Archive for May, 2012
Open plan office spaces are gaining in popularity. Some estimates put the number of companies opting for cubicle-free workspace as high as 70 percent. But are open offices good for workers? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
1. Open offices promotes teamwork. Open offices allow workers in creative fields to collaborate more easily. The absence of walls and presence of more shared space encourages people to share ideas.
2. They’re more fun. A visitor to software company Atomic Object’s open plan offices described them as “having more in common with a grad school laboratory than an IT department.” With American workers spending more and more of their time at work, either in person or virtually, why not create an environment that makes work more like play?
3. They’re cheaper. You don’t need to be a budget specialist to do the math on this one. Fewer cubicles and other assorted items of office furniture equals less expenditure on equipment. Plus, open offices are more scalable: you can fit more people at a long table, for example, than at a single desk.
1. Scalable does not equal infinite. Open offices might be more flexible, but there are a finite number of people you can fit at that long table we mentioned above. Cram too many folks in too small a space, and you’ll see a sharp drop both in morale and productivity.
2. Open offices can be stressful. “People who are seated closely together in an open-plan work environment may suffer from physiological or psychological reactions such as stress, fatigue and increased blood pressure levels,” said Vinesh Oommen, a senior project officer for the Queensland University of Technology. This phenomenon is known, awesomely, as “sardine rage” by some experts. (We always thought sardines seemed mad.)
3. Close quarters can actually make you sick. Those cubicle walls served a purpose besides giving you a place to hang your vacation photos: they might have prevented your neighbor from sneezing in your face. Bring the walls down, and you’re creating a completely open pool of potential germs. Something to think about when flu season rolls round again.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Generally speaking, we feel that if you can’t do it on the internet, it isn’t worth doing. Think about it for a second. What can you do online? Read both essential news and totally frivolous gossip; shop for anything from groceries to ball gowns; find out what the weather will be like tomorrow and what people wore to the beach 100 years ago. What can’t you do online? Wait in an actual line, get booster shots, and get punched in the face. Clearly, the internet is where it’s at.
But should you do our most favorite thing — buy office furniture — online? This is an important question that every prospective furniture buyer must answer for themselves, but we have a few thoughts about the pros and cons of online furniture shopping that might help you make up your mind.
Benefits of Buying Online:
1. Comparing prices. In the bad old days, we used to have to go store to store to figure out which retailer was offering the lowest prices. Now, we can just go online and open a bunch of tabs. This also spares us having to have long, fruitless discussions with salesmen who refuse to acknowledge that a competitor might be offering a better deal.
2. Staying home. It’s really a miracle that anyone ever goes outdoors. Shopping online is famously easy and low-stress.
3. No need to hire a decorator. There are so many free office planning tools online these days, there’s no need to shell out for a professional planner.
Drawbacks to Buying Online:
1. You don’t get to see the furniture up close. Online photos are notoriously unreliable. Just ask anyone who’s ever bought hair dye based on the picture on the box. If you want to make sure that you’re really getting the color and texture from the picture, you’ll want to see the furniture up close.
2. You don’t get any help. Sure, some places have high-pressure sales people, and that makes it hard to remember what your original purchasing priorities were before you came into the store. But a good sales person is worth his or weight in gold. The right sales associate will inform you about the product and help you make the best possible decision.
3. Sometimes, you don’t get what you pay for. Not every online store has fulfillment down to a science. Just ask anyone who’s ever ordered a book about fishing and received a gross of fish hooks instead.
Finally, we’d be fools not to mention that Arnolds has both a physical showroom and online ordering. So if you want the best of both worlds, look no further.
Open plan offices are more popular than ever before, as companies realize the advantages of a workspace free from walls and dividers. Arnolds Office Furniture now offers open plan office furniture for companies that want to reap the financial and collaborative benefits of an open environment.
Open plan offices are cheaper to plan and stock. Unlike plans with private offices or static cubicles, open workspaces are easily scalable for companies that add new employees. Arnolds Office Furniture offers additional savings by creating open office furniture from repurposed parts. The office furniture looks and functions exactly like brand-new equipment, but for up to 50 percent off the price.
“If we can help a company install an open plan workstation concept and do it for half the price, there’s no reason why even small or start-up businesses can’t reap the benefits of this type of workplace design,” says Jay Berkowitz, owner of Arnolds Office Furniture.
These new, streamlined office plans also offer increased opportunity for collaboration among teams, making open office plans particularly attractive to creative industries like IT, advertising, and media. Arnolds’ open plan office furniture allows companies to foster teamwork while still allowing individuals privacy for heads-down work.
In addition, a recent study by Armstrong World Industries showed that acoustical partitions and ceiling tiles, when used with sound masking, blocked distracting sounds better than old-fashioned doors and office walls. Employees also have more access to natural light in an open office plan workspace than in a traditional office or cubicle plan.
Best of all, open offices might boost productivity.
“Organizations that require employee interdependence and go with the open workstation plans typically see noticeable increases in productivity,” says Berkowitz. “We’re excited to offer these products at very competitive price points while reusing resources at the same time.”Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Charles Pollock designed the Pollock Executive Chair in 1963, a chair so popular, it’s still a bestselling product from Knoll. Prior to that, he created the 1958 Swag Leg Armchair for Herman Miller, another popular design that many consider a classic. In 1982, he cemented his status as a superstar of corporate design by developing the Penelope chair for Castelli. And then he disappeared from office furniture design for over 30 years.
Many people assumed he was dead. But not Jerry Helling, president of Bernhardt Design, who remembered Pollock’s creations and longed to convince him to create a new office chair for his company.
After narrowing down a field of 30 possible Charles Pollocks, Helling discovered the erstwhile furniture designer living in New York, where he had been concentrating on sculpture and painting since a chair he created for Olivetti failed to launch because of the company’s financial problems.
Helling convinced Pollock to develop the CP Lounge Chair. It debuted this weekend at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at New York’s Javits Convention Center.
Unlike previous designs, which were tweaked in a series of prototypes, the CP Lounge Chair was developed entirely on paper, a process that Pollock said he preferred. The previous way, he said, was “too much work. Especially as you get older.” (Pollock is now 81.)
The final design was “more fluid” than his original drawings, Pollock said. At Helling’s request, he revised the design to make it more free flowing. The entire process took only one year, as opposed to the Pollock Executive Chair, which took five.
Of the final result, he said, “I like it — this chair has an upholstered rim, which is the neatest-looking thing you ever saw.”
Here’s hoping it’s another instant classic.
Image: The New York TimesVisit Susan Jennings on Google+
Think office furniture is boring? Well, we forgive you. After all, most of us have only ever worked in places where the furniture was only slightly more exciting that the bland, white-bread bagels they serve up on Free Bagel Friday. But it turns, office furniture can be as exciting as you want to make it. These three companies, for example, prove that the creativity of your office furniture is limited only by your imagination.
1. Cardboard Furniture Most of us have seen cardboard furniture by now, either the improvised coffee table made out of old boxes or the nifty college student desks that ship in flat boxes. But few of us have seen any cardboard furniture that looks like this. Made by Cardboard Future, these desks, tables, and storage units look more like the glossy contemporary fiberboard stuff you find at IKEA. The difference is, these pieces are made of 100 percent recycled, sustainable materials — and they look super snazzy.
2. A Guest Chair Made out of an Old Bathtub Eat your heart out, Holly Golightly. This arm chair is made out of an old bathtub and some metal tubing. Reddish Studio claims it’s “surprisingly comfortable.” Sadly, this seems to be a concept piece and not for sale, but we could see it inspiring a whole line of bathroom-inspired office furniture. Instead of cubicle partitions, you could have shower curtains. Instead of a conference room, you could all sit in a giant Jacuzzi. The possibilities are really endless.
3. A Bulletin Board Made of Old Wine Corks There is so much good stuff on Terracycle.net, it was hard to choose just one. In the end, though, we were forced to admit that a bulletin board is more useful in an office environment than, say, a pull-tab shoulder bag or a lunch box made of old Lunchables containers. But just barely.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
If we asked you to picture a typical office, you’d probably think of a place with rows and rows of cubicles, a few conference rooms, and that all-important break room where workers enjoy their downtime, and endless squabbling over who stole which sandwich. But all that might be changing — the cubicle part, at least, if not the lunch thievery. More and more companies are ditching cubicles altogether and opting for open plan offices.
What these spaces lack in privacy, they make up for in flexibility and increased collaboration between workers. Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but they’re cheap to set up and maintain. For all these reasons, some of the biggest companies in the world are going over to open offices. Here are a few offices where cubicles are nonexistent.
SAP’s Palo Alto Campus
This brand-new, two-story, 42,000 square foot space was designed specifically for SAP’s cloud computing teams. Engineers work at wheeled desks and chairs and use movable whiteboards to develop their ideas. As a result, every part of the workspace is completely adaptable to whatever project the teams are working on at any given time. This flexibility is supposed to foster “lean, agile product development” — and eliminate ego.
“There are no cubes, no corner offices and everyone sits together in an open environment,” says VP Mike Tschudy. “This eliminates ego and hierarchy and encourages teamwork, collaboration, productivity and efficiency.”
Facebook’s New Pad on Hacker Way
The most common complaint about open plan offices is that there don’t offer enough privacy. Where are you supposed to go for a private phone call, a few minutes of peace, or even a good cry? Facebook solved this problem by installing old-fashioned phone booths, the kind that Superman used as a dressing room.
Other than that, though, it’s all open office all the time at Facebook, where not even Mark Zuckerberg has an office, and everyone works at a long table together.
Quick question, though: Do you get in trouble for wasting time on Facebook, when you work at Facebook? Maybe there’s less to hide from the boss when you already work at the nation’s number one time wasting site.
Google Has Open Plan Offices All Over the World
Google’s offices are famously funky. You can eschew rolling chairs entirely there, if you want, and work from a beanbag or a nap pod or a table at one of their cafes. Most interesting to us is how they’ve created flexible relaxation space based on the needs and vibe of each location. Their Manhattan office, for example, feature a terrace with views of the city, while their London office brings a park indoors.
All offices offer a variety of places to work and play, which makes perfect sense for a company that prides itself on the diversity of its employees’ interests, which include everything from beekeeping to dancing the foxtrot.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Redecorating your office is fun. It allows you to rethink the whole office environment, and as committees go, The Redecorating Committee is much more fun than that sad Party Planning Committee everyone tries to avoid around the holidays. (Sorry, party planners: The virgin egg nog bummed us out.)
The only downside to snazzing up the place is that you have to figure out what to do with your used office furniture. You can’t just put it out on the curb. The trash man won’t take it, and as tired as you might be of looking at furnishings that were the height of fashion in 2001, it’s kind of irritating to see an investment like that sitting out among the garbage bins.
Never fear. There are plenty of creative things to do with your old office furniture that aren’t the equivalent of setting a pile of cash on fire. Here are four of our favorites.
1. Recycle It
You can now officially recycle anything, from plastic bottles to used computers to, yes, your old office furniture. The website Earth911 has a nifty tool that will help you find recycling centers near your office.
2. “Freecycle” or Donate It
Lots of communities have freecycling programs, either official or unofficial, that allow people and organizations to list furniture that’s free to anyone who wants it. Failing that, there’s always Craigslist, the Coke Classic of free furniture sites.
If you want the tax write-off, or just like the idea of giving your furniture to organizations who help people in need, there are lots of nonprofits that will take your furniture and either resell it or redistribute it, including Goodwill and the Salvation Army, as well as locally-focused charities like Housing Works.
3. Reuse It
Before you give away, toss, or donate all of your old furniture, ask yourself if any of it could be used in a slightly different way when combined with your new equipment. The furniture that once adorned the CEO’s office might now be perfect for a lounge area or informal conference room. This is the same theory that operates in many private households, where the living room furniture wends its way from the front room to the den to a college kid’s apartment over the course of a lifetime.
4. Sell It
Redecorating isn’t free, and selling your old office furniture can help defray the cost of buying new. There are lots of options for companies who decide to offload their old equipment in this way, from our old favorite Craigslist to quality used furniture companies like, well, us. (Contact Arnolds for a quote, here. We buy entire office buildings worth, as well as smaller lots.)
The greatest thing about selling your old stock? You get to “recycle” your furniture, and get paid for it.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
So you’d like to buy some office furniture. Well, OK, maybe you wouldn’t like to buy some. On the big list of things you’d love to spend money on, office furniture is probably somewhere below (far below) a trip to Disneyland and a lifetime supply of chocolate cake.
However, if you’re going to set up an office, or redo the one you have, you’re sort of stuck. The best you can do is to make sure you’ve got all the essentials covered. Plan ahead, and you can save your extra money for the things you’d really like to splurge on.
This is the office furniture you really need.
1. Reception Furniture
The reception area is the first thing your clients and guests see. Make it count by buying a nice-looking reception station. It doesn’t have to be as expensive as it looks, either. Used reception furniture looks as good as new and costs a fraction of the price.
2. Guest Chairs
While we’re on the subject of your guests, give them somewhere to sit, both in your reception area and in the office in general. Comfy, elegant looking guest chairs are a must-have for any office.
3. Desks or Tables
Even if you go for the full open office experience, you’ll need something for your workers to put their computers on. Before making your choice, decide how much storage your employees will need, and whether it makes sense to make their seating areas more or less private. (More privacy is better for businesses that require confidential conversations; less privacy could save money, since you can put more workers at a long table without adding desks.)
4. Ergonomic Chairs
Whether they sit at long tables or private desks, in office cubicles or out in the open, your employees deserve a comfortable place to sit while they’re working. Used ergonomic chairs look just as snazzy as the brand-new, $900 versions you find in office catalogues and protect your workers from repetitive stress injuries just as well.
5. Conference Tables
All the chat software in the world can’t replace a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. Get at least one really nice conference table for serious, sit-down meetings. Depending on how open your work environment is, you might also want to consider adding one or two smaller tables in less formal conference rooms, for staff members to use at informal meetings.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
Those old shampoo commercials were right: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When it comes to your business, that first impression comes from your offices, where decorating choices, color schemes, and yes, even the office furniture itself can give clients and other visitors their very first idea of what your company is all about.
Here are a few of the most popular styles of used office furniture, and what they say about you.
A lot of offices favor contemporary furniture styles, which are clean, unfussy, and minimalist. On the positive side, this style conveys a sense of simplicity and clarity of purpose; on the negative, it can seem slightly cold and remote, so it’s probably not a good choice for businesses that need to make people feel comfortable. (We’re pretty sure Rachael Ray’s offices are not done in a contemporary design, for example.)
Like “Mad Men”? You’ll love mid-century modern. This period of furniture design had its heyday between the 1930s and 1960s, and focuses on then-new materials like plastics and organic, functional shapes. Much of our modern office furniture evokes the ideals and aesthetic of mid-century modern. (E.g., Herman Miller’s famous desk chairs.)
Traditional furniture can actually be one of a number of styles, including Old World and Early American. What they have in common is a lot of ornamentation, luxe finishes, and a general sense of fanciness. This is great furniture choice for businesses that need to convey a sense of solidness and connection to the past, like banks or other financial institutions.
Transitional style blends traditional and contemporary for a timeless, sophisticated design. This is a great style for anyone who prefers simplicity and clean lines. Color schemes tend to be neutral, with occasional dark brown balancing out lighter beige, tan, and taupe. Transitional furniture blends straight lines with curves, and is supposed to evoke a blend of masculine and feminine.
Not so much a furniture style as a blend of various aesthetics, the eclectic style is also known is “whatever we had in the storeroom” or “early American Ground Round.” Eclectic can be everything from a mix of retro styles and modern, from folding tables and extension cords. You’ll recognize the latter version of this style from any startup you’ve ever visited. It’s not great for impressing clients, but it does give the impression that you’re working too hard to care about things like matching lamps and carefully-placed orchids.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+
What is it about the office cubicle?
For some people, it’s a sanctuary, a haven of productivity — or at least a good place to hang up that picture of the beach that motivates you to keep plugging away.
For others, it’s an excuse to behave badly. Maybe it’s because cubicles offer the illusion of privacy, but don’t actually have ceilings, or maybe it’s some sort of cabin fever. But whatever the reason, the cubicle environment can inspire some truly heinous crimes against general rules of office etiquette.
Here are a few of our (least) favorite cubicle crimes you might be committing right now, without even knowing it.
1. Acting Like Your Cubicle Is a Soundproof Zone.
People of the workplace, hear our cry: We can hear you. We really can. Your cell phone is not a magical cell phone that buffers sound. Your cubicle walls are not made of enchanted burlap. Everyone in the office can hear every word of your fight with your mom, and we are definitely judging you over it. The same goes for your music. We are proud of you for your excellent musical taste, but we still don’t want to hear it.
2. Eating a Stinky Lunch; Claiming It Is Not Stinky.
Here is a thing that has actually happened to us before in an office. A neighbor, who spent an hour every day leisurely consuming what had to be an unholy combination of fish paste, hard-boiled eggs, and gently used underpants, started complaining about our coworker’s penchant for split pea soup. Miraculously, we did not respond by throwing her over our desk, “Real Housewives” style. But that would have been an appropriate response.
Gossip is why the gods of the interwebs created instant messenger. I know, you thought it was a productivity tool. It is. Its existence means that you can catch up with your best friend in the next cubicle without yelling your news over our heads, which makes us more productive. Sure, there’s a chance you’re being monitored, but you can fix that by only saying totally delightful things about the boss in between slandering everyone else you know.
4. Using Email Badly.
Listen, we might not always have email to kick around. The least you can do is be nice to it during the last few years of its usefulness. The usual do’s and don’ts apply here: Do ask yourself if this email is really necessary. Do not write in all caps. Do not forward anything, ever, unless it’s work-related. Yes, that baby kitten is very cute. No, your coworkers don’t all have time to watch it fall off a shelf over and over again.
5. Doing Anything Inappropriate at Your Desk.
This includes sleeping, drinking alcohol, looking at verboten websites, and even singing. There are probably loads more than what we’ve listed here, so a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if the activity is better suited to a room in your home rather than your cubicle, and go from there.Visit Susan Jennings on Google+