Archive for November, 2012

Where to Get Office Chairs Cheap

Office chairs can be expensive. We’ve seen chairs retail for, no kidding, more than we paid for our first car. And they hardly ever have an AM/FM radio or fuzzy dice.

So where can you find office chairs cheap? It turns out that there are plenty of places — both online and off — where a bargain-hunting office manager or weary home office worker can find top-quality chairs for low prices. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. eBay

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The gold standard of online auction sites, eBay is an excellent place to start your hunt for a cheap, high-quality office chair. As always, buyer beware. Stick to top-rated sellers with good reviews to maximize your chances of working with a reputable dealer, and always buy with a credit card that will allow you to cancel the transaction should something go wrong.

2. Craigslist

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If you like to get your furniture locally, and want to see it in person before you buy, Craigslist is an excellent option. The no-frills listing site lets you see local ads for all kinds of furniture, including office chairs — much of it for absurdly low prices. Sometimes, you can even find really great stuff for free on Craigslist, if former owners are trying to clear out their old furnishings and don’t want to be bothered donating or selling it.

3. Office Furniture Closeouts

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Check your local newspaper (or online version of the same) for office furniture closeouts from businesses or retailers in your area. You can often get brand-new furniture for steep discounts. Closeouts are a great option for folks who don’t feel comfortable picking up furniture at strangers’ houses or bidding on items sight unseen.

4. Arnolds Office Furniture

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Last but certainly not least, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our own stunning collection of new and gently used office chairs. We have literally thousands of chairs of all kinds in our warehouse, ranging from high-end ergonomic executive chairs to stackable guest chairs for every office space.

We carry all the best brands, from Knoll to Steelcase to Herman Miller Aeron. All our used furniture is expertly refurbished back to like-new appearance by our staff of highly-trained restoration experts. Get the best on the market for a fraction of the price other retailers offer. Visit us in our showroom or contact us online. We can deliver any of our chairs straight to your door. Bulk sales, too!

Image: iStockphoto

How To Keep Your Employees Motivated

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Even the best team can face some doldrums once in a while.  Individual team members may run into frustrating problems, or have personal problems that, while it may not affect their work performance, can ding their overall attitude.

So how can you turn it around and keep them motivated?  Here are five tips.

#1) Focus On Workplace Happiness, Not “Motivation”

Motivation, it must be said, is an intangible.  You can’t bottle it and slip it in the coffee.  What you can do, however, is focus on what makes your employees happy to come to work.  Zappos is widely considered at the forefront of building a workplace culture that ranges from encouraging managers to goof off with employees to making sure that the seemingly little stuff is taken care of.  If an employee comes to you and complains about a broken lightbulb, making sure it gets fixed pronto goes a long way towards making it clear you care about their comfort level at work.

#2) Give Employees an Outlet to Criticize and Praise

The “comments box” is a workplace tradition, often made fun of, and the subject of a thousand sitcom plots.  So why is it still around?

Because it works. True, you have to take some of the things you read with a grain of salt.  And not everything will be something you can act on.  But being able to gather employee complaints (and praise) anonymously means you’ll be able to see what can be fixed, and where your communications might be breaking down.

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#3) Encourage Friendly Competition

True, some businesses are naturally competitive, but others are a bit more sedate.  Try bringing in a way for employees to compete, but in a friendly, open way.  For example, if there’s a difficult problem being faced at Digital Elephant, CEO Jason Kulpa puts a bounty on it: Whoever can create the most efficient and effective solution gets a hefty prize.  Just make sure that at the end of the day, employees understand that they’re all on the same team, and keep the rivalry friendly.

#4) Put Their Work Into Context

It can be difficult to keep the big picture in mind, especially when you’re working hard over one small part of it, day in and day out.  So, take a moment to show your employees what their work is worth and what it does for other people.  Adam Grant, a management professor at Wharton, found he could motivate call center employees calling for donations to a scholarship fund to more than double their productivity. How? He had them meet with students who got through school on their hard work.

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#5) Make Sure They’re Invested in the Business’ Success

This can take all sorts of forms: PR agency archer-malmo shares profits with its 30 employees, for example.  Some companies will sell stock to their employees directly.  Or it might be a matter of pride in a competitive industry, such as Southwest Airlines.  The point is, really, each employee should be invested, whether financially or emotionally, in your company doing well.

It’s true that at the end of the day, some employees will work hard for you but never be fully invested in your company.  But that’s no reason not to make the effort; after all, if you put some work into motivating your employees… you might just find yourself motivated into the bargain.

Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/4722297430/sizes/m/in/photostream/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137729430/sizes/m/in/photostream/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/5008524257/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Used Office Furniture Reborn!

Here at Arnolds, our mission is to buy used office furniture from businesses that no longer need it and restore it so that it’s just as perfect as furniture fresh from the flat-packed box.  In the process, our customers save thousands and help the environment while doing it.

Still, even after all that, some want to put their own personal stamp on their workspace.  To give you an idea of what’s possible, we’ve dug up a few examples of do-it-yourself refurbishing that shows the difference between bland furniture and office furniture with personality.

The Redone Cubicle

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The cubicle is often the subject of a lot of abuse in modern pop culture.  Whether it’s Peter trapped next to Nina from accounts payable, or Dilbert dealing with his pointy-haired supervisor’s incompetence, cubicles are often held up as a symbol of conformity and blandness.  But they don’t have to be.

Believe it or not, adding some personality to your cubicle is fairly simple.  Changing out the cloth is fairly simple if you have a few basic tools and some pins, and it’s also fairly easy to remove if you get promoted to the office you’re looking for.  You can also use little craft items like appliques on the glass to add even more personality.

File Cabinets

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The humble filing cabinet may not be in for the kind of abuse the cubicle gets, but that might only be because it’s hard to notice.  Many of them are nothing more than bland steel boxes, usually in a khaki or gray color, and that’s where it stops.

Fortunately, their simplicity also makes it easy for you to give them a little style.  This example that we’ve found uses spray paint to get the yellow color, and glue and damask fabric to give the faces a bit more color.

But you don’t need to invest quite that much, if you don’t feel like it.  You can easily use scrapbook paper to put front-facings on your file cabinets, or simply repaint them to get a bit more character into them.  After all, the file cabinet is something you’ll see a lot… shouldn’t it be something you enjoy seeing?

Desk Chairs

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And finally, here’s a good example of an office chair getting an overhaul.  Generally, when office chairs are discussed, they’re usually talked about in terms of comfort, not style.

Office chairs are often the most colorful of office furniture, but the color tends to be fairly sedate and limited to shades that will mix well with other furniture.  Most office chairs we sell are fairly simple to disassemble, and thus, fairly simple to reupholster.  We will, however, recommend that you use a cloth that resists stains and is very durable.  After all, this is the furniture you’ll be sitting on week in and week out; you want it to look good and feel good.

These are just three of dozens of options available for giving your office furniture a whole new look.  Crafty folks on the Internet have plenty of ideas for you to try.  So, after you get your furniture in, take a look around, and see what you can do to put your own spin on it.

Image sources: http://www.instructables.com/id/Reupholstering-Cube-Walls/, http://www.youngandcrafty.com/2010/11/new-filing-cabinet.html, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-reupholster-an-office-c-83201

5 Incredibly Cool Home Office Ideas

Most home offices are basically a jumble of files and office furniture, assembled every which way. But some creative folks take their workspace way beyond the barely functional. Their offices are more an expression of their imagination than just a place to process reports after-hours. Here are a few of the most amazing home offices the internet has to offer — plus, some ideas on how you can recreate something similar in your house.

1. If You Have a Closet, You Have an Office

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Think you don’t have room to have a home office? Think again. These creative folks made a fully functional workspace out of their spare closet. Step one is the hardest part: finding a new place for all that unused sporting equipment. (We suggest eBay.) The cleverest innovation by far is the desk. If you look closely, you’ll see that it’s actually two filing cabinets glued under a desk top.

2. You Can Do Anything With Some Plywood

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You don’t have to be a DIY expert to create this lofted home office. Taking up what appears to be a whopping six square feet in the corner of a larger room, this little gem is easy to build with just a little plywood and some free time. Plus, it’s way more decorative that just sticking a chair and a desk in a corner.

3. The Secret Ingredient Is Paint

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Look carefully at this slick home office design, and you’ll see that its most engaging elements are entirely created through paint choice. The bright pink desk? A garage sale relic spiced up with lacquer. The chalkboard wall? Just a few coats of chalkboard paint and a hand-drawn calendar.

4. Right in Your Own Backyard

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If you work at home, you know the perils of, well, working in your home. This shed-turned-office solves that problem by letting you get away from it all just by going out to the backyard. Obviously, this one works best if you’re in a warm climate or already have a heated shed out back, but it’s not impossible to create from scratch, if you have the space and inclination.

5. IKEA Hacks, the Home Office Edition

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Love the first suggestion on this list, but short on closet space? Don’t despair. Once again, the geniuses at IKEA Hackers come to our rescue. With just an old IKEA wardrobe, some wall paper, and a stool, you can make your own tiny office space in just about any size living situation. Dressmaker’s dummy optional.

5 Ways To Adjust Your Used Cubicles To Meet 21st Century Demands

5597681084_30abdf6875_zThe humble cubicle is many things today: A symbol of the workplace, a place where many Americans transact their working hours, and the butt of jokes and parody.  But believe it or not, it was invented in 1967 as an alternative to rigid, privacy-free workplace designs of the pasts, enormous seas of desks with little privacy.

But like any 50-year-old, the cubicle has had to change with the times.  Take, for example, the city of Long Beach, CA, home of some of our best customers.  Over time, the city has diversified from just the aircraft manufacturing industry it was famous for to health care, electronics distribution, shipping and logistics, and other data and analysis intensive industries.  As companies like these have grown, they haven’t just added workers on an assembly line; they’ve also added designers, analysts, and others at desks.  And the cubicles they buy need to change with those demands, in five very important ways.

#5) More Outlets

When the cubicle was invented in 1967, most paperwork was done by hand.  Now, your average employee will be working on a computer all day every workday, whether they’re working with seniors at Molina Health Care or figuring out what car parts need to be shipped out at TABC.  Coworkers may arrive with laptops.  Employees may need to charge their cell phones or tablets. Outfit older cubicles with more power wiring and outlets: They’ll need the space.

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#4) Data-Friendly Desk Space

Whether you’ve got a laptop, a client server, or a desktop, one thing’s for sure: you’ve got a lot of wires going out of your computers.  Upgrade the desk space in cubicles to be data-friendly. Drill holes to string ethernet cables to, or provide anchoring points to boost WiFi signal if necessary.

#3) Clutter Reduction

A messy desk is a messy mind.  You’ll hear managers from Polar to Pioneer say that to employees.  While many of us have simply made the messy desktop a digital problem, a lot of us still have printed matter to deal with.  There’s far less need for file space now that there was in 1967, but you still may have, for example, a projector, or a collection of cables, or a few laptops living in a cubicle now.  Make sure there’s room to put it all away.

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#2) Ergonomics

Increasingly, it’s becoming clear that sitting at a desk is not necessarily best for your health.  Standing desks are becoming more and more popular, and cubicles will need to be able to adjust accordingly.

Even if your employees prefer to sit down, though, they’ll still need ergonomic features such as keyboard holders.  Look for more subtle touches as well: For example, modern cubicles will lower the wall a foot or two near the entrance so that someone at the desk can easily swivel around and look at a person nearby.  It seems simple, but if two people are having a brief discussion, it makes everyone more comfortable.

#1) Personalization Options

If there’s one thing the cubicle has been bashed for, again and again, it’s for propagating conformity.  While a workplace isn’t necessarily an art class, your workers do need ways to express their personalities in a positive way.  Make sure there’s room for nameplates, places to hang family photos, and a little space to put up the occasional knickknack or store some more comfortable shoes for the end of the day.  Being yourself is important, whether you live in Long Beach… or anywhere else.

Image credits: Flickr

How Green Are Pennsylvania Businesses?

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Pennsylvania is a bustling state with a rich industrial history. It’s also, increasingly, an environmentally aware one.  Across the state, there are a strong number of green initiatives and businesses at the forefront of a new green boom in the Keystone State.

The commitment comes from state government and business leaders alike.  For example, many Pennsylvania businesses voluntarily perform a “green audit” to determine where they could improve.  Voters have consistently voted for green initiatives, such as funding PennVest, which will help install better and more efficient water systems.

Still, the most basic demonstration of where environmental awareness and industry meet is the fact that as of 2012, Pennsylvania is the nation’s leader in green jobs, with over 100,000 employees working in various green capacities.  There are a wide variety of green companies generating these jobs, ranging from statewide to local.

Examples of such businesses include…

  • Quench: Located in King of Prussia, Quench takes a new approach to the office water cooler. Instead of having water bottled, packaged, and shipped across the country — or even the world — it installs advanced filtration and sanitization systems into office buildings that can provide water and ice at a much lower cost… and more importantly, at a substantial savings to the environment as it helps reduce carbon emissions from bottling and trucking.  Quench systems are in office buildings across the country.
  • Arnolds Office Furniture: Based in Bridgeport and specializing in recycling and refurbishing office furniture, Arnolds ships restored furniture to offices around the country, reducing the amount of waste in landfills and saving substantially on manufacturing emissions as well as natural resources, as less ore needs to be mined or trees cut down for new furniture.  Not to mention, of course, the money saved by not having to buy something entirely new.
  • Gettysburg Solar: Based, of course, out of Gettysburg, this company has been offering solar solutions for homes and businesses for half a decade.
  • The Environmental Home Store: A building supply company in Doylestown, this company focuses on provided the best in green building materials — from bamboo flooring to recycled glass countertops.

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On a statewide level, Pennsylvania is also a leader in greener utilities.  A good example of this kind of business is:

  • Choose PA Wind: This Pittsburgh-based energy firm sells wind energy produced in-state to companies and homes.  Choose PA Wind has been so successful offering “homegrown” energy that it can undercut conventional utilities in terms of price, and substantially cut down on an emissions footprint.

Even companies that aren’t necessarily in the “green” business still find ways to improve their environmental record.  For example…

  • High Concrete works to educate its customers in more efficient ways to precast and build the parking structures that are its bread and butter, and better meet industry and government sustainability standards.

It’s rapidly becoming clear that Pennsylvania is, in many ways, the nation’s leader in green ideas and technology.  Whether it’s recycling office furniture, or just giving homebuilders greener options, there’s a lot for the Keystone State to be proud of.

Image credits: Flickr

Top 3 Office Furniture Layout Software Packages

Think rearranging office furniture is easy? Then you’ve never been unlucky enough to work in one of those offices where two people can’t pass each other in a corridor without wedging together like Looney Tunes characters in search of official canadian pharmacy a cliff. Fortunately, there’s a software package for just about any problem these days. The following are three of the best ones to use for designing an office furniture layout.

1. SmartDraw

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The first place we look when we’re evaluating any software package is CNET, the granddaddy of all tech review sites. If something has a high star rating from both the CNET editor and the CNET users, you can be pretty sure it’s a product that’s worth your time.

With this in mind, we present to you SmartDraw’s office planning application. With a rare five-star rating from CNET’s staff, an average user rating of 3.5 stars, and a truly inspiring library of both templates and symbols, this is one of the great office furniture layout software packages.

Price: Free to try; $197 to buy

2. Edraw Max

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This free-to-try office furniture layout software package includes a large library of furniture types, floor plans, and charts. Make blueprints, asset inventories, electrical diagrams, and move management plans. Ideal for folks who aren’t power users and just need a simple package that will help them make basic plans.

The company quotes one of their users as saying, “There are a lot of software out there but after trying several, I’m convinced that this one has the most to offer for a good price — some of the heavy CAD programs are too much for the likes of me, people who don’t need that much power nor extent to create some of the in-depth plans and drawings.”

Price: Free to try; $99.95 to buy

3. SeeMyDesign Room Planner

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If you need a cheap software package that will not only help you plan your furniture layout, but also calculate costs for things like paint and carpeting, SeeMyDesign is a good choice. This interactive design tool was created for home design, but is adaptable to office use and offers 3D views of your designs for a real preview of the look and feel of your space. Also helps you choose materials, such as flooring, and compare paint colors and architectural details.

Price: Free for the unlicensed version with room previews; $14.95 for a one-year license

3 Ways to Bring Sustainability, Flexibility and Cost Savings to Your Office

If you had an unlimited budget, and could build your office building from scratch, no doubt you’d have the most sophisticated, flexible, inexpensive systems possible. Heating and cooling would work flawlessly, and every piece of equipment that used energy would operate efficiently, automatically cycling off when not in use and starting back up again as soon as it was needed.

The reality, of course, is rather different. Most of us don’t have the cash or the ability to create the office of our dreams from the ground up. The good news is that you can retrofit existing systems to save money, increase efficiency, and support a more sustainable office. You just have to know where to start.

That’s where the experts come in. CSE magazine interviewed three experts on sustainable office design to get their take on creating the perfect office space, no matter what you’re starting with. Michael F. Cooper, Kurt Karnatz, and Kent W. Peterson are all LEED APs and managing principals at their respective firms. Here’s what they advise.

1. Consider the Total Cost of Ownership

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“First cost is the primary factor lately, but in our budgeting conversations with owners we try hard to keep total cost of ownership at the forefront too,” says Karnatz. For companies, this means considering whether open software licenses and standards-based open protocols might provide more flexibility and cost savings down the line, as opposed to more restrictive options. He also advises clients to opt for more sensors right off the bat, so that they can monitor their systems more efficiently.

2. Use What You Have

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The experts agree that most companies don’t necessarily have the budget to tear out all their existing systems and start over. Instead, they recommend solutions that allow offices to integrate the legacy systems with new, more efficient ones. Cooper also advises evaluating whether adding wireless controls can help make the existing equipment more usable.

3. Decide How Much Control You Need — and How to Want to Exercise It

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It’s now possible to tweak your office’s energy consumption on a room-to-room basis via a tablet, smartphone, or computer, but not everyone is interested in that level of control.

“We haven’t seen any demand for PC-based personal control in commercial (for lease) offices. The management required to deal with tenant moves and changes is daunting to a base building. In owner-occupied spaces, we have seen some interest, but there is still fear about change management — who will be responsible, the facilities team, or the IT team?” says Karnatz.

Most clients seem to be happy with zone-based control — e.g., the ability to turn off the heat or the lights in sections of the office, as opposed to individual rooms.

After all, anything’s better than trusting the last lonely worker to remember to turn down the heat.

Images: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr, akeg/Flickr, loop_oh/Flickr

5 Office Accessories to Artify Your Office Space

Let’s face it: When we say “office” and “art” in the same sentence, you probably aren’t thinking of anything you’d see in a museum. You’re probably envisioning something more like cast-off dentist office prints and weird, bloopy obelisks that look like the set designer from “Mad Men” went off the deep end. But this doesn’t have to be! With a little imagination, you can bring your creative spirit into your office cubicles. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

1. The Wooden Keyboard

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Sometimes, it feels like our whole office is made out of plastic. That’s what makes this keyboard so fascinating: a standard Apple keyboard, it’s been converted to a more natural-looking aesthetic by artist Robbie Tilton. The green stuff is the fake moss you often see in model train sets, and the keys are wood — you know, the stuff our grandparents’ desks were made of, back in the olden days.

2. The Steampunk Laptop

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What has claw legs, violin holes for speaker covers, and looks like something Captain Nemo would use to compose his tweets? The steampunk laptop. The one in the picture is sadly not for sale, but its creator plans to make more in the future, including a netbook version that would be just perfect for your next expedition. (Or for freaking out your coworkers at the next staff meeting.)

3. The Fortune Mouse

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Not into that old timey vibe? Maybe the Fortune Mouse is more your speed. Created by Brazilian designer Atila Rossito, this titanium and plastic accessory looks more like a prop from a science fiction movie than something most people would use in an office. That’s what makes it perfect for spicing up your space.

4. DIY Computer Monitor Frame

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The geniuses at Apartment Therapy alerted us to this awesome piece of office decor. With some felt, a piece of cardboard, and a little spare time, you can make your computer monitor look like a picture frame. If you can cut and assemble quietly, we might have found a project to keep you occupied during your next conference call.

5. Quilted iPad Sleeve

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Even if you’re not a shabby chic person, you have to admit that there’s something really charming about the juxtaposition between the super-contemporary iPad and this crafty homemade sleeve. Bonus points for the measuring tape motif in the center star pattern.

3 Businesses That Work Out of Mobile Offices

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When Dwight Schrute forces his coworkers to work on a bus for a day, it’s hilarious. But how entertaining is it to toil away in a truly mobile office in real life? If you talk to some of Howard Becker‘s clients, you’ll find plenty of people who like the office-on-the-go.

Becker runs a company that specializes in creating mobile offices, as well as other customized, high-end cars and vans. These are fancy offices on wheels, often using such pricey base vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van. Even the highest-ranking executive would feel right at home among the rich leather seats and high-speed internet in some of Becker’s constructions.

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1. The Chef Who Has an Escalade With an Exercise Bike in It

Becker built a mobile office in an Escalade for a fitness-minded celebrity chef. The challenge was to fit the bike into the Escalade — and make it safe. Becker did this by selecting a recumbent model, welding the flywheel to the floor, moving the heart-rate monitor to a side panel, and putting in a three-point seatbelt. We sure hope someone else is driving when the chef is exercising. The bike itself cost $2000, before customization.

2. The CEO Who Has the Newest Status Symbol

Noel Lee, founder and CEO of audio products company Monster, got his Sprinter Van from West Coast Customs, another company that creates high-end mobile offices. For him, the status involved in tooling around in an office on wheels was almost as important as the convenience.

“When you roll up to a red carpet, you don’t want to roll up in a regular van,” Lee told the New York Times.

3. The Business Owner Who Can Work on the Road

The Times also spoke with Joe Sachen, the owner of a merchandising business, who uses his modified Escalade to make the most of his 120-mile commute.

“Everything I can do in the office, I can do on the road,” he said.

In fact, he finds that the Escalade is a better space, in terms of productivity, than his stationary office. “A lot of people come into my office constantly, and when I’m in the car, it’s just me by myself, and I feel I get so much more done,” he said.

It probably doesn’t hurt that the monitor in his Escalade is bigger than the one in his other office. Who wouldn’t prefer to work on a 32-inch screen, while sitting in seats that are markedly more comfortable than most sofas?

Images: Randy Son of Robert/Flickr, Traveling Fools of America/Flickr

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