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Furniture Buying Guide
When you are working with a limited budget for your office furniture, you may be inclined to put the money elsewhere such as computer equipment or ad space and cut corners on furnishings. You may not care how your office looks if your customers and potential customers never see it. A $10 chair or table may look attractive when there are so many other areas where your business could invest in. However, nice office furniture brings a comfortable and professional look to any office environment. In fact, a nice environment can help improve employee performance by way of proper placement of desks or cubicles with suitable lighting and aesthetics such as a window facing desk, plants and other decor that will give an office a professional feeling.
Depending on your budget, you may find a mix of new and used office furniture to furnish your office with the necessities. If you’re working within a budget you might consider buying new chairs with no frills at a reasonable cost ($200-$400) or you could spend the same amount of money on used, name-brand luxury chairs like Herman Miller Aeronand Knoll. These used chairs go for up to $2000 new and can be obtained at the fraction of the cost if purchased pre-owned. Make sure that the furniture you are considering for your office will make the most effective use of your workspace. Oversized and undersized work areas waste space so keep in mind the number of employees that you have.
Divide your furniture budget up by the number of employees that you have. You may want to consider a shared workstation as an option. A shared workstation could be a large desk or cubicle with ample room for two or more employees and their equipment to fit in comfortably. Tight cramped spaces are never good for anyone, but larger shared workstations can benefit everyone. You may find larger units capable of seating up to 10 or 12 employees to be more cost effective as they are often connected and offer small partitions that offer some privacy to minimize noise. One thing to keep in mind whether you are buying all your desks or cubicles new or used is to make sure everything matches and makes sense! A mismatched office with desks and cubicles or mismatched partitions do not provide a professional atmosphere for anyone.
Organizing your office and arranging your furniture by team or department can help improve office performance. You do not want members of your sales team mixed in with members of your account processing or finance team. Decide how to arrange your workstations by designated areas for different departments. Do not forget to place your project, team, or department leaders where their team is set up. Placing team leaders with their team members promotes the opportunity for team building. Team building is high priority among modern organizations that wish to eliminate the idea of hierarchical seating arrangements. Large spaces where teams can work together will help employees work with each other. When arranging your office layout, think about which employees need to work together and arrange employees’ workspace accordingly.
When planning how to organize your office, you may also want to consider some interior design for a bit of flair. Creating a nice professional atmosphere for your clients and employees with a tight budget is easy with a few simple steps. Team bulletin boards can be dressed up by painting them to match any color scheme you choose to go with. Add some cross ribbons to dress up a cork board, or paint the edge of a dry erase board to give it a more custom look. Just because you could not afford solid wood desks does not mean you cannot dress them up. Plain white desks can be given a wood grain effect with stains designed for smooth surfaces. Old weathered looking wooden desks can be refinished and re-stained to look new. Color stains can add custom accents to wood trim on a table or desk to keep the color scheme of your office.
When selecting a color scheme for your office, remember to stick with gender neutral colors that are light and non-distracting. Remember to select a color that coordinates with your furniture if you decide to paint or stain your furniture. A motivational poster or calming pictures of scenery can help soften the mood in your office. Soft white lighting can help your employees focus as overuse of fluorescent bulbs can sometimes lead to headaches and distraction when paired with bright white walls. Provide an environment that your employees are comfortable in so that they can remain focused throughout the day.
Money Saving Tips
Depending on the time of year you are furnishing your office, you can save money by skimming through sales ads of your local office supply stores and find deals on furniture. Chairs most often go on sale for up to 30% off retail price. Some office supply stores may offer discounts if buying in bulk, so just ask. When shopping for office chairs, keep your employees’ comfort in mind. Remember they have to sit in whatever chairs you select for 8 hours or more each day. Uncomfortable chairs can lead to unhappy employees. Make sure that the workstations you choose have enough leg room and storage to suit your employee’s needs. If you are new to the area or do not know where to start, your local Chamber of Commerce may be helpful in finding budget office furniture retailers.
Shop around and ask previous customers at a store if they were satisfied with their purchases. They may provide guidance on which brands or stores that offer the best quality at the lowest prices. If shopping around online, consider shipping costs. Make sure to check verified product reviews and calculate the time it will take to receive your furniture. If you need a new chair and workstation for two employees who begin work in two or three days, you may be cutting it close on time for your furniture to arrive. If you own or lease your office space, consider ways to cut your long term costs. For example, if you have areas in which your employees and clients are constantly walking through, floor mats and area rugs that are placed in high traffic areas will extend the life of your floor. Accidents happen and coffee or food stains are often hard to get out of carpet. By placing a low cost area rug in your break room area, you can avoid having to replace the entire carpet later on.
Also please consult our glossary of common office furniture terms to become more of an expert!