Used or repurposed office furniture might seem appealing at first. You think you’ve snagged a stellar chair for a steal. Then, six months later, the chair breaks. You search online for a replacement part to repair your chair, but companies stopped manufacturing that particular piece five years ago. Defeated and left with a broken chair, you buy another.
There are many drawbacks to buying used office furniture. Buying pre-owned furniture is a gamble — you don’t know how it was used in the past, and oftentimes, furniture that looks fine on the surface comes with hidden damage or incompatible parts. Having the right office furniture is instrumental in moving your business forward, so you’ll want to invest in quality, modern sets.
Let’s discuss the cons of used office furniture and why new furniture is the best option for your office.
5 Drawbacks of Buying Used Office Furniture
Most of the time, people choose to buy used office furniture because of lower upfront costs. Although you may be drawn in by the appeal of lower prices, there are many drawbacks to buying pre-owned office furniture. Selecting new office furniture now instead of purchasing furniture that’s been used for several years will save you money — and time — in the long run. Plus, new furniture is a great way to freshen up your office and boost employee morale!
The five biggest cons of buying used office furniture include:
Furniture in poor condition
Higher costs in the long run
Incompatible with other furniture and technology
Missing or broken parts that are no longer manufactured
1. No Warranty or Service Plan
One of the many downsides of buying used office furniture is that it is sold as-is. Because warranties usually only apply to the original buyer, your new-to-you furniture most likely won’t come with a warranty or service plan, and many retailers won’t accept returns. While buying used furniture can save you a little bit of money at first, you’re taking a gamble because you don’t know who has used that furniture in the past.
You’re rolling the dice with the quality of pre-owned furniture, too, so sellers typically have an understanding that they won’t provide a service or a warranty on a broken chair. However, many companies now offer extended warranties on new office furniture that can last from six months to a lifetime. Buying new office furniture will help ensure high-quality furniture that you can easily repair or replace.
2. Condition of the Furniture
Another of the drawbacks of buying pre-owned office furniture is that you can’t tell how previous owners used it. That decent-looking used chair might have been used by an elderly part-time receptionist, or an employee could have regularly used it to race down the hallway. When you buy used or refurbished office furniture, you’re accepting a certain level of risk that it will be low-quality or will quickly break.
It’s often difficult to spot hidden defects like a compressed seat cushion on a chair or a broken adjustment level on a portable conference table. Plus, older furniture is less comfortable and reliable than its modern counterparts. You definitely wouldn’t want your chair breaking in the middle of the office!
3. Higher Overall Cost
While you might be considering buying used furniture because it’s less expensive than new options, especially for small businesses or startups, those early savings could cost you in the future. The costs of repairs, replacements and other services will add up. Plus, you’re on your own to make any repairs, as pre-owned furniture typically doesn’t come with a warranty.
You could buy a new, high-quality ergonomic chair that costs a bit more upfront but will last you the next 10 years, or you could save a bit of cash in the beginning but struggle with an uncomfortable, outdated chair that’s likely to break within the next five years. In the time it takes one new office chair to reach the end of its lifespan, you could very well go through three used or refurbished chairs.
4. Incompatible With Other Furniture and Technology
Buying secondhand office furniture is kind of like replacing shingles on your roof — it’s hard to find ones that match what you currently have. Another downside of buying used or refurbished office furniture is that your office can end up looking like a strange mix of prints, patterns, materials and styles. You have fewer choices when shopping for pre-owned furniture than when buying new, so it’s harder to create a unified office environment. An aesthetically pleasing office boosts employee happiness and productivity, so your furniture should work together.
Beyond cosmetic reasons to not buy used office furniture, used furniture often won’t work with your current furniture and technology. Older furniture might not be optimized for today’s interconnected and digital world, and your chairs might not be able to fit under the new conference table.
5. Missing or Broken Parts
Oftentimes, used office furniture comes with missing and broken parts, some of which are no longer manufactured. A broken drawer on your pre-owned office desk that was manufactured 20 years ago could leave you scrambling to find the right parts to fix it or replace the desk. It’s much more cost-efficient to purchase a durable, reliable new desk rather than continually replacing a pre-owned one.
Cons of Buying Used Cubicles & Workstations
When you buy used cubicles and workstations, you’re limiting the possibilities of how you can arrange your workspace. One of the drawbacks of refurbished cubicles is that you’ll have fewer options to choose from.
It’ll be nearly impossible to get the exact cubicle configuration that you want without purchasing new cubicles, and you’ll have to settle for subpar accessories and antiquated styles. If you purchase a used cubicle and want to refresh it with modern workspace amenities, you’ll have to purchase the accessories separately. It’s much more cost-effective to just purchase entirely fresh cubicles. Used cubicles can also have structural damage, cracks in the framework and faulty electrical work, so they won’t last as long as their modern counterparts.
Modern cubicles, such as the Sunline sliding cubicle system, are now offered in multiple sizes and varieties. Gone are the days of boring, uniform cubicles. Companies can express themselves by choosing unconventionally bright-colored workspaces, including custom printed fabric and color options, or they can make communication between employees easier with customizable panel hights. While there are fewer options while browsing pre-owned cubicles purchasing new options will allow your workspace to be as flexible and functional as possible.
Further, older secondhand cubicles might not support the required equipment to perform modern work. Modern technology requires modern workspaces, and older cubicle models might not have the proper setup to ensure you’re as productive as possible. Today’s cubicle systems come with accessories like electrical options, filing cabinets, sit-stand capabilities and monitor arms. Buying new cubicles will help your business look into the future by ensuring your office’s cubicles are up-to-date.
Cons of Buying Used Office Desks
Like your cubicle, your office desk makes a statement about who you are. Another big drawback of buying a pre-owned office desk is that you’ll have a slimmer selection to browse. Most of the styles available will also probably be outdated and not support your company’s IT needs. Your employees spend most of the workday at their desks, so you want to make them feel valued by supplying them with high-quality desks.
Office ergonomics is the practice of fitting a workstation to the modern worker’s needs. In other words, the worker has a central place in the workspace designing process. An ergonomic office desk will blend better with your current office furniture while promoting proper posture and boosting productivity. You’ll also save time by upgrading your desk, as a new desk will function better to keep operations running smoothly. You won’t have to worry about fixing a wobbly leg or deal with a constantly jamming drawer if you buy new furniture.
Older desk models don’t have the same features as today’s ergonomic office desks. Today’s models focus on your needs to keep you comfortable and productive. Modern ergonomic desks include features like sit-stand desks, which allow you to raise your desktop with an electric lever when you need to stretch your legs. New styles also come in configurations like Arnold’s completely customizable, modular WorkWall desks to help you more efficiently utilize space.
Cons of Buying Used Office Chairs
While humans of the past relied on constant movement and hunter-gatherer lifestyles to survive, today’s office worker often spends upward of eight hours a day sitting on the same chair. Traditional office chairs lack the lumbar support that will keep you feeling pain-free and productive. Choosing the wrong office chair can cause health problems, including:
Pain: A con of buying used office chairs is that most secondhand chairs don’t promote sitting with proper posture, leading to various aches and pains. Sitting in the wrong office chair can cause wrist disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis in the arm, neck pain, misaligned muscles and joints, back pain and chronic headaches.
Poor circulation: Sitting with improper posture for long periods of time can hinder circulation, which can eventually lead to varicose veins. Slower digestion is another consequence of both reduced blood flow and the compression of the lower intestines from poor posture.
Depression: Studies show that proper posture is correlated to an increased mood, while slouching promotes negative thinking. The proper chair can help you sit more upright, which will help you be more alert and positive.
Instead of buying used or refurbished chairs for your office, opt for modern ergonomic chairs. These chairs promote good posture and prevent the negative health consequences caused by older, used office furniture.
While the generic office chairs of the past don’t properly support your back, today’s ergonomic chairs include features like tilt settings, adjustable armrests, headrests and locking mechanisms to keep your custom settings for the next day. With a used office chair, you’ll have to constantly readjust to prevent pain and injury. That’s not the case with ergonomic chairs — they’ll adjust to your needs to help you stay comfortable all day long.
Cons of Buying Used Reception Furniture
Reception is the first thing visitors see when they walk into your business, so you don’t want your reception furniture to be outdated. Because reception furniture communicates your company’s image to clients, you should browse your options before making a selection. One of the cons of buying used reception furniture is that you just don’t have the liberty to choose from a wider selection of styles. Outdated styles can make your business seem less professional. Modern reception and lounge furniture project an image of success to visitors as soon as they walk through the door.
Another disadvantage of used lounge furniture is that employees might not feel as valued. Oftentimes, employees will use reception as an area to take breaks. Because secondhand lounge furniture is not as attractive or comfortable as new, modern styles, your employees won’t feel as appreciated if you buy outdated furniture. A sleek, durable reception furniture set will both save you money in the long run and make your employees feel valued.
Long-term Costs of Buying New Vs. Used Office Furniture
Your furniture communicates who your company is to visitors and increases employee satisfaction. You’ll want to invest in new, durable, ergonomic office furniture that will last. Think about it — you could buy an uncomfortable used chair that will most likely break soon for $50, or you could invest $300 in a comfortable ergonomic chair that will last for seven to 10 years.
When you buy new furniture, you’re also investing in your employees. Employees spend upwards of eight hours a day at the same desk. Nobody wants to sit for that long in an uncomfortable chair or a cubicle that doesn’t have the proper accessories. Your employees will thank you for investing in their comfort. Plus, studies show that happy employees are more productive.
You also have to consider the hidden upfront costs of buying used office furniture. If you buy pre-owned furniture, you’re probably going to have to transport it yourself. Dealers also tend to overcharge for used furniture that’s likely to break sooner rather than later anyway, so it’s best to just stay away from it altogether. New office furniture is the most comfortable, cost-effective option overall.
How to Find Affordable New Office Furniture
Your office furniture says a lot about your company. You’ll want to invest some time in finding the perfect furniture for your office. Browse different options and do your research on the latest trends and research on office furniture. It’s also a good idea to work with a professional who can help evaluate your office furniture needs.
The first step in choosing office furniture is to think about how your employees use the workspace. Think about the purposes of each room and what furniture helps employees accomplish their goals best. Do you have a lot of conferences and meetings? Highly customizable workstations that allow for flexibility and encourage collaboration will serve your office best. Further, consider your office aesthetics. While functionality and durability are the most important factors to consider when selecting new office furniture, design is still important.
After you’ve evaluated how employees use the workspace and your desired aesthetics, consider the following factors when selecting furniture:
Durablility: New office furniture is much more durable than secondhand options. The furniture you choose should also be easy to maintain so you can focus more on work and less on office furniture.
Function: Pick furniture that will serve your business functions. For example, stackable chairs are great if you need temporary seating. Furniture that works well with a flexible office design is best. Choose furniture that can easily turn an open, collaborative space into one with private sections.
Timelessness: Office furniture communicates your company’s brand. While a few pops of color or statement pieces can keep your office up to date with the latest trends, it’s best to mostly choose pieces that have a timeless design appeal.
Request Your Free Quote From Arnold’s Office Funiture
At Arnold’s Office Furniture, we understand the importance of proper office design. Improper furniture slows productivity and makes the office a less pleasant place to be. We’ve been providing quality office furniture for more than 90 years. Our sales and design teams are on hand 24/7 to help you maximize your office space to encourage worker productivity. Shop now or request a free quote today!
Rob has more than 25 years of experience in the office furniture business. He has used his extensive knowledge in his role as Senior Vice President to ensure our office furniture meets the needs of the modern corporate office environment and he regularly lends his expertise to various articles posted on the Arnold’s Office Furniture blog. Learn more about Rob!