important documents on paper or on digital storage devices. Examples of some of these can’t-lose records include:
- Account histories
- Bank Statements
- Birth and Death Certificates
- Business Contracts
- Client files
- Custody Documents
- Divorce and Settlement Papers
- Financial Documents
- Insurance Policies
- Marriage Certificates
- Mortgage Papers
- Payroll records
- Product Warranties
- Standard Operating Procedures
- Stock and Bond Certificates
- Tax Papers
To help you out when shopping for your fireproof filing cabinet, we came up with a handy buying guide.
What to look for:
The first thing you’ll want to check for on any filing cabinet that’s been advertised as “fireproof” is that it has a UL rating.
UL-rated safes and cabinets have been tested by the Underwriter’s Laboratory, a non-profit, independent organization that tests manufactured products to ensure they perform to specific standards (you can also look for those that have been tested by another nationally known, independent testing lab). Steer clear of cheap, imported pieces that have been tested by the manufacturer or have non-independent ratings. Also, be wary of products claiming to be “built to” a UL standard; that doesn’t mean that the product has been UL tested.
The UL tests fireproof filing cabinets by exposing all six sides to fire (usually in a furnace) and then gives it one of three designations for the type of items it can protect in a fire. They are:
- Class 350-rated: Protects paper products. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 350 degrees (the temperature at which paper products would be ruined and unreadable) for the amount of time designated on the rating.
- Class 150-rated: Protects magnetic tapes and photographic film. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 150 degrees (the temperature at which film and magnetic tapes would be ruined) for the amount of time designated on the rating.
- Class 125-rated: Protects flexible computer disks. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 125 degrees (the temperature at which digital records such as backup tapes, data cartridges, diskettes, CDS and microfiche would be ruined) for the amount of time designated on the rating.
Fireproof hourly ratings: In addition to temperature ratings, cabinets have different ratings for the amount of time the cabinet can protect the contents for at that temperature: usually one, two or three hours. A Class 350 1-hour means the internal temperature will not go above 350 degrees for one hour; Class 350 2-hour means the internal temperature will not go above 350 degrees for at least two hours, etc. If your business is in a more populated area near a fire department, you would probably be safe with one hour of protection, but if your business is in a more isolated, rural area, it’s wiser to to buy yourself more time.
UL Impact Rated: Fireproof filing cabinets might also have this designation on them, which means the product has been tested to withstand a fall from multiple stories. The products are exposed to temperatures of 1550 degrees for one hour then dropped 30 feet and heated again to 1550 degrees for another half hour. Because fires often end in structural collapse, this extra level of protection ensures you’re documents will still be protected in both high temperatures and high impact situations.
Look for cabinets that are water resistant as well; in the event of a fire there will likely be sprinklers to deal with as well. There’s no use saving your papers from a fire only to drown them!
Keep in mind that even a fireproof safe isn’t enough to protect media, which requires protection from temperatures exceeding 125 degrees and humidity levels greater than 80 percent. For those, SafetyFile.com recommends a data safe or media vault.
Other things to consider:
Just as with regular filing cabinets, fireproof cabinets come in a variety of sizes. There are vertical filing cabinets, lateral filing cabinets, document cabinets, filing cabinets that also include a safe, and card files. Take a look at the size of the documents you want to store as well to be sure they can hold both letter and legal-sized paper. Buy for the future, meaning, make sure you buy a cabinet or cabinets that have extra space; you don’t want to fill it up right away and not have room for additional documents (and you know there will always be more paperwork!).
Another big logistical factor when it comes to fireproof filing cabinets is weight. These types of cabinets are heavy (for instance, a four-drawer vertical cabinet weighs 435 pounds and a four-drawer lateral cabinet weighs 1,022 pounds). You’ll likely need a forklift to move the cabinet, so look for sellers that include delivery and installation.
Finally, keep in mind that fireproof cabinets are more expensive than standard cabinets. The list price for a four-drawer vertical cabinet is $1,759, and for a four-drawer lateral cabinet the cost is upwards of $7,100 plus shipping. Of course, if you’re on a tight budget (or just more of a penny pincher) you can always buy used cabinets from Arnolds; we currently have four-drawer vertical cabinets in stock for $1,050 and four-drawer lateral cabinets for $1,500.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
If you have the lucky job of laying out a new office or reconfiguring an old one, there’s a litany of things you’ll want to keep in mind. Everything from available space to infrastructure to the type of work being completed should factor in to the layout and design.
To get you started, we’ve compiled 5 steps toward planning your office space layout.
What to Consider:
1. Culture: The type of business you run should dictate the design of the office. Whether you’re a business whose employees need private space to meet with clients or a business that thrives on teamwork and collaboration or something in between, it’s critical that the office be designed in a way that meets the needs of the work being done. Options include a more traditional space with closed-off offices for those who need more focused workspace, an open floor plan to encourage conversation and idea sharing, or a mix of both closed and open workspace. Beyond the type of workspace, culture should be reflected in the colors and type of furniture you pick. Keep in mind that color can have a dramatic affect on employees’ mood and productivity, so don’t just look at it as window (ahem, wall dressing).
2. Size of office: Of course, the physical size of your office space will affect how you plan your space. If you have a lot of employees and a smaller space, you’ll need to find efficiencies in workspaces, conference rooms and support spaces (think break rooms, libraries or copy rooms). With more square footage, you’ll want to keep in mind basic factors, like how many employees have access to natural light, acoustics and how easy the space is to navigate. The size of your office and the number of employees working in it will also be a factor in the size of the furniture you choose. Obviously, if you have 10 employees in a 100 square foot office, not everyone will be getting that enormous executive desk. You’ll also need to factor in space for things like aisles and storage.
3. Projected growth: While it might be tempting to save money on real estate and workspace, it’s wise to think longer term when you’re laying out your office. Make plans based on how much you project your business will grow in the next year (or five years if you’re feeling confident/ambitious). Create a layout plan and purchase furniture that can grow easily with your business rather then reconfiguring the whole office every time you hire a new employee.
4. Type of work being completed: Chances are your employees don’t spend the day anchored to a chair in front of their computer. They probably meet with co-workers, take coffee breaks and visit a restroom from time to time, as well. Your office can’t just be a room full of desks. There should also be space for formal and informal meetings, a break room and/or space to play (a foosball table is the perfect place for employees to recharge for a few minutes and kick around new ideas), designated areas for communal office equipment (copiers, etc.), and (especially if you have an open office) booths or cubicles designated for private phone calls. Also, different departments might have different space requirements. Customer service representatives might only need a small desk for a computer and phone while designers would potentially need more space to spread out. Accountants might appreciate a quiet workspace while marketing will thrive in an open area. Create a holistic plan that keeps all of these needs in mind.
5. Other considerations: As if you didn’t have enough to think about, you’ll also need to consult with your landlord to makes your plans are all to code and within the terms of your lease and make sure you’re within federal accessibility laws. Then you need to make sure you’ve considered infrastructure to ensure that all of your workstations will have the appropriate access to power, phone lines and Internet. The last thing you want is extension cords tripping up all of your employees.
But before you start to break out in hives …
Relax. You don’t have to create a plan on your own. After you’ve completed your office analysis as to the type of office space you want, how many employees you have and the size of the office, etc., enlist the help of a professional CAD designer. The good news for you is that Arnolds has folks on staff who can help you with all of your office planning so you don’t commit any major planning faux pas (not giving employees enough space, aisles that are too narrow, creating a cubicle maze, etc.). Of course, if you’d prefer to go the DIY route, we’re happy to point you to some useful resources (like this article on 3 great options for office plan layout software.)
Photo courtesy of University of Michigan MSIS/FlickrVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
Whether you’re running a bare-bones startup or an established business looking to upgrade, when you start shopping for office furniture, don’t rule out buying used out of fear that you’ll have to sacrifice quality for savings.
Used office furniture retailers like Arnolds take care to clean and refurbish pieces from well-known manufacturers (think Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth and Knoll) and sell them to you at a steep discount. How steep? Often 50 percent or more off the list price (in stock right now we even have several pieces that are more than 80 percent off the list price).
If you’re looking to furnish a small office, maybe spending a little extra to buy new pieces won’t affect your bottom line much. However, when you’re a larger business, or one with a very limited budget, the cost of providing a workstation for multiple employees can add up quickly. Let’s say you need open-plan workstations for 50 employees. Buying moderately priced new workstations, you could end up spending as much as $75,000 (and that’s without chairs) to furnish your office. Used, you’ll spend $35,000, more than half the price of new.
The downside of shopping used is that you might not have as broad a selection as you would if you were buying new and you don’t get to pick the finishes and fabric colors. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to skrimp on style. Plenty of high-quality, high-end furniture finds its way into used furniture retailers and are ready for a savvy business to snap it up.
Need more proof of just how much you’ll save? Check out what’s in stock right now:
Steelcase Elective Elements Office: Constructed out of beautiful cherry wood this professionally refinished office set features a U-shaped worksurface, overhead cabinets, lateral file, pedestal, bookcase and matching chair. List price is $14,500, Arnolds price is $2,450. It’s an 83 percent savings.
Herman Miller My Studio: These almost new cubicles from premiere furniture manufacturer Herman Miller are among the cleanest we’ve ever come across. Each 8×8 cubicle features a cherry wood worksurface and outside panels, wardrobe towers, plenty of storage and etched glass dividers. List price is $15,000, Arnolds price is $3,500. It’s 77 percent savings.
Knoll Reff Cubicles: These gorgeous maple wood cubicles feature a cherry wood worksurface, pedestals, overhead bins and 64-inch panels with glass. List price is $19,500, Arnolds price is $1,850. Enjoy 91 percent savings.
Open plan stations
Knoll Dividends Workstations: One of the go-to choices for an open plan office, these 6×6 L-shaped workstations by Knoll offer generous overhead and pedestal storage, power connections and shared conference table to encourage employee collaboration. List price is $1,500, Arnolds price is $699. Get 53 percent savings.
Haworth Race Workstations: For businesses craving high-tech connectivity and style, these workstations from Haworth are the best of the best. They feature electric panels, mobile pedestals and attractive glass dividers. List is $4,000, Arnold’s is $699. Take advantage of 83 percent savings.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair: Finally, the common man (and woman) can enjoy the sweet curves and maximum comfort that this contemporary desk chair is known for. While the Aeron chair retails for $1,000, you can get one from Arnolds for just $549. That’s 45 percent savings.
Find more high-quality used furniture on Arnolds.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
When you first started your business, chances are your furniture left a lot to be desired. Sure, you had visions of an uber-contemporary office with a strong design aesthetic, but what you ended up with was a few pieces of mismatched, hand-me-down office furniture and a sad-looking fern.
After toiling away in knock-off furniture obscurity, it’s finally time for you to make a serious investment in your office infrastructure, and the first place you’re looking for inspiration is the drool-worthy Herman Miller site with its back-cuddling Aeron chairs and its sophisticated, but understated, workstations.
The price tag is a little steep, but there are plenty of reasons you can feel good about investing in Herman Miller.
“The underpinning of almost everything Herman Miller thinks about is stewardship; stewardship of the environment, of people, of communities, and stewardship in the broader society. We believe if we stay on that course, ultimately we will find great things and be a good business,” CEO Brian Walker recently told FastCompany.com.
If supporting a company that believes in people as much (if not more) than making a profit, isn’t enough for you to splurge, here are 5 more reasons to consider Herman Miller:
1. Innovation: It used to be that designers needed to anticipate in what direction technology was going and plan for it, but today, technology isn’t an afterthought; it’s top of mind. Two years ago Herman Miller hired Ryan Anderson for a newly created position, director of future technology, according to a story in the New York Times. His job is to oversee a team of designers who try to come up with solutions to internet-age questions like how an office should look when mobile devices have given workers to freedom to work anywhere. The result for the customer is confidence that the the pieces you buy were created with modern function and gadgetry in mind.
2. Environment: In 1995, ahead of all the trendy go-green movements, Herman Miller opened the Greenhouse: an environmentally friendly office facility in Holland, Mich. The company is a founding member of the Green Building Council and the only office furniture manufacturer on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. It’s working toward a zero footprint goal by 2020 and has enlisted suppliers in their quest to reduce air emissions, landfill, process water use, energy and hazardous waste. When you buy a Herman Miller product, you’re giving business to a company that has made a commitment to good stewardship. Herman Miller workstations are often made with recycled content and have recyclable components; they are Greenguard certified, meaning they are a low-emitting product that meet indoor air quality standards; they’re manufactured with renewable energy; and the wood is purchased from suppliers who use responsible forestry techniques.
3. Timeless Style: Since the middle of the 20th century, Herman Miller has been synonymous with modern design. The company works with outstanding designers from around the world to create pieces that are not only functional, but also stylish and forward-looking. Want more proof that the company’s design vision transcends just creating a place for an employee to work for eight hours a day, five days a week? Its Aeron chair is in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Bringing such high-quality design to your office will demonstrate to both your employees and your customers that you are serious about what you do and committed to building a strong and healthy business.
4. Transformable: More than just looking good, Herman Miller office systems can accommodate a number of different office styles (from closed to open office and anything in between) and they pay special attention to the health and well-being of each employee. Businesses are constantly changing so it only makes sense that office furniture is easy to transform along with your company. Herman Miller has several office systems that are not only durable, but also easy to reconfigure whenever you expand, move or re-imagine your office space.
4. Warranty: While Herman Miller furniture is built to last, it doesn’t hurt to know that once you invest in a piece, you have good backup to keep it in good working order. Furniture comes with a 12-year warranty that covers everything including electrical components, casters, pneumatic cylinders, tilts and all moving mechanisms. In addition, there’s a three-shift warranty that recognizes the changing nature of work and the need for products that can stand up to continuous you as well as a labor-included warranty. Herman Miller will foot the bill for all warranty worked performed in the U.S. and Canada.
Find beautiful used Herman Miller pieces at Arnolds.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
In 2009, in the wake of the country’s economic crisis, the Federal Buildings Fund was given $4.5 billion to turn a slew of federal buildings green.
The goal of the fund was to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, reduce the federal government’s consumption of energy and water and increase the use of clean and renewable sources of energy.
Over the past four years, federal buildings and ports of entry across the country have been completing major renovations using these funds; among the most common improvements have been installing high-performance heating and air conditioning systems,new roofs and solar panels, upgrading lighting and taking water conservation measures (think installing new fixtures in the restrooms, cooling tower treatment and landscape watering improvements).
You might be surprised to learn that as part of these economy-boosting, green initiatives at least one federal administration purchased new office furniture (even the federal government knows how important eco-friendly furniture is).
According to the Washington Examiner, the GSA’s Public Building Service used a portion of its $4.7 million allotment from the Federal Buildings Fund to convert executive office suites to open-office workspace and add mobile workstations in its regional building in Washington, D.C.
PBS felt the renovations would help meet the GSA’s Zero Environmental Footprint goals which included eliminating its impact on the natural environment; use its government-wide influence to reduce the environmental impact of the federal government; minimize the consumption of energy, water and other resources; and use its purchasing power to drive the market to produce more sustainable products services and workspaces.
PBS also thought it could use its newly renovated green office space as an example to customers and visitors of what a Zero Environmental Footprint workspace might look like, according to a report from the Inspector General.
Why Go Green?
There are plenty of reasons the federal government would opt for an eco-friendly office. Here’s what they know about green offices that you should, too:
- Buying furniture with lower VOC-coatings and adhesives will improve indoor air quality, resulting in happier, healthier employees
- Employees like the idea of helping the environment, and working in a green office can help boost morale
- You can make an impact on the future by helping to rescue an estimated 1.5 million desks and 8.25 million chairs from the landfill
- Customers like working with businesses who use green practices.
How to Green Your Cubicle
What does eco-friendly office furniture look like? It starts with office design. By converting to an open space office, the Public Building Service was able to reduce the amount of floor space it needed for workstations, meaning they didn’t have to heat, cool and light as much square footage. What’s more, open offices allow more natural light into the building, which not only helps lower energy bills, but also improves employees’ attitude and productivity.
Beyond that, buying furniture that is made using sustainable practices or that is recycled is the perfect way to green your cubicle.
Here’s what to look for when buying new:
- Furniture that’s made with recycled products
- Furniture that’s recyclable
- Furniture that’s made with rapidly renewable resources (like bamboo)
- Furniture that’s PVC- and formaldehyde- free
- Furniture that uses water-based finishes
- Manufacturers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
- Manufacturing that uses Low or no VOC adhesives or coatings
- Lamps/lighting that uses efficient LEDs
- Manufacturers that use renewable energy to help offset production (think wind, solar, hydro, etc.)
Of course, even better than buying brand-new office furniture is giving some old furniture a second chance at life. Rescue it from an eternity spent languishing in the landfill. Buying used and/or refurbished pieces from a place like Arnolds will help put the green in your cubicle and your wallet.
Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS/FlickrVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
The annual International Furniture Fair (aka the Salon del Mobile) held in Milan, Italy is traditionally where furniture designers and dealers go for inspiration and trend watching. This year, however, rather than taking innovation to bold new places, many exhibitors showed restraint, updating some of their greatest hits rather than creating something totally new, according to the New York Times.
More than 300,000 visitors from 160 countries gathered in Milan April 9-14 for the chance to see how the world’s top designers envisioned the future of not just furniture, but also cars, fashion and technology. But with the economy in Europe still limping, many visitors said the mood at the famous expo was more austere and conservative.
Young designers and newcomers offered more wow-factor highlights, while old favorites opted for safer bets. Here’s a look at some of the trends spotted at this year’s fair:
Classics with a twist: Many established designers showcasing at the fair put a modern spin on more tried-and-true favorites. The classic Eames Hang-it-All coat rack was re-imagined in pastel colors, an old Jean Prouvé’s plywood-and-steel chair was translated into plastic, and the work of old masters like lighting guru Gino Sarfatti were reintroduced and updated with modern LEDs.
Poufs: With the ongoing economic crisis, furniture designers have felt the pressure to make smaller pieces that don’t cost as much to transport overseas, according to the New York Times. In an effort to save money shipping, many designers created variations on this small, cushioned seat. At the IFF there were wool poufs, velvet poufs, knitted poufs and asymmetrical poufs.
Home furnishings at work: A gigantic, 13,000 square-foot exhibition by Jean Nouvel called “Office for Living” displayed several different visions of the modern office, many of which incorporated furniture that straddled the line between residential and office. Categories like home and work are becoming meaningless, Andrew Cogan, chief executive of Knoll, told the New York Times.
Tools for Life: One specific piece that generated a ton of buzz was the “Tools for Life” collection designed for Knoll by OMA. The goal was to address the increasingly blurred line between work and home life by creating kinetic pieces that users could interact with in surprising ways. One piece, 04 Counter, consists of three horizontal bars that are stacked like a wall and can be used as a room divider, but that can also cantilever out, transforming it into a structure that invites people to stop, talk and collaborate. Other pieces like 05 Table and 06 Round Table can be raised and lowered allowing people to use them at different heights (anywhere from lounging to standing).
Marble: Although not usually associated with frugality, marble was one of the most popular materials on display this year. Most notable was Australian designer Jim Hannon-Tan’s 3 Signs nesting tables made from a single block of marble and Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola’s wall and floor coverings, shelving and tables made from 40 different types of repurposed marble that had been crushed during an earthquake that hit Northern Italy last year.
Shop for high-quality, on-trend used office furniture at Arnolds.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Whether you’re designing an open office layout or a more traditional floor plan, chances are when shopping for office furniture, you want to maximize both productivity and space.
According to an article on PayScale.com, 90 percent of workers said that better workplace design and layout would have a positive impact on their performance. A 2008 survey by corporate architecture firm Gensler found that half of all employees would be willing to work an extra hour each day if they had better workspace, according to CBS News. If that makes your ears perk up, then read on. We rounded up nine ways to optimize any type of office:
1. Research: The best way to determine what’s working and not working in your current office is to conduct a little (or a lot of) research, Gensler vice president Gervais Tompkin told CBS News. To gather information, shadow employees for several days, visit specific areas of the office (ie: conference rooms, break rooms, cubicles, etc.) every half hour to determine how the room is being used, and ask employees to track their own movements. Red flags for poor design might include things like workers meeting at a coffee shop because they can’t find meeting space in the office, cubicles that are always empty because workers are spending more time collaborating, employees spending large portions of their days in transit to meeting rooms, and employees bringing in their own desk lamps to avoid fluorescent lighting. When creating a new layout, try to address these red flags specifically.
2. Efficiency: One of the things you should find by tracking your employees movement is how much walking they have to do from place to place within the building or campus. If you’re finding that certain employees or departments are spending inordinate amounts of time in transit to places on other floors or across the building, consider keeping departments that work together regularly near each other. Likewise, if there are certain employees who are using the printer/copier/fax machines more often but have to hike to get to them, consider making this office equipment more centrally located.
3. 3D Planning: While there’s no way to actually experience what working in a redesigned office will be like, 3D design software helps you get close. Take a virtual tour of what your office would look like with different types of office furniture. In addition to getting a feel for the aesthetics of different types of furniture, look for problem areas like oversized workstations that block aisles or box in employees.
4. Natural light: We know we say it a lot around here, but it bears repeating: Natural light improves workers’ moods, outlook, creativity and productivity so it’s worthwhile to make sure everyone has access to it. This means getting rid of the old notions that executives are the only ones who deserve an office with a window. Tear down walls on the perimeter and allow employees who spend most of their day at desks to bask in the sun. The returns could surprise you.
5. Optimized acoustics: One of the biggest complaints about modern open office layout is the noise levels. No matter what type of office floor plan you choose, it’s important to be aware of how sound carries and how it effects the productivity of your employees. Make sure to group noisier departments (ie: sales, customer service, etc.) away from those that do more focused work. Create sound barriers around loud office equipment, perhaps surrounding copiers or fax machines with filing cabinets or other office storage. Finally, use panel systems, carpeting and ceiling tiles can help absorb noise.
6. Mix of workspaces: Rather then devote one section of the office to meeting space and one section to employee workspace, spread out different types of work areas throughout, sprinkling small conference rooms for 2-4 person meetings and casual seating areas throughout to encourage collaboration.
7. Wiring: All the wires and cords coming out of your computers, phones and tablets make the office look like a technicolor-spaghetti factory exploded. One way to save space and improve organization is by finding furniture that can house all the wiring so it’s not tripping up walkways and getting tangled under desks.
8. Cluster Pods: No, they’re not the latest in Jedi air travel. These types of desking solutions (also called circular core stations or cluster workstations) allow businesses to maximize floor space while giving employees more privacy and a larger work surface (that’s a win, win, win!). If you’re not looking to be that futuristic, there are plenty of other desking options that help use your floor space more efficiently, especially if you want an open office.
9. Ergonomics: This isn’t just a way to prevent employees from getting carpal tunnel syndrome or save them from a few back aches. Making sure your office furniture is ergonomically correct will help improve employees long-term health, mood and productivity. To that end, make sure each employee has a high-quality office chair, has access to natural light (which will help reduce eyestrain) and has other tools like wrist rests on their ergonomically designed keyboard and anti-glare computer screens.
To find pieces that fit your optimized office while minimizing the damage to your bank account, be sure to visit Arnolds.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Shopping for office furniture is exciting. There’s an endless array of styles, materials, colors and designs to browse. There are cushy ergonomic chairs to test out, high-tech workstations with seemingly unlimited power strips to plug in each and every one of your mobile devices into and quirky reception room couches to lounge on. Furniture showrooms are like a playground for office managers.
That is, of course, until you have to assemble said playground in your own office with no outside help. Then all of a sudden those ergonomic chairs are giving you a pain in the neck and you’re ready to forget the high-tech-and-ridiculously-complicated-to-put-together workstations and just have all your employees work from wooden TV trays. You’d love to get away from the headaches of furniture assembly by taking a nap on that new reception room couch, only you’re missing one of the legs and now one end of the couch leans on to the floor.
If this nightmare of office infrastructure isn’t enough to get you to hire professional installers to set up your office furniture, maybe the five following reasons will make you reach for a phone:
1. Furniture assembly is confusing: Sure, the workstations you invested in looked amazing online or in the showroom, but when it shows up at your doorstep, it’s just a series of boxes containing legs, work surfaces and dividers along with various sized fasteners and a “War and Peace”-sized assembly manual that might as well be written in Swedish. Even if you are the office handyman (or woman), how much time do you really have to invest in figuring out how to put everything together without driving yourself insane in the process? Leaving the job to the professionals means you can spend less time worrying about how Figure A connects to Figure B and more time focusing on your business, because that’s what’s more important anyway, right?
2. Office furniture is heavy: You might be lucky enough to have a co-worker or two who’s anxious to show off that they’re capable of carrying more than a smartphone and a laptop (they’re not pumping iron at the gym three times a week just to sit in a cubicle and play Solitaire all day). But in case you don’t have a strongman (or woman)-in-residence, keep in mind that office furniture is heavy, even disassembled (we found a set of three workstations weighing in at more than 2,000 pounds). Save your back (and arms, shoulders, legs, knees, neck, and fingers) the strain of lifting and moving your new purchases and have a trained professional do it.
3. You could be missing parts: We’ve all had the unhappy experience of attempting to put something together only to find you’re missing a piece or two, preventing you from finishing the project (or else ending up with a table that wobbles or a drawer that gets stuck every time you try to open it). When you have someone complete the installation for you, chances are they’re familiar with how the different pieces come together and can spot right away if something has been assembled incorrectly or if there’s a part missing. What’s more, they keep spare parts on hand to make the fixes right away. There’s no running out to the hardware store or contacting the manufacturer about shipping you whatever was missing in five to 10 business days.
4. You don’t need extra tools: We’re not sure what your office toolbox looks like (do you even have an office toolbox?), but if all it consists of is a roll of duct tape and a flathead screwdriver, you might not be prepared to assemble a shipment of office furniture. Sure, you could go out and buy the necessary equipment, but wouldn’t that money help out your business more being used for advertising and promotional materials? Investing in furniture installation means you don’t have to invest in tools that you’re only going to use once. The professionals will come prepared with all the equipment and know-how to do the job in a jiffy with nary a piece of duct tape to be found.
5. You don’t have office layout expertise: Setting up an office is a bit more complicated then figuring out the best place to put your sofa in the living room. You’ll want to make sure all of your workstations have access to power, that the aisles are wide enough for employees to walk through and that you’re using your space efficiently. While furniture installers aren’t professional designers, they can probably save you from making major office layout mistakes (do you really think it’s a good idea to set up that conference table right in front of the copy machine? Will employees have enough room to get out of their workstation if you set it up so close to the wall?). Installers will help make sure like your office doesn’t look like it was thrown together by a group of three-year-olds.
Now that you’ve decided to hire someone to install your office furniture, keep in mind that as part of our White Glove Service, knowledgeable installation technicians from Arnolds will deliver and setup your office furniture quickly and professionally, meaning you’ll be able to concentrate on what really matters: Growing your business.
Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks/FlickrVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
It looks like for better or for worse, those nice high cubicle walls won’t be coming back anytime soon because employers are just too in love with open plan office spaces. Of course, any new-fangled idea has its benefits and drawbacks, and the trend of tearing down office walls is no exception. We outlined a few of the biggest pros and cons to open work spaces and offered ideas for how to ease the transition in your office.
More communication: One of the main reasons businesses cite for going with an open plan office is to increase the communication and collaboration among employees. By lowering the walls or getting rid of them altogether, organizations can facilitate quick, frequent exchanges of information and ideas which hopefully in turn can lead to increased productivity and creativity. In addition, many employees appreciate the greater sense of community and inclusiveness that results when employees are in the know while on the job.
Less expensive: One major benefit of open plan workspaces to employers is that they can help reduce costs. More people can work in less space which means companies don’t need to lease as much square footage, offering savings on real estate. Plus, compared with traditional high-walled cubicles, workstation solutions like benching or smaller, low-walled cubicles cost less.
More natural light: Tearing down walls allows everyone in the office a chance to enjoy what is arguably our greatest natural resource: The sun. Giving your entire office access to natural light (instead of just the lucky few with offices on the periphery of the building) will save money on energy bills by not having to rely as much on electric lights, reduce your carbon footprint, and reduce eye strain among employees. Studies have found that natural light helps improve people’s attitudes, which translates into increased productivity and camaraderie on the job.
More noise: By far one of the biggest complaints about open offices is the level of noise, especially talking. “Noise is the most serious problem in the open-plan office, and speech is the most disturbing type of sound because it is directly understood in the brain’s working memory,” Valtteri Hongisto, an acoustician at Finland’s Institution of Occupational Health, told the New York Times in 2012. The institute found a decline of 5 to 10 percent in cognitive tasks requiring short-term memory (things like reading, writing and other creative work) when the person is an unwilling listener to other conversations.
Less status: In 2007, Knoll conducted a study on how the physical work environment affects employee attitudes, expectations and satisfaction. More than half of the study participants acknowledged that the size and quality of their workspace is a reflection of their status within the company. Even though companies have tried to change this perception over the years, when someone who’s been working from a giant corner office suddenly finds themselves working without walls next to the rest of their colleagues, egos can be bruised.
Less privacy: Nine out of 10 respondents to Knoll’s survey said privacy was the number one advantage of a closed space work environment. Walls help employees feel more secure and protected from prying eyes and ears. They are ideal for employees who need to complete more focused work, or those who need to have sensitive conversations (i.e.: managers disciplining employees, human resources representatives, private meetings with clients, etc.). When the walls come down, privacy goes away which could make employees feel uneasy.
How to Ease the Transition
Of course, employees don’t always like change, especially change that will potentially mean less workspace, privacy and more noise. To help ensure buy-in with your new office layout, start by looking for ways to soundproof the room so that employees aren’t distracted by conversations happening across the room from them. Some offices have found success using systems that pump in a neutral background noise that helps reduce the sound of talking far away or by adding soundproofing to cubicles.
Thoughtful design will also help. Include a mix of private meeting rooms and less formal meeting spaces and alcoves throughout the office where two or more people can have a spur-of-the-moment chat. Some companies have found it helpful to include phone booths where employees can go to have a private conversation. Talk to different departments within your company to learn more about how your employees work and plan to seat them according to how much “heads-down” time they need (like programmers) versus those who do more teamwork-oriented tasks.
According to the New York Times, booths like those you would find in a restaurant have become popular with office designers because they offer a more private retreat for a conversation, while still being able to monitor what’s happening around you. Furniture designer Bene offers a sophisticated take: a pair of high-backed wingback chairs that each seat two to three people with headrests and a small table offering a spot for a private meeting in the middle of all the action.
While the goal is to take down walls, you can help increase your employees feelings of privacy by using glass-topped partitions on workstations. Employees will still be able to engage with one another without having to listen to every little sound their neighbors make.
For more furniture ideas to suit your open office plan, visit Arnolds.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
You know you can count on Arnolds to keep you up to date on all the latest office trends, which is why we want to make sure you know all about offices turning into meet markets (and we don’t mean the kind you find at happy hour on a Friday night). We mean the kind where co-workers randomly run into each other and come up with inspired ideas that will help your customers and make your business grow.
Those kind of meet markets require both the perfect office furniture and a setting that screams innovation. We rounded up examples of office furniture and meeting rooms that inspire random (and hopefully work-related) encounters. Check them out:
1. Picnic Tables
That’s right, the humble wooden picnic table (preferably set up on a posh rooftop terrace with incredible city views and filled with an assortment of scrumptious grilled goodies) can be just as good as a fancy conference table surrounded by cushy high-backed chairs. Maybe even better. The casual nature of a picnic table might let your employees let their guard down and share some truly new ideas. Of course, it could also make for some extended debates about the last episode of “Game of Thrones” over their hot dogs.
2. Lawn Chairs
Just like in real estate, when it comes to inspired ideas, sometimes the key is location, location, location. It’s amazing how a simple set of lawn chairs and a plastic table set up on a beach in some tropical locale can get the gears turning in your employees over-taxed brains. If your office isn’t on or near a beach (we’re guessing that’s most of you) then try re-creating the beach in your office. Add a mural of an ocean scene and pipe in waves over your sound system. If that doesn’t do the trick, offer meeting attendees a cocktail in half a watermelon. We’re pretty sure that will get people talking.
3. A Pile of Toys
We might kick ourselves for saying this, but great furniture isn’t always necessary for sparking creativity among co-workers. Maybe all you really need is a big stack of plastic bricks that are fun to build with, but not so much fun to step on barefoot. Want your employees to think outside the box? Make them gather ’round a big old stack of LEGO pieces.
4. A Stack of Boxes
Sometimes when you’re talking over ideas or reviewing plans, a quick meeting is all you need. You don’t necessarily want everyone settling into a chair, which is where something to lean on comes in handy. Sure you could go classy by setting up some taller tables throughout the office, but if you’re on a budget, a stack of boxes or a file cabinet will do. Who says inspirational can’t be budget friendly?
5. A Living Room Set
Fruitful random encounters happen when employees feel relaxed with their guards down, so create spaces in your office that feel familiar and comfortable like a living room. A slightly wrinkled, comfortable couch and worn coffee table for feet and/or a laptop are ideal pieces to start. Throw in some cool art, a tchotchke or two (maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cape for good measure) and some non-fluorescent lighting and you’re on your way to making brainstorming magic.
It’s pretty tough for folks to pop into a meeting or jump into a conversation if they can’t see it happening. If you’re hoping for more collaboration in your office, keeping it open is key. If you need walls to keep noise levels down, consider using glass. Otherwise, set up a couches, chairs and tables throughout the office for impromptu meetings.
For random encounters, you want employees to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. You also want it to be easy for people to assemble. That’s where lightweight, easy-to-move furniture comes in handy. Wire chairs like those pictured above are hip looking and also perfect for pulling up to a group of people, but not so comfortable that folks are lingering too long.
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Photo courtesy of Bill Ward’s Brickpile/Flickr
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