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8 Easy Ways to Go Green with Office Furniture

Making your office greener and healthier for your employees can be as easier as making the most of natural light.

Making your office greener and healthier for your employees can be as easy as making the most of natural light.

If you think going green at work means you have to invest in wind turbines to power your computers and only use office equipment made of bamboo, think again. There are plenty of ways you can be eco- and ergonomically-friendly in the office without having to become a registered member of Greenpeace. You can start with rethinking how you buy, use and dispose of your office furniture.

Check out 8 ways you can help the environment and your employees by going green with office furniture.

1. Buy modular furniture: Because it can be mixed and matched and reconfigured whenever your company grows, modular office furniture is ideal for environmentally minded businesses. Instead of having to replace all of your workspaces each time you go through growing pains, you can simply add complementary pieces to the furniture you already have on hand.

2. Refurbish your furniture: If you're furniture is still functional but just looks a little tired, rather than replace it, think about freshening it up. You can sand out knicks and scratches and repaint wood furniture (just look for low-VOC paint). You can even repair damaged table legs or armrests, or reupholster chairs and couches (using green material like you would find here or here).

3. Buy used: One big way you can help the environment while furnishing your office is to buy used furniture. Each year an estimated 8.8 million tons of usable office equipment ends up in a landfill, according to the EPA. There's no need for your business to participate in the rampant wastefulness. Buying used will not only save furniture from the garbage, but it will also save you money and be healthier for your employees (older furniture is less likely to release VOCs, which contribute to poor indoor air quality). To start shopping, just check out our amazing inventory of high-quality used pieces where you can find everything from chairs to cubicles.

4. Donate your old furniture: There are several advantages to donating your used furniture. First, it won't end up in a landfill, and it will also potentially help businesses or families that don't have as many resources as yours. Plus, you can get a tax write-off, which equals savings for you. Donate to an organization like Good360 and you can rest assured that your old furniture will go to one of 30,000 pre-qualified charities who will distribute it to the people who need it most.

5. Use natural light: Lighting accounts for 40 percent of a typical office's electric bill according to, so by opening the blinds to allow natural light in, you're not only helping your employees, you're also saving money. Studies have found that exposure to natural light reduces eye strain while improving productivity.

6. Think outside the chair: One trend being spotted in health-conscious offices are employees sitting on stability balls instead of traditional office chairs. Stability balls encourage active sitting, improve posture, strengthen your core muscles and reduce fatigue among other positive things. They're also cheaper than office chairs (of course, you'll probably want to check to find out what your employees think about sitting on a giant rubber bouncy ball all day before replacing all of your chairs).

7. Think about the long-term investment: When you want to find office seating that's both ergonomic and green, you'll probably end up spending more money. We know you're on a budget, but here we're going to advise you think long-term. Chances are your employees will be sitting at a desk for the better part of eight hours a day. The more comfortable you can make them feel (think reducing back pain and neck strain while limiting their exposure to harmful VOCs), the healthier and more productive they'll be. You'll save money on sick days and grow revenue from your happy employees. Plus, higher-cost furniture might also equate to higher quality, which means you won't have to fix or replace furniture for a long time. Your short-term financial loss might pave the way for a long-term financial gain.

8. Accessorize: If you'd like to help your employees be more comfortable at work, but simply can't afford $1,000+ fancy ergonomic chairs for each of them, you can at least accessorize with items that will help them work without strain. Look at things like foot rests for under their desks, back rests for their chairs, wrist rests for their keyboards and adjustable height monitor arms. Also, desk lamps can relieve some of the strain that comes with working under fluorescent lights all day.

6 Craigslist Office Furniture Fails

Whether you're looking for a new roommate or trying to get rid of an old mattress, you have to love Craigslist. Where else can you both find a date and free firewood?

Of course, there's plenty of cheap office furniture for sale on the popular classifieds site  from cubicles to desks and executive chairs. But if you're trying to outfit your new business, Craigslist might not be the best place to go shopping. For one thing, you'll likely have to deal with the hassles of picking and installing the furniture (and good luck finding the original instruction manuals for any of the pieces). You'll also have to be on the lookout for damaged, broken, chipped, torn, stained, outdated, strange and otherwise well-worn furniture.

To illustrate these, we rounded up 6 fantastic Craigslist furniture fails:

1. Defects? What defects?
Remember glamour shots? Those photos people had taken of them where all of their  less-than-attractive  attributes were conveniently blurred? Well, sellers on CraigsList love that trick. Case in point, this leather desk chair. The poster says the chair is in mint condition, but there's no way to confirm tears or broken armrests by looking at this fuzzy photo.

2. BYOD (Bring your own drawers)
Office furniture is heavy, so imagine how much you can save your back moving this small desk around without those pesky drawers? But what about storage, you ask? Who needs it? Just cram your office supplies in the empty space where the drawers used to be.

3. Refurbished Chair
Sometimes sellers attempt to fix furniture themselves in order to get a better selling price. Arnolds knows all about quality furniture repair and refurbishment, and we have to say we're not impressed by the old packing tape around the arm rest routine. You might win points from some clients for your MaacGyver-esque hacks, but most likely they'll run out your door into the arms of your more professional-looking competitor.

4. Office Furniture or Chew Toy?
We know when you're buying used furniture, you don't expect it to be immaculate. A few scratches here a small stain there comes with the territory of CraigsList shopping. But is buying a desk chair that looked like it spent its past life as a favorite chew toy for a 150-pound teething rottweiler really worth the savings?

5. A One-of-a-Kind Organ/Desk
Craigslist is home to plenty of unique finds. From potato cannons to henchmen, you can literally find anything you'd imagine on the site. Case in point, this pump organ turned desk. Sure, you might sing in your church choir, but does your weekend hobby really have a place at your 9 to 5? While your customers probably appreciate a certain amount of creativity, office furniture that could double as set pieces for a community theater production of "The Phantom of the Opera" might be a little too over the top.

6. For Your Office Circa 1950
When you're not finding church organ/desks on Craigslist, you're sifting through endless antiques. Looking for lightly used cubicles for your small business? First you'll have to dig through dinged up rollback desks, old time school desks and typewriter stands. When's the last time you even used a typewriter? Do your new employees even know what they are?

Head to Arnolds and you can enjoy browsing through our 100,000 square foot showroom stocked with high quality used and refurbished furniture from brands you know and trust. There's no need to worry about whether pieces are missing or broken, if your furniture shows up looking like it was dropped off a 10-story building, or if it jumped on a time machine back in 1972.

Office Furniture or Gym?

Employers are finally recognizing that healthy employees are productive employees, so they're taking action to help employees get fit while they work.

Many larger companies have gyms on site that employees can use throughout the day. Others include walking trails on campus so that on lunch breaks employees can trade their stilettos (or oxfords) for sneakers and get their heart rate up. Those without the means to offer a full gym or fancy trails might offer free or reduced-price gym memberships to employees as a perk.

Of course, if you'd rather not have your employees stretching their lunch breaks in order to take a Zumba class across town, you now have the option of equipping your office with furniture that doubles as gym equipment.

Recently designer Darryl Agawin, in an effort to fight the sedentary lifestyle associated with office life, created a simple three-piece set of office furniture that can be used to get a full-body workout. The line called No Sweat! was inspired by equipment you'd see at any gym  like a balance board, weight bar, exercise step, kettle ball and jump rope. It can be used for hundreds of different types of exercises, Agawin says.

"No, Sweat! proves that one does not need fancy, modern gym equipment in order to have a full body workout," he adds.

No sweat? More like no more excuses for not exercising at work throughout the day.

Of course, Agawin isn't the first person who's found ways to help fight the office bulge.

Other pieces of furniture that straddle the line between workout gear and office furniture include:

Treadmill desks: Basically a treadmill combined with a standing desk, employees walk on a treadmill at a very, very slow rate (less than 1 mile per hour) while they work and can burn an extra 100 calories an hour.

Cycling desks: Similar to the treadmill desk, but with a stationary bike. Employees pedal a recumbent bike while seated at a desk that is raised to accommodate the bike so they're burning calories and building muscle. Some reviewers complain that pedaling while working is a challenge, but it's a better alternative to sitting still for an entire shift.

Stability balls: An affordable alternative to treadmill or cycling desks, studies have shown that sitting on a stability ball at work burns 4.1 times as many calories as sitting on a regular desk chair and it helps strengthen core and leg muscles.

If you don't have any extra cash to invest in double-duty office furniture, remember that you don't need anything fancy to get in shape at work. In fact, there are several things you can do right from a simple chair.

Check out this 11-minute Chair Cardio Workout from SparkPeople or this chair workout featured on Dr. Oz. All you need is a sturdy chair that doesn't have wheels or arm rests:  Like this one from Arnolds:


Research has shown that short bursts of activity that add up to 30 minutes each day can be just as useful as one continuous 30-minute workout for preventing high blood pressure and high cholesterol and preventing metabolic syndrome, according to the Mother Nature Network. Remember that something as simple as taking the stairs or walking around while you're talking on the phone is better than doing nothing.

The Craziest Used Office Furniture on eBay

We all know the siren call of eBay: The one-of-a-kind finds. The chance to score them at low prices. The excitement that comes with the potential of being outbid. It's a regular thrill ride. And, for those of you searching for used office furniture, it can also be a fun house of outdated styles, beat-up desks and chairs that look like they belong in a medieval torture chamber.

To give you a laugh, we rounded up the best of the worst used office furniture finds on eBay. Enjoy:

Lost: One Desk
According to the seller, there's a desk for sale...somewhere. The great thing about this piece is that it's like a businessman's special; it comes with a tie, dress shoes, and the ever-important gallon of cola (free backwash, too!). Who doesn't want a talking Yoda doll and a couple boxes of ace bandages? Purchasing your furniture on an online auction site means you don't really know what's going to show up at your door and in what kind of shape it's in.

For That Co-worker Who Thinks She's a Princess
Then of course there are the desks that appear to be in fantastic shape and offer a lot of vintage charm, but look like they might be a better fit for the bedroom of a 13-year-old girl. Those shelves look like they'd offer the ideal storage space for a collection of porcelain dolls and the drawers are perfect for holding years and years of never-sent love notes adorned with little hearts and unicorns written to that boy in 4th period English who doesn't even know your name.

Do I Have Something on My Teeth?
If you're searching for statement-making seating for your reception area you'll definitely brush into some unique possibilities: Like these molar-inspired ottomans. What better way to make people show off their pearly whites while dealing with the daily grind than a couple of giant teeth? You'll just need to pick up one of those oversized toothbrushes to keep them clean.

The Office Chainsaw Massacre
We know how much people like antiques. Old pieces of furniture help connect you to the past and have a story to tell deep within their bones. In this case the story told in the cracks, scratches and worn paint seems to be one of ongoing abuse and little, if any, maintenance. If it were a movie we think it'd be the victim in one where a deranged serial killer in a hockey mask attacks innocent office furniture with a machete.

A Chair Fit for a King (or That Guy in Accounting)
If you just got a promotion and wanted to update your seating as a little reward to yourself, this is one direction to go. Sure, we're guessing that straight back and lack of armrests aren't really ergonomically correct, but it's worth the sacrifice to sit like a king and command the respect of your co-workers (who will surely grovel at your feet the next time they ask you to show them how to fill out an expense report)! And the wicker is almost exactly like that breathable mesh used in those super-fancy office chairs, right?

The Purple People Seater
If you're trying to outfit a whole office with new desks, eBay sellers offer a variety of solutions including that old-favorite: Cubicles. Sure, you might have to assemble them yourself and you may or may not have the instructions for how to do that, but it'll be worth the savings, right? While there might not be a huge selection of styles, you'll rest easy knowing that these beautiful Barney-the-Dinosaur-Colored-Purple cubes will be the ideal fit for your new plumbing business.

Now on Special at Grandma's Estate Sale
If your style is more "Grandma's Living Room Circa 1984," eBay can hook you up with a comfy easy-chair-on-wheels that will accommodate any employee, whether they want to make a presentation about the annual budget in the main conference room, or quietly knit their grandson a hat while stroking their cat, Muffin von Fluffytail.

For the Employee Who Doesn't Leave His Basement Very Often
Of course, you can find brand-new office furniture on eBay as well, including this gaming-geeks' special. What employee wouldn't want caddies for their computer speaker, special hangers for their headphones and cup holders attached to their desk legs? While this desk might show customers that you are serious about new technology, the pale guy in a Hawaiian shirt playing "Tomb Raider" might detract from the company's overall professional image.

If you'd rather not wade through pages and pages of office furniture that looks like it's seen better days or just isn't your style, then head to Arnold's Office Furniture. We have a huge selection of high-quality name-brand furniture that we've taken the time to clean and refurbish when needed. If you're worried you won't get a good deal by going with Arnolds, fear not! We offer some of the lowest prices in the business with no bidding necessary!

How Millennials are Changing Office Furniture

Millennials don't mind mixing their work lives and personal lives, and they look for offices that seem less corporate and more homey.

Millennials don't mind mixing their work lives and personal lives, and they look for offices that seem less corporate and more homey.

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone from the Millennial generation who never pushed his desk around a classroom to work on a group project about the crisis in the Middle East or huddled with classmates at the student center to discuss 20th century philosophers.

Collaboration has been the modus operandi of Generation Y since they sat down for circle time in preschool, so it's no wonder that the inclination toward teamwork has poured over into their careers. And it's starting to impact office furniture and design in a big way.

According to CNN, in the next 10 years, Americans born between 1979 and 1997 will make up the largest portion of the workforce. The changing face of the American worker will more than likely result in a renovation of the American office.

Changes you might see include:
More informal meetings spaces: Generation Y has been moving around furniture since they were kids in order to do group work, so workers in this age group prefer casual, ad hoc meeting spaces to formal conference rooms. Furniture makers have responded to the demand for on-call meeting spaces by creating light, easy-to-move and multi-functional seating and workspaces like Knoll's Toboggan chair or comfortable, semi-private areas like booths where a few people can gather for a quick chat. Some offices incorporate whole white board walls or white boards on wheels for people to quickly write down thoughts and ideas on the spot.

Fewer walls: Millennials aren't fond of top-down leadership style, according to the GlobeAnd, and with that all the pomp and circumstance that comes with the cushy corner office. Open offices that encourage engagement regardless of seniority level will replace cubicles, walls and closed doors.

Smaller offices: The Millennials are the first generation raised with mobile technology (Dial up internet? What's that?!), so they're comfortable doing work from anywhere. In fact, because of the proliferation of smartphones and cloud computing, the line between work life and personal life is much more blurred than in past generations. Their office is literally anywhere they can plug in their laptop. The rise in telecommuting and hot desking has resulted in traditional offices shrinking, which companies see as a huge cost savings.

Technology integration: Generation Y has been plugged in for most of their childhood, some even since birth, so they expect easy access and use of technology. As a result, more furniture and office equipment has charging stations and access to power so that workers can stay connected without having to crawl around the floor in search of an outlet.

Green initiatives: "It goes beyond the way they opened up their workspace. It’s also about sustainability and creating a healthy and happy workplace,” Debra Barnes, vice president of interior architecture and design at HGA Architects, told Recent studies have found that younger workers prefer to work for companies that make a commitment to green practices.

Cozier workspaces: Millennials are more comfortable blending their work and personal lives, so they don't want to work at a place that has a colder, corporate feel. Increasingly, designers are making offices that have elements of home. "The corporate feel is getting a lot warmer; almost residential. It’s about bringing your home life into work a little and vice versa," Hans Siefker, president and principal at Minneapolis-based Greiner Construction Inc., told

If you're looking to update your office to accommodate a generation of wired, teamwork-loving Millennials, make sure your first stop is Arnolds Office Furniture.


How Cubicles Work (or Don’t) for Attracting Talent

Wall-to-wall cubicles might have been OK to attract the country's top talent 10 years ago, but today's young workers are looking for a little more style and a lot more room for creativity.

Wall-to-wall cubicles might have been okay to attract the country's top talent 10 years ago, but today's young workers are looking for a little more style and a lot more room for creativity.

Office furniture does more than offer a space for employees to sit 40 hours a week. It also has the power to attract (or drive away) the best and the brightest job candidates.

In recent years, cubicles have become the crazy uncle of the office furniture family that nobody quite knows what to do with.

For generations of workers, they served the function of offering a semi-private, quiet workspace in which employees would retreat to for eight hours a day, breaking only for coffee and a run to the restroom.

But they're quickly becoming relics of an era where vying for the corner office was more valued than contributing to the greater good. These days, young talent on the search for a job aren't as impressed by the promise of their own office and stock options. Instead, they want their workplace to be a creative environment that reflects their values and interests.

"There is a saying about the role of design which can be summed up in the acronym ARM: Attract, Retain, Motivate. After location, design is the first thing many potential employees will notice. As they say, you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression!" Paul Finch, director of the World Architecture Festival, told

If job candidates take a tour of a workplace that's a poorly lit maze of high-walled cubicles, chances are they won't want to stick around for too long.

You want staff to look forward to being in the office and also excited to show it off to clients and even friends and family. If it's a place that employees take pride in working in, this can improve retention rather than if it's some place employees feel embarrassed about or that makes them feel depressed.

What Talented Job Hunters are Looking For

Generation Y has plenty of demands when it comes to the ideal work environment.

In a poll by MonsterTRAK on green employment, 92 percent of the young professionals who were interviewed said they would prefer to work for a company that was environmentally friendly, according to a story on Other surveys have found similar results.

Traditional offices with their high walls and corner offices are more about conveying who's in charge and which department goes where. But top talent isn't looking for hierarchy and bureaucracy. They want to work at a place that tears down walls and promotes new ideas, creativity and collaboration. Beyond promoting teamwork, open offices tend to allow more natural light and airflow: more must-haves for young recruits. Many companies are responding to these trends by lowering cubicle walls to below 50 inches.

The younger generation is also looking for easy ways to stay plugged in, so simple considerations like making sure there are convenient power sources throughout the office for smartphones, laptops and tablets is critical. Increasingly, office furniture and accessories like coffee tables or floor lamps have charging stations built in for this very reason.

A survey by Knoll found that members of Generation Y prefer quick, casual meetings rather than lengthy ones held in formal spaces, according to In addition to more traditional conference rooms, creating seating areas throughout the office for these type of run-ins is key.

Finally, because the line between work life and personal life is blurred for younger recruits, they want their office space to feel a little more homey than previous generations, according to CNN.

What Types of Office Furniture Attracts Talent?

There's a reason Google always manages to attract the best people. For one, it's Google, but it also is known for unique, fun workspaces that inspire collaboration and new ideas.

There's a reason Google always manages to attract the best people. For one, it's Google, but it also is known for unique, fun workspaces that inspire collaboration and new ideas.

While high-walled cubicles are losing favor among designers and employers alike, low-walled cubicles that offer some privacy while still allowing for easy conversation and access to natural light, etc. are still a good workspace option.

In fact, the biggest complaint about the open office trend seems to be the noise levels and lack of privacy, so cubicles with wall heights under 50 inches might offer the best compromise.

Beyond that, you want to consider comfort and health, finding pieces (chairs especially) that are ergonomically friendly and reduce fatigue and strain.

Because young recruits are so environmentally conscience, one way to attract their attention is by purchasing furniture that has a small footprint. Maybe it's made with recycled material and is recyclable itself or you bought it used (rescuing it from a lifetime in the landfill). It doesn't hurt to point out other green initiatives your company is taking: recycling, using power-saving office equipment, more efficient heating and air conditioning, etc.

Look for ways to add pops of bright, energizing color throughout the office. Couches and chairs in more casual meeting spaces are ideal places to introduce color. Try to have fun; we're not saying you have to have clowns running around your building (that's just creepy), but a foosball table in the break room or some oversized beanbag chairs in a conference room show that you understand that the creative process isn't all about spreadsheets and expense reports.

Look for pieces that will help attract the top talent to your business at Arnolds Office Furniture.

Photo courtesy of mkrigsman/Flickr
Photo courtesy of martinvars/Flickr

Fireproof Filing Cabinet Buying Guide

Arnolds has a wide selection of fireproof filing cabinets that can fit your budget.

Arnolds has a wide selection of fireproof filing cabinets that can fit your budget.

Think your basic metal filing cabinet will protect your company's vital documents in the event of a fire? Think again. Paper is destroyed at temperatures of 400 degrees and a the temperatures of a structure fire are often much, much hotter, according to

Despite the trend of digitizing records and storing them in "The Cloud" businesses and individuals still have plenty of important documents on paper or on digital storage devices. Examples of some of these can't-lose records include:

  • Account histories
  • Bank Statements
  • Birth and Death Certificates
  • Business Contracts
  • Client files
  • Custody Documents
  • Deeds
  • Divorce and Settlement Papers
  • Financial Documents
  • Insurance Policies
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Mortgage Papers
  • Payroll records
  • Passports
  • Prescriptions
  • Product Warranties
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Tax Papers
  • Wills

To help you out when shopping for your fireproof filing cabinet, we came up with a handy buying guide.

What to look for:

The first thing you'll want to check for on any filing cabinet that's been advertised as "fireproof" is that it has a UL rating.

UL-rated safes and cabinets have been tested by the Underwriter's Laboratory, a non-profit, independent organization that tests manufactured products to ensure they perform to specific standards (you can also look for those that have been tested by another nationally known, independent testing lab). Steer clear of cheap, imported pieces that have been tested by the manufacturer or have non-independent ratings. Also, be wary of products claiming to be "built to" a UL standard; that doesn't mean that the product has been UL tested.

The UL tests fireproof filing cabinets by exposing all six sides to fire (usually in a furnace) and then gives it one of three designations for the type of items it can protect in a fire. They are:

  • Class 350-rated: Protects paper products. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 350 degrees (the temperature at which paper products would be ruined and unreadable) for the amount of time designated on the rating.
  • Class 150-rated: Protects magnetic tapes and photographic film. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 150 degrees (the temperature at which film and magnetic tapes would be ruined) for the amount of time designated on the rating.
  • Class 125-rated: Protects flexible computer disks. This means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the cabinet will not go above 125 degrees (the temperature at which digital records such as backup tapes, data cartridges, diskettes, CDS and microfiche would be ruined) for the amount of time designated on the rating.

Fireproof hourly ratings: In addition to temperature ratings, cabinets have different ratings for the amount of time the cabinet can protect the contents for at that temperature: usually one, two or three hours. A Class 350 1-hour means the internal temperature will not go above 350 degrees for one hour; Class 350 2-hour means the internal temperature will not go above 350 degrees for at least two hours, etc. If your business is in a more populated area near a fire department, you would probably be safe with one hour of protection, but if your business is in a more isolated, rural area, it's wiser to to buy yourself more time.

UL Impact Rated: Fireproof filing cabinets might also have this designation on them, which means the product has been tested to withstand a fall from multiple stories. The products are exposed to temperatures of 1550 degrees for one hour then dropped 30 feet and heated again to 1550 degrees for another half hour. Because fires often end in structural collapse, this extra level of protection ensures you're documents will still be protected in both high temperatures and high impact situations.

Look for cabinets that are water resistant as well; in the event of a fire there will likely be sprinklers to deal with as well. There's no use saving your papers from a fire only to drown them!

Keep in mind that even a fireproof safe isn't enough to protect media, which requires protection from temperatures exceeding 125 degrees and humidity levels greater than 80 percent. For those, recommends a data safe or media vault.

Other things to consider:

Just as with regular filing cabinets, fireproof cabinets come in a variety of sizes. There are vertical filing cabinets, lateral filing cabinets, document cabinets, filing cabinets that also include a safe, and card files. Take a look at the size of the documents you want to store as well to be sure they can hold both letter and legal-sized paper. Buy for the future, meaning, make sure you buy a cabinet or cabinets that have extra space; you don't want to fill it up right away and not have room for additional documents (and you know there will always be more paperwork!).

Another big logistical factor when it comes to fireproof filing cabinets is weight. These types of cabinets are heavy (for instance, a four-drawer vertical cabinet weighs 435 pounds and a four-drawer lateral cabinet weighs 1,022 pounds). You'll likely need a forklift to move the cabinet, so look for sellers that include delivery and installation.

Finally, keep in mind that fireproof cabinets are more expensive than standard cabinets. The list price for a four-drawer vertical cabinet is $1,759, and for a four-drawer lateral cabinet the cost is upwards of $7,100 plus shipping. Of course, if you're on a tight budget (or just more of a penny pincher) you can always buy used cabinets from Arnolds; we currently have four-drawer vertical cabinets in stock for $1,050 and four-drawer lateral cabinets for $1,500.

How to Do Office Space Layout, Planning, and Design

Starting with a well-researched office layout plan will ensure that your move or office reconfiguration will go smoothly.

Starting with a well-researched office layout plan will ensure that your move or office reconfiguration will go smoothly.

If you have the lucky job of laying out a new office or reconfiguring an old one, there's a litany of things you'll want to keep in mind. Everything from available space to infrastructure to the type of work being completed should factor in to the layout and design.

To get you started, we've compiled 5 steps toward planning your office space layout.

What to Consider:
1. Culture: The type of business you run should dictate the design of the office. Whether you're a business whose employees need private space to meet with clients or a business that thrives on teamwork and collaboration or something in between, it's critical that the office be designed in a way that meets the needs of the work being done. Options include a more traditional space with closed-off offices for those who need more focused workspace, an open floor plan to encourage conversation and idea sharing, or a mix of both closed and open workspace. Beyond the type of workspace, culture should be reflected in the colors and type of furniture you pick. Keep in mind that color can have a dramatic affect on employees' mood and productivity, so don't just look at it as window (ahem,  wall dressing).

2. Size of office: Of course, the physical size of your office space will affect how you plan your space. If you have a lot of employees and a smaller space, you'll need to find efficiencies in workspaces, conference rooms and support spaces (think break rooms, libraries or copy rooms). With more square footage, you'll want to keep in mind basic factors, like how many employees have access to natural light, acoustics and how easy the space is to navigate. The size of your office and the number of employees working in it will also be a factor in the size of the furniture you choose. Obviously, if you have 10 employees in a 100 square foot office, not everyone will be getting that enormous executive desk. You'll also need to factor in space for things like aisles and storage.

3. Projected growth: While it might be tempting to save money on real estate and workspace, it's wise to think longer term when you're laying out your office. Make plans based on how much you project your business will grow in the next year (or five years if you're feeling confident/ambitious). Create a layout plan and purchase furniture that can grow easily with your business rather then reconfiguring the whole office every time you hire a new employee.

4. Type of work being completed: Chances are your employees don't spend the day anchored to a chair in front of their computer. They probably meet with co-workers, take coffee breaks and visit a restroom from time to time, as well. Your office can't just be a room full of desks. There should also be space for formal and informal meetings, a break room and/or space to play (a foosball table is the perfect place for employees to recharge for a few minutes and kick around new ideas), designated areas for communal office equipment (copiers, etc.), and (especially if you have an open office) booths or cubicles designated for private phone calls. Also, different departments might have different space requirements. Customer service representatives might only need a small desk for a computer and phone while designers would potentially need more space to spread out. Accountants might appreciate a quiet workspace while marketing will thrive in an open area. Create a holistic plan that keeps all of these needs in mind.

5. Other considerations: As if you didn't have enough to think about, you'll also need to consult with your landlord to makes your plans are all to code and within the terms of your lease and make sure you're within federal accessibility laws. Then you need to make sure you've considered infrastructure to ensure that all of your workstations will have the appropriate access to power, phone lines and Internet. The last thing you want is extension cords tripping up all of your employees.

But before you start to break out in hives ...

Relax. You don't have to create a plan on your own. After you've completed your office analysis as to the type of office space you want, how many employees you have and the size of the office, etc., enlist the help of a professional CAD designer. The good news for you is that Arnolds has folks on staff who can help you with all of your office planning so you don't commit any major planning faux pas (not giving employees enough space, aisles that are too narrow, creating a cubicle maze, etc.). Of course, if you'd prefer to go the DIY route, we're happy to point you to some useful resources (like this article on .)

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan MSIS/Flickr

Cost Comparison: New vs. Used Furniture

Whether you're running a bare-bones startup or an established business looking to upgrade, when you start shopping for office furniture, don't rule out buying used out of fear that you'll have to sacrifice quality for savings.

Used office furniture retailers like Arnolds take care to clean and refurbish pieces from well-known manufacturers (think Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth and Knoll) and sell them to you at a steep discount. How steep? Often 50 percent or more off the list price (in stock right now we even have several pieces that are more than 80 percent off the list price).

If you're looking to furnish a small office, maybe spending a little extra to buy new pieces won't affect your bottom line much. However, when you're a larger business, or one with a very limited budget, the cost of providing a workstation for multiple employees can add up quickly. Let's say you need open-plan workstations for 50 employees. Buying moderately priced new workstations, you could end up spending as much as $75,000 (and that's without chairs) to furnish your office. Used, you'll spend $35,000, more than half the price of new.

The downside of shopping used is that you might not have as broad a selection as you would if you were buying new and you don't get to pick the finishes and fabric colors. But that doesn't mean you'll have to skrimp on style. Plenty of high-quality, high-end furniture finds its way into used furniture retailers and are ready for a savvy business to snap it up.

Need more proof of just how much you'll save? Check out what's in stock right now:

Executive Desks
Steelcase Elective Elements Office: Constructed out of beautiful cherry wood this professionally refinished office set features a U-shaped worksurface, overhead cabinets, lateral file, pedestal, bookcase and matching chair. List price is $14,500, Arnolds price is $2,450. It's an 83 percent savings.

Herman Miller My Studio: These almost new cubicles from premiere furniture manufacturer Herman Miller are among the cleanest we've ever come across. Each 8x8 cubicle features a cherry wood worksurface and outside panels, wardrobe towers, plenty of storage and etched glass dividers. List price is $15,000, Arnolds price is $3,500. It's 77 percent savings.

Knoll Reff Cubicles: These gorgeous maple wood cubicles feature a cherry wood worksurface, pedestals, overhead bins and 64-inch panels with glass. List price is $19,500, Arnolds price is $1,850. Enjoy 91 percent savings.

Open plan stations
Knoll Dividends Workstations: One of the go-to choices for an open plan office, these 6x6 L-shaped workstations by Knoll offer generous overhead and pedestal storage, power connections and shared conference table to encourage employee collaboration. List price is $1,500, Arnolds price is $699. Get 53 percent savings.

Haworth Race Workstations: For businesses craving high-tech connectivity and style, these workstations from Haworth are the best of the best. They feature electric panels, mobile pedestals and attractive glass dividers. List is $4,000, Arnold's is $699. Take advantage of 83 percent savings.

Herman Miller Aeron Chair: Finally, the common man (and woman) can enjoy the sweet curves and maximum comfort that this contemporary desk chair is known for. While the Aeron chair retails for $1,000, you can get one from Arnolds for just $549. That's 45 percent savings.

Find more high-quality used furniture on Arnolds.

5 Things to Know About Herman Miller Cubicles

You, too can bask in the the glory that is Herman Miller office furniture -- you won't regret the investment.

You, too, can bask in the the glory that is Herman Miller office furniture and you won't regret the investment.

When you first started your business, chances are your furniture left a lot to be desired. Sure, you had visions of an uber-contemporary office with a strong design aesthetic, but what you ended up with was a few pieces of mismatched, hand-me-down office furniture and a sad-looking fern.

After toiling away in knock-off furniture obscurity, it's finally time for you to make a serious investment in your office infrastructure, and the first place you're looking for inspiration is the drool-worthy Herman Miller site with its back-cuddling Aeron chairs and its sophisticated, but understated, workstations.

The price tag is a little steep, but there are plenty of reasons you can feel good about investing in Herman Miller.

"The underpinning of almost everything Herman Miller thinks about is stewardship; stewardship of the environment, of people, of communities, and stewardship in the broader society. We believe if we stay on that course, ultimately we will find great things and be a good business," CEO Brian Walker recently told

If supporting a company that believes in people as much (if not more) than making a profit, isn't enough for you to splurge, here are 5 more reasons to consider Herman Miller:

1. Innovation: It used to be that designers needed to anticipate in what direction technology was going and plan for it, but today, technology isn't an afterthought; it's top of mind. Two years ago Herman Miller hired Ryan Anderson for a newly created position, director of future technology, according to a story in the New York Times. His job is to oversee a team of designers who try to come up with solutions to internet-age questions like how an office should look when mobile devices have given workers to freedom to work anywhere. The result for the customer is confidence that the the pieces you buy were created with modern function and gadgetry in mind.

2. Environment: In 1995, ahead of all the trendy go-green movements, Herman Miller opened the Greenhouse: an environmentally friendly office facility in Holland, Mich. The company is a founding member of the Green Building Council and the only office furniture manufacturer on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. It's working toward a zero footprint goal by 2020 and has enlisted suppliers in their quest to reduce air emissions, landfill, process water use, energy and hazardous waste. When you buy a Herman Miller product, you're giving business to a company that has made a commitment to good stewardship. Herman Miller workstations are often made with recycled content and have recyclable components; they are Greenguard certified, meaning they are a low-emitting product that meet indoor air quality standards; they're manufactured with renewable energy; and the wood is purchased from suppliers who use responsible forestry techniques.

3. Timeless Style: Since the middle of the 20th century, Herman Miller has been synonymous with modern design. The company works with outstanding designers from around the world to create pieces that are not only functional, but also stylish and forward-looking. Want more proof that the company's design vision transcends just creating a place for an employee to work for eight hours a day, five days a week? Its Aeron chair is in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Bringing such high-quality design to your office will demonstrate to both your employees and your customers that you are serious about what you do and committed to building a strong and healthy business.

4. Transformable: More than just looking good, Herman Miller office systems can accommodate a number of different office styles (from closed to open office and anything in between) and they pay special attention to the health and well-being of each employee. Businesses are constantly changing so it only makes sense that office furniture is easy to transform along with your company. Herman Miller has several office systems that are not only durable, but also easy to reconfigure whenever you expand, move or re-imagine your office space.

4. Warranty: While Herman Miller furniture is built to last, it doesn't hurt to know that once you invest in a piece, you have good backup to keep it in good working order. Furniture comes with a 12-year warranty that covers everything including electrical components, casters, pneumatic cylinders, tilts and all moving mechanisms. In addition, there's a three-shift warranty that recognizes the changing nature of work and the need for products that can stand up to continuous you as well as a labor-included warranty. Herman Miller will foot the bill for all warranty worked performed in the U.S. and Canada.

Find beautiful used Herman Miller pieces at .

Government Spends Stimulus Money on Office Furniture

This newly renovated National Park Service building at Grand Canyon National Park is on track to receive a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

This newly renovated National Park Service building at Grand Canyon National Park is on track to receive a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

In 2009, in the wake of the country's economic crisis, the Federal Buildings Fund was given $4.5 billion to turn a slew of federal buildings green.

The goal of the fund was to modernize the nation's infrastructure, reduce the federal government's consumption of energy and water and increase the use of clean and renewable sources of energy.

Over the past four years, federal buildings and ports of entry across the country have been completing major renovations using these funds; among the most common improvements have been installing high-performance heating and air conditioning systems,new roofs and solar panels, upgrading lighting and taking water conservation measures (think installing new fixtures in the restrooms, cooling tower treatment and landscape watering improvements).

You might be surprised to learn that as part of these economy-boosting, green initiatives at least one federal administration purchased new office furniture (even the federal government knows how important eco-friendly furniture is).

According to the Washington Examiner, the GSA's Public Building Service used a portion of its $4.7 million allotment from the Federal Buildings Fund to convert executive office suites to open-office workspace and add mobile workstations in its regional building in Washington, D.C.

PBS felt the renovations would help meet the GSA's Zero Environmental Footprint goals which included eliminating its impact on the natural environment; use its government-wide influence to reduce the environmental impact of the federal government; minimize the consumption of energy, water and other resources; and use its purchasing power to drive the market to produce more sustainable products services and workspaces.

PBS also thought it could use its newly renovated green office space as an example to customers and visitors of what a Zero Environmental Footprint workspace might look like, according to a report from the Inspector General.

Why Go Green?

There are plenty of reasons the federal government would opt for an eco-friendly office. Here's what they know about green offices that you should, too:

  • Buying furniture with lower VOC-coatings and adhesives will improve indoor air quality, resulting in happier, healthier employees
  • Employees like the idea of helping the environment, and working in a green office can help boost morale
  • You can make an impact on the future by helping to rescue an estimated 1.5 million desks and 8.25 million chairs from the landfill
  • Customers like working with businesses who use green practices.

How to Green Your Cubicle

What does eco-friendly office furniture look like? It starts with office design. By converting to an open space office, the Public Building Service was able to reduce the amount of floor space it needed for workstations, meaning they didn't have to heat, cool and light as much square footage. What's more, open offices allow more natural light into the building, which not only helps lower energy bills, but also improves employees' attitude and productivity.

Beyond that, buying furniture that is made using sustainable practices or that is recycled is the perfect way to green your cubicle.

Here's what to look for when buying new:

  • Furniture that's made with recycled products
  • Furniture that's recyclable
  • Furniture that's made with rapidly renewable resources (like bamboo)
  • Furniture that's PVC- and formaldehyde- free
  • Furniture that uses water-based finishes
  • Manufacturers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
  • Manufacturing that uses Low or no VOC adhesives or coatings
  • Lamps/lighting that uses efficient LEDs
  • Manufacturers that use renewable energy to help offset production (think wind, solar, hydro, etc.)

Of course, even better than buying brand-new office furniture is giving some old furniture a second chance at life. Rescue it from an eternity spent languishing in the landfill. Buying used and/or refurbished pieces from a place like Arnolds will help put the green in your cubicle and your wallet.

Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS/Flickr

Trends Spotted at the International Furniture Fair

The annual International Furniture Fair (aka the Salon del Mobile) held in Milan, Italy is traditionally where furniture designers and dealers go for inspiration and trend watching. This year, however, rather than taking innovation to bold new places, many exhibitors showed restraint, updating some of their greatest hits rather than creating something totally new, according to the New York Times.

More than 300,000 visitors from 160 countries gathered in Milan April 9-14 for the chance to see how the world's top designers envisioned the future of not just furniture, but also cars, fashion and technology. But with the economy in Europe still limping, many visitors said the mood at the famous expo was more austere and conservative.

Young designers and newcomers offered more wow-factor highlights, while old favorites opted for safer bets. Here's a look at some of the trends spotted at this year's fair:

Classics with a twist: Many established designers showcasing at the fair put a modern spin on more tried-and-true favorites. The classic Eames Hang-it-All coat rack was re-imagined in pastel colors, an old Jean Prouvé’s plywood-and-steel chair was translated into plastic, and the work of old masters like lighting guru Gino Sarfatti were reintroduced and updated with modern LEDs.

Poufs were all the rage at this year's fair, their economical and lightweight, making them a great option for an office wanting to create more collaboration space.

Poufs were all the rage at this year's fair. They're economical and lightweight, making them a great option for an office wanting to create more collaboration space.

Poufs: With the ongoing economic crisis, furniture designers have felt the pressure to make smaller pieces that don't cost as much to transport overseas, according to the New York Times. In an effort to save money shipping, many designers created variations on this small, cushioned seat. At the IFF there were wool poufs, velvet poufs, knitted poufs and asymmetrical poufs.

With a trend toward more collaboration space and mobile offices, look for familiar home furnishings showing up at work.

With a trend toward more collaboration space and mobile offices, look for familiar home furnishings showing up at work.

Home furnishings at work: A gigantic, 13,000 square-foot exhibition by Jean Nouvel called "Office for Living" displayed several different visions of the modern office, many of which incorporated furniture that straddled the line between residential and office. Categories like home and work are becoming meaningless, Andrew Cogan, chief executive of Knoll, told the New York Times.

Tools for Life: One specific piece that generated a ton of buzz was the "Tools for Life" collection designed for Knoll by OMA. The goal was to address the increasingly blurred line between work and home life by creating kinetic pieces that users could interact with in surprising ways. One piece, 04 Counter, consists of three horizontal bars that are stacked like a wall and can be used as a room divider, but that can also cantilever out, transforming it into a structure that invites people to stop, talk and collaborate. Other pieces like 05 Table and 06 Round Table can be raised and lowered allowing people to use them at different heights (anywhere from lounging to standing).

Marble: Although not usually associated with frugality, marble was one of the most popular materials on display this year. Most notable was Australian designer Jim Hannon-Tan's 3 Signs nesting tables made from a single block of marble and Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola's wall and floor coverings, shelving and tables made from 40 different types of repurposed marble that had been crushed during an earthquake that hit Northern Italy last year.

Shop for high-quality, on-trend used office furniture at Arnolds.

Photo courtesy of Domenico di Donna/Flickr
Photo courtesy of Marcin Wickery/Flickr

How to Optimize Space Planning and Office Furniture

Whether you're designing an open office layout or a more traditional floor plan, chances are when shopping for office furniture, you want to maximize both productivity and space.

According to an article on, 90 percent of workers said that better workplace design and layout would have a positive impact on their performance. A 2008 survey by corporate architecture firm Gensler found that half of all employees would be willing to work an extra hour each day if they had better workspace, according to . If that makes your ears perk up, then read on. We rounded up nine ways to optimize any type of office:

When optimizing your office, look for design that gives all employees access to natural light and allows a mix of collaboration and privacy.

When optimizing your office, look for a design that gives all employees access to natural light and allows a mix of collaboration and privacy.

1. Research: The best way to determine what's working and not working in your current office is to conduct a little (or a lot of) research, Gensler vice president Gervais Tompkin told CBS News. To gather information, shadow employees for several days, visit specific areas of the office (ie: conference rooms, break rooms, cubicles, etc.) every half hour to determine how the room is being used, and ask employees to track their own movements. Red flags for poor design might include things like workers meeting at a coffee shop because they can't find meeting space in the office, cubicles that are always empty because workers are spending more time collaborating, employees spending large portions of their days in transit to meeting rooms, and employees bringing in their own desk lamps to avoid fluorescent lighting. When creating a new layout, try to address these red flags specifically.

2. Efficiency: One of the things you should find by tracking your employees movement is how much walking they have to do from place to place within the building or campus. If you're finding that certain employees or departments are spending inordinate amounts of time in transit to places on other floors or across the building, consider keeping departments that work together regularly near each other. Likewise, if there are certain employees who are using the printer/copier/fax machines more often but have to hike to get to them, consider making this office equipment more centrally located.

3. 3D Planning: While there's no way to actually experience what working in a redesigned office will be like, 3D design software helps you get Take a virtual tour of what your office would look like with different types of office furniture. In addition to getting a feel for the aesthetics of different types of furniture, look for problem areas like oversized workstations that block aisles or box in employees.

4. Natural light: We know we say it a lot around here, but it bears repeating: Natural light improves workers' moods, outlook, creativity and productivity so it's worthwhile to make sure everyone has access to it. This means getting rid of the old notions that executives are the only ones who deserve an office with a window. Tear down walls on the perimeter and allow employees who spend most of their day at desks to bask in the sun. The returns could surprise you.

5. Optimized acoustics: One of the biggest complaints about modern open office layout is the noise levels. No matter what type of office floor plan you choose, it's important to be aware of how sound carries and how it effects the productivity of your employees. Make sure to group noisier departments (ie: sales, customer service, etc.) away from those that do more focused work. Create sound barriers around loud office equipment, perhaps surrounding copiers or fax machines with filing cabinets or other office storage. Finally, use panel systems, carpeting and ceiling tiles can help absorb noise.

6. Mix of workspaces: Rather then devote one section of the office to meeting space and one section to employee workspace, spread out different types of work areas throughout, sprinkling small conference rooms for 2-4 person meetings and casual seating areas throughout to encourage collaboration.

7. Wiring: All the wires and cords coming out of your computers, phones and tablets make the office look like a technicolor-spaghetti factory exploded. One way to save space and improve organization is by finding furniture that can house all the wiring so it's not tripping up walkways and getting tangled under desks.

8. Cluster Pods: No, they're not the latest in Jedi air travel. These types of desking solutions (also called circular core stations or cluster workstations) allow businesses to maximize floor space while giving employees more privacy and a larger work surface (that's a win, win, win!). If you're not looking to be that futuristic, there are plenty of other desking options that help use your floor space more efficiently, especially if you want an open office.

9. Ergonomics: This isn't just a way to prevent employees from getting carpal tunnel syndrome or save them from a few back aches. Making sure your office furniture is ergonomically correct will help improve employees long-term health, mood and productivity. To that end, make sure each employee has a high-quality office chair, has access to natural light (which will help reduce eyestrain) and has other tools like wrist rests on their ergonomically designed keyboard and anti-glare computer screens.

To find pieces that fit your optimized office while minimizing the damage to your bank account, be sure to visit Arnolds.

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