Archive for June, 2013

Why Would You Need a Bulletproof Office Chair?

The Guardian Chair features a bulletproof vest that can be draped over the chair, worn or kneeled behind in event of a shooting.

The Guardian Chair features a bulletproof vest that can be draped over the chair, worn or kneeled behind in event of a shooting.

On display at NeoCon, the famous office furniture expo held in Chicago last month, were all the usual suspects: Green conference tables. Ergonomic chairs. Unique lighting solutions.

But one item in the lineup that stood out this year had nothing to do with LEED credits, comfortable seating or flashy design.

Meet exhibit A: The Guardian Chair, an office chair with a bullet proof vest that can be draped over the chair, worn or kneeled behind.

“Shootings are now a national problem, and it is has become important that employers do extra to protect their human capital,” Rebecca Boenigk, the chief executive of Neutral Posture, a Texas-based maker of ergonomic chairs, office accessories and vests told the Chicago Tribune in a recent article.

The chair is being marketed to everyone from teachers to office workers to security guard: Anyone at risk of being the target of a shooting. In 2010, 405 people were killed in workplace shootings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Comparatively, 32,885 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents that same year.

The seven-pound vest can thwart a .357 Magnum slug and is just one more entry in the line of bulletproof devices being created, including bulletproof backpacks for schoolchildren and bulletproof undershirts, in the wake of mass shootings like those in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo.

So far, Boenigk said they’d sold 20 chairs to a East Coast supermarket chain and that a Las Vegas casino and leading bank had also inquired about a demonstration.

Think they might be worth the investment at your office? Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:
Reassurance: Employees who have one of these vests might feel safer going to work every day knowing they have some amount of protection from armed attacks, which could improve overall morale and productivity.

Protection: In the event that a gunman does enter the office and opens fire, obviously having a bulletproof vest increases the likelihood employees will survive the attack versus those that do not have one.

Design: The Guardian Chair itself is an attractive, neutral office chair. It only comes in faux black leather, but it includes 14 active adjustments, passive weight dispersion and a generous amount of foam for comfort. The vest itself blends right in with the chair and can be removed easily with the side velcro closures.

Cons:
Fear factor: Seeing employees wearing or sitting on bulletproof vests could potentially scare customers, clients and coworkers and contribute to an overall atmosphere of fear within the workplace. This could adversely affect business, causing clients to do business elsewhere and giving employees anxiety about coming to work.

Cost: Bulletproofing material is expensive. The Guardian Chair retails between $1,870 and $1,900. The costs of outfitting each employee with bulletproof materials might outweigh the benefits, given that the likelihood of an employee being killed in a mass shooting is about the same as them being struck by lightening (about 1 in 700,000 in the U.S. in any one year, according to National Geographic

Practicality: In the event a gunman enters into a workplace and starts shooting, it’s not likely employees will have the presence of mind or the time to don the vest during the attack, Paul Harvey, associate professor of management at New Hampshire University, told the Chicago Tribune. What’s more, in these types of attacks, the shooters have been using assault rifles, which these types of vests wouldn’t necessarily do much to help protect against, Karen Bartuch, founder and president of the Women’s Tactical Association told the Tribune.

Watch ‘Stomp’ Using Office Furniture

We know how much the average office worker appreciates being informed about what could be a potential internet meme and we think we have a contender. Behold “Stomp” using office furniture:

Sure, it might seem a little dull. The volume could be punched up on those water jugs, and how is it that a stapler (such a naturally percussive instrument) wasn’t incorporated? Plus, and we admit we’re a little biased here, but office furniture was totally underused. There’s a guy throwing a chair around a bit, but what about some slamming filing cabinet drawers or someone dancing on their desk? And who has an office door anymore?

We do love the silliness the video inspires, especially the guy picking up the trash he so gleefully dumped on the floor and the sweet moves displayed by the lady with the water jugs. But we need a little more noise. And a little more funk.

Regardless of the fact that we think this version of Office Stomp is a little too safe, it seems to be gaining some viral steam.

It was spotted on CollegeHumor.com and the HuffingtonPost.com and seems to be gaining traction.

The video has had almost 8,700 page views since it was posted June 12. The founders of Stomp themselves, Stomp NYC, commented on YouTube, “Don’t think this was going to go unnoticed. We loved this! #StompApproved!”

Another commenter questioned whether it would be the next Harlem Shake (in case you’ve been living in a remote Siberian cave for the past year see this, this and this).

We’d actually love to see some more extreme versions of office stomp (with better use of office furniture, of course).

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy re-watching some of our favorite YouTube videos featuring office furniture, like this one where office pranksters went as far as to build a whole wall to confuse and befuddle their co-workers and another one where an office is hidden with the power of drywall. We also love this one: One of the largest scale office newspapering pranks we’ve ever seen.

We’ve all seen office chair racing, but have you seen synchronized office chair dancing? Or office chair rowing? What about cubicle hurdling?

It seems there’s a whole underground movement of office furniture shenanigans attempting to make our workaday life a little less tedious. We just hope everyone’s boss is cool with employees building catapults out of mousetraps.

10 Dirtiest Desks of All Time

We all have a co-worker (sometimes two or three) who leaves a little (or a lot) to be desired in the cleanliness department. You know the ones: Their giant stacks of un-filed paperwork is perpetually falling over into your cubicle, sometimes you catch wafts of what you’re guessing is a slowly rotting salami sandwich and there’s something fuzzy growing in their coffee mug.

We here at Arnolds want to make sure that you know you’re not alone. And we have visual proof! Here are some of the messiest desks the Web has to offer:

Dirty-Desk
1. Sure, it’s a small desk, so it’s understandable that it might attract some extra clutter. But this person could probably use his space a little more efficiently if he just threw away his drink containers every once in a while, right?

Dirty-Desk2
2. Maybe this person stores their trashcan on her desk as a subtle reminder to, you know, use it for trash and stuff. Considering the various bottles, cups and cans (by our count eight), the paper wads and disposable plates it looks as if she and her trashcan have never been formally introduced. We’re not sure about the tape over the monitors, either. Maybe the desk has been condemned (rightfully).

Dirty-Desk3
3. It’s really a shame that an office with such a beautiful view is such a disaster. Maybe the person who sits here spends more time looking out the window than he does looking at his desk. That might explain why he keeps losing keyboards.

Dirty-Desk4
4. In looking at all these messy desk pictures, we’ve spotted a trend: The people with the messiest desks also have the biggest variety of stuff on their desk. Case in point, on this desk we’ve spotted a contact lens case, contact lens solution, glasses, a PlayStation 2 game, body spray, chewing gum, apple juice, peanut butter, a copy of Edith Wharton’s “Age of Innocence,” and “L.A. Confidential” on VHS. It’s like “Where’s Waldo”!

Dirty-Desk5
5. We wonder if the person who sits at this desk has to wear his orange vest while working there because it looks like a hazardous work zone. Should those stacks of papers really be hanging out so close to the soldering iron? Why are there so many chemical-esque cans near the coffee cups? And the scariest part of all? A computer that’s still operating on Windows 2000!

Dirty-Desk6
6. Based on the carts full of books we’re assuming this is a librarian’s desk, which surprises us a little. Doesn’t the stereotypical librarian have a reputation for being neat and tidy? But then again, that bottle of rum in the corner suggests she might not be your typical librarian.

Dirty-Desk7
7. This person is a reporter, so it only makes sense that he’s surrounded by newspapers, right? We’re just not sure how he finds his notes (or mini flag!) amidst the piles and piles and piles of papers. Also, why is his trashcan in a box? Is he still unpacking?

Dirty-Desk8
8. Here’s another example of a messy desk jam-packed with weird and random stuff. Sure, there’s the requisite dirty coffee mug and water bottle along with the standard paperclips, highlighters and other office-ing implements. But there are some other gems scattered in: A $1 million bill (can we have the change?!), a stuffed doll, a mini duster that we’re assuming has never been used, and jewelry.

Dirty-Desk9
9. While we love the Post-It Note doodles and the kissing monitor pigs, we’re more than a little concerned about the decomposing fruit hanging out on those piles of paper. Maybe she’s just trying to go green by starting an office compost pile.

Dirty-Desk10
10. What is it with messy desks and superfluous keyboards? It seems like the worst offenders always have an extra keyboard or two stashed between papers and under boxes. Maybe if they cleaned more, they wouldn’t keep misplacing them. The other thing we love about this dirty desk: The can of Lysol wipes and the bottle of hand sanitizer. Doesn’t it seem ironic that someone who’s this cluttered could also be a closet germophobe?

Photo courtesy of Garrett Albright/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Lara604/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Visnu Pitiyanuvath/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ali West/Flickr

Photo courtesy of David Carroll/Flickr

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Photo courtesy Joseph Novak/Flickr

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Photo courtesy of Jesus Rodriguez/Flickr

6 Best-Reviewed Office Chairs

We know you’re choosey when it comes to the chair you’re forced to sit in for eight-plus hours a day. And we also know that not everyone can afford a super-fancy name brand chair. To help you get the biggest bang for your chair-buying buck, we rounded up some of the top-rated chairs on Amazon.com and have the particulars along with what reviewers have to say about them. Who knows, maybe we found your next chair for you!

1. Mesh Task Chair:
Mesh-Task-Chair
Avg. rating: 4.5 stars out of 39 reviews
About: This no-frills desk chair won major points for its price (retails for $125), ease of assembly, and most of all color choices. If you’re looking to make a bold style statement (or are looking for a kid-friendly chair), you can choose between orange, green, pink and purple. They also feature a 360-degree seat swivel and one-touch pneumatic seat height adjustment.

What reviewers say:
“I love it. Was easy to put it together. Took me less than 10 minutes to assemble.”

“We bought two of these chairs one for each of our kids; one purple and one green. As promised they were easy to assemble and comfortable to use. They swivel, adjust, and move across the floor smoothly. The fabric and construction seem sturdy and are without a doubt colorful. The kids miss having an arm rest, but I hope that its absence will encourage proper sitting and positioning of the arms and hands while they are working at their desk and on the computer.”

2. Office Star Space Professional Air Grid Back Managers Chair
Office-Star-Space-Professional
Avg. rating: 4.5 stars out of 87 reviews
About: This mesh-baked chair features a padded contour seat, adjustable lumbar support, one-touch pneumatic seat height adjustment and 2-to-1 synchro tilt control and adjustable tilt tension. Many reviewers say the chair is just as attractive as a Herman Miller Aeron chair, but without the hefty price tag (retail is $415, but you can find it on the web for almost 60 percent off).

What reviewers say:
“I used to install office furniture (put myself through college that way) and know a fair amount about the construction quality of office chairs. I’ve probably assembled several thousand of them, everything from Global to Herman Miller to Hon. I’ve also built the cheap off-brand chairs that big-box office retailers sell. Usually, the less expensive the chair, the lower the quality. A good office chair from a top-shelf brand that matches this chair’s design and characteristics would cost 2-3x what this chair does. Usually the difference in cost is due to poor quality plastic parts, a poor quality pneumatic lift mechanism, lower grade leather (if applicable), and junk casters that don’t roll freely. After building this chair and testing it out, I can say that it is a very well made chair with quality parts, except for the arm rests.”

“I’m in a military unit that recently ordered hundreds of these. I have heard only praise for them. They are firm in a way that promotes good posture, which is important to you if you spend 12 hours a day behind a computer. They lean back, but not so far that you feel like you are going to fall out. It’s not good for your posture to lean back that far anyway.”

“I’ve been using the chair a couple of weeks now and I am definitely happy with the purchase. It certainly isn’t as comfortable or adjustable as a $1,000 Herman Miller chair, but this is less than half the money and it is just as stylish (I think).”

3. Boss Black LeatherPlus Executive Chair
Boss-Black-LeatherPlus
Avg. rating: 4 stars out of 434 reviews
About: This ergonomically friendly leather chair was designed to reduce leg fatigue and features lumbar support, pneumatic seat height adjustment and adjustable tilt tension control. One reviewer with severe back pain raved about the lumbar support and softness and durability of the leather. It retails for $360.

What reviewers say:
“Good chair for the money. However, if you are shorter than 5′ 6″ this chair may not be for you.”

“This chair looks great and feels even better. As a plus, unlike most other chairs that require some effort to put together, this chair was designed for quite an easy put together.”

“The chair itself is pretty comfortable. It fit my back perfectly and was firm enough to give support while being soft enough to sit for extended periods.”

4. Alera Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Multifunction Chair
Alera
Avg. stars: 4.5 stars out of 60 reviews
About: Like the Office Star, this chair also features a breathable mesh back and various positioning options,including back angle adjustment relative to the seat, adjustable tilt and forward tilt. The chair retails for $459.

What reviewers say:
“So if you are under 5’5″, It might be best to keep looking. This chair is a monster with levers like a space ship and it weighs about 50+ lbs (which for an awkwardly shaped item is weird). Most importantly, though, is that my feet can’t touch the ground, even at the seat post’s lowest setting… Nice looking chair. Wish it worked out for me.”

“This is the most adjustable chair I have ever owned. From the moment I first sat in it, I knew it was the best office chair I had ever sat it even though I spent 20 years in corporate America with firms that had high incidents of carpal tunnel and were always replacing chairs, desk set-ups etc. to try and reduce the incidents. Every time I sit down in it, I spontaneously utter ‘Ahhhh’.”

5. Mid-Back Fabric Task and Computer Chair
Flash-Task
Avg. stars: 4 stars out of 46 reviews
About: Another Amazon bestseller, this basic fabric task chair has a spring tilt control mechanism, tilt lock mechanism and upright tilt lock and nylon armrests. It’s available in black, grey, navy and burgundy and retails for $279.

What reviewers say:
“For a list price of $279, this is absolutely, unbelievably ridiculous. BUT, I got it for $66 which is a phenomenal deal. So for that price, I would say this is indeed a very nice chair. It gives really good lower back support (which I did not expect) and the fabric feel is very sturdy and strong.”

“I have only owned older or cheaper chairs, but I do have friends with high-end chairs, and I’m pleased to say that this one in particular is just about right for the price-point. The overall build seems just fine; it’s not rickety by any means and if you tighten the bolts properly there shouldn’t be any give.”

“This chair is very reasonably priced. It was easy to assemble once it came. While I wouldn’t recommend it if you spend hours at a time sitting in front of your computer (the padding is a little thin and the frame of the chair will begin to dig into the backs of your legs), if you only use your computer for short periods of time ( like I do), then this chair is great!”

6. Alera Fraze High-Back Swivel/Tilt Chair
Alera-Fraze
Avg. stars: 4 stars out of 224 reviews
About: If comfort is what you’re looking for in a desk chair, then you’ve met your match. Made with super-soft leather, the chair has a thick, cushioned seat; side and lumbar bolsters, and a padded headrest and armrests. The chair retails for $349.

What reviewers say:

“This chair is one of the best I’ve had. I play a lot of games at my computer and also do programming so I am sitting for long periods of time. Can’t go wrong if you need a good chair and the price is good for your budget.”

“I personally love this chair. It was a breeze to put together, it looks great, and it’s quite comfortable. I didn’t want anything too firm or too soft, and this was a perfect fit. I would recommend this chair to anyone, especially for the price.”

“This chair really looks good, but I don’t think its all that durable. There are signs already that some of the screws’ anchors may be working loose. The chair arms feel nice, but the thin pleather doesn’t seem like it would hold up to a lot of activity. Overall I still really like the look and feel of the chair, but if you are looking for durability, this may not be the chair.”

If none of these are the chair for you, then make sure to check Arnold’s selection of used chairs (including name brands you love!) all at a steep discount.

Office Furniture that Fights Germs

Offices aren’t known to be havens of cleanliness and health.

No matter how many Lysol wipes you use to scrub down your desk, keyboard, phone and every other surface, getting sick at work is as inevitable as your coworker getting in yet another loud argument with her husband about who’s taking the kids to soccer tonight.

The U.S. economy loses $227 billion a year to lost productivity as a result of employee absenteeism due to illness and workers being under productive when they show up to work sick, according to Forbes.

It’s no surprise that companies are looking for new solutions for how to fight germs at work. And one company thinks it might have found the answer: Jaws.

Coming to an office building near you.

Coming to an office building near you.

The microscopic texture of sharkskin is a built-in resistance to barnacles, algae and even human bacteria (which is probably why they feel comfortable munching on arms, legs and torsos from time to time).

A biotech firm called Sharklet Technologies is now trying to capitalize on the germ-fighting abilities of sharkskin by replicating the texture for use on a variety of surfaces from medical equipment to computer keyboards, according to an article on CNN.com. The textures can’t be seen by the naked eye or felt by your fingers (they’re roughly 1/10 the size of a human hair) but, depending on the type of bug, can cut bacteria by 90 to 99.9 percent.

With the increased concern about bacterial resistance, Sharklet has caught the eye of several different industries, but one of it’s earliest customers has been office furniture maker Steelcase, who’s interested in using their products on desks for college classrooms and shared office spaces. That’s right, before long you could be sporting your own faux-sharkskin desk.

“There is a simplicity to it. t’s nontoxic, and it’s coming right out nature,” Steelcase vice president Sara Armbruster told CNN.com.

Of course, this isn’t the first time nature has inspired innovations used in the office, or even the office building itself. Check out where else nature might be popping up at work:

Termites

Termites: Inspired by the temperature stability and comfort in termite dens, one architect designed an entire office building in Zimbabwe using principles he observed in the homes of the wood-munching insects, according to Mother Nature Network. At the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, architect Mick Pearce installed large chimneys that draw cool air into the building and lower the temperature in the floors, just like in a termite den, and the building uses 90 percent less energy to heat and cool compared to traditional buildings.

Lotus

Lotus flowers: Let’s move on to less creepy-crawly forms of biomimicry. The micro-rough surface of a lotus flower has the natural ability to repel dust and dirt (similar to sharkskin). After studying the phenomena for years, a German company called Ispo has created a paint with similar properties, pushing away dust and dirt and reducing the need to clean surfaces, according to Mother Nature Network.

Cat-Claw

Cats: No, this has nothing to do with your company’s revising its take-your-cat-to-work policies. Designer Yoshi Fukaya created a thumbtack that mimics the quality of a cat’s retractable claws. The silicone jacket sheathed pins more easily puncture a surface when pushed into it, according to GreenBiz.com.

honeycomb

Honeycombs: Architects and engineers have embraced biomimicry as a way to strengthen buildings in areas prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and flooding. One office building in South Korea used the hexagonal cells of a honeycomb hugging a core as inspiration for a building that can withstand buckling in strong winds while also maximizing office space, according to the New York Times.

Mangroves

Mangroves: The New York Times also reported that in response to the high flood waters from disasters like Superstorm Sandy, one New York City architecture firm created Skygrove, a vertical office park structure that mimics a mangrove trees, which have roots that raise its trunk and branches out of the water. The concept for a building with branches that house independent and self-sufficient offices won an award from the Museum of Modern Art.

Photo courtesy of Steve Garner/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Hadi Zaher/Flickr

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Photo courtesy of Alexandra Stanescu/Flickr

Photo courtesy of mikesandra4/Flickr

5 Reception Desks with High Impact

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so you better make it count. But how does this relate to office furniture? Well, what’s the first thing your customers, clients, job candidates and investors see when they walk through the doors of your office? Probably a reception desk.

If you’re like many companies, yours is probably something simple, safe and functional that lets visitors know where to check in and gives your receptionist a command post. But if you want to make not only a good first impression, but also a lasting impression, your reception desk better be something more than a counter with a dish of stale candy on it.

Your reception desk is just as important as your company’s homepage and it definitely deserves a little more aesthetic attention than the cubicles hiding in the back of your office.

To help inspire you on your hunt for a unique reception desks, we’ve rounded up examples of amazing reception desks from around the globe that make a statement about the business without having to say a thing. Like Twitter’s industrial-meets-rustic model made with reclaimed boards and topped with a concrete counter or this plywood desk made by Guatemalan company Piegatto Furniture, which looks like it rose out of ancient desert sands.

There are desks made out of unique materials, like the reception desk at the Delft Central Library in the Netherlands made entirely out of books,  and this one at Philadelphia design firm Bahdeebahdu made out of old plastic toys. We also love this giant-silver-ring turned reception desk and this bright, cheery tiled model at a veterinarians office.

Here are a few more to get your creative juices flowing:

Google Hamburg
Google-Desk
It seems that no discussion of fun office furniture would be complete without a visit to Google. Here’s a look at the reception desk at the search engine giant’s Hamburg, Germany office. We love how the Google logo is subtly suggested in the colorful light display; it’s both modern and imaginative.
Photo courtesy of Phil Wendler/Flickr

BostonArt
BostonArt-Desk
If you’re in the business or buying, selling or showcasing masterpieces, then it’s important to show that you have an eye for art. We’d say that based on this desk featuring patinated steel shapes and a currugated steel privacy panel, the owners of this art consulting firm know what they’re talking about. While this style might not look at home in an accountant’s office, it is perfect for any business with creative pursuits.
Photo courtesy of Phil Manker/Flickr

Gensler Reception Desk
Sculpture-Desk
When this Austin-based design and architecture firm moved in 2011, they wanted their lobby to showcase a sleek, modern aesthetic unlike any of their competitors. That desire resulted in this sculptural bone-esque desk, which we’d say is certainly reflects a firm that wants to think outside the box.
Photo courtesy of Blue Genie Art/Flickr

Arnolds Office Furniture

Of course, a beautiful, custom-made reception desk isn’t always the most budget-friendly for most businesses…unless you can find a used model for sale, which is where your friends at Arnolds come in. We have a variety of reception desks in stock right now at a fraction of the retail cost. If one-of-a-kind is what you’re looking for, we have that, too.

Arnolds-Modern

This custom-made reception station is more of a sculpture than a desk, and will impress clients with it’s beautiful and modern lines. (You’ll love the price at just $7,500).

Arnolds-Granite-Top
For a more traditional look, this gorgeous mahogany desk topped with granite is superb condition and available for just $8,500 (pennies compared with its original $25,000 price tag).

Reception desks make a statement. Does yours say what you’d like?

How to Buy a Conference Table

Now this conference room table is the stuff of legend -- big enough to accommodate  large groups, wired for sound and able to support your most impressive floral arrangements. We're guessing meetings last awhile at this table.

Now this conference room table is the stuff of legend, big enough to accommodate large groups, wired for sound and able to support your most impressive floral arrangements. We’re guessing meetings last awhile at this table.

Conference rooms are used for everything from board meetings to interviews and presentations to brainstorming sessions. As the centerpiece of the room, your conference room table makes a big statement about your business to employees, shareholders and clients alike. The room needs to offer inspiration, comfort and function, so don’t just select the first big table you come across and call it a day.

To help you start shopping, we rounded up seven things you want to consider when purchasing your next table:

1. Size: Obviously, the size of the room the table will be going will be in as well as the average number of people the table needs to fit will be the guiding factors in the type of table you pick. Measure the size of your conference room, and select a table that will fit proportionally in the space, leaving enough room for people to get up and walk around the table. Make sure to factor in ancillary furniture and equipment;  these are things like lecterns and podiums, AV carts and projectors that might be needed in the room as well when selecting your table size.

2. Shape: Conference room tables come in a variety of shapes. The shape of the table you buy will largely be dependent on the shape of the room it’s going in (obviously, an oblong table won’t fit well into a square room). For smaller rooms, round or octagonal tables are the most efficient and offer a more casual, comfortable and intimate meeting style. For larger rooms, shape options include rectangular, racetrack or oval, U shaped and boat shaped (with convex sides and tapered ends). If your company places a lot of emphasis on hierarchy, then a traditional rectangular table is ideal for giving company executives and upper management prominent seating. But if the basic rectangle is a little too safe for your liking, ovals or boat-shaped tables can offer more aesthetic interest.

This rich, mahogany conference room table is just looking for the next big deal-making meeting featuring huge profit projections and much handshaking.

This rich, mahogany conference room table is just waiting for the next big deal-making meeting featuring huge profit projections and much handshaking.

3. Material: The material your table is made of makes a visual statement about your business. You can find conference room tables made from a variety of materials including everything from engineered wood covered in laminate to glass to granite. If you think your conference room will be in use constantly, then select more durable materials like laminate or hardwood. If your business wants to make more eco-friendly choices in office furniture, look for tables made from recycled material or FSC-certified wood and low-VOC stains, varnishes and glue. Better yet, buy used and rescue a previously unwanted table from a landfill. Tables made of engineered wood and laminates or veneers will be less expensive than those that are hardwood, granite or glass.

4. Style: The type of material your table is made of, the shape and the overall design of the table are a reflection of your company’s aesthetic and vision. Style-wise, a hardwood table made out of maple, cherry or mahogany is timeless and versatile. If you’re looking to project a more classic image, look for wood tables in darker finishes accented with molding, scrollwork, shells or leaves ala “Mad Men.” But if you’d prefer a more modern take, shop for pieces with straight, sophisticated lines or those that mix materials and colors for unique visual appeal. Whatever you decide, make sure it complements the rest of your office furniture.

5. Price: Obviously, depending on the size of your company, price is a huge factor in your decision-making process. A small startup with a shoestring budget might lust after the gorgeous granite 12-seater, but your wallet balks at the $16,500 price tag. Luckily, even if you can’t afford that custom-made glass table with the company logo etched in the center, there are still ways you can find beautiful, functional tables that fit your budget. We recommend shopping used first because you can save 50 or even 70 percent on refurbished or lightly-owned pieces in a variety of styles. Craigslist, eBay, and, of course, Arnolds all have great deals waiting for you. If you’d prefer to buy new, however, save money by shopping for tables made of engineered woods and topped with a laminate or wood veneer.

6. Power: Now more than ever, businesses rely on technology to share information and make presentations. Chances are, conference room meetings will make use of laptops, tablets, projectors, phones and other equipment that requires a power source. Most modern conference room tables have easy-access outlets and cable management systems built in to make running meetings a breeze. Before shopping, consider the type of meetings your company generally has. If you’re more low-tech you could save money and forego a more connected table. However, if you use a lot of Power Point and video conferencing, you’ll definitely want to find one with power.

7. Versatility: Before purchasing one for your office, consider how the room will be used. Will it be primarily for large group meetings? Training? Small group meetings? Your conference room table doesn’t need to be one size fits all. Tables are available as one solid piece or made as segments that can be connected into one large table or separated for work in smaller groups or for classroom-style presentations.

Start shopping for your conference room table at Arnolds.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Augapfel/Flickr

6 Ways Whiteboards Can Help Your Business Grow

If you’re a fan of the “Big Bang Theory,” then you know what great powers a whiteboard has. It can help you work through everything from quantum mechanics to string theory to the algorithm for making friends without worrying about having to recharge a battery.

If a TV show about super nerds isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of whiteboards, then consider the fact that tech giant and probable world dominator Google uses whiteboards on campuses worldwide, including two 30-foot monoliths at the Mountain View, Calif. headquarters that are packed with cartoons and from employees.

Even the masters of modern technology, Google, still use the humble whiteboard to map out ideas.

Even the masters of modern technology, Google, still use the humble whiteboard to map out ideas.

Whiteboards are a fast, user-friendly way to share ideas and information and they can help your business grow. Here’s why you should invest in a few:

1. They’re inexpensive: You can pick up a medium-sized dry erase board for around $50. Larger models can run you upwards of $500, but that’s still much less expensive than the investment you’d make on an interactive whiteboard which requires a computer, projector, software and special stylus. For optimal interaction, you’ll want a special interactive board which can cost between $1,000 and $2,000. High-tech presentations don’t come cheap. But in the event you do want a more high-tech approach to brainstorming, whiteboards can be used as a projection surface. Look at that! They’re multi-functional, too.

2. They’re collaborative: Whiteboards are the perfect tool for allowing everyone to share their ideas, visions and solutions because the only thing a team member needs to plug in to a presentation is a dry erase marker. They make it easy for large groups to see the scope of a problem without having to huddle around a small screen or meet remotely from different locations. Plus, as opposed to the more built-in formality that comes with a meeting that’s run via a computer screen, the low-tech nature of a whiteboard might actually help people feel more comfortable speak up about more fun, crazier and more outside-of-the-box ideas.

3. They’re tangible: As much as we all love surfing the internet and interacting with our friends via social media, there’s a lot to be said about face-to-face, real-time interaction. The same can be said for writing or drawing out your ideas. Since writing by hand engages more parts of the brain than typing, the simple act of putting marker to board can help clarify ideas, find answers to questions and makes you more thoughtful. While more research is needed, some scientists believe that writing by hand helps children learn better than by typing, according to the Huffington Post.

4. They’re convenient: There’s no need to log onto a computer. They’re easy to roll around to wherever you’re meeting (or better yet, just use whiteboard paint to create an entire wall’s worth of a writing surface). If you wrote the wrong thing, they’re easy to erase and start over. Plus, they’re easy to clean and maintain.

5. They get your blood flowing: If you work in an office, chances are you spend most of your days sitting in a chair in front of a computer. All that sitting isn’t helping your health at all, and it’s probably not helping your creativity. When you’re using a whiteboard, chances are you’re standing and moving around, getting your blood flowing and your heart pumping, which helps fuel your brain and your next big idea.

6. They’re inspiring: By keeping whiteboards in prominent places throughout the office, you’re offering employees a blank canvas to sketch out your company’s future. What’s more, everyone else can see multicolored plans, schemas, sketches, webs, flowcharts, etc., which means they can both add their own two cents and improvements and feel inspired to do do their own great work. If all these multicolored plans, schemas, sketches, webs, flowcharts, etc. were only visible when someone turns on a computer then you’re risking missed opportunities for grand “light bulb over the head” ideas.

Shop for Whiteboards for your office at Arnolds.

Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

Incredibly Green Office Furniture

If the mention of green office furniture has you imagining office chairs fashioned from dried corn husks and desks made out of old cans of Mountain Dew, think again. These days green furniture is not only great for the environment, it can also be super chic.

We found examples of furniture that leaves a small carbon footprint, while making a huge style impression.

Legare-Desk
Furniture from the Legare’s Sustainable line is made from rapidly renewable bamboo, which is also a super sturdy building material, harvested only from Forest Stewardship Council-approved mills. The pieces get their rich amber hue from a non-toxic, eco-friendly carbonized finishing process.The furniture ships flat, which means you’ll have to assemble it, but the company promises that the totally tool-free assembly process is easy and fun, and that the finished product is strong. All that and it’s stylish, too!

Beeken-Parsons
Vermont-based furniture makers Beeken Parsons is behind this beautiful hickory office chair. Tree-obsessed Bruce Beeken and Jeff Parsons are committed to using wood that is not only sustainably harvested, but also that has a lot of character which highlights the natural beauty of the wood for their thoughtfully designed pieces. In addition to winning style points, purchasing furniture from this company could help you qualify for material and resources points toward your LEED certification.

Form3-Chair
Form 3, based in northern California, designed this mid-century modern-inspired lounge chair using FSC-certified plywood, natural latex foam cushions and Greenguard-certified fabric. Guests who have the pleasure of sitting in one of these will be impressed with your company’s aesthetic and your commitment to sustainability.

rug-Revo
This sleek conference table from Krug’s Revo line is made with recycled and recyclable materials, providing credits on LEED projects, and it can be made with materials that comply with FSC and indoor air emissions certifications, as well. The modular tables are also easily to move and have state-of-the-art technology interface, perfect for all meeting situations.

Herman-Miller-Embody
Herman Miller says the carbon footprint of its Embody chair is the size of a baby’s. The chair is made from 42 percent recycled materials and is 95 percent recyclable at the end of its life. The facility that it’s manufactured in is powered solely by renewable energy and it produces just 77 pounds of waste a month (and, by the way, that waste is not hazardous). The spine-like design of the chair was created to adapt to your movement, adjusting automatically as you shift positions and keeping your spine aligned. Plus, it looks really cool.

Cork-Chair
Finally, there’s a way to combine your love of wine, green living and need for reception seating. This chair made entirely out of wine corks makes a huge statement (though hopefully your clients focus on your ingenuity and not your obsession with vino). Its sleek rounded lines almost make you forget about the building material. Plus in the event of a flood, we’re guessing it could be used as a flotation device. We’ll drink to that!

Tube-Office
It’s not just office furniture that can be green. Often the office building itself is both eco-friendly and unique, like this London Tube Car turned into an office. “What’s so green about that?” you ask. Well, for one, there’s one less Tube car headed for a landfill, plus the small size and ample natural light means this business doesn’t use as much energy.

5 Benefits of Used Furniture

A used workspace like this one available at Arnold's is a cost-friendly, healthier, greener, socially conscience and stock raising alternative to buying new.

A used workspace like this one available at Arnold’s is a cost-friendly, healthier, greener, socially conscious and stock raising alternative to buying new.

Unless you’ve been hiding in a nuclear bomb shelter for the past 50 years without access to the interwebs (and thus have been missing out on all of our helpful advice on shopping for office furniture), then you know by now that buying used office furniture will save you a ton of money. Savings of up to 70 percent compared with buying new are available.

We’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Beyond helping you pinch a lot of pennies, buying used has plenty of other benefits.

1. It’s healthier: Brand-new office furniture is gassy (no, not that kind). That new furniture smell that’s giving you a headache and making your eyes itch is from chemicals used in the manufacturing process (think paints, stains and adhesives). As the chemicals evaporate from the furniture (in a process called out-gassing), all those pollutants are released into your office causing some major indoor air quality problems. Sure, you could leave your furniture outside for a while in order to off-gas safely, but why go through the extra hassle when used furniture has already gone through the process and can be installed without the extra headaches?

2. It’s greener: According to ResourceNation.com, buying used office furniture will keep about 1,000 tons of waste out of landfills annually. It can also contribute to your LEED certification and might offer you tax breaks. What’s more, giving a second life to old furniture means that no new resources will need to be devoted to manufacturing new furniture (that means fewer trees being cut down, less energy consumption and less environmental pollution and manufacturing waste).

3. It’s quicker: When your business is going through growing pains at a faster pace than you expected, you don’t want to have to wait around for furniture before you can hire more people to get the job done. Orders for new furniture can take months to be delivered while used furniture is available immediately and refurbished furniture is available in just a few weeks. Buying used allows you to get the office furniture you need when you need it, not when the manufacturer gets around to completing your order.

4. It improves your stock: Financial and investment analysts have more faith in companies that are working toward increasing energy efficiency and reducing their environmental impact. According to Eco Efficiency, Goldman Sachs found that companies in six industries that were at the forefront of environmental, social and governance polices outperform the rest of the stock market by 25 percent. Companies that have made a commitment to sustainable business have found that they contribute to profits. Every choice you make in your company from how much energy you use to light an office building to the type of furniture you choose can help make you greener and therefore more interesting to investors.

5. It improves your reputation: The hottest recruits on the job market these days are not only looking for jobs that pay well and have great perks, but also companies that have a conscience. Incorporating green practices into your workplace, like buying used or refurbished furniture, will demonstrate to both potential employees and clients that you’re a good steward and that you care about more than just your bottom line. Eco Efficiency also cited more compelling research: According to a survey by international HR company Adecco, 52 percent of employed adults felt their company should be doing more for the environment. A survey by the Natural Marketing institute found that 58 percent of consumers were more likely to buy products from a company that is mindful of its impact on the environment.

Start shopping for your used office furniture today at Arnolds.