Integrating Technology in Your Office Space

Computers, printers, desktops, laptops, monitors, extension cords, phone lines, wireless routers…

Technology is an inescapable part of the modern office landscape. However, not every office was built or planned with the dependence of modern technology in mind. If you’re in the process of integrating technology or reconfiguring technology into your workplace, keep the following things in mind:

1. Define How Technology Fits into Your Specific Workplace: In this very first step, understand how technology is used at your work and how it fits into your objectives and profitability. By defining this you can create a technology strategy that correlates with your business goals.

2. Evaluate Your Current Technology: After you determine your strategy, evaluate your current operating systems, communication software and physical workstations. How are these three things intertwined and how can they be more effective?

3. Reconfigure Your Technology: Pinpoint your budget and purchase the necessary equipment to upgrade your technology. Accessibility is the key to an integrated technological space. If your employees are having trouble physically accessing technology, such as docking stations for their smart phones or enough outlets for their equipment, reconfigure your space around this.

4. Train Your Employees: Keep your employees up to date on any new improvements or changes happening in the office.  Employees should be trained on any system upgrades and be aware on how to access of them.

5. Maintenance: Technology is ever evolving, so constant maintenance is required in order to support your vision of your company. We recommend you form a committee or team to address technological issues and discuss solutions as your organization evolves.

Dog-Proofing the Office

Many businesses are now allowing their employees to bring their dogs to work. Having a dog in the office can increase productivity, keep workers happy and encourage morale. However, if you are one of the lucky few who can have your pooch by your side or are an employer thinking of opening this policy, be sure to follow these tips on dog-proofing your office space:

- Make Sure Your Dog Is Well Behaved: This is a no-brainer, but before you decide to bring your dog to work, make sure he or she can handle new social environments. If your dog barks, be considerate of your co-workers on the phone, and avoid anyone who may have a dander allergy.

- Create a Safe Environment: Before your dog arrives, create a safe place for them to relax while you work. If there are multiple dogs in the office, do not allow other dogs into your dog’s area, or they may become territorial. Adding childproof gates to your cubicle walls is a great way to prevent this.

- Invest in Durable and Washable Furniture: For employers, protect your furniture by investing only in durable or washable furniture. Accidents happen and, when they do, make sure clean-up is fast and easy so your employees can quickly go back to work.

- Pre-Owned Is the Way to Go: If you choose to have dogs in the office, investing in quality pre-owned or used furniture is probably your best bet to reduce maintenance costs while reducing any anxiety about damage done to your furniture. Look for trusted used office furniture distributors who can recommend to you the best set up for your situation.

- Make Sure It’s Legal:  As an employee or an employer, make sure you check your lease or building agreement beforehand and get permission. Remember, if you’re a business owner, you may be liable if any property damage or personal injury occurs.

Trend Watch: Mobile Furniture

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In 2014, one of the hottest trends in office design is mobile furniture. The office chair with wheels has been the old standby of mobile furniture. However, in this new generation of office furniture, many designers have taken it to the next level in response to the rise of open space or collaborative offices. From chairs, to desks, to drawers, mobile office furniture provides a dynamic work space for employees on the move.

Who Is It Good For?

Open and collaborative office spaces are where people work in teams or do not have dedicated work stations. Mobile furniture allows team members to huddle in dedicated areas and bring additional supplies to them, like mobile white boards or filing cabinets, when they need them.

Pros:

- Lightweight: Most mobile furniture is often lighter weight than immobile ones, making them easy to store and transport to another area.

- Flexible: Employees can move their desk into different formations efficient to them, or turn their tables and chairs to one direction during large company meetings.

- Comfortable: Mobile furniture is often ergonomic, as well, allowing employees the opportunity to adjust the desk or seats to their desired height.

- Encourages Teamwork: When you’re not bogged down to one workstation, you get a greater sense of freedom and ability to interact with your co-workers.

Cons:

- Costly: New furniture will always be more costly than used or pre-owned mobile furniture.

- Weight on Wheels: When shopping for mobile furniture, make sure it meets your weight requirements.

- Quality of Furniture: Mobile furniture is often cheaply made or may break after a few months. Make sure to invest the time and effort into finding well-made mobile furniture, so you and your company can maximize its usage.

How Germ-Free Is Your Office?

When you work in an office, you’re bound to come in contact with some unwelcome visitors, otherwise known as germs. Yet, with all the sneezing and coughing an employee deals with on average, you’ve just got to wonder, just how clean is your office?

According to statistics:

- 70% of keyboards contain more bacteria than a toilet seat.

- Office desks are 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat.

- 20% of workers do not clean their desk before eating.

- There are over 25,000 microbes per square inch on the surface of a telephone.

- 26% of office refrigerator door handles need deep cleaning, while 69% need to be wiped with bleach or another disinfectant.

- 75% of office sink faucet handles display high degrees of bacterial contamination.

While the findings are startling, it doesn’t mean that your office is harboring the next bio influenza epidemic. What it does mean is that, whether you are an employee or an employer, you should be more aware of your surroundings and what you can do about them.

What We Recommend:

- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.

- Use antibacterial hand gel after using the kitchen and bathroom.

- Do not come into work when you’re ill.

- Disinfect your workstation.

- Speak with your employer about having your office deep cleaned.

- Only purchase used or pre-owned furniture from trusted vendors.

Taking these little steps can make a big difference in your well-being and sick days needed. Remember, it’s up to you to create a happier, healthier and more productive work environment.

How to Build a Community through Your Break Room

Everything starts in the break room – More than a place for employees to eat their lunch or freshen up their coffees, the break room is a microcosm of your company’s culture. How you treat your break room directly affects how your employees treat their jobs.

Beyond the Water Cooler:

When you create a break room that encourages fun, creativity and sense of community, you are in turn fostering team work and cultivating strong team players.

Make the Break Room a Safe Haven:

Studies have shown that frequent individual breaks allow employees to reenergize and refocus their thoughts. Make your break room a safe place for that to occur. An example of this could include things as simple as comfortable seating and tables, to more elaborate coffee bars and fully stocked pantries. Whatever it may be, breaks are meant to de-stress and allow employees to tackle their day’s tasks.

Encourage Suggestions:

Give your employees a voice by making the break room a place where employees know they can brainstorm new ideas freely or make suggestions to improve the company. While it may seem silly, consider adding a suggestion or project idea box to your break room. If you take it seriously, so will your employees.

Encourage Socializing: 

Continuous, meaningful interaction is crucial when building a community in your break room. These interactions either can be planned or unplanned. Planned social interactions can include 15 minute stretching sessions or office lunch days. Unplanned social interactions can include things like adding games or activities in the room, or the strategic placing of your break room in a centralized location where everyone must enter.

The Skinny on Treadmill Desks

Burning calories while checking your email? When the treadmill desk hit the scene in 2013, it was the next stage in ergonomic, health conscious office furniture. Since then the controversial workstation alternative has become the latest craze in businesses across the county.

The Theory:

The sedentary lifestyle of the typical office worker can lead to undesirable levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and weight gain. Regular physical exercise can mitigate that danger.

The Reported Benefits:

- Users can burn up to 130 calories per hour at a slow 2mph pace.

- In one study, subjects lost an average of 4-7.2 pounds over the course of one year.

- Through daily use, users can decrease their risk for heart disease and diabetes, and extend their life expectancy.

- Many users report increased productivity and focus, as well as reduced anxiety and stress.

Costs:

Treadmill desks vary in price depending on the manufacturer. On average a treadmill desk can cost anywhere from $800-$3,000. For those on a budget, you can make your own treadmill desk by combining an inexpensive treadmill (under $280) with either a standing desk or a desk with height adjustment features. Another great option is to invest in communal or shared treadmill desks.

What to Keep in Mind When Using a Treadmill Desk:

Give yourself breaks every 30 or 40 minutes — Dr. James Levine, one of the earliest developers of the treadmill desk, recommends “at the absolute maximum, do half-hour on, half an hour off, for two to three hours a day.”

5 Features of Productive Startup Spaces

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In the last decade, start-up offices have risen to the forefront of smart designs and quirky, innovative spaces. We’ve compiled our top 5 list of features productive start up spaces share.

1. Location: Businesses on a budget often tend to look for spaces in office buildings and business centers. However, savvy startups know that the key to an employee’s productivity and satisfaction is giving them an impression of life right outside their office window. Look for locations near bars, restaurants, cafes and gyms, where employees can gather during lunch or after work without having to drive.

2. Indulge in Trends: Standing desks, stability ball chairs and open space offices seem like wallet-busting office trends. The truth of the matter is that often the latest trends in designs are money-saving features in disguise. For start-ups with limited spaced, shared standing desks (like at a bar) cut down the need for square footage. Open space or collaborative floor plans eliminate the cost of cubicles or private offices. Encouraging your employees to bring in their own stability ball chairs or ergonomic chairs reduces the need to purchase new furniture, while providing them a setting comfortable to their needs.

3. Keep it Homey: More and more employees these days are choosing to work from home instead of going to the office. However, for many businesses, this is not a viable option. The solution is creating a space for your employees that have all the comforts of home, without them actually having to be there. Opt for cozier meeting spaces that reinforce a team atmosphere.

4. Morale Boosting Perks: Sometimes the best ideas come when your employees aren’t at their desk. Give your employees a break and more opportunities to interact with other departments with fun perks like arcade games systems, reading rooms, foosball tables or video games. While it may seem like this is giving employees an excuse not to work, what you’re really doing is fostering creativity in a comfortable and casual atmosphere.

5. Happy and Fed: A startup is like an infant and, as with all babies, in order for them to grow up happy and healthy, you need to keep them fed. The latest trend in startup office spaces is offering once or twice a week breakfast and lunches, as well as stocked break rooms with nourishing goodies. Not only does this foster a productive atmosphere, you’ll find an increase in your employees’ overall satisfaction with their job and duties.

Colors for Your Office and How They’ll Affect Your Mood

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There are dozens of aspects at play that a business owner must consider when setting up offices for their employees. Chief among these is the color that you choose for the office. Although the default color for most offices seems to be “white,” or the always-exciting “slightly off white,” these may not be the best colors to inspire productivity and creativity in your employees. Below, we’ve listed a few common office colors, along with the effect that you’ll find they have on most employees.

Blue: Potentially the most used color for offices other than “eggshell white,” blue has been known to be one of the more “productive” hues on the color wheel. If you want your employees to plow through their work with determination, then blue (with an added complement of bright orange) could both heighten their productivity and pique their creativity.

Yellow: If you want your employees to be more focused on the creative aspect of their work, rather than just “getting through” a set amount of assignments a day, then using a bright lively color like yellow, or the aforementioned bright orange, could help arouse their spiritual side and get their creative energy flowing.

Green: If you want to achieve a balance of creativity and productivity, green could be the color you need. Reminiscent of nature, green is a naturally soothing color and could help increase office fellowship and keep tempers under control.

Red: If you work in a more physical environment, like a warehouse or a factory, red could inspire your workers to be more physically productive. It stimulates the part of your brain that taps into your primal instincts, so activating the body’s natural fight-or-flight response could help your employees master their energy.

Designer History: Herman Miller

In Zeeland, Michigan, way back in the year 1905, a company called the Star Furniture Company set out to create a line of high quality furniture; specifically, office furniture that featured an old-fashioned historic style. When visionary Dirk Jan De Pree joined the company as a clerk just four years later, no one had a clue that he would quickly rise through the ranks to become the company’s president in a short ten year span.

Deciding that the company needed a new title to match his own new title as president, De Pree renamed it The Michigan Star Furniture Company. It only took four more years for De Pree to get his father-in-law, Herman Miller, on board to purchase fifty-one percent of the company’s stock. They renamed the company once again, to the Herman Miller Furniture Company, and continued to make exclusively wooden office furniture for another seven years, until the Great Depression hit.

Forced to explore new options, they hired modernist designer Gilbert Rohde to help create a new line of office furniture for their brand. Although they were reluctant to accept his designs at first, they eventually came to like the new direction of the company. When Rohde died in 1944, he was replaced by architect George Nelson, who guided Herman Miller into some of their most iconic pieces, like the marshmallow sofa, the ball clock, the sling sofa, and, of course, the modern day cubicle.

Although Nelson’s influence helped sculpt the future of the company at large, his power at the company waned in the 70s when a series of designers including Don Chadwick, Bill Stumpf, Tom Newhouse and Ray Wilkes came onto the scene to design their own inspirational office furniture pieces. The line was so admired that artist Stephen Frykholm produced a series of posters dedicated to the works of the company. Some are still featured, today, at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Feng Shui of Office Design

The strength of anything lies in the design. This is true for basically everything on Earth, including the design of your office space. The more that you know about how the design of a room impacts the people that work inside of it, the happier that your employees will be. By utilizing the philosophies behind the Chinese art of Feng Shui, you’ll soon find that it’s possible to shift the energy of the room into a positive light.

Literally translating to “wind-water” in Chinese, Feng Shui is an art form that examines the natural flow of energy in the architecture of a room, including how it binds together with the Earth, the universe, and even your employees. Since they’ll be the ones spending the most time in the room, it’s important for the room’s design to complement them and make them feel relaxed. If the room is overly hostile or makes them feel uncomfortable in some way, you’ll notice right away through the quality of their work.

The basics of Feng Shui dictate that every room has a flow of negative and positive energy, and that the arrangement of your office can help guide creative energy toward your employees and dispel distractions. Most of these guidelines have metaphorical origins, such as the belief that you should not work with your back facing a door, as a door represents the “coming of new business.” The philosophy also encourages positioning your workstation in the North or West area of the office to increase creativity.

That’s not all there is to it, of course. Feng Shui also takes utility into mind, and the philosophy encourages clean filtered air and good quality lighting in order to keep your employees healthy. It also suggests that the presence of lively art and other creative outlets invigorate your employees and help them get a fresh start on their work.