Archive for January, 2013

Should You Repair or Replace Your Office Furniture?

It’s a fact of office life: Even the best-constructed, most durable office furniture will eventually break down and fall into disrepair. The question for office managers is when to try to fix what’s broken, and when to call it quits and get rid of the old stuff altogether. Here are some of the most common issues for each piece of office furniture, how to repair it, and when to throw it away and start from scratch.

1. Desks

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Office Furniture Repair: Desks are the cornerstone of the office. No wonder, then, that so much can go wrong with them. Some repairs — like sticky drawers or minor cosmetic work — are easy enough to do yourself. A little WD-40 and/or paint can go a long way. Ditto missing parts. Don’t assume that a lost key, for example, or even a banged up drawer, means that you need to write off the entire piece. It’s always worth contacting the manufacturer to see if there are replacement parts available.

Throw It Away If: Most of today’s desks are made of plastic components, even the parts that look like wood or metal. If the veneer is peeling, consider swapping out for a new piece of furniture altogether. And don’t bother trying to paint those plastic parts. It won’t hold — or fool anyone.

2. Ergonomic Chairs

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Office Furniture Repair: Oh, internet, is there anything you can’t do? In terms of DIY instructions, we’re guessing not. This awesome list contains just about anything that could go wrong with your ergonomic chair, plus instructions for how to fix it yourself with little more than a few different wrenches and some spare time.

Throw It Away If: Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t as simple as a missing bolt or a loose screw. If the mesh back or seat is ripped or frayed, or the padded seat full of holes, repairing your ergonomic chair might be more trouble than it’s worth.

3. Filing Cabinets

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Office Furniture Repair: True story: once upon a time, we had a work neighbor who complained that his filing cabinet was broken. It was pretty new, which was one source of his aggravation. The other, of course, was that his files were being held hostage in the stuck drawer.

Angrily, he called maintenance and demanded both the release of his files and a brand-new filing cabinet. They came up with — you guessed it — a can of WD-40, and achieved the former while negating the need for the latter. Our coworker spent much of the rest of the day wishing he could crawl into his filing cabinet and hide.

Another easy DIY project: refinishing a dingy cabinet.

Throw It Away If: If it’s rusty, dented beyond easy use, or the drawers no longer connect with their tracks, it’s probably not worth the fix. You’re better off donating or recycling it, and getting something new. (Or new to you.)

And speaking of “new to you,” if you do decide that your office furniture repairs are beyond your skill (or interest) level, don’t assume you’re stuck with paying full price for brand-new office furniture. Arnolds Office Furniture has a wide and ever-changing selection of gently used, lovingly refurbished office furniture for every taste and budget. Contact us today and tell us your needs. Your customers will never know you bought used, and you’ll save a bundle.

Images: leonorjr/Flickr, seeminglee/Flickr, breahn/Flickr

5 Tips for the Ultimate Home Office

Not all home offices are created equal. Many of us toil away in glorified storage areas, constantly digging out our computers from a sea of off-season holiday decorations, children’s toys, and unfiled paperwork. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to make your home office worthy of the masterpieces you create in it, we have a few suggestions that will help you achieve your goal.

1. Carve Out a Space of Your Own

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It isn’t always possible to allocate an entire room just to your home office, but try to keep your work space clear of things that aren’t related to your work. This might mean telling people to find another spot for their skis and childhood mementoes, or it might mean finding another place to file your non-business correspondence. However you go about it, the most important thing is to have a little corner that’s all your own.

2. Pick the Right Office Furniture

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We’ve seen home offices constructed out of little more than an old packing box as a desk and an exercise ball as a chair, but unless your workspace doubles as a performance art piece, we recommend stocking it with office furniture that fits your personality and needs. You don’t need to spend a zillion dollars to make it happen, either: used furniture stores (cough, Arnolds Office Furniture, cough) are a great resource for unique, stylish, affordable office furniture.

3. Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries

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Don’t forget to take ergonomics into account. Many of those vintage desks designers love to feature in magazine spreads are poorly designed in terms of protecting your wrists and back. You can still have the mid-century modern desk of your dreams — you just might need to retrofit it with a keyboard tray.

4. Make Sure You Have Enough Bandwidth

The internet is bursting with articles on determining how much internet speed you need. (The irony, of course, is that if you don’t have enough speed, you might have trouble reading their advice.) We like this piece from Apartment Therapy. It’s a good summary of which applications use the most speed, how to determine your actual bandwidth, and how to speed up your current connection without shelling out for an upgrade. Also, call us crazy, but we’re more inclined to believe an assessment by our favorite decorating blog than by the cable company. We know, we’re cynical.

5. Make It Comfy

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Have you ever had to make a deadline while working in a room without air conditioning in August? Or a barely-heated room in January? Then you know how important climate control can be to your productivity. If heating and cooling are problematic in the rest of your house, consider investing in space heaters or window AC units for your office. You’re not being a wuss: researchers at Cornell University recently discovered that workers commit 44 percent more errors when they’re working in a poorly-heated office. So make your home office comfortable — for the sake of your work.

Images: Sean MacEntee/Flickr, brad Montgomery/Flickr, AndyFitz/Flickr, Lord Biro/Flickr, midnightcomm/Flickr

Designing Your Zen Office Furniture Layout

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Who couldn’t use a little peace and calm in their working life? Zen office furniture is one way to get just that. By helping us to concentrate on simplicity and purpose, instead of techy toys and frills, this style fosters a more creative and productive working life, while saving money at the same time. Here’s how to tell if the Zen working life is right for you, and how to get furniture to encourage it.

What Is Zen Office Furniture?

At its core, Zen office furniture is about keeping it simple. Forget about big, bulky desks and complicated filing systems. Not only are those expensive to implement, but in this age of laptops and cloud storage, big furniture isn’t even necessary.

Zen office furniture is basic, smaller, and has very clean lines. Above all, it’s ergonomic. Its purpose should be to support your productivity and make your life easier. The most Zen furniture of all is produced by green practices — recycling, reusing, or reclaiming.

Who Wants to Use It?

Zen office furniture is perfect for anyone who wants streamline to his or her life. From college students to CEOs, we could all use a little bit more simplicity, but this style of furniture is particularly useful for folks who are operating out of small spaces. Apartment dwellers, dorm residents, and modern office workers will find it an effective solution to the problem of maximizing workspace.

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Tips for Getting Zen Office Furniture

You don’t need to go to a specialty store to find Zen office furniture. (Although if you’re looking, we have to give a shout-out to awesome green furniture company Carolina Morning, whose pictures adorn this piece.) Here are a few ways to get started…

  • Sort by price at any major furniture outlet, and you’ll find the simplest, cheapest desks, chairs, and filing systems.
  • Look for furniture specially crafted for students — it’s often smaller, simpler, and less ornate than the full-priced “grown-up” versions.
  • Of course, if you want something sturdier, but still green and inexpensive, look at used furniture stores like Arnolds Office Furniture. We’re constantly getting new shipments of gently-used and lovingly-refurbished office furniture, many of which would be a great fit for your new, simpler, more Zen office space.How to Design Your LayoutLet function be your guide. Start with an empty space, if possible, and move in only furniture that will support your needs. Be ruthless about clutter and above all, don’t use your office as a storage space. Then, sit back and let the calm descend over your working life.

    Images: Carolina Morning

The Cubicle Isn’t Dead! It’s Just Changing

Just a few short years ago, it looked like the office cubicle might be on its way out. After all, why would someone bother with the traditional cube farm when they could give all their employees laptops, knock down some walls, and save a bundle with an open plan office?

Then people started working in open plan offices, discovered that the noise level and privacy issues made them less-than-ideal for certain types of businesses, and they turned back to the cubicle for answers.

The cubicle, being the reliable fixture of office life that it is, evolved to suit their needs. Here’s how the cubicle has changed for the better:

1. More Usable Space

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“We went from everybody having these big CRT screens and a corner work surface that would accommodate that to all flat-panel monitors now, so you don’t need these big, deep work surfaces anymore,” says Scott Machabee, president and owner of Machabee Office Environments, in an interview with Nevada Business.

The result is less space, but more space you can use. Think about the dust bunnies that used to collect behind your gigantic old monitor, and you’ll see what we mean.

2. More Places to Plug In

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Modern cubicles are built with plenty of outlets to accommodate all those space-saving, productivity-enhancing mobile devices. Between laptops, tablets, and smartphones, there’s really no need to have a lot of paper files or giant, stationary pieces of equipment. Today’s worker needs more electricity and less space, and that’s exactly what modern cubicles provide.

3. More Natural Light

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Forget those old-school burlap cubicles with the six-foot-high walls. Today’s cubes offer a bit of privacy and help define your space, but without cutting you off from that precious, mood-boosting sunshine. And never mind those old-fashioned fluorescents: today’s office cubicles are set up for task lighting, which prevents eye strain while sparing workers the annoyance of toiling away under unflattering yellow bulbs.

4. More Collaborative Space

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Even companies that don’t want completely open office spaces still need room for people to gather and share thoughts about projects. The new cubicles make it easier to meet without booking a conference room.

5. More Flexibility

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In fact, today’s cubicles might not even look like cubicles at all. Paul Higgs, Operations Manager/Business Development for Office Furniture USA, extols the virtues of a different kind of cubicle: “a big trend toward what they call benching systems and open-plan desking systems, where everyone has his own space but it’s actually very, very open. It’s no longer the cubicle walls like you used to see.”

Images: fatseth/Flickr, dmitrybarsky/Flickr, lucasartoni/Flickr, BAKOKO/Flickr, Adam Tinworth/Flickr

How Much Space Do You Really Get at the Office?

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If it feels like the walls are closing in on you at your office, you’re not going crazy: today’s offices are smaller than ever before.

When we say “office,” of course, we mean workspace. Companies these days have a lot of options when it comes to designing their floor plans, and they take advantage of every variation to maximize productivity and minimize cost. For some organizations, this means an open plan office, filled with long tables and floating workers with mobile devices. But even if your company opts for the traditional cubicle set-up, you’re likely to have a lot less office space than workers had even a decade ago.

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Let’s look at some facts:

- Recent data from CoreNet Global, a corporate real estate association, shows that workers currently have an average of 176 square feet to call their own.

- That’s down from a palatial 225 square feet per worker in 2010.

- In the same survey, respondents indicated that they were anticipating providing 151 square feet on average five years from now.

- 40 percent of American companies surveyed indicated that by 2017 they would probably offer less than 100 square feet per worker. In fact, 24 percent allocate less than 100 square feet per worker today.

- European companies are already on board with the shrinking office, with many hitting the under-100-square-feet mark in the past several years — a fact that surprises those of us who think of Europe as being a bastion of higher quality of life. (Of course, the press release we found this info in expressed this as “individual space utilization,” which makes the shrinking office sound more like an efficient way to do business than an exercise in worker deprivation.)

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“The main reason for the declines,” said Richard Kadzis, CoreNet Global’s Vice President of Strategic Communications, “is the huge increase in collaborative and team-oriented space inside a growing number of companies that are stressing ‘smaller but smarter’ workplaces against the backdrop of continuing economic uncertainty and cost containment.”

Even cubicles are feeling the pinch. In a recent article in Tampa Bay Business Journal, President of Florida Business Interiors Kevin Baker said he’s seen the average cubicle size shrink from 8 x 8 feet in 2007 to 6 x 6 feet today. It makes those open offices seem positively spacious in comparison.

But there is good news. Thanks to mobile technology and wireless networking, you don’t need as much space as the workers of yesteryear. So while your cubicle or workspace might look tiny on a blueprint, you probably have a lot more usable space than you would have in the days of giant CRT monitors and paper files.

Images: quinet/Flickr, topyli/Flickr, charles_hudson/Flickr

How Green Are Businesses in Fresno, CA?

Positioned in a state long considered to be a green business hub, Fresno is curiously lacking companies with green business plan initiatives. In fact, only 25 companies in or near Fresno are plotted on a California green business map compiled by the Environmental Defense Fund for having green buildings and utilizing energy efficiency. No Fresno companies are plotted on the map as having green practices.

This lack of green business practices leaves the door wide open for Fresno business owners to set their companies apart from the pack by developing green initiatives. Check out these top green business alliances and programs in California, as well as tips on how to get started.

 

Fresno business owners have a green open door to surpass local competitors.

Fresno business owners have a green open door to surpass local competitors.

 

Making the Green Switch

No hard-and-fast guidebook exists for businesses to make the green switch. Rather, the changes adopted by business owners are often based on the industries they serve. For example, some business owners can hire more teleworkers while others must rely on in-office workers and, instead, develop green office handbooks.

Check out these top ways that other businesses in California are going green:

  • Making building changes – Several businesses in Fresno have either updated their buildings for increased energy efficiency or specialize in making those updates for other companies. ACCO Engineered Systems and AECOM are just a few of the area’s firms that help business owners improve the efficiency of their structures.
  • Buying used furniture - Small, in-office changes often add up to big results. Buying used furniture offers business owners several benefits, including lower costs and decreased consumption.
  • Reusing and Recycling – Plastic cups and disposable eating utensils are often off-limits in green businesses. By developing policies of reusing and recycling products, business owners decrease their in-office waste and, thus, cultivate greener business practices.
  • Offering employee incentives – Green employee incentives reign supreme at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville. At Clif Bar, workers who carpool, ride bikes, use public transportation or walk to work earn points toward a max of $960 in annual rewards. Of course, green incentives needn’t be large to be effective.

California Green Business Programs

From green business alliances to green business conferences, several support outlets exist for Fresno business owners thinking of adopting environmentally-friendly practices.

Here are just a few of the region’s top programs:

  • California Green Business Program – The California Green Business Program is government-run and assists/recognizes businesses that operate in environmentally-friendly manners. No Fresno businesses are currently listed as part of the California Green Business Program, making it an attractive option for business owners in the city wanting to set their companies apart from competitors.
  • Green California Summit and Exposition – Termed as an outlet for business owners to discover innovations in green policies, practices and technologies, the Green California Summit and Exposition is an annual conference offered each spring. Keynote speakers, educational programs and exhibits are just a few of the summit’s highlights.
  • California Green Business Alliance – The California Green Business Alliance is an outlet for business owners who support a clean energy future in Fresno and throughout California. After joining the alliance, business owners can display the alliance’s logo on their company website.

 

Recycle that scrap paper to become a greener business owner.

Recycle that scrap paper to become a greener business owner.

While California’s overall green economy is strong, Fresno businesses have some catching up to do. Whether you’re joining green alliances, adopting green business practices or making other changes, the benefits that come with developing environmental initiatives are strong, says Tim O’Connor, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund and an expert on the state’s green economy.

“These are the companies that can lead the world in innovative solutions that create jobs and increase our global competitiveness,” explains O’Connor.

What Is an Office Furniture Outlet?

Most of us have been outlet shopping at one time or another. Regular mall outlet stores are a great place to buy brand-name clothes, shoes, and accessories, as well as slightly irregular items, for significantly less than the full sticker price at a department store.

But what, specifically, is an office furniture outlet? And what can we expect when we shop there?

What an Office Furniture Outlet Is

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Office furniture outlets are similar to regular outlets, in that they sell products for less than they’d cost at a regular retailer. Depending on the store, you might find brand-name furniture for discounted prices, factory seconds and overstocked equipment, and generic, store-brand items that might look just as snazzy as the fancier stuff, albeit without the well-known label.

What You Can Find There

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These outlets typically stock everything from ergonomic chairs to desks to conference tables. Expect a wide variety of storage options, from book shelves to filing cabinets, and display aids like whiteboards, bulletin boards, and easels. Some stores might also stock computer equipment such as laptops, printers, and fax machines or office supplies like paper and pens. In general, you’ll find the biggest savings at specialized stores. It’s simple economics: a place that sells only furniture will have more items to choose from, while a more general retailer might have only five types of chairs, for example, in stock at any one time.

How the Prices Compare

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Savings vary wildly at these stores, so know before you go.

Star by doing your research: gather circulars and surf e-commerce sites. Don’t take the outlet’s word for the fact that they have the best deals; do the comparisons yourself. And check the fine print: some stores will offer rebates or coupons, but you may need to be organized to take advantage of them. A desk that’s 30 percent off with a coupon is no percent off if you leave the coupon at home.

Make sure to compare office furniture outlets to used office furniture. Often, you might be able to get a better product at a better price if you consider buying used.

It’s worth doing your homework, because if you shop carefully, you can save a huge amount of money. In an interview with Business.com, our CEO Jay Berkowitz notes:

“We save our customers, on average, about 70 percent in comparison to the same furniture new. For example, to outfit a small business start-up with 25 employees, it would cost about $150,000 in brand new furniture. At Arnold’s, it would cost about $50,000 for the same exact furniture.”

Contact us if you’d like more information on how we can save you money on used office furniture, or stop by and browse our showroom, and see for yourself.

Images: iStockphoto

4 Most Creative Uses of Office Furniture

When you think of office furniture, you probably think of pretty standard stuff: burlap office cubicles, black mesh ergonomic chairs, and long conference tables made of laminate, plastic, or wood. And while those things are the vanilla ice cream of the office furniture world, there are a lot more creative and interesting variations on the theme than you might think.

The following offices have brought their twist on the same old, same old. Here, if you will, are the Peppermint Twist and Oatmeal Cookie Dough of furniture ideas.

1. Real Phone Booths, at Google London

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One major downside to open plan offices is that there’s nowhere to go to make a phone call. Google London has solved this problem by installing actual phone booths for employees to use when they need to make a doctor’s appointment or just have a private chat. We especially love these phone booths because they resemble the old-time call boxes you find on the streets of London. The only thing that would be cooler would be if they were shaped like a Tardis, but we assume that’s reserved for the offices of the production company that makes “Dr. Who.”

2. Skateboard Conference Table, at Zappos

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In addition to being the only place on earth that will overnight you three pairs your weirdly-sized shoes, Zappos has a pretty cool office décor. Witness their skate-themed conference room, complete with a table that looks like the deck of your high school skateboard. If we worked here, we’d insist that everyone take off their shoes and slip into Vans before being seated.

3. Inspirational Posters That Actually Inspire, at Twitter

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We say “inspirational posters,” you say “ho hum.” That’s until you see the ones at Twitter HQ. They work because they’re a) not the usual mountain top with greeting card slogans printed over it, b) cool-looking, and c) actually inspirational. There’s nothing like an actual heartfelt sentiment to get people working harder.

4. Chairs That Look Like Basketballs, Google Taipei

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How do you find seating and a video monitor for 20-plus workers without creating a traditional conference room or auditorium space? Use sports as your inspiration. Google Taipei’s “basketball court” is really a meeting space, but we bet people are way more excited about watching those PowerPoint presentations when they get to spend time in such a cool space. Bonus points for the ergonomic quality of the chairs, which are essentially stability balls dressed up to look like basketballs.

Images: mwichary/Flickr, bunnicula/Flickr, Seed Camp/Flickr, slowkodachrome/Flickr

Old Office Furniture Repurposed

It’s always a challenge to figure out what to do with your old office furniture when you no longer need it. Should you sell it? Donate it? Leave it out by the Dumpster and hope for the best?

We’re always intrigued when people skip the usual options and do something really creative with their old equipment. Not only does it save space in the landfill, but reusing office furniture instead of discarding it can save you time and money, as well. Here are a few of our favorite ways to reuse old office furniture for brand-new purposes.

1. Need a Wall? Use an Office Cubicle

What do you do when you have a lot of old office cubicles, and not enough actual rooms? Sutter County, Calif. decided to use the walls of their unneeded cubes to create new classrooms at their probation building. The result? Four classrooms for a much-needed adult resource center, at very little cost. You can use freestanding cubicle walls to create dividers in any room. Best of all, many of these walls already work well as bulletin boards, which means that you don’t have to spend extra cash buying them.

2. Need a Dining Room Table? Use Old Desks

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What does this modern dining room table make you think of? If you said, “two pretty basic desks, pushed together,” you’re on the same page as we are. Reuse simple, contemporary drawer-free desks as a fancy-looking dining table. You can even re-paint them to look like designer décor.

3. Need Storage Space? Create Floating Drawers

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This ingenious post from Trendhunter showed us a whole new way to reuse old desk drawers. Fixed to the wall, they’re just as much art as functional storage.

4. Need a Planter? Use a Filing Cabinet

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Design Sponge shows you how to get rid of that old filing cabinet, create an easy planter, and save $600, all in one go. (Yes, $600 is how much nurseries are charging for similar planters, according to the author of this post!)

5. Need a Night Stand? Use a Filing Cabinet

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Have two short, two-drawer filing cabinets? You have the makings of a pair of lovely night stands. Dream Book Design converted a set of filing cabinets into bedside tables for under $40 — and they had to buy the cabinets first.

Images: vxla/Flickr, /Flickr, IKEA, It’s Great to Be Home/Flickr, Stacie Stacie/Flickr

Office Furniture Leasing: Is It the Right Option for Your Business?

So, you want to redecorate your office — preferably, without spending your employees’ next bonus on office furniture. Fortunately, you have a few cost-saving options at your disposal — you can look for sales, buy used, or lease office furniture. Yes, lease.

We’ve talked about the first two options at length; now it’s time to examine the third option. Here’s everything you need to know about office furniture leasing.

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Benefits:

1. If you shop carefully, you can get a whole lot more bang for your buck when you lease office furniture instead of buying brand-new. Also, you’ll have a chance to get trendier pieces, because you can rent new furnishings and swap them out as you see fit.

2. On a similar note, you’ll never have to worry about getting bored with your office furniture down the road. Office furniture leasing releases you from the responsibility of choosing something that you’ll want to look at for the next ten years.

3. When it does come time to swap in new furniture, you won’t have to worry about selling, donating, or recycling your old items. Just send the old furniture back and bring in the new.

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Drawbacks:

1. Office furniture leasing can be a good deal, but it can also wind up costing you more than you’d bargained for. Read the fine print on your rental contract before signing, in order to determine any additional charges for wear and tear and delayed returns.

2. Check the buyout price before you agree to terms. Sometimes, office furniture leasing companies charge a heftier fee for buying leased furniture than you might guess. It’s better to know what you’re getting into before you fall in love with your new furniture, only to discover that the cost of buying it is more than you would have budgeted for all-new furnishings in the first place.

3. Evaluate the quality of the office furniture just as carefully as you would equipment that you were considering for purchase. Shoddy workmanship on rented furniture can derail productivity just as surely as it would if you’d ponied up the cash to buy it outright. Not to mention how depressing it would be to go to the trouble of overhauling your office only to have it look shabbier than it did before the redecoration. Look for sturdiness, craftsmanship, and comfort, and you’ll have a much better chance of making a decision that will stand the test of time. Even if that time is just the term of a lease.

Images: iStockphoto