Guide to Buying Office Furniture.
by Mindy Zielfelder
Choosing office furniture for your home is not always as simple as it seems. Be prepared and well-versed before you start shopping.
Before your eyes, papers are haphazardly scattered on the tile floor, the computer is in a cramped corner on a couple of milk crates, and you're sitting in a purple beanbag while you evaluate your finances online. After printing out some paperwork to file, you look to the laundry basket "filing cabinet" in utter despair, and decide it might be time to make a small investment in your sanity: office furniture.
As a furniture buyer for a large insurance company, I have an insider's scoop on the different brands and styles of office furniture available, from the major manufacturers to store brand varieties, as well as the process of buying and installing quality furniture. Also, I can empathize; I was one of those people who used a laundry basket to store my mortgage papers.
I've found from working alongside many different people and departments, that price is always the first consideration when purchasing office furniture. Many people tend to want to pay nothing for something. Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware! You will get what you pay for. You want to get good quality product without getting hosed by eager or unwitting salesmen. Keep your expectations realistic.
Step One: Decide On Your Layout
Furniture items abound, and everyone wants to sell you something. So, before ever stepping foot out the door in your quest for the perfect system, make sure you have a pretty good idea what pieces you are going to require in order to work more efficiently. Consideration should be given to the amount of work surface space you will need, the flow and ergonomics of the layout, the amount of lighting, the storage, the seating, and if you don't have a private hard-walled office in your home, then possibly, a partition system.
When considering the depth of your work surface, 24" is adequate. More than that and objects such as your stapler or paper clips could be located too far out of your reach. Your goal is to be able to remain seated and still reach in all directions on your desk. Your computer monitor should be in a position about 14-16" away from you. Frequently used storage compartments should be located to your left and right, or overhead, but as close within range as possible to avoid standing and reaching. Reaching consistently could result in an injury. A keyboard drawer will save on space, and an articulating platform will help you to position your keyboard in an ergonomically correct fashion.
Identify where you will place your new workstation. Once you've identified a location, take some measurements and design a coarse floor plan. Consider the dimensions and placement of your desk, whether it is a simple table desk, a corner system, a U-shaped workstation, a workstation with a peninsula-style surface, or an L-shaped workstation. Decide whether you will have pedestal drawers on the desk, or if you will purchase a freestanding, rolling pedestal for filing. Hutches and overhead cabinetry are excellent for storage in a small area, where the only space available is vertical. Also, consider whether you will purchase a lateral file or vertical file for additional storage. A lateral file is wider than a vertical file, whereas a vertical file is deeper and comes in letter or legal size. Note the location of your filing cabinets on the drawing.
If you do not have the luxury of a separate room to call your office, you may consider a panel system. Partitions are used mostly in corporate office environments, however, there's nothing stopping you from using them in your home, except possibly aesthetics. If you are a telecommuter and need a place of little distraction, then it's an investment worth considering. Your company probably won't cover the cost of a panel system, so you may have to. You can generally choose from a wide selection of fabric choices when picking out panels. Make sure to note the placement of panels on your drawing, as well as the sizes of each or size of the space.
If you don't adequate overhead lighting, then you will want to consider task lighting. If you plan to purchase overhead cabinets or a hutch, the task lighting can be affixed to them. If that is not within your budget, then a simple desk lamp of your choice should suffice. Make sure you have ample lighting in order to reduce or eliminate eyestrain.
If you plan to be in your office for several hours at a time, don't skimp on a new chair just to save money. You could be hurting yourself in the long run. When it comes to working effectively, a good chair goes a long way. It is the single most important expenditure in your office setup. Choose a chair that is fully adjustable if possible. This means that the arms should be able to adjust up and down, in and out. Check for seat height adjustability, back height adjustability, back tilt, seat tilt, and seat slide. Make sure the casters are of a durable quality and move well on carpet. In addition to the adjustability features of the chair, it is important that the cushion fits your body like a glove. A chair that is designed well, ergonomically, should have a contour that molds to the body. Make sure to sit in the chair before you buy it. If something seems off to you the first time you sit in it, the feeling will only get stronger over time.
If you are a larger person, keep in mind that a majority of chairs are only covered by warranty up to 225 pounds. The pneumatic cylinders in these chairs will break quite easily once that weight limit has been reached, so choose wisely.
If your office setup is going to be in a thickly carpeted area, you may want to purchase a chair mat. Be careful of slipping, however. Caster based chairs can slip easily on chair mats in certain situations.
Step Two: Decide on a Color Scheme, Style, and Finish
Take a look around your office. Is it more country charm? Is it traditional, like a lawyer's office, with Queen Anne style legs on the furniture and intricate patterns in the curtains? Is it more modern, with simple rounded edges and clean, straight lines? Or is it ultra-contemporary with sleek silver and primary colors? Your new office suite should reflect your design scheme. There are so many choices out there, that it's easy to fall in love with something that doesn't fit with the flow of your home décor. Knowing the tone of your dwelling prior to getting to the store will help prevent you from falling into that trap.
When shopping for furniture, look for: quality, quality, quality. Every manufacturer is able to provide a specification sheet that details the durability tests, loading capacity, building components, and dimensions, including thickness. Request this information from your vendors or look them up online, and compare notes.
If you are someone that constantly changes your living arrangements, then you want a product that is modular, meaning it can be moved easily and frequently. Many of the pressboard components fall apart after the first disassembly, and it's not difficult to lose the parts and pieces needed to put it back together. Metal components are generally more modular, although heavy.
When searching for the right furniture, keep in mind that many types of furniture come in multiple parts and pieces. If you will be the person assembling it, you might want to limit the amount of work required to put everything together by choosing a set that has fewer pieces.
Bolting file cabinets to the wall or floor to avoid tipping is a good idea if you decide to purchase a 4- or 5-drawer file cabinet. You don't want your two-year-old to come along and tug on one of the drawers, only to have it fall on top of him. If the top drawer is pulled out all of the way, it could cause an out-of-balance situation and the file could end up falling on you and result in an injury. You didn't decide to buy office furniture only to end up in the hospital!
All that work has paid off, and now before you is a beautiful office set-up that's user-friendly, comfortable, and durable. You paid what you expected and got what you wanted, and now the hunt is over. It's time to sit in that cozy new chair, put your feet up on your new desk, and lean back for a quick nap….except that there's a laundry basket full of paperwork that still needs filing.
Look, I can help you with purchasing furniture, but I can't help you with that.
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Choose office furniture that is functional, safe
Article from the Austin Business Journal - by Anne Brockhoff.
So you've decided the mismatched desks, scratched file cabinets and creaky chairs need to go. But what do you replace them with?
Before buying a truckload of trendy office furniture, determine what employees need to perform their jobs safely and efficiently, and carefully compare dealers and services.
There's more to the decision than a choice between the lime green retro chairs or massive mahogany desk. Office furniture today must also be selected with an eye toward safety, productivity and flexibility.
"We're seeing more of a humanizing of the workplace," says Donald Young, a spokesman for the Houston-based International Facility Management Association. "Companies are realizing the people in the furniture have a personality, a set of needs and wants and ways of doing work."
For some companies, that means making employee safety a top priority. The science of designing physical work spaces -- ergonomics -- was once considered an office fad. Now it drives furniture design and selection.
According to the IFMA, cumulative trauma disorders, including repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, will account for half of all business medical costs by the year 2000. Ergonomically designed furniture is believed to reduce the occurrence of injuries by minimizing extreme or awkward postures and movements.
The key is adjustability. Furniture that lets users raise or lower keyboards, chairs and work surfaces can improve employee comfort and health while reducing workers compensation and other costs.
How employees work also is an important factor in selecting office furniture.
The right office furniture can boost individual employee productivity by increasing comfort and reducing distractions. This is especially true as more companies move to open office design. Cubicles with taller acoustical panels and "white noise" technology to mask the hubbub of a busy office are just two options.
Such returns are important to consider, since purchasing office furniture is likely to be a significant investment.
Know the deal, and the dealer
New office furniture doesn't come cheap, and a basic, middle-market workstation could cost $2,000 to $3,000 installed. Even a reconditioned workstation could set you back $1,200 to $1,500, not including installation.
In the face of such an expense, take a close look at the dealer. Consider each dealer's knowledge, level of service and product quality. Does he offer design services? What about installation? Can he advise you on efficient space usage? Are these services included in a package deal or priced separately?
Ask to see offices where the dealer's products already are installed. Manufacturers sometimes will offer factory tours to large customers.
A knowledgeable sales staff with access to a wide variety of furniture lines gives you greater flexibility. And, if you have several floors of an office building to furnish, a dealer's design services could be quite valuable. On-staff designers can plan your office space down to the outlet, taking everything from lighting and computers to plants, into account.
When it comes to installation, make sure the dealer does more than just unload the truck. Companies moving from one location to another tend to move over the weekend in order to minimize downtime. Is the furniture dealer you're considering up to the task? Will the dealer support the installation? What about the old furniture? Will the dealer buy it from you?
New, good quality furniture should last 10 to 15 years, but once you're done with it, used furniture can bring up to 25 percent of its original value -- depending on age, brand and condition.
In fact, used furnishings and reconditioned furniture -- used furniture that has been resurfaced, repainted or otherwise upgraded -- are good alternatives for economical shoppers.
Purchasing reconditioned or used office furniture has the same pitfalls as buying a used car. Look for a reputable dealer who puts a high priority on quality and service, and avoid the seedy salesman who spiffs up his merchandise with a new coat of paint and unloads it at bargain basement prices.
If you are looking for a short-term furniture solution, rental and leasing also are options. If you just need something to set the computers on for 30 to 90 days, consider renting. Leasing terms run longer, usually three to five years, and allow fast growing companies greater flexibility.
Anne Brockhoff is a Kansas City-based freelance writer.
How to choose office furniture
U-shaped desks or L-shaped? Vertical cabinets or lateral? Bankers lamps or torchieres? When you're outfitting an office, the furniture choices can seem endless.
But before you start throwing items in your online or in-store shopping cart, industry experts recommend that you consider several main issues, including budgeting, space allocation and business image.
* Determine how much you can realistically spend on furniture, then research places with the best prices and selections. Furniture dealers, office supply stores and online catalogs are obvious stops. If you order online or through catalogs make sure you're familiar with the product and check the return policy in case the furniture doesn't meet your expectations. Also check to see if the dealers will install your furniture.
* The three main considerations in choosing office furniture are: budgeting, space allocation and business image.
* For those on a tight budget, don't discount government and university surplus sales.
* Take an inventory of essential items - desks, chairs, lamps, filing cabinets and bookshelves - before spending money on frills.
For those on a tight budget, don't discount government and university surplus sales. Call your county or state administration office for sale dates and procedures. Sometimes the items are already priced; otherwise, they may be sold by sealed bids. You will be required to arrange for the items to be moved.
* Consider the number of hours you and your employees plan to spend in the office. For example, if your work is primarily outside sales, you may be able to forgo expensive or ergonomically designed pieces. But if your job is computer-centric, such as accounting or programming, appropriate lighting, ample desk space and a comfortable chair are essential.
* Industry experts also advise that you calculate the size of your office, and figure how the furniture will accommodate the employees - including future workers as your business grows æ and the anticipated number of visitors.
* Think about the image your business is trying to project and buy furniture and artwork to match. An upstart paralegal service will likely use more conventional pieces and corporate photography or art, while a graphic design shop is expected to look funkier, with modern paintings, even sculpture. In either case, local artists looking for exposure to a wider audience might be eager to hang their work in your office for free.
Now you're ready to shop. Take an inventory of essential items - desks, chairs, lamps, filing cabinets and bookshelves - before spending money on frills. While the brushed steel lamp may seem irresistible, consider going with chrome and funnel the savings into items that can affect the quality of your work environment, such as an ergonomic computer keyboard or deluxe desk chair.
Don't overlook communal furniture such as conference and breakroom tables and reception chairs, and remember to include small items like trash cans, fire extinguishers, desk organizers, coat racks and bulletin boards.
If you've ever spent eight hours sitting in a wobbly, low-back chair, keyboarding at a dimly lit table - and have the carpal tunnel to show for it - you know the most important components of an office are chairs, desks and lighting. The chair seat should be 16 to 20 inches high and be deep enough so that it doesn't hit the back of your lower legs. Make sure the chair is adjustable, has tilt tension, armrests and offers lower and upper back support.
When you sit in the chair, there should be 1 inch of space on either side of your body.
To avoid eyestrain, appropriate lighting is essential. Ambient light should shine from the side of your computer. Don't put a light in front of your eyes or place your computer in front of a window. A desk lamp can help illuminate your work, but don't let light shine onto the computer screen. If glare is still a problem, consider purchasing an anti-glare screen for your monitor.
With your personal comfort taken care of, it's time to buy items that will help keep the workplace organized. When choosing bookshelves, Vishal Rao, editor of the Homebased Opportunity Web site advises buying wooden or metal. Fiberboard will often warp or sag. The shelves should not be more than 6-feet high because they can tip over, particularly if you have a home office with small children who can climb. If your budget allows, buy fireproof cabinets.
A computer credenza can become messy, with a tangle of cords spilling onto the desktop. Instead, purchase a desk or credenza that allows you to hide the wires, including those for printers, scanners, external hard drives and other accessories. If your computer has a separate CPU, you might want to buy a trolley so you can roll it beneath your desk. When selecting a computer desk, be sure your keyboard fits the shelf. Some keyboards, particularly ergonomic models, can be too large.
Once you've purchased the furniture, take heart, quality pieces should last 10 to 15 years.
Original article from:http://www.bizjournals.com/business_resources/reference_business_advice/topics/small_office/officefurniture.html
10 Tips for choosing Office Furniture.
Office Furniture is arguably as important, if not more important than the location of your office. You and your colleagues will be spending around 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the office.
1. Make sure the office furniture you choose fits the room and that there is enough room to open cabinets and drawers, and that people have enough room to get to their desks, and in and out of the office.
2. Office furniture needs to be suitable for purpose. A cool desk isn't necessarily functional. Café style chairs and tables might look good in a catalogue, but are they appropriate for a firm of solicitors?
3. Don't forget extra office furniture items like filing cabinets, book cases and computer stands as these will provide additional functionality and storage space for your office.
4. Make sure that your office furniture is ergonomic. It is important that it is comfortable as well as stylish and practical. Health and safety requirements need to be adhered as many strains, aches and other work related ailments can be avoided.
5. Divide the room where possible by having separate areas for different types of staff. Those who spend all day on the phone will have different furniture needs to those who need room to view design ideas or those who need peace and quiet.
6. Different moods can be created by using different coloured chairs, desks, or tables.
7. Stylish hi tech modern designs, or traditional woods? What you choose will depend on the nature of your business. Your office furniture may be fashionable today, but will it still look stylish in 5 years time?
8. Think about the impression your office furniture has to give to clients as well as staff. Office furniture for a firm of accountants needs to be different from a graphic design company or a call centre. The office might be part of a factory or a restaurant or a shop, so it needs to be appropriate and in keeping with the company ethos. A design agency will want to appear creative and vibrant, whilst a solicitor's office will want to appear calming and welcoming.
9. Think about the future, how easy is it to expand the office layout, using your chosen furniture? New employees or technology or processes and procedures may mean that the office layout has to change frequently. Can you move desk around yourselves, or do you need the fitters to take the desks apart so they can be rebuilt in a different part of the office?
10. Good office furniture will encourage employees to be more productive, by ensuring that all they need is at hand, and they can carry out their duties without disturbing others.
These tips should help you to decide which office furniture is best for your needs and will meet the needs of your staff, and give the right impression to your clients and other visitors. The right office furniture will look good, be comfortable and last a long time. Why not consider updating your office furniture today?
Office Innovations can help you find the most appropriate office seating. Find out how Office Innovations can improve your productivity, comfort with ergonomic office furniture.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=M_James
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