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Archives for April 2013

5 Reasons to Choose Furniture Installation

Shopping for office furniture is exciting. There's an endless array of styles, materials, colors and designs to browse. There are cushy ergonomic chairs to test out, high-tech workstations with seemingly unlimited power strips to plug in each and every one of your mobile devices into and quirky reception room couches to lounge on. Furniture showrooms are like a playground for office managers.

That is, of course, until you have to assemble said playground in your own office with no outside help. Then all of a sudden those ergonomic chairs are giving you a pain in the neck and you're ready to forget the high-tech-and-ridiculously-complicated-to-put-together workstations and just have all your employees work from wooden TV trays. You'd love to get away from the headaches of furniture assembly by taking a nap on that new reception room couch, only you're missing one of the legs and now one end of the couch leans on to the floor.

If this nightmare of office infrastructure isn't enough to get you to hire professional installers to set up your office furniture, maybe the five following reasons will make you reach for a phone:

If your in-house furniture installation team looks like this, you might want to consider hiring professionals.

If your in-house furniture installation team looks like this, you might want to consider hiring professionals.

1. Furniture assembly is confusing: Sure, the workstations you invested in looked amazing online or in the showroom, but when it shows up at your doorstep, it's just a series of boxes containing legs, work surfaces and dividers along with various sized fasteners and a "War and Peace"-sized assembly manual that might as well be written in Swedish. Even if you are the office handyman (or woman), how much time do you really have to invest in figuring out how to put everything together without driving yourself insane in the process? Leaving the job to the professionals means you can spend less time worrying about how Figure A connects to Figure B and more time focusing on your business, because that's what's more important anyway, right?

2. Office furniture is heavy: You might be lucky enough to have a co-worker or two who's anxious to show off that they're capable of carrying more than a smartphone and a laptop (they're not pumping iron at the gym three times a week just to sit in a cubicle and play Solitaire all day). But in case you don't have a strongman (or woman)-in-residence, keep in mind that office furniture is heavy, even disassembled (we found a set of three workstations weighing in at more than 2,000 pounds). Save your back (and arms, shoulders, legs, knees, neck, and fingers) the strain of lifting and moving your new purchases and have a trained professional do it.

3. You could be missing parts: We've all had the unhappy experience of attempting to put something together only to find you're missing a piece or two, preventing you from finishing the project (or else ending up with a table that wobbles or a drawer that gets stuck every time you try to open it). When you have someone complete the installation for you, chances are they're familiar with how the different pieces come together and can spot right away if something has been assembled incorrectly or if there's a part missing. What's more, they keep spare parts on hand to make the fixes right away. There's no running out to the hardware store or contacting the manufacturer about shipping you whatever was missing in five to 10 business days.

4. You don't need extra tools: We're not sure what your office toolbox looks like (do you even have an office toolbox?), but if all it consists of is a roll of duct tape and a flathead screwdriver, you might not be prepared to assemble a shipment of office furniture. Sure, you could go out and buy the necessary equipment, but wouldn't that money help out your business more being used for advertising and promotional materials? Investing in furniture installation means you don't have to invest in tools that you're only going to use once. The professionals will come prepared with all the equipment and know-how to do the job in a jiffy with nary a piece of duct tape to be found.

5. You don't have office layout expertise: Setting up an office is a bit more complicated then figuring out the best place to put your sofa in the living room. You'll want to make sure all of your workstations have access to power, that the aisles are wide enough for employees to walk through and that you're using your space efficiently. While furniture installers aren't professional designers, they can probably save you from making major office layout mistakes (do you really think it's a good idea to set up that conference table right in front of the copy machine? Will employees have enough room to get out of their workstation if you set it up so close to the wall?). Installers will help make sure like your office doesn't look like it was thrown together by a group of three-year-olds.

Now that you've decided to hire someone to install your office furniture, keep in mind that as part of our White Glove Service, knowledgeable installation technicians from Arnolds will deliver and setup your office furniture quickly and professionally, meaning you'll be able to concentrate on what really matters: Growing your business.

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks/Flickr

The 3 Pros and 3 Cons of Open Work Spaces

Diner-style booths are one way companies have found to offer employees a private place for conversations.

Diner-style booths are one way companies have found to offer employees a private place for conversations. Photo courtesy of Bene.

It looks like for better or for worse, those nice high cubicle walls won't be coming back anytime soon because employers are just too in love with open plan office spaces. Of course, any new-fangled idea has its benefits and drawbacks, and the trend of tearing down office walls is no exception. We outlined a few of the biggest pros and cons to open work spaces and offered ideas for how to ease the transition in your office.

Pros

More communication: One of the main reasons businesses cite for going with an open plan office is to increase the communication and collaboration among employees. By lowering the walls or getting rid of them altogether, organizations can facilitate quick, frequent exchanges of information and ideas which hopefully in turn can lead to increased productivity and creativity. In addition, many employees appreciate the greater sense of community and inclusiveness that results when employees are in the know while on the job.

Less expensive: One major benefit of open plan workspaces to employers is that they can help reduce costs. More people can work in less space which means companies don't need to lease as much square footage, offering savings on real estate. Plus, compared with traditional high-walled cubicles, workstation solutions like benching or smaller, low-walled cubicles cost less.

More natural light: Tearing down walls allows everyone in the office a chance to enjoy what is arguably our greatest natural resource: The sun. Giving your entire office access to natural light (instead of just the lucky few with offices on the periphery of the building) will save money on energy bills by not having to rely as much on electric lights, reduce your carbon footprint, and reduce eye strain among employees. Studies have found that natural light helps improve people's attitudes, which translates into increased productivity and camaraderie on the job.

Cons

More noise: By far one of the biggest complaints about open offices is the level of noise, especially talking. “Noise is the most serious problem in the open-plan office, and speech is the most disturbing type of sound because it is directly understood in the brain’s working memory,” Valtteri Hongisto, an acoustician at Finland's Institution of Occupational Health, told the New York Times in 2012. The institute found a decline of 5 to 10 percent in cognitive tasks requiring short-term memory (things like reading, writing and other creative work) when the person is an unwilling listener to other conversations.

Less status: In 2007, Knoll conducted a study on how the physical work environment affects employee attitudes, expectations and satisfaction. More than half of the study participants acknowledged that the size and quality of their workspace is a reflection of their status within the company. Even though companies have tried to change this perception over the years, when someone who's been working from a giant corner office suddenly finds themselves working without walls next to the rest of their colleagues, egos can be bruised.

Less privacy: Nine out of 10 respondents to Knoll's survey said privacy was the number one advantage of a closed space work environment. Walls help employees feel more secure and protected from prying eyes and ears. They are ideal for employees who need to complete more focused work, or those who need to have sensitive conversations (i.e.: managers disciplining employees, human resources representatives, private meetings with clients, etc.). When the walls come down, privacy goes away which could make employees feel uneasy.

How to Ease the Transition

Of course, employees don't always like change, especially change that will potentially mean less workspace, privacy and more noise. To help ensure buy-in with your new office layout, start by looking for ways to soundproof the room so that employees aren't distracted by conversations happening across the room from them. Some offices have found success using systems that pump in a neutral background noise that helps reduce the sound of talking far away or by adding soundproofing to cubicles.

Thoughtful design will also help. Include a mix of private meeting rooms and less formal meeting spaces and alcoves throughout the office where two or more people can have a spur-of-the-moment chat. Some companies have found it helpful to include phone booths where employees can go to have a private conversation. Talk to different departments within your company to learn more about how your employees work and plan to seat them according to how much "heads-down" time they need (like programmers) versus those who do more teamwork-oriented tasks.

These uber-modern phone booths by furniture designer Bene are one solution for giving employees in an open office a place to retreat for a private conversation.

These uber-modern phone booths by furniture designer Bene are one solution for giving employees in an open office a place to retreat for a private conversation. Photo courtesy of Bene.

According to the New York Times, booths like those you would find in a restaurant have become popular with office designers because they offer a more private retreat for a conversation, while still being able to monitor what's happening around you. Furniture designer Bene offers a sophisticated take: a pair of high-backed wingback chairs that each seat two to three people with headrests and a small table offering a spot for a private meeting in the middle of all the action.

Workstations like these high-tech modular pods available at Arnolds, give employees a little extra privacy, while still maintaining an open office.

Workstations like these high-tech modular pods available at Arnolds give employees a little extra privacy while still maintaining an open office.

While the goal is to take down walls, you can help increase your employees feelings of privacy by using glass-topped partitions on workstations. Employees will still be able to engage with one another without having to listen to every little sound their neighbors make.

For more furniture ideas to suit your open office plan, visit Arnolds.

Does Your Office Furniture Inspire Encounters?

You know you can count on Arnolds to keep you up to date on all the latest office trends, which is why we want to make sure you know all about offices turning into meet markets (and we don't mean the kind you find at happy hour on a Friday night). We mean the kind where co-workers randomly run into each other and come up with inspired ideas that will help your customers and make your business grow.

Those kind of meet markets require both the perfect office furniture and a setting that screams innovation. We rounded up examples of office furniture and meeting rooms that inspire random (and hopefully work-related) encounters. Check them out:

1. Picnic Tables
GCap-Office
That's right, the humble wooden picnic table (preferably set up on a posh rooftop terrace with incredible city views and filled with an assortment of scrumptious grilled goodies) can be just as good as a fancy conference table surrounded by cushy high-backed chairs. Maybe even better. The casual nature of a picnic table might let your employees let their guard down and share some truly new ideas. Of course, it could also make for some extended debates about the last episode of "Game of Thrones" over their hot dogs.

2. Lawn Chairs
Beach-Office
Just like in real estate, when it comes to inspired ideas, sometimes the key is location, location, location. It's amazing how a simple set of lawn chairs and a plastic table set up on a beach in some tropical locale can get the gears turning in your employees over-taxed brains. If your office isn't on or near a beach (we're guessing that's most of you) then try re-creating the beach in your office. Add a mural of an ocean scene and pipe in waves over your sound system. If that doesn't do the trick, offer meeting attendees a cocktail in half a watermelon. We're pretty sure that will get people talking.

3. A Pile of Toys
Lego-Office
We might kick ourselves for saying this, but great furniture isn't always necessary for sparking creativity among co-workers. Maybe all you really need is a big stack of plastic bricks that are fun to build with, but not so much fun to step on barefoot. Want your employees to think outside the box? Make them gather 'round a big old stack of LEGO pieces.

4. A Stack of Boxes
Office-Boxes
Sometimes when you're talking over ideas or reviewing plans, a quick meeting is all you need. You don't necessarily want everyone settling into a chair, which is where something to lean on comes in handy. Sure you could go classy by setting up some taller tables throughout the office, but if you're on a budget, a stack of boxes or a file cabinet will do. Who says inspirational can't be budget friendly?

5. A Living Room Set
Living-Room-Meeting
Fruitful random encounters happen when employees feel relaxed with their guards down, so create spaces in your office that feel familiar and comfortable like a living room. A slightly wrinkled, comfortable couch and worn coffee table for feet and/or a laptop are ideal pieces to start. Throw in some cool art, a tchotchke or two (maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cape for good measure) and some non-fluorescent lighting and you're on your way to making brainstorming magic.

6. Transparency
Dusted-meetingroom
It's pretty tough for folks to pop into a meeting or jump into a conversation if they can't see it happening. If you're hoping for more collaboration in your office, keeping it open is key. If you need walls to keep noise levels down, consider using glass. Otherwise, set up a couches, chairs and tables throughout the office for impromptu meetings.

7. Lightweight
Wirechairs-office
For random encounters, you want employees to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. You also want it to be easy for people to assemble. That's where lightweight, easy-to-move furniture comes in handy. Wire chairs like those pictured above are hip looking and also perfect for pulling up to a group of people, but not so comfortable that folks are lingering too long.

Photo courtesy of Victor1558/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Phillie Casablanca/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Dwonderwall/Flickr

Photo courtesy of pommru/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Jyri/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Bill Ward's Brickpile/Flickr

Photo courtesy of

Indian Office Furniture Seized: 6 Lessons for Budget-Minded Businesses

In some places, the failure to visit room 108 could mean you don't have any office furniture left. Yikes.

In some places, the failure to visit room 108 could mean you don't have any office furniture left. Yikes.

What would your business do if, after failing to pay your taxes, Uncle Sam walked into your office and seized all the furniture? (We always knew he'd been eying up our sweet Aeron Chair.) Believe it or not, this has actually happened...just not in the United States (that we know of).

Local government officials in Chennai, India took office furniture from the Airport Authority of India after the organization failed to pay property taxes on staff quarters, signal towers and vacant property in the region according to an article on IndianExpress.com.

Now where will the poor employees of the airport authority sit in order to make enough money to be able to pay those local taxes? It's not a pretty situation.

To ensure that your business doesn't end up in similar dire straits, we recommend being fiscally responsible by foregoing the brand-new designer furniture in favor of more budget-friendly options. Sure, you might not have as big a selection of styles and fancy upgrades, but you'll probably be able to pay your taxes. And that, we think, more than makes up for the sacrifices.

Who says you have to sacrifice all that much? There are plenty of options for scoring amazing furniture on a budget. Check them out:

1. Go open: If you need to furnish a large office, one method of pinching pennies is to rethink the layout. Instead of using private offices or high-walled cubicles, considering adopting a more open floor plan. Generally, workstations in an open plan office are smaller and use less material (with walls or no walls at all), making them a cheaper alternative to more traditional offices. As an added bonus, open offices tend to promote more collaboration among employees and give everyone more access to natural light.

2. Negotiate: No matter where you end up buying your furniture, don't be afraid to ask for a better deal.  If you're buying a large quantity of furniture, chances are you'll having an easier time bargaining. If you're purchasing furniture online, don't forget to ask for free or discounted shipping.

3. Shop eBay: You can get anything from creepy antique dolls to fighter jets on the online auction site, so why not office furniture? Right now there are tens of thousands of listings on everything from chairs to cubicles so you could potentially outfit your entire office. Of course, you'll have added costs for shipping and will more thank likely have to install the furniture yourself, which can be tricky if you're buying entire office systems. Then of course, there's the stress of being outbid and buying something without seeing it in person first. With furniture in particular, it's helpful to be able to test out the wares before buying.

4. Hit up moving sales: Often times when a business moves, it doesn't want to have to pay for the cost of shipping all that furniture, so they'll host on office yard sale of sorts to get rid of unwanted equipment and furniture. Reap the benefits of their laziness by snagging furniture for really cheap. Make sure to bring a truck or van to transport your steals and examine the furniture closely for wear and tear. Look through newspaper classified ads and on Craigslist to find sales near you.

5. Shop second-hand: If you're a startup that doesn't have a lot of extra cash and doesn't need a lot of furniture, try looking for pieces at thrift stores and consignment shops. Chances are you won't find an entire matching office suite, but you could set your business apart and show your savviness by rehabbing some one-of-the-kind pieces . Who says everything has to match, anyway? Just be sure to examine items closely to make sure it's not broken, damaged or stained.

6. Shop Arnolds: What's better than paying retail for name-brand office furniture? Getting name-brand office furniture at a fraction of the cost of retail. At Arnolds, we sell high-quality, pre-owned office furniture from brands you recognize (think Herman Miller, Steelcase, Knoll and Haworth) at unbeatable prices (seriously, we guarantee we will beat any competitor's price for a comparable product by a minimum of 10 percent). We have an enormous selection of used and refurbished cubicles, desks, file cabinets, chairs and more, so you're guaranteed to find pieces that fit your style and budget.

Photo courtesy of

Welcome to the Collaboration Station

While this workstation might look like a cubicle, don't be fooled. The Docklands line by Bene was designed to offer private workspace in an open office plan. Workers duck in when they need need to concentrate and go back into the crowd when they're ready to collaborate.

While this workstation might look like a cubicle, don't be fooled. The Docklands line by Bene was designed to offer private workspace in an open office plan. Workers duck in when they need to concentrate and go back into the crowd when they're ready to collaborate.

Virtually no one has been able to escape the affects of the Great Recession; it's hit everything from jobs to retail sales to manufacturing.

As businesses have downsized so have their furniture needs, which means in recent years office furniture manufacturers scaled back production. What's more, the fluctuating price of raw materials like wool and steel have made it tough for manufacturers to make predictions about spending and cost control, which has further hurt their bottom line, according to an article on BizJournals.com.

Manufacturers saw sales decline an average of 6.5 percent in the five years leading up to 2012 according to a report on office furniture industry by IBISWorld Inc.

The downward trend could be shifting. As the U.S. economy limps toward recovery and companies begin hiring again, IBISWorld predicts that the office furniture manufacturing will see growth as well. All those new employees need desks, chairs and other office equipment, after all. Experts forecast that by 2017, revenue will increase at an average annual rate of 2.2 percent according to BizJournals.com.

Factors beyond hiring could contribute to the rebound in office furniture manufacturing, like the boom in open space offices designed to embrace collaboration.

Office Furniture Manufacturers Re-envision the Office

One of the biggest buzzwords in office design in recent years has been "collaboration" as companies work to create spaces that promote more teamwork and spur-of-the-moment brainstorming while also helping to save money on square footage and large furniture.

In recent years, office furniture giant Herman Miller has lead the charge tearing down the same cubicle walls it's credited for creating back in the 1960s.

Businesses like Microsoft and Campbells Soup Co. have turned to consultants from Herman Miller to track how to use office space more effectively and efficiently and are ditching closed cubicles in favor of more collaborative open spaces and large conference rooms in favor of smaller "focus rooms" designed for two to four people, according to an article on The Leader Board.

In addition, businesses hoping to attract young talent are finding that they need to adapt the work environment to a generation of workers who network everywhere from Starbucks to the library to their living room. There's an expectation that the office be a more fluid environment where employees can enjoy connectivity and collaboration anywhere rather than being tethered to a cubicle.

As a result, more offices are being designed to encourage "random encounters" and include ad-hoc work areas that can pop up as needed. Giant conference tables in a space-wasting meeting room are giving way to specialized furniture designed to be multi-functional, connected and lightweight so that it can be moved easily.

Knoll's Toboggan chairs harken back to your days in grammar school, but are the manufacturers solution for easy open-office meeting space.

Knoll's Toboggan chairs take you back to your days in grammar school, but they are the manufacturer's solution for easy open-office meeting space.

Knoll recently designed a desk/chair hybrid called the Toboggan that provides a seat and a work surface to lay a smartphone or tablet on. To keep all those devices charged, the furniture manufacturer also created a stainless steel pole full of outlets along with portable tables with outlets, too. They've also created rolling whiteboards for use in quick brainstorming sessions.

According to an article on Officing Today, Bene, another furniture designer, recently created a line called "Docklands" meant to reflect the trend in flexible working and foster collaboration while allowing for privacy. They might look like the cubicles of old, but these hubs are intended for use in open-plan offices when employees need a quiet space for some "head down" work. They're not assigned desks, but rather shared among employees or hot deskers, kind of like a study carrel at the library.

More Reasons Companies are Buying Office Furniture

Beyond re-envisioning the way an office is used to improve collaboration and productivity, there are other factors that could contribute to a rebound in furniture manufacturing.

With growing concerns about workplace health and safety, companies are increasingly investing in new ergonomic seating, which typically come with a higher price tag according to BizJournals.com. Plus, with studies highlighting the adverse affects of sitting at a desk all day, more offices are adopting standing desks or even treadmill or cycling desks for their employees.

Of course, on the flip side is the fact that companies are also needing to accommodate the growing size of employees by purchasing chairs with wider seats that can support more weight.

And finally, while the rise in telecommuting has reduced the amount of workspace companies need to provide for employees, businesses will no doubt be watching Yahoo! closely after CEO Marissa Mayer famously asked workers to return to the office. If the search engine finds success with the controversial move, who knows if more businesses might follow suit?

If it's time for your business to re-think office design or update aging furniture, check in with

NYC: Where Cool Offices are Sticking

What's the coolest thing in your office? Your collection of Star Wars bobble heads? The vending machine recently stocked with Skittles? The free coffee?

All those "perks" will seem pretty lame after you read about some of the most incredible offices the Big Apple has to offer.

That's because in New York City, arcade games, ping pong tables and even an office miniature pony are just a drop in the bucket by way of sweet office features.

If you think your office needs a little dose of fun, check out how these New York-based offices are raising the bar (some literally) on office furniture and office culture makeovers:

Etsy Office

Because what office doesn't need a giant cardboard bird?

What office doesn't need a giant cardboard bird?

When you're home to one of the largest craft sites on the web, then it only makes sense that you have a 9-foot-tall homemade, cardboard owl guarding your office like the one at Etsy's Brooklyn headquarters. The office has plenty more artsy items, like life-size telephone booths, a space-station themed office, and weekly arts & crafts lessons. Also, all new staff members get a $100 credit to the site to decorate their workspace, naturally. Take a photo tour.

Google:
The office features a life-size mural of the city's signature yellow taxis waiting in an intersection, as well as built-in QR-code signs on the wall, fake TV antennas and sound-proof walls filled with electric guitars and drums, according to Inc. magazine. Don't want to wait on an elevator? There's a ladder shoot complete with bag for your laptop (don't want to drop it!) and rather than walk from place to place, employees use scooters. There's even offices designed to look exactly like a New York City apartment. Take a video tour here.

AOL Ventures:
Housed in the former Brooks Brothers headquarters, the decor pays a nod to the old boy's club with vintage billiards tables and aged oriental rugs along with arched windows and doorways and exposed brick walls. According to Inc., the cave-like meeting rooms feature found artifacts like old medicine books and magnifying glasses.

The Wonderfactory
Rather than settle on one theme for the headquarters of this website design company, designers created an exotic theme for each space, featuring bold colors and cool pieces (like two hanging chairs with a view of the Empire State Building) and a secret door hidden behind a bookcase according to Inc. Take a video tour to see more amazing features.

Heineken USA
Your first peek at the U.S. headquarters for the popular Dutch brew might not leave you feeling all that inspired. After all, who doesn't have an open office with low joint workstations these days? What makes this spot cool is the fact that you don't even need to leave the building for happy hour. The office features a huge bar branded with the Heineken logo and other artifacts.

Bloomberg Office

Bright, sleek offices with pops of color make Bloomberg's New York headquarters a design standout.

Bright, sleek offices with pops of color make Bloomberg's New York headquarters a design standout.

The famous media company also has a booming tech arm and it's headquarters reflect a sleek, futuristic vision with large glass walls, open TV studios, spinning TV monitors and circular meeting rooms. The office also features fish tanks, a sun-flooded snack bar and functional art that doubles as office furniture. Take a video tour here.

Gawker

Employees at Gawker gather for a late-night Lego-robot-building competition (we're not kidding, in this picture they're just claiming workspace, but the Legos will be coming out).

Employees at Gawker gather for a late-night LEGO robot-building competition (we're not kidding, in this picture they're just claiming work space, but the LEGO will be coming out).

If you pine after the days you spent in the stacks of your college library, then you'd love the offices of Gawker, which were designed to feel a bit more academic than corporate. The space includes a series of phone booths where employees can have private conversations and an uber-hip lounge area featuring exposed brick and tufted leather furniture. Employees work at large draftsman tables in an open office with a nod to steampunk stylings or on nice days can head up to the rooftop deck for some fresh air.

Thrillist
If you're a male-focused website that purports to offer visitors the latest, coolest, under-the-radar swag and hot spots around the country, then it's important to walk the talk. That's why conference rooms and office refrigerators at the Thrillist headquarters stock beer, and plenty of it. In addition to its unconventional beverage selection, the office touts a swag closet filled with manly items like barbecue swords and grenade-shaped salt and pepper shakers with a hallway full of Picasso-inspired super hero art. Take a video tour.

Photo courtesy of joestump/Flickr
Photo courtesy of onehorsetown/Flickr
Photo courtesy of chrysayora/Flickr

Katchkie Farm Delivers Directly to Your Cubicle

The average New Yorker probably doesn’t get too many opportunities to grow their own organic produce while toiling away in an office cubicle.

What’s a health-conscious worker to do when they’re craving seasonal veggies for lunch but only have a hot dog stand to turn to? Order in, of course.

Katchkie Farm, a 60-acre organic farm in Kinderhook, New York, has recently started a farm-to-cubicle program that delivers produce directly to participating companies each week.

Companies that enroll a minimum of 20 employees receive generous boxes of seasonal produce (anything from peas and asparagus in the spring to tomatoes and corn in the summer to squash and kale in the fall) to share. How much will eating like a farmer cost you? A full 22-week share is $580 and 11-week half shares are available for $290.

Last year participating companies included Teach for America, The Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and Kohn Penderson Fox Associates.

In addition to saving employees a trip to the grocery store or local market, the farm-to-cubicle programs have encouraged healthy eating and camaraderie. According to Katchkie Farms, companies have held in-office “Iron Chef”-style cooking competitions and employees have bonded over exploring new veggies and sharing recipe successes and flops.

Are veggies at work a harbinger of overall office health and wellness?

The rise of community supported agriculture (CSA) programs in corporate settings seems to go hand-in-hand with the teamwork-based focus of modern open office design. Sure, employees aren’t out plowing fields in the great outdoors, but they are harvesting fresh ideas in open spaces that offer plenty of productivity-promoting natural light and views of the outdoors.

Offices that want to take a holistic approach to improving business by improving the lives of employees have plenty of options from enrolling in farm-to-cubicle programs, offering smoking-cessation programs, and giving employees free or discounted gym memberships.

Of course, they can pick out office furniture and equipment that both promotes health and teamwork. Check out some great options:

Haworth-Race

  • These high-tech workstations from Haworth’s Race line offer a large work surface on which to spread out paperwork, projects or produce deliveries, plus plenty of space underneath to stow your groceries. What’s more, the low glass dividers offer workers a little privacy when needed, but still promote plenty of collaboration as well.

Ultra-Desk

  • When they're being asked to think outside of the box, it's probably not ideal to have your employees stuck in a literal box (i.e.: cubicle). Meet the Ultra Desk System, a sleek 6-by-6 work area with mobile pedestal. Sure, workers won't have as much wall space to decorate with garland and twinkly lights come Christmas time, but somehow we think they'll appreciate the fact that everyone, not just the guys in the corner offices, will have access to windows with views of blue skies and sunshine.

Lunch-Desk

  • When employees need to divvy up the spoils of their CSA share or serve up their farm-fresh dishes to hungry co-workers, they'll need a table. A big one. This 72-by-30 inch oversized laminate table should do the job.

Standing-Desk

  • Eating more fruits and veggies is one step toward a healthier lifestyle, another big one is getting up off that office chair for more than just a trip to the bathroom. Sitting behind a desk all day can increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and blood clots, which is why some offices are adopting standing desks for health-conscious employees. Often, these desks are adjustable, allowing employees to stand or sit for portions of the day. Standing for stretches allows muscles to move more, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure.
  • Frequent desk diners stick to handheld foodstuffs (think sandwiches, bagels, burritos and doughnuts) rather than busting out those high-falootin' forks for lunch. However, when you're participating in a CSA, chances are you'll find that you don't want to be limited to meals that come encased in a bun or burrito, which is where these pen-to-utensil sets come in. Just top off a standard ballpoint pen with this easy-to-stow fork, spoon and knife set and you're ready for gourmet dining at your desk. They're not technically office furniture, but these portable utensils will be critical to embracing your new healthy philosophy at work.
  • Any good farmer (or CSA participant) knows the importance of good stewardship to the earth. One way to spread this practice in the office is by making sure your office furniture is sustainable. If you're buying new, look for companies that manufacture products using smart design and materials that are sustainable, recycled and recyclable, and that have a small carbon footprint. Better yet, don't add to the millions and millions of pounds of office furniture that ends up in landfills every year and just buy used or refurbished items from Arnolds.

Photo courtesy of Ramsey Everdaypants/Flickr

Trending Now! Collapsible Cublicles

The Office in a Box from Toshihiko Suzuki is one of many portable office solutions cropping as workers complain about the lack of privacy in open offices.

The Office in a Box from Toshihiko Suzuki is one of many portable office solutions cropping up as workers complain about the lack of privacy in open offices.

Thanks to penny-pinching business owners who also want to see more collaboration between employees, open plan office design isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

What's a lowly worker to do when they can't hear their own thoughts because of the guy across the office with the hacking cough and heavy breathing problem? Set up camp behind a wall of filing cabinets? Barricade themselves behind a teetering pile of books? Wear noise-canceling headphones all day?

In 2012, the New York Times reported that office managers and social scientists are starting to listen to the complaints of employees craving sound privacy (the leading concern of office workers worldwide according to a survey by the University of California, Berkley) and are developing new ways to drown out the office din. Now businesses are playing special background noise to improve acoustics and make it more difficult for employees to hear chatter across the building.

If noise machines aren't enough to stop you from retreating to the utility closet every time you need to have a private conversation, have no fear. Designers are busy creating concepts for the latest trend in office furniture: collapsing cubicles. From simple partitions to inflatable rooms, these portable spaces will give you much-needed privacy when you want it and can easily be stowed, collapsed and otherwise folded when you want to collaborate.

Take a look at some new concepts:

Cardboard Cubicles

When Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library was undergoing renovations earlier this year, cardboard aficionado Charigami partnered with the university to design and construct collapsible cubicles made from cardboard. The desk dividers were sustainable, recycleable and cost effective, while also serving as a blank canvas for workers with a creative streak.

The World's Biggest Filing Cabinet

Designers at Taylor and Miller Architecture and Urban Design recently took the challenge of creating cubicles that disappear and reappear as needed according to Gizmodo. The workspaces are built into individual wooden slabs mounted on a track that can be folded out using a hand crank and tucked back into a space-saving cube when not in use. Essentially a giant filing cabinet for people, the work solution took the jury prize in the office interiors category of the Architizer A+ Awards for design.

Office in a Box

As a solution for cramped living spaces in Japan and worldwide, designer Toshihiko Suzuki created an office, complete with desk, chair, shelves and drawers that is built into what looks like a giant trunk. Just close up the box when not in use.

Pocket Office

The I-Trunk from Pinel & Pinel is an uber-stylish folding office made from wood, leather and nickeled brass. The office features drawers for office supplies and hanging files and it comes with a 20-inch Apple iMac, sound system and Canon mobile color printer. It's available in 51 colors from white to lime green.

Office in a Bucket

No, you aren't on some ill-conceived camping trip to the Arctic Circle. This award-winning, light-weight room created by Inflate USA packs in a portable bag and can be inflated to offer privacy in your office in just eight minutes.

Office in a Box Photo courtesy of

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Your Office Furniture)

There's no need to buy brand new office furniture for your small business when there are so many low-cost, high-end used pieces in need of a new home.

Unlike home furniture, most likely your office furniture hasn't been slept on by a 200-pound St. Bernard, stained with grape juice by a careless kid or scratched and dinged from being moved frequently. It's built to last with high-quality materials and doesn't endure the same wear and tear that your living room sectional does.

Pieces can be freshened up with new finish and upholstery to suit your office's style without having to break the bank. Here are a few reasons for you to think twice about buying new:

Cost

Brand new office furniture is expensive, upwards of $3,000 to $11,000 and even higher for a single workstation. Let's say you're running a small business with 30 employees, which means you'll need to budget anywhere from $90,000 to $330,000 just to make sure everyone has a place to sit. We don't know about you, but in this economy those dollar almost give us a coronary.

Used furniture is 25 to 35 percent cheaper than new. Arnolds has a huge selection of cubicles and open-plan workstations by well-known manufacturers starting at under $700 a workstation. We're guessing that $21,000 to furnish your office in style is a bit more manageable.

Health

Not only is it expensive, but new furniture is also not always very easy on your health because it contains high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are slowly released into the air over time. That new furniture smell that makes you feel a little woozy is probably the chemicals used in the manufacturing process off-gassing.

What's in the gas? Many different types of furniture are made using pressed-wood, which contains adhesives made with formaldehyde, a potential carcinogen that also causes eye, nose and throat irritation, wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash and severe allergic reactions, according to the EPA. There are several other chemicals, like butyle acetate and methylene chloride, that can also be irritating to employees.

Most new furniture finishes off-gassing within three to 12 months of when it was manufactured, so you won't be risking your employees' health if you buy used.

Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 3 million tons of office furniture ends up in the landfill every year. Don't contribute to the trash heap buying new when there are tons of perfectly good cubicles, desks, chairs and conference tables in need of a new forever home.

In addition to helping reduce waste, by buying used you're also helping improve air quality (just think of how many pollutants are released in the air to manufacture one workstation) and saving trees.

What's in Stock:

From whiteboards to conference tables and everything in between, Arnolds has plenty in stock to furnish your office on a budget. Here are some highlights of what's in stock right now:

Herman Miller Resolve Workstations
Herman_Miller_Resolve

Perfect for your open-plan office, these stylish workstations feature the signature boomerang-shaped work surface, custom bubble privacy screens and three-drawer filing cabinets. They're available for just $795.

Steelcase Answer
Steelcase_Answer

These 6x6 workstations feature 53" walls, custom fabric, speckled corner work work surfaces and two drawer pedestals. Available for $749 (list price is $4,200).

Kittinger Partners Desk
Kittinger partners desk

This gorgeous desk with burled-wood drawer fronts and brass handles defines luxury. It's no wonder that everyone from CEOs to presidents have chosen to work behind Kittinger. Available for $18,500 (list price is $37,500).

Geiger Office Suite
Geiger-Office-Suite

This office suite, which includes a U-shaped work surface and bullet top with overhead storage, has been professionally refinished to perfection. Available for $2,768.50 (list price is $18,500).

Black Leather Chair
_Best__black_lea_50d0064cccdf2

This fabulously comfortable black leather chair will be right at home in an executive office or conference room. Constructed with care by our design team, these chairs feature thicker, more comfortable cushions to help you soldier through the longest of meetings. Available for $195 (list price is $329).

Custom Reception Station
Custom_Modern_Re_50ca846d6207a

More of a sculpture then a desk, this one-of-a-kind reception station makes a bold statement for a company looking to showcase that it's modern and forward-looking. Available for $7,500.

Fireproof Filing Cabinets
Perfectly_good_f_4fecfab8bb2bd

Available in an array of colors and in three basic sizes (vertical, legal and letter) these fireproof filing cabinets are in good working order and competitively priced at $650 a piece.

No matter what your style of budget, Arnolds has something for everyone.

Used Office Furniture on Craigslist: Dos and Donts

Craigslist: Where you can sell everything from adult-sized bunny suits to angry kittens to office cubicles.

Craigslist: Where you can sell everything from adult-sized bunny suits to angry kittens to office cubicles.

When it comes to shopping for used office furniture, you have plenty of options for snagging great deals, from hitting up office liquidators to eBay to checking out the local thrift shop.

Craigslist, one of the most popular places for buying just about anything (and we mean anything: someone tried to sell 1,325 replica pope hats once) also has plenty of office furniture up for grabs.

Before racing to search for dirt-cheap cubicles and filing cabinets, be careful. While the bargains might be plentiful, so are the opportunities to be scammed. To help you shop wisely, we rounded up the top Dos and Don'ts for buying furniture on Craigslist:

Do:

Know what you want: Keep a list of specific items you need, whether it's conference room chairs or whiteboards, and determine the price you're willing to pay for those items, said Andrea Dekker of . Wearch within those parameters until you find a good fit.

Look out for scams: Unless you've lived in a remote cave for the past 30 years, then you're well aware that the internet is a playground for scam artists, especially sites like Craigslist. According to , some red flags to be on the lookout for include:

  • Lots of spelling and grammatical errors
  • Generic product shot instead of an actual photo of the item
  • Ads posted in more than one city
  • Deals that are too good to be true

Research the seller: While it's probably a little creepy to start web-stalking the cute barista at the coffee shop, we definitely recommend checking up on sellers you're considering buying office furniture from. Look them up on Google, Facebook and the Whitepages to confirm that they're a real person. Get the person's phone number and call them as well to gain some more comfort.

Ask questions: Get to know the seller and the item you're buying better by asking lots of detailed questions via e-mail or phone. If you're buying a used desk, ask where the seller had purchased the desk, what the dimensions are, material it's made of, what, if any, damage it has, and why the person is selling it. According to LifeHacker, these questions will both give you the information you need to know about what you're buying and also help you verify that the seller is familiar with it. If the seller is dodging your questions, then don't buy from them.

Meet in a public place: For your safety, avoid meeting sellers in a private location like their home. Try to arrange to pick up the item in a public place like a busy gas station or coffee shop. Lifehacker recommends finding a location that has an ATM available so you don't have to come to the meeting with cash in hand. Also, bring a friend or colleague along with you.

Negotiate: If you've done your research and know the value of a given item and you feel there still might be some wiggle room on pricing, don't be afraid to haggle a little, Dekker said. Have a plan in mind when you talk to the seller. If you can't get the item at the price you want, know whether you're going to walk away, make a counter offer or buy the item for the original price.

Don't:

Be blinded by an amazing deal: If you find an ad for a "like new" $50 Aeron Chair by Herman Miller, chances are someone's hoping you don't know high-end office chair from a wobbly stool. Make sure you're knowledgeable enough about what you're shopping for that you don't get ripped off by a low-quality knock-off, and if you're not an expert, enlist someone who is to check out the merchandise.

Overpay: Even if you find an item for less than you would pay retail, that doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best deal or that the savings is worth the hassle of buying on Craigslist. Before buying, use a site like Priceonomics which can give you an overview on prices for most items new and used to make sure you're actually getting a bargain. Case in point, we just did a search on an Aeron Chair and found the market price on Craigslist ($408), eBay ($387), Amazon new ($869) and Amazon used ($600).

Buy sight unseen: To avoid being scammed and/or purchasing a piece of furniture that's broken, stained, smelly or otherwise undesireable, don't complete the transaction via mail or money order. Make the exchange in person so you can see the piece that you're buying and make sure that it's useable and what you want (if it's a piece of furniture, it's better to see it fully assembled so you can test that all the drawers work, doors open, etc.). If you don't like what you see, don't feel obligated to buy it.

Wait around: If you spot an ad for the item you want, at the price you want and from a reputable-looking seller, then don't twiddle your thumbs. Just like Oz, deals come and go quickly, so be ready to respond to the ad and get in your car to pick up the item(s) at a moment's notice.

If you'd rather not deal with the hassles of Craigslist, then just visit Arnolds, which has a huge selection of great-quality office furniture.

Transform Your Office Into a Lounge

When trying to make your office a little more comfortable to inspire some creative brainstorming, you have plenty of options.

If you are really committed to creating a more casual work environment, you could go all out like the offices of Threadless in Chicago and buy an Airstream trailer to use for conferences, convert the back ends of some 50s-era coupes into couches and throw in a pool table for mid-meeting entertainment.

How does any work get done here?

How does any work get done here?

Then again, rather than turning your office into a playground, maybe you just want to add some more laid-back touches.

We rounded up some office furniture that put the "fun" in function, without going overboard.

Check it out:

Google

 

Here's yet another reason you wished you worked at Google.

Here's yet another reason you wished you worked at Google.

Of course any discussion of cool office spaces has to include at least one mention of Google, right? We can't help it that they have such a unique aesthetic. What works to make this conference room especially comfortable are the oversized, cushy club chairs with pillows that can be readjusted for maximum comfort and the uber-futuristic coffee table. Also, the running trend in cool-looking offices seems to be keeping the palette neutral with bright pop of color. And, like Google, most offices spaces are seeing red.

Unilever

 

Cocktails on the terrace at 5, anyone?

Cocktails on the terrace at 5, anyone?

While the chairs in Unilever's glass-enclosed conference room don't look like you'd want to sit in them for hours upon hours, we love the whole Knights-of-the-Round-table meets Mid-Century Modern vibe of this room. We especially love the very club-like lighting: the neon blue lighting wrapping around the room and the antler-inspired chandelier (which pairs nicely with the tree-inspired table legs and the wall of bamboo outside, by the way). While it might not be built for comfort (and who knows, we might be wrong about those stiff-backed chairs), the beautiful design combined with all the natural light and Zen-like plant life should make for some very innovative ideas.

Baker Donelson

 

The morning meetings are for black coffee, but after hours the lawyers switch to martinis.

The morning meetings are for black coffee, but after hours the lawyers switch to martinis.

There's that pop of red again, this time in a conference room at the law offices of Baker Donelson. These sleek, white chairs look like they could belong in the coolest urban club (well if someone took off the wheels and lowered the backs a little) but are also ready to get down to business, especially when paired with this ultra-modern conference room table. Of course, we'd be remiss to point out that they kind of give off a strong Dr. Evil vibe, too (he's head of a multi-million dollar corporation, so that's not such a bad thing...even if it is evil).

UK Country House Hotel

 

Worried that you have something stuck in your teeth? Just look up!

Worried that you have something stuck in your teeth? Just look up!

If you want to make your office more comfortable, but still keep it traditional, then take a page from this conference room at the UK Country House Hotel. The chairs are more formal, but are still inviting with their wide, plush seats, helping employees withstand long brainstorming sessions. The room earns more fun points with it's mirrored ceiling and gold and yellow wallpaper.

Cone of Silence

 

Cone-Of-Silence

We're not sure where the office that houses this amazing little conference room is; all we know is we want one. Sure, you might feel like a fish stuck in an aquarium while meeting with co-workers, but then no one can complain about transparency, right? Admittedly, the furniture in this room doesn't scream comfort, but the simple style is casual and the room itself looks like VIP seating.

NeoCon 2012

 

The dish of mints is critical for fighting that morning coffee breath.

The dish of mints is critical for fighting that morning coffee breath.

This photo snapped at NeoCon 2012 is kind of the piece de resistance of inviting a more lounge-like atmosphere into your office. There's the pop of red and the soft seating, plus a booth-like setup, which makes it seem like you're pow-wowing over drinks after rather than toiling in an office.

Photo courtesy of Rey Bango/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Marcin Wichary/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Victoria Peckham/Flickr

Photo courtesy of UKCountryHouseHotelsandSpas/Flickr

Photo courtesy of workyourspace/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Alvy/Flickr

Photo courtesy of BI Watercooler/Flickr

The 5 Craziest Office Cubicles

Most of us out here in office cubicle land try to make some mark on our workspace (however small).

Maybe you have a photo of your kids from your last beach vacation or a pencil holder shaped like a zombie head. Maybe you have a miniature water fountain that relaxes you while also making you have to visit the restroom twice as often. Or, maybe you bought a little beta fish to swim around beside your computer just so you don't have to suffer alone.

You like to have a little reminder that there is life beyond the office, but you don't want to go overboard, lest you look unprofessional.

Then there are the people who refuse to toil away in a boring workspace punctuated by one or two decorations. These folks go the extra mile or five to make sure their cubicles reflect their interests for better or worse.

We tracked down some of the wildest desks on the web for your viewing amusement. Check them out:

1. What's black and white and read all over?
Cubicle-Newspaper
We're guessing the owners of this cubicle weren't behind this rather thorough makeover. With everything from the walls, to the chair to the computer monitor covered in newspaper, it's safe to say this person will have plenty to read should he get bored of filing expense reports (plus a crossword puzzle or two to do during long conference calls). He's also all set for bring your puppy to work day (you know, in case of accidents...).

2. Nerd Alert
cubicle-superhero
One way to get the attention of that cute girl over in accounting is to show off your awesome collection of Wonder Women dolls...err...action figures. Who can resist those bracelets and the awe-inspiring Lasso of Truth? Is that a "Wizard of Oz" coaster thrown in the mix as well? Let's be honest, while slogging away at work, we're all thinking "there's not place like home." This is one of the neatest tchotchke-filled desks we've come across, and we're guessing he goes through a lot of canned air to keep those little bunnies dust-bunny free.

3. Has Anyone Seen My Desk?
cubicle-mess
Everyone has a co-worker who's idea of cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired. Their piles of unfiled invoices tumble onto your desk from time to time and you've noticed ants marching back and forth from their keyboards, carrying Cheeto crumbs and french fry salt. One time you dangled a Hawaiian Breeze car air freshener on their desk lamp as a subtle hint to freshen up, but the suggestion was lost faster than the Hawaiian Breeze. Well, meet the granddaddy of all messy desks. We're not even sure the owner of this desk has logged on to his computer in the past year (what with having to push aside her collection of panama hats and miniature biplanes) and we're pretty sure she's not getting much paperwork done either. Heck, there's not even really a place to hide an air freshener.

4. Cube in the Club
Desk-Club
Spinning records and playing music at a nightclub is a job, which makes the DJ booth kind of like a cubicle, right? If you think about it, it's probably one of the coolest cubicles you can fine. First off, the loud music drowns out all the sounds of your annoying co-workers (aka drunken club goers), there's usually a pretty cool light show (way better than flickering fluorescents), graffiti is considered acceptable workplace decor, and it's perfectly okay to drink beer instead off coffee. Granted, this particular booth looks a little rough around the edges (maybe the dilapidated blinds and milk crate shelving make for some grunge appeal), but overall, this looks like nice work if you can get it.

Freud's Desk
Desk-Freud
Say you were the founding father of psychoanalysis with a flair for history; you might skip decorating your desk with action figures and opt for a rotating display of sculptures from ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome like our friend Sigmund Freud did. Pictured is his desk in London, England, where he died after fleeing the Nazis in 1939. Of course, if you have co-workers with sticky fingers who can't even be trusted not to steal your lunch, then loading up your desk with precious valuables might not be the wisest decision. However, if you play the role of office shrink, you might be able to channel the good doctor himself. According to a recording made by one of his patients, Freud's “little statues and images helped stabilize the evanescent idea, or keep it from escaping altogether.”

Photo courtesy of Kyle and Kelly Adams/Flickr
Photo courtesy of TerryJohnston/Flickr
Photo courtesy of puuikibeach/Flickr
Photo courtesy of TheCreativePenn/Flickr
Photo courtesy of tauntingpanda/Flickr

How Office Furniture Can Encourage Random Encounters

Ever have a random encounter with a co-worker in your office (no, not that kind...we're pretty sure there's a company policy against those sorts of shenanigans) that resulted in a great idea?

Maybe a conversation about a funny TV commercial in the breakroom led to a fun new marketing campaign or during some ranting about the time-intensive process for handling inventory, you came up with an improved method.

Increasingly, offices are catching on to the fact that cubicles aren't necessarily where new ideas and collaboration are born and are trying to capitalize on these casual interactions between employees. To spur more workplace interaction and exchanges beyond the water cooler, designers are incorporating makeshift meeting areas throughout the office where employees can gather spontaneously.

The way your office is designed and furnished is critical to encouraging more idea-sharing among your employees and inspiring creative thinking. Here are some ways to spark such random encounters in your business:

Lower (or get rid of) walls:
On a metaphorical level, tall cubicle walls and closed office doors tend to block the free-flow of ideas. On a practical level, it's just not easy to have a conversation with someone working in a cubby. Using workspaces with low walls or no walls at all allows employees to overhear each other's conversations, making everyone more aware about what each other is working on and opening up opportunities for sharing information and troubleshooting problems.

Use versatile, easy-to-move pieces:

Office-Furniture

It's easy enough for two employees to have a quick meeting at a desk. One just rolls his chair over to the other. However, if more than two people need to meet, well, a little more space might be needed. To facilitate flash meetings, offer employees light-weight chairs, tables and whiteboards that can be moved around without breaking a sweat (bonus points if they have wheels!). In addition to creating pieces with power outlets, Knoll's Activity Space line includes a signature desk-chair hybrid. It's sort of like a re-imagined school desk called the Toboggan. This piece is lightweight, easy to move around, allows users to sit in a variety of positions and offers a spot to rest notebooks or tablets.

Power up:
The great thing about smartphones, tablets and laptops are that they enable employees to do work just about anywhere (in the office, on the road and at home) without having to be tethered to a desk. Of course, there's one thing they'll need to be tethered to eventually: An electrical outlet. Help employees keep the ideas flowing by giving them places to power up throughout the office, including in informal meeting areas. Office designers have caught on to the importance of on-call power sources. Knoll recently released a line called Activity Space which includes pieces like a stainless steel poles, rolling white boards and small tables, all which have built-in outlets.

Offer writing surfaces:
Office-Furniture3
All those great ideas won't go anywhere if nobody can remember them. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, one way Silicon Valley-based tech company Citrix helps designers out is to leave whiteboards, stacks of paper and markers around the office for access whenever a lightbulb turns on. Even some of the tables are whiteboards, creating a quick canvas for thoughts, questions and ideas. Other companies make sure that entire walls in conference rooms are chalkboards or whiteboards. Facebook famously has a wall devoted to signatures ala the wall on Facebook user's pages.

Make it comfortable:
While you don't want to make the chairs and couches so comfortable that your employees take a nap on them, you also want to make sure they're comfortable enough that employees are willing to stick around long enough to solve problems and come up with exciting new concepts.

Make it fun:
There's no killer of creativity quite like some a dimly lit, dark office with a sad fern in the corner. Take a page from the likes of Google, Pixar and Facebook and make your office fun. Use pops of bright colors, modern furniture, natural light and surprising touches (think beanbag chairs or nods to pop culture) to inspire your employees.

Photo courtesy of Knoll
Photo courtesy of 
Pasukaru76/Flickr

Find all the office furniture you need to encourage random encounters at Arnolds Office Furniture.

Expert Advice on the Latest Office Workspace Trends

The old days.

The old days.

Things change fast in the working world. Where private offices and cubicles were once the order of the day, now open plan spaces rule and gone are the times when the only way you could communicate with your coworkers was by actually coming into the office. Now, you're just as likely to work from a coffee shop or a co-working space as you are from your employer's address.

To get the latest on what's new in the world of workspace trends, we caught up with Joel Dullroy, journalist, cultural organizer and cofounder of Berlin-based coworking network Deskwanted.com.

What are you seeing right now for trends in office space?

The biggest trend in office space is wasted space, or how to mitigate it. Many companies are trying to figure out what to do when their workforce grows or shrinks rapidly. What they need to do is stop thinking of their offices as closed, private locations, and re-imagine them as open flexible shared locations that can generate revenue when not in full use. Any office can become a shared workspace. There is an ever-increasing number of freelancers and startups who are in need of flexible workspace for variable periods. Companies with underutilized office space can put those desks to use by renting them to outside individuals. It requires a change of mindset, and the help of Deskwanted, which is the portal they should use to rent out their empty desks.

M

What type of business should use a coworking space?

Our research shows us that half of all co-working space users are freelancers: individual self-employed individuals. The other half are entrepreneurs, employees of those entrepreneurs and employees of larger companies. The types of activities they undertake are mostly in the creative fields like graphic designers, web developers and PR agents. However, we’re also seeing industries previously considered too traditional for co-working signing up: lawyers, accountants and so on. There are plenty of startups in co-working spaces; they provide the flexibility to grow as your team expands.

Do larger companies, or more established companies, ever switch over to a co-working space? What should they keep in mind?

We know that 12 percent of co-workers are employees of companies with between 6 and 99 employees and an additional 7 percent are employees of companies with more than 100 workers. That means one in five co-working space users already belong to medium-to-large companies. Why are these people using co-working spaces? They want to enjoy the benefits of being in a collaborative environment with the potential to interact with other individuals and companies.

Big companies sometimes send teams to coworking spaces for offsite meetings and workshops. This lets them experience the buzzing energy of a shared workspace and offers a bit of inspiration. Companies also send workers to attend events at co-working spaces to pass out business cards and grow their networks.

Teamwork.

Teamwork.

They should keep in mind the two-way rule of collaboration; you don’t get something unless you give something. Big companies need to be open to interactivity and this often requires a change in corporate culture.

Even companies who don't use co-working spaces are increasingly moving to open plan offices. What advice do you have for organizations who are switching from cubicles to open offices?

If big companies really want to bring co-working philosophies inside their offices, they should replicate one of the most important ingredients: the community manager. The best co-working spaces are ones which have dynamic managers who create events, bring people together and inspire interaction. That’s the special sauce that makes a co-working space feel so engaging. It’s not enough to just knock down the walls and make every desk a flexible working location. You also need to find an individual who has the skills to mix things up, bring people together and make things happen. We call these individuals community managers, and they are becoming increasingly important both in real physical locations as well as in online social networks.

What are the drawbacks to an open office plan, and how can businesses cope with them?

Noise is often a problem. Co-working spaces overcome this by supplying phone boxes where individuals can make private calls. Others use clever tricks like having a white noise machine to create a background level of ambient sound which strangely helps keep things quiet. Sometimes, though, you just have to use headphones to get on with your work. However, a bit of noise is a small price to pay compared to the benefits of collaboration and interaction.

Images: iStockphoto

The 5 Craziest Things That Employees Do at Work

We spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, but most of us understand that this does not mean that the office is our home. Sensible employees know that they should not, under any circumstances, treat their office cubicle as if it were their living room. Too bad not every employee is sensible.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the nuttiest things we've heard of workers doing in the office.

1. Grooming Activities

 

nono1

This includes, but is not limited to, flossing, plucking, cutting your nails or hair, any bathing that cannot be accomplished with hand sanitizer or a Wet Wipe and all of your clothes still intact, and anything that will make us feel less clean for having witnessed it. You know what? Just don't groom yourself at your desk. Seriously. If it's more complicated that putting your hair in a ponytail, take it to the restroom.

2. Cooking

 

nono2

Yes, really. We have worked in offices where people had entire illegal apartments set up in their cubicles. We can see setting up a coffee pot so that you don't have to drink the office swill, but beyond that, keep the cooking in the kitchen.

3. Taking Off Your Socks

 

nono3

The problem with this one is that everyone thinks that their feet are the only ones which don't smell. Let us clue you in: Your feet probably smell, at least after a few hours of sitting in your shoes. And no, the answer to this isn't to take off your shoes and socks more often.

4. Looking for Love

 

nono4

Online dating is mainstream now, but that doesn't mean it needs to stream its way into your office. Save your journey through OKCupid for after hours where it belongs. For one thing, it's a waste of the company's time and money and for another...well, there's always the chance that you'll stumble upon some not-safe-for-work images that the site moderators haven't caught yet. Don't be the person who has to explain to her manager why she was looking at unclothed people on their company computer in the afternoon meeting.

5. Weeping

nono5

Everyone has bad days at work, and sometimes you just need to let it all out. However, the best place for that is either in the bathroom or in a conference room (any place with a door that locks). Don't be that person who sniffles away at his desk, waiting for everyone to ask him what's wrong. Nobody likes that guy, and worse yet, nobody promotes him.

Images: Chris_Short/Flickr, sethw/Flickr, alegriphotos/Flickr, apparena/Flickr, yoshimov/Flickr

10 Epic April Fool’s Day Cubicle Pranks Using Home Office Furniture

April Fool's Day is upon us once more which means you need to spend the day watching your back and/or enacting revenge on your co-workers for last year's cubicle filled with packing peanuts incident.

We've never passed up on the opportunity to participate in office shenanigans, so we thought we'd help you plan your biggest cubicle prank yet with 10 of our favorite office furniture-inspired gags:

1. Air Horn Office Chair
Home-Office-1
Use the pneumatic pistons (AKA the thingies that make your office chair go down when you sit on it) to trigger an ear-splitting air horn whenever your victim sits down. Check out instructions for how to pull it off here.

2. Office Foil

 

Home-Office-2
An office pranking classic, your job is to cover every last item in your victim's office with aluminum foil. First you're going to need some aluminum foil. A lot of aluminum foil. You'll also need a bit of time, because to foil everything from your victim's desk to her chair to her pencil cups and the pencils in it will take awhile. However, the look on her face when she walks into her new-and-improved fun-house cube will be well worth the investment. You can also do this with wrapping paper or newspaper, although with all the taping involved, it might be trickier.

3. Blind Folded Chair Race
A competitor races down a street on his
This one could get a little rowdy, so if you work in a more civilized office you should probably move on. First, you'll need to recruit a few trusted co-workers in on the prank. Challenge your victim to a chair race...blindfolded. Roll your chairs up to the starting line (blindfolds on!) and then have another co-worker duct tape your victim's chair to the floor. Hilarity (and potential injury) ensues when the race starts and your victim ends up on the floor. Here's the full how-to.

4. Chair Wrap
Home-Office-4
If you like the office foil, but don't have the time (or the foil), try only wrapping your victim's chair. The catch is to put a blown-up Whoopie cushion on the seat before wrapping it up. Your colleague will have a good chuckle at the wrapped chair and think that's the whole joke until they sit down and let it rip.

5. Host a Barbecubicle
Home-Office-5
Transform your victim's cubicle into a backyard cookout complete with faux picket fence and mini-charcoal grill (just, you know, don't actually fire up the grill. No need to have anyone passing out from carbon monoxide poisoning). First cover the floor and desk with faux turf. Make a picket fence using poster board and attach that to the cubicle walls. Replace their office chair with a lawn chair and their coffee mug with a fancy red plastic cup. Set up the grill on the desk or floor, maybe hang up some wind chimes or a bird feeder...the possibilities are endless.

6. Keyboard Planter
Home-Office-6
Celebrate spring and bring in some more plant life to the office (hey, it's supposed to be good for your health) with this clever prank. You'll need a broken keyboard (no use getting in trouble with your office manager by using a functional one), some cotton and some grass or cress seed. Remove the keys from the keyboard, place cotton on the keyboard and sprinkle on some seed and water, then replace the kids. Spray with water a few times a day for several weeks and eventually the keyboard will sprout. Swap your victim's keyboard with the greenboard and wait for the confusion.

 

7. Sneaky Sounds
Home-Office-7
You know how sometimes you think you hear a sound, but you can't quite put your finger on what it is or where it's coming from and it's driving you nuts? That feeling of lonely insanity is the goal with this simple, but effective, prank courtesy of SheKnows.com. Find an object that has an annoying and distinct sound like a smoke detector that's low on batteries. You could also record a sound or download an app that makes sounds like white noise, sirens or heart beats. Make it so that the item is barely audible then hide it in your victim's desk drawer or in a filing cabinet. The hard part will be acting like you have no idea what they're talking about as they try to figure out where the noise is coming from.


8. Crime Scene
Home-Office-8
This prank is perfect for the "Law & Order" fans among your co-workers. Simply tape around a "victim" area on your co-workers desk chair and/or desk. Bonus points for wrapping yellow crime scene tape around their cube and for adding those little numbered evidence markers around their desk.

9. Office Ransacking
Home-Office-9
If you have the urge to channel your inner Viking (and who doesn't get this feeling at work from time to time?), here's the perfect prank. Simply wait for your victim to leave their cubicle for an extended period of time, then turn everything upside down or at least on its side: Chairs, computer, keyboard, mouse, desk lights, empty coffee mugs, books, binders, etc. Just don't set anything on fire. Oh, and leave your sword at home.

 

10. The Disappearing-Reappearing Office
Home-Office-10
There are few variations of this trick. The simpler (but still tricky) version involves you removing your victim's desk and chair leaving their computer equipment and other office supplies on the floor (if you feel sorry for your victim, you could bring in a beanbag chair for him to sit on). If you want to step it up a notch, you relocate your victim's entire office (set up precisely as they had it before) somewhere else in the building. Popular choices include the bathroom or a supply closet. You could also try swapping desks with another victim or moving into a hallway, break room or conference room.

How will you be celebrating the funnest of holidays? From silly to hazardous, there's a broad choice to fit any office atmosphere. Get creative, get revenge, but most of all be safe and have fun. Remember your colleagues can always retaliate next year.

Photo courtesy of youngthousands/Flickr
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