Archive for August, 2012

Get White-House Style Furniture for Half the Price

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Want your office to look like the Oval Office? Now you can get the exact same office furniture that the president uses, for 50 percent off the usual price.

Kittinger furniture has graced the White House for over 40 years, ever since President Nixon took a look around the homes of other heads of state, and realized that the White House was coming up short. Using his own money, he commissioned Kittinger to completely refurbish the West Wing.

In November of 1969, the company started work on the Cabinet Room, installing a 22.5-foot long table and 24 chairs — one of which was made a few inches taller, so that the president could loom over his colleagues in a suitably intimidating fashion. After that, Kittinger replaced the furniture in the rest of the West Wing. Now, their classic burled wood designs decorate every room from the lobby to the Oval Office.

If you’ve seen photos of our president leaning on his desk or resting his feet on his coffee table, you’ve seen — and unconsciously admired — Kittinger furniture. The company’s website offers a fascinating collage of previous presidents working and relaxing with their fine furniture. Kittinger also furnished the Congress, the Senate, and the offices of world leaders all over the planet.

Now, you can bring this elegance and aura of solid respectability to your own office. Arnolds is currently offering a beautiful Kittinger partners desk, complete with burled wood drawer fronts and brass handles, for $18,500 — nearly half off the standard pricetag of $35,000.

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Your clients will know they’re in good hands when they see this desk sitting in your office, and you’ll know that you’ve got the very best office furniture that money can buy. In this case, you’ll also know that you paid a lot less of that money than almost anyone else who owns one of these, presidents and heads of state included.

This desk comes with a plaque of authenticity, complete with serial number, so you know what you’re getting. Not that you’ll have any doubt when you see this gorgeous piece of office furniture. It’s more like a piece of art than an ordinarily piece of office equipment.

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We don’t get these pieces in every day, so this is a rare opportunity to get the very best office furniture for half what the other guys paid. Pop in and ask to see the Kittinger partners desk today.

Images: Arnolds Office Furniture.

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5 Tips for Designing Your Office to Minimize Wasted Time

For business owners, the old adage is true: time really is money. So it makes sense that you’d be interested in doing whatever you possibly can to minimize common time-wasters and enhance productivity. The best place to begin is at the beginning, with your office design. Make a few smart choices when you’re planning the office layout, and you’ll save loads of time and effort getting folks back to work later. Here are a few of our favorite tips.

1. Give People Privacy

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If you want to make sure people waste time, set them up so that they can hear every cough, sneeze, and conversation about reality TV in the cubicles adjoining their office space. This is especially tricky for businesses which have opted for the new, open plan office designs. What they give in collaboration and space, they sometimes take away in privacy and sound proofing.

If you go this route, make sure you’re carefully considering the needs of each individual worker. Put people with chatty jobs together, and workers who need to be heads-down by themselves. And consider investing in sound-masking equipment. A little white noise goes a long way.

2. But Not Too Much Privacy

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Non-work-related internet use has replaced the water cooler as the time waster of choice in most offices. While it’s a good idea to give people access to private spaces for meetings and special projects, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging accountability by making people’s screens more visible to their colleagues. There’s no better inducement for leaving the fantasy sports teams for off-hours than the peering eyes of coworkers.

3. Minimize Meetings

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Offer lots of smaller conference spaces, so that people can get together for brainstorming sessions, but minimize the big meeting spaces. This discourages people from planning unnecessary powwows — something that productivity experts agree is a huge drain on most workers’ time.

4. Invest in Good Equipment

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Computer problems account for a lot of wasted time at work, and offer the least in the way of recharging workers’ batteries. (Hey, at least while people are looking at their fantasy sports teams, they’re clearing their minds for the next task.) Make sure your workers have computers and devices that really work.

5. Create a Space to Eat Lunch

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You don’t need a full-scale cafeteria, but a having a place that’s dedicated to eating and socializing will minimize the chatter — and crumbs — that eating at their desks creates. It will also keep your employees from feuding over whose soup is creating which smell. If you want happy workers, you’ll provide a place to eat — and plenty of places where eating is discouraged. And another perk … this will also keep your office free from mice and other unwanted guests.

Images: iStockphoto

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5 Tips for Getting the Most Money for Your Used Office Furniture

So you’ve decided to sell your used office furniture, and you’d like to know how to make the transaction as profitable as possible. First of all, let us congratulate you on doing your part to save the planet. Selling your furniture, instead of dumping it in the landfill, saves space and prevents chemicals from leaching into the ground water. And secondly, we’d like to offer our kudos to you on doing it the smart way: If you can make money on something you don’t need any more, why not?

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make a buck from selling your used stuff. You just need to follow these simple steps.

1. Clean Your Office Furniture

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This one seems obvious, but you would be shocked at how many people go to sell their office furniture without giving it even the most basic once-over with some Windex. Try to put yourself in the place of the buyer: Would you want to buy something that looks like it’s been sitting in the lounge of a frat house for a few years? And if you’re dealing with a company that will resell your furniture, you want to show off the merchandise to its best advantage. Sort of like how you’d tidy up your living room before a real estate broker stopped by.

2. Photograph It Well

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Whether you’re selling it yourself or sending pictures to a reseller, it pays to spend the extra time to take good pictures. This means arranging the furniture to its best advantage (no overturned chairs or conference tables stacked on top of one another) and making sure you have plenty of light. Point and shoot digital cameras are fine, as long as the picture quality is good, but don’t rely on your camera phone. Sure, it takes great pictures of you and your pals out at the ballpark, but most won’t give you a professional quality photograph … and that’s what you need.

3. Shop Around

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Once you decide to sell, you might be tempted to go with the first company you speak with — or just put the whole lot up on Craigslist and take your chances. Resist this urge, as it will cost you money. Take the time to contact a few different companies to see who will give you the best deal.

4. Ask a Lot of Questions

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Don’t be afraid to ask the furniture dealers you’re speaking with what’s included in their quote. Will they come to pick up the furniture, or do you need to transport it yourself? Is pickup included, or is it extra? Will they give you a flat fee, or do they operate on a consignment basis?

5. Pick a Company With Experience

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New great companies start up every day, but for something this big, it pays to go with an organization that’s been around for a while. At the very least, you know where they’re located, so it’s harder for them to take your money and run. Of course, this is where we must modestly point out that Arnolds Office Furniture has been buying and selling high-end office furniture from our headquarters in beautiful Bristol, Pennsylvania, since 1929. If you’d like to browse our inventory or talk about liquidating your office furniture, you can reach us here. We’d love to speak with you.

Images: go_greener_oz/Flickr, iStockphoto

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What Happens to Office Furniture When You Throw It Away?

So you’ve decided to redecorate the office. Congratulations — there’s really nothing like refurbishing your work space to put a spring in everyone’s step. It’s essentially like giving your whole business a makeover. Not to mention how much happier and more productive people are when they’re working in pleasant surroundings.

But what about all the old office furniture? The stuff you just can’t find a home for in your new decorating scheme? Before you toss that stuff away, consider the costs, both to you and to the planet.

Throwing Stuff Away Is Bad for the Earth

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The EPA estimates that just 30 percent of all of our waste gets recycled. Every year, over 164 tons of stuff gets tossed out in the U.S., including 8,550,000 tons of furniture and furnishings.

Beyond the obvious issues of finding space for all this stuff, there are also a number of environmental issues with disposing of office furniture. Putting furniture in the landfill allows chemicals like formaldehyde, flame retardants, and fiberglass to seep into the surrounding earth and, potentially, the ground water.

Recycling, reusing, or donating your furniture can cut down on this problem considerably. It’s a relatively easy way to have a real impact on the environment and our planet.

Your Trash Might Be Someone Else’s Treasure

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If you’re totally over the furniture you have, you might considering donating it to someone else who could use it. There are tons of worthy charities who will accept your donations and give you a tax write-off in exchange. And you’ll be able to feel good about generating revenue for businesses that help people. It’s a win-win situation.

Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept furniture donations and have locations in most urban areas. You can also find a new home for your office furniture by posting it on the Freecycle Network. (Note that Freecycle doesn’t provide receipts, so donating through that site is probably best for folks who aren’t interested in the tax write-off.)

Tossing Your Office Furniture Is Like Throwing Away Money

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Finally, you can always sell your furniture to companies like us! Arnolds buys used office furniture of all kinds — whole buildings, small lots, high-end pieces, and budget items — and refurbishes it to better-than-new quality. If you’re interested in selling your old furniture and making money while you save the planet, contact us here. We’d love to talk to you.

Images: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flickr, Office Now/Flickr, Arnolds Office Furniture

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5 Ways to Sit Less, Stand More at Work

As anyone who reads the news knows by now, sitting all day long is killing us. Even if we work out, the effects of slouching behind our monitors will eventually catch up to us. New office furniture, like treadmill desks and the like, promise some relief. But what if you can’t talk the boss into letting you make the switch? There are still plenty of things you can do to — as Monty Python would say — “get a little walking in.” Here are five of our favorites.

1. Have Your Meetings Walking

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Pedi-conferencing isn’t just for Aaron Sorkin characters anymore. Whenever possible, have your meetings while walking, instead of sitting around a conference table practicing your interested face. In addition to conferring the health benefits of not sitting, this option also gives you a good excuse for keeping meetings on the short side.

2. Have Standing Meetings

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If your office is too small for the walk-and-talk, try standing instead. Many companies have adopted this system in recent years to encourage people to speed things up. All those people shifting from foot to foot is a great inducement to keep the speechifying to a minimum.

3. Suggest a Treadmill Desk

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“But wait,” you say. “Isn’t the point of this article that my boss isn’t going to let me have a treadmill desk, and yet I would still like to avoid dying early of sitting too much?” Well, yes. But many companies have had good luck with introducing a few treadmill desks and allowing workers to sign up for them on a shift basis. And you can always use the “lower health care costs” angle, which has the benefit of being true.

4. Ask for a Standing Desk

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Standing desks are cheaper than treadmill desks, and easier to install in most cubicles. If the boss is anti-treadmill desk for cost reasons, you might have more luck persuading him or her to let you try one of these instead. As an added bonus, your cubicle mates won’t have to listen to those annoying treadmill sounds while they’re trying to get on with their sedentary work experience.

5. Create Your Own Standing Desk

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If your boss really isn’t going for any extra expenditures, you can always ask for permission to create your own. Lifehacker has a great article with a few super-cheap standing desks. The least expensive one is a DIY model, using IKEA components, that costs only $25.

Image: sangy23/Flickr, mikedarnell1974/Flickr, KOMUnews/Flickr, jsmjr/Flickr, jstarmer/Flickr

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5 Photos of the Most Trashed Office Furniture

There are many things we love about the internet: gossip on any subject from celebrity marriages to new versions of the iPhone, the ability to spy on your high school sweetheart via social media, and services that will deliver cannolis or shoes, right to your front door. But there is perhaps nothing better in the world of internet time-wasting than looking at pictures of totally trashed items that do not, thank goodness, belong to you. Here are some of our favorite photos of completely ruined office furniture. Be grateful none of these things are sitting in your office right now.

Backless Office Chair, Covered in Fleas or Something

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This poor old office chair is obviously waiting for someone to let it into whatever’s behind that gate. We hope it’s either Disney World or Graceland. Something really fun and kitschy, to make up for all the terrible things that have clearly happened to this chair.

There Used to Be These Things Called Pigeon Holes

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And this is what they looked like. Minus the 12 feet of radioactive dust and … window blinds, we’re guessing? Whatever that stuff is, it’s pretty sad. This is what happens when a competing technology makes your function obsolete. No one ever thinks about the office furniture that gets put out of business when something like email is adopted.

The Collapsible Chair Is Extra Good at Collapsing

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We like to think that this chair is the unfortunate by-product of a worthy experiment. Our idea goes like this: someone was trying to invent the world’s first totally collapsible, travel-friendly office chair. In the idea stage, this project resembled the love child of camp chairs and those little sponge animals who grow when you put them in water. In practice, it looked like someone had run some office furniture through one of those chicken separating machines. Hey, sometimes great ideas just don’t pan out.

Optimus Prime Is Here to Save the Day

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There is actually nothing wrong with this table. It’s just that it’s a Transformer. The picture might look like an action shot of a guy trying — and failing — to assemble a piece of furniture. But actually, it’s just a photographic record of the table transforming into the robotic savior that will defend the earth from the Decepticons.

This Desk Is On Fire

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That’s it. That’s the whole story.

Images: withassociates/Flickr, sindesign/Flickr, , withassociates/Flickr, …love Maegan, borispumps/Flickr
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Office Pods: The Cubicle of the Future?

Are you tired of your office cubicle, but not quite ready to embrace open plan offices? If so, keep your fingers crossed that your company will embrace the new office pod trend, as embodied by the new Mindport interior furnishing systems from Lista Office. A sort of hybrid between the cube, the private office, and the totally open work environment, these units offer a hipper way to get a little privacy in a bustling office. The question is, will they catch on?

As with all academic questions, the answer here is “maybe.” Pods have some definite benefits and drawbacks. Let’s start with the negatives, so that we can end on a cheerier note.

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Cons:

1. Close Quarters: As DVice.com points out, some of the models provide privacy from people who sit outside your work area — but force you to get pretty cozy with the other folks sitting in your multi-person unit. This has the potential to be everything that you hated about living in the dorms in college, without the free beer.

2. Limited Space: The Think Tank model is intended to provide space for workers to collaborate on team projects, but its limited size means it’s really only good for a few people at a time. You could probably just stay in your multi-person pod for that.

3. Price: There’s no list price on the Lista Office website, but we’re betting these slick new designs aren’t going to go for pennies. Budget-minded office planners will probably be better off looking into used office cubicles or furniture.

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Pros:

1. Esthetics: We’re not going to claim that all office pods look amazing, but these ones definitely do. You would totally feel like you were in a science fiction movie the whole time you were working in one of these pods. They’re just gorgeous.

2. Individuality: Even if your company filled the whole building with identical units, there’s no way these could ever give you that rat-in-the-maze feeling that some older cubicle systems (but not ours!) used to give their occupants. You might feel like you’re in the Matrix, but you’d never feel like you were looking for some cheese.

3. Comfort: These models offer some seriously plush-looking seating, which will seem especially appealing to anyone who has ever had to make do with a secretly less-than-ergonomic desk chair. It definitely looks like a cozy place to work.

In the end, this will probably come down to financial considerations. If office pods become available for prices similar to that of standard cubicles, companies will consider adopting them. If not, they almost certainly won’t. After all, open plan offices provide loads of places to collaborate, and they’re cheap; cubicles offer more privacy than open workspaces, and they’re pretty inexpensive as well. For office pods to really take off, they’d have to provide the best of both worlds — at a price lower than either of them. We’ll have to wait and see.

Images: Lista-Office.com

5 Hilarious Ways to Cover Your Absence from the Office

So you need to escape the office. Maybe you have a doctor’s appointment. Maybe you have a job interview at a company that provides free snacks. Maybe you just can’t take it anymore. Whatever the reason, you need to get the heck out of dodge, and you need to do it in such a way that your coworkers (and, more importantly, boss) won’t know that you flew the office cubicle. Here’s how to cover it up.

1. Replace Yourself With a Doll

Think we’re kidding? Applebee’s and its advertising agency, CP+B, obviously have a vested interest in helping you to step out for lunch. And to show that they’re serious about helping you out, they’ve created a line of inflatable lunch decoys that you can prop up at your desk while you pop out for a snack.

2. Cubicle Roof

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This one requires a bit of prep, but it’s worth it. First step: put a roof on your cubicle. Bonus points for a door and windows, but just a roof will do. You can either adapt a screen for this purpose, or just get a sheet of cardboard and lay it on top of your cube. It’s really up to you. Step two: let everyone get used to it, and the fact that your new roof makes it impossible for anyone to see if you’re at work or not. Step three: leave the office, unimpeded.

3. Create a Doppelganger

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If it’s good for the company, how can you possibly get in trouble? This excuse involves finding a coworker who resembles you in some superficial ways — or better yet, not at all — and agreeing to dress up in each other’s clothes to cover for one another when needed. How is this good for the company, you ask? Well, if a three-legged race can be considered a team building exercise, what do you call sharing actual outfits?

4. Distract Them With Candy, and Then Run Away

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When figuring out a way to escape the office, we always like to ask ourselves, “What would Wile E. Coyote do?” Obviously, he would bait a cunning trap. Because you’re presumably in a Road-Runner-free office environment, use candy instead of bird seed. And skip the part where you paint a convincing tunnel on the side of the mountain. We’ve seen this one. You’ll just wind up running into it yourself.

5. Scare the Heck out of Them

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If your cubicle is the creepiest place in the office, no one will stop by to see if you’re working through lunch like a good little worker bee. As a bonus, you also won’t have to worry about people coming over with dumb questions while you’re trying to play solitaire. It’s a win all around!

Images: Felix/Flickr, emma_maria/Flickr, Moyan_Brenn/Flickr, Leasepics/Flickr

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The 4 Best Office Furniture Planning Apps

One of the greatest things about living in 21st century is that there is literally an app for absolutely everything. Need to find a restaurant? Track your run? Find out which dinosaurs used to live in your area? There’s an app for that, and much more. But most importantly to us, there are loads of awesome apps out there that will help you figure out what office furniture you need to buy. Here are a few that are worth checking out. All are low-cost, and some are even totally free.

1. MorrCo Space Calculator iPhone App

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Before you can figure out what office furniture you need, you have to get some idea of how much space you have to work with. Anyone who’s ever wandered around one of those offices with corridors too small to fit two people knows why this is important. This app, which is totally free, works best for open plan offices.

2. Office Furniture & Design

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Another free app, this one for Android, the Office Furniture & Design app will help you figure out which style of furniture is right for your office. Includes design ideas, office pictures, and video. One small caveat: Although this app is a rare five-star entry in the Google Play Store, it’s also only been reviewed by two users. But at this price (or lack thereof), you can afford to take it for a spin.

3. LivingRoom for iPad

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This iPad app was designed for private homes, but its richness in terms of features and relative cheapness (only $4.99 in the App Store) make it a solid choice for small offices as well. You can create floor plans, select materials, arrange furniture, and share your designs, all through this app. Requires iOS 3.2 or later, which probably won’t be an issue for most iPad fanatics at this stage of the game.

4. Space Matters for iPad

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Steelcase brand Turnstone created this app in order to simplify the process of planning, choosing, and ordering office furniture. The coolest thing about this app is that it offers 3D models. So not only can you design your new office space, but you can get a look at it from every angle before you commit to purchasing furniture. Space Matters also lets users share their designs via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Free from the App Store.

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How to Transition from a Traditional Office to an Open Office Space

Open plan offices have gained popularity over the past few years for several reasons: they’re cheaper and more space-efficient, they offer more opportunities for workers to collaborate with each other, and they’re often more pleasing to look at. (Easier to fit in giant stuffed animal mascots or Google-esque playroom furniture when you have room to play with.)

So let’s say you decide to take the plunge and move your company to an open office plan. How can you make the transition as smooth as possible for your employees, many of whom will like the old way simply because it is the old way? How can you help people see the benefits of the new design, and make the best use of what it offers?

1. Talk to your workers.

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First and foremost, take the time to actually explain the new office plan, and why it was chosen. Many workers will suspect that it’s simply an attempt to save a few bucks. Don’t deny that it will be more cost-efficient. That’s a good way to look like you’re trying to con your workers. Instead, enumerate problems inherent in the old design, and explain how this plan will fix them.

Cummins Inc. recently introduced a collaborative workspace to their offices in Columbus, Indiana. Their old design was cubicle-based — and low on natural light.

“It was really dark,” said Vanessa E. Cunningham, Cummins Collaborative Workplace planning leader.

Opening up the office “turned around what was really an undesirable area,” she said.

2. Ask before you plan.

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This brings us to another point: It’s worth polling your workers to see what’s bothering them about their workspace, before you plan a redesign. Even if what you get back doesn’t really help you — “We would like solid gold cubicles containing only video game consoles. Also, unlimited Diet Coke.” — at least you’ll know what you’re dealing with before you sink a lot of money into furniture.

Plus, workers often have the best ideas of what works and what doesn’t in terms of space allotment and office equipment. It’s much more difficult to guess from a distance whether or not something’s working. Asking ahead is basically the office planning equivalent of the carpenter’s maxim, “Measure twice, cut once.”

3. Provide privacy.

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The single biggest complaint companies hear after they move from cubicles to an open office plan is that people miss having private space. Make sure people have somewhere private and secure to store their personal items. Lockers work well for this, especially if your vision of the new office doesn’t include assigned work areas.

And no matter how collaborative your business is, you’ll want to make sure there are some private conference rooms. They’ll come in handy when you need to have meetings that aren’t appropriate for all ears, and they’ll enable folks to talk to one another informally in groups without filling the office with a constant din. Finally, it’s hard to feel totally comfortable in a work environment if you have to sneak into the bathroom to make a doctor’s appointment. Providing a little private space will make everyone feel more at ease and work better, too.

Images: HermanMiller.com, Ideaguides.com, Washingtonpost.com