26 Feb

Testimonial from Mike Holman

Dear Richard,

I wanted to write and thank you for the desk you second hand office chairsrecently delivered to me and the service you provided. When we initially spoke I specified that I wanted a certain size and colour of desk to perfectly fit the room and match the other furniture within my home office. Although not a common color you sourced a fantastic match which I extremely pleased about and its fits perfectly into the limited space. Your team who delivered the desk were great. They arrived when you said they would and then assembled the desk with no hassle, positioned it where I wanted it, and were in and out within 20 minutes.

As always, doing business with you is a pleasure. You listen to the needs and then solve the problem with great ease, what else can anyone ask for?

Thank you again for your help.

Kind regards
Mike Holman
BNI Executive Director
office furniture manchester

4 Jun

Current Trends in Office Design

The last decade has seen some big changes in the way we work. With business rent and rates on the increase, companies have become very conscious of the need to maximise the efficiency of their office space and, with an increase in remote working and flexible hours, not every desk is used all the time.

Gone are the traditional cellular offices, replaced by open-plan multi-functiosecond hand office furniturenal workspaces and an increase in flexible working. Internal meetings have generally become less formal, increasing the need for breakout/social areas and reducing the use of boardroom space.

Studies have shown that employee productivity can be significantly increased by creation of positive working environments with flexible layouts that encourage people to collaborate and communicate. Equally importantly, the design and layout of your offices say a great deal about your attitude to business and tells existing and potential clients what you’re all about, by stamping your personality and ethos on the business environment.

So how do you go about creating your “office style”? Here’s some ideas based on the latest trends.

 

Keeping it Natural

This is all about going back to nature. The main colours are neutral – brown, beige and cream – with complimenting wood furniture, natural materials and laminate/wooden flooring. Although you have to be careful to pick the right shade and tone, green walls can give a feeling of getting back to nature, with grained or leaf type patterns helping to complete the overall look.

This is design in its simplest form; clean lines, soft seating, uncluttered surfaces, lots of natural light, soft artificial lighting. Inclusion of live planting is also being more widely used, not just for its visual impact, but for its contribution to the atmosphere as plants provide a natural Solution to cleaner indoor air

Creating Focus

Essentially a combination of an oversized notice board and company newsletter, many businesses are now creating focus walls in their open office space or reception areas. Filled with all sorts of company news, etc, it can be used to effectively communicate not only with employees but also clients. Containing written, pictorial and even video content, it can be a great way to engage and let everyone know what the business is all about. It’s important to keep refreshing it though; no-one wants to see the same old information week in, week out. Keep it fresh and keep it current and make it attractive and engaging to get maximum benefit.

Hot Desking

This is probably the most widespread trend within office environments at the moment, where employees do not have a designated desk and merely choose any available space to work from as and when they are in the office. Fuelled by the increasingly mobile workforce, it can be a brilliant tool for encouraging communication and collaboration and can prevent any employees feeling isolated or “out of the loop”. This has also been prompted by an increase in the cost of office space and the rising trend for remote working, meaning that it is unlikely that 100% of the workforce will be in the office at any one time and it therefore prevents space being specifically allocated and left redundant when not in use. It does take a shift in mind-set for many, however, particularly those used to having their own designated space, and so a period of adjustment should be factored in.

Let there be light

Studies have shown that, as we are not by nature nocturnal, we are far more productive when we are exposed to daylight. Therefore the more natural light you can get into your offices, the better and office refurbishments are increasingly including larger windows and skylights.

Obviously, it’s not always possible to alter the structure of your existing building to accommodate more windows, but if you’re looking for new offices, it’s definitely something you should consider when there are a number of premises to choose from. Not only will employees be happier but also, in these days of rising electricity prices, the less you have to spend on artificial lighting, the better.

To maximise the benefits of available light, ensure the most frequently used desks are placed so they get the maximum benefit of any available natural light. You should also position larger items – such as cupboards and screens – to ensure they are not obscuring windows.

Softly Softly

Hard surfaces amplify noise, and with the increase in open plan working, this can create issues.

Therefore including a large proportion of soft furnishings is becoming increasingly popular in office design. Including different textures and fabrics can also help to improve the overall working environment and create useful differentiation for areas of different use. Screens can be covered in a variety of fabrics, and are useful for delineating areas of different use. Breakout areas now contain comfortable chairs and more “relaxed” seating, but take care to ensure the fabrics are stain resistant and easy to clean to ensure hygiene standards are maintained.

Many designers also believe that the standard break-out/social areas in offices are now virtually redundant, with employees preferring more comfortable surroundings, not just for breaks from work, but also for more informal meetings. Hence there has been a rise in the inclusion of armchairs, sofas and even beanbags available for staff to use.

Going Green

Business are becoming increasingly green-aware, with more investment being made in ensuring everyone does their bit for the environment. People are demanding to know how their furniture is made and, more importantly, what it’s made from, ensuring that the wood sources are sustainable and environmentally friendly. With an eye on their carbon footprint and “furniture miles” many businesses are keen to source furniture as locally as possible, thus reducing transport costs and carbon emissions. There is also an increase in demand for more natural fabrics and materials, both in hard and soft furnishings, as businesses want to shout about their “green “credentials.

It all goes to show it’s worth putting a little thought into your office design. It can make all the difference to the way you do business.

4 Jun

Is back, neck and muscle pain hurting the UK economy?

Did you know that back pain is the second most common cause of long-term sickness in the UK after stress? In fact, around 7.6 million working days were lost due to work-related back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders from 2010 to 2011 and, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), almost 31 million hours of work were lost last year alone as a direct result of back, neck and muscle disorders. They also concluded that musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions accounted for more prolonged absences than any other ailment.

Although the UK workforce has largely swapped heavy manual labour for sitting in offices, MSKs have been the primary cause of absenteeism for the past five years and the UK has one of the highest rates in Europe. This clearly has an impact on profitability; it has been estimated that MSK pain costs the EU economy approximately 240bn euros (£200bn) every year.

So what’s the problem? Why, in an age when we are supposed to be more aware than ever of how our bodies work and, more importantly, how to keep them fit and healthy, is this an increasing problem?

Most of us will have back pain at some point in our lives and although painful, in most cases the pain usually clears up after about six weeks. However, for some, the damage is more permanent and can result in long term absence from work.

“People forget how common musculoskeletal problems are,” Prof Anthony Woolf, a rheumatologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital has recently stated, ” With around 30% of all disability in the UK being due to these conditions.”

The most common causes of back pain are strained muscles or ligaments, wear and tear, and are often caused by bad posture and stress. As we spend more time sitting – often in the wrong way on the wrong type of chair – than ever before, it’s not surprising that our bodies are starting to suffer.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” explains Prof Steve Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation, “The more sedentary you are the worse it is for your health.”

 

Offices, it turns out, can be harmful environments.

While there are still significant numbers of employees carrying out physical and manual labour, involving heavy lifting or awkward movement, improvements in workplace conditions and stricter health and safety legislation has helped reduce the amount of injuries incurred in those jobs.

No such legislation has been applied to “sitting” however, and the majority of deskbound workers fail to adequately address their health risks, often dismissing the “work station assessment officer” as an unnecessary inconvenience. As a result, preventative measures, such as keeping chairs, desks and computers at the right height, are often neglected.

Furthermore, when the warning symptoms start to appear, people are often slow to react, but quick, effective action can reap positive rewards. A recently completed two-year trial in Madrid showed that the timely and accurate assessment and treatment of 13,000 workers with MSKs who had been off work for five days or more, lead to their time off work being reduced by 39% in the long term. The Work Foundation estimates that more than 60,000 Britons would be available for work if the Madrid tactics were replicated in the UK.

Even the most careful among us are at risk of MSKs; indeed, alarm bells have been ringing for some time over the impact of musculoskeletal diseases.

“I describe suffering from musculoskeletal disorders as being like a Ferrari without wheels,” says Prof Woolf, who is also the chair of Bone and Joint Decade. “If you don’t have mobility and dexterity, it doesn’t matter how healthy the rest of your body is.”

And it’s not just your back that’s at risk. The onset of a persistent back condition is likely to have a negative impact on the rest of your body too. Having an MSK also dramatically increases the likelihood of suffering from depression, says the Work Foundation. And according to the ONS, depression accounts for the third largest amount of missed work days in the UK – 15 million.

It seems that taking good care of your back means you are taking good care of your body as a whole and as we always say “good chairs make good backs”. So it’s worth taking a good look at what you’re sitting on and thinking about how it makes you feel.

4 Jun

The Office; How Did We Get Here?

For so many of us, the office is where we spend most of our time. It’s practically where we live. We seem to spend the majority of our waking hours in the office and it’s true that, sometimes, our colleagues see more of us than our families do. Some think of this as a modern phenomenon, something that has arisen as a result of the growing economy and ever increasing demands on business and trade, but in fact, the “office” goes back a very long way. Look back over the centuries and there’s a lengthy history of people chained to their desks – we all, surely, know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge? A work of fiction, it’s true, but firmly rooted in the reality of the times, with clerks like Bob Cratchit working very long hours for very little reward.

So how did we get to the offices of today and what, in fact, is an office?office clearance

The best description we could come up with is that it’s wherever the work gets done. That means a skyscraper counts, as does a car, or a coffee shops and so, too, are people’s homes – and it was in just these last two places in the City of London in the 18th Century that most “office” work was done.

In the early days of the “City”, business owner, traders and merchants, bankers and money lenders, tended to live above the shop. Often the clerks they employed lived there too, although you can guarantee their accommodation was significantly less glamorous! Meetings were usually held in other people’s offices or in popular local coffee houses. Although theses have themselves changed, we all know how popular they still are for meeting up with contacts, colleagues and prospective clients. It seems that not much has changed over the centuries, then.

 

It was 1729, however, in Leadenhall Street, just a few hundred yards from where Lloyds of London currently sits, that saw the arrival of one of London’s first purpose-built offices, which originally housed the East India Company. Incorporated in 1600, the company grew steadily to account for half of the world’s trade, specialising in basic commodities such as cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium and played a very large part in the beginnings of the British Empire in India. Over time it grew to become a very large and complex organisation and one which necessarily generated vast amount of paperwork and so needed a purpose-built “office” to handle all of that. Now, back in those days, the paperwork moved very slowly, with mail, particularly from India, one of its main markets, taking 608 months to arrive. However, when it did arrive, the quantities were incredibly high.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that commercial offices for conducting business first appeared in the United States. The railroad, telegraph and then the telephone were invented and enabled businesses to be established at various different locations and still communicate with each other. This also enabled manufacturing companies to set up their administrative function at some distance from where the product was actually made. Hence branch offices started to appear. Then the administrative function was divided again into areas such a purchasing, finance, etc. and offices became more and more common. The rise of the office was also helped by inventions such as electric lighting, the typewriter, and calculating machines.

However, perhaps the greatest symbol of the office is the office chair and desk. During the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, new office equipment and furniture were popular exhibits. The exposition featured fancy rolltop desks and novel new filing systems, all of which proved to be incredibly popular with businesses men who wanted to be seen as being at the forefront of innovation and development. The flat topped desk we know today evolved after the invention of the typewriter; clearly such a machine could not be efficiently used on a rolltop desk!

By 1900, many thousands of people were working as secretaries, stenographers, and typists in offices in London. With only the most important employees or management having their own allocated, private spaces, offices were generally large open spaces, with row upon row of desks. They were noisy, cluttered and badly ventilated, and there was no thought whatsoever given to Health and Safety!

This is mainly because early 20th century modernist architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright saw walls and rooms as too authoritarian and divisive. The spaciousness and flexibility of an open plan, they thought, would help office workers to feel part of the organisation and work more productively as a result. However, the rise of the open plan office was driven more by the need for business owners to pack as many people into as small a space as possible, than by any desire for the freedom and democratic ideals of their employees. Consequently, the average early 20th century office had the appearance of a white-collar production line.

Cubicles or cellular offices became popular again in the 1950’s. Driven by German design, the endless rows of desks were broken up into smaller groups and partitions put up, in an attempt to create more heart into the workspace. And cellular offices remained popular for the next 50 years or so, with everyone seeing having their own office space, preferably with a door and window on the outside world as a sign of achieving some level of status within an orgainisation.

And now we have come full circle, with open-plan offices again at the forefront of modern design. However, gone are the series rows of desks, to be replaced with smaller groupings scattered across a larger area, and incorporating relaxation areas and more formal meeting areas, all within one single open space. This is, for now at least, seen as the right way to work, fostering communication and collaboration and encouraging everyone to work together for the common goals of the business.

How long will it be, we wonder, before everyone wants their own office again?

4 Jun

How to Get Your Office Working for You

The most important feature of good office design is functionality, i.e. making sure it does the job you need it to. Unfortunately, all too often our offices are crammed with so many office machines, equipment, furniture, supplies and pieces of paper that offices are completely dysfunctional places, where too much “stuff” actually hampers, rather than helps, the efficient production of work.

office clearances

For example, how many times do you have to move things out of the way before you can sit down and work? Are there so many papers on your desk that they’re spilling onto the floor? Do you need to contact a search and rescue team to find your mobile phone under all the things you’ve accumulated in your workspace? Are there so many cable snaking around the floor, the carpet resembles Spaghetti Junction? Then it’s definitely time to roll up your sleeves and organise your office.

You see, you can have the most attractive, up-to-date office design available and still not be able to accomplish what you need to do unless you make sure everyone can actually get on and get the job done.

So we’ve come up with a list of tips to help you makeover your office space to give you an environment you really want to work in.

Clear the Way

Someone we know has a table in the middle of his office. This means every time he needs to get a file or document, he has to either jump over or walk round it to get anything practical done. And does he ever use it for what it’s intended, i.e. to put coffee on? No. So we moved it. Simple. Now he’s actually just walking across his office every time he needs a file and not trying to complete an assault course.

Take a good look at where all your occasional furniture is placed. Does it really need to be there? Would it be easier for everyone if you either moved it or got rid of it entirely? You need to be able to move round the office space freely and easily, without worrying about what might get in your way

 

Clear your Desk

Some people are particularly bad at keeping a whole lot of paperwork on their desks. Plus they have a laptop/computer and a phone and a calculator and a stapler….. the list just goes on and on.

Our advice is to take it all off. Yes, all of it! Wow, bet you’d forgotten your desk looked that good (if it’s one of ours it deserves to be shown off, really it does). Now put back the most important things, starting with your computer, your phone and any other essential IT. But then stop and take a good hard look at all the other “stuff” and ask whether it really has to be on your desk. The general rule of thumb would be, if you don’t use it every day, it has no place on your desk and you need to find it a home somewhere else. Use this as an opportunity to deal with all your outstanding paperwork and filing. And this leads neatly into our next tip………

Get Some Storage

There’s endless ranges of small storage items to cope with the day to day paraphernalia such as pens, paperclips and rubber bands, so get some and get a place for everything. This is also an ideal opportunity to decide whether it needs to go on (or even in) your desk at all. If you’ve only got limited desk space to start with, you can clear even more by giving some of your office essentials their own separate space. For instance, your printer shouldn’t be on your desk – consider investing in a printer stand. Another great piece of furniture is what’s known as a pedestal; sliding under the desk when not in use, it can be pulled out to create additional working space when required. Most come with useful drawers for storage too. If you have more space, consider a separate small table which can be used for temporary storage, meetings, or even an additional working space. But don’t put it in the middle of the room!

If your desk is continually cluttered with files, books or manuals, consider investing in shelving or an additional cupboard that can store files as well as general materials.

Improve Your View

Sit in front of your computer with your hands on the keyboard and look away from the monitor, in all directions. Is there anything you want to see in your range of vision? If not, add something worth looking at, such as a picture or a plant. Consider a noticeboard/whiteboard where you can put up things to inspire you – family pictures, for example. Which leads us on to….

Move That Desk

Just because you’ve always sat in the same place, facing in the same direction for years doesn’t mean you can’t change it – space and logistics allowing, of course. When you’ve organised everything else and sorted your storage and moved all the superfluous furniture, take a long hard look at how your office desk is positioned within the room. Moving your desk can give you a whole new perspective and even make you more productive. If your office desk is jammed into a corner, for example, pull it out into the middle of the room. If your desk is facing away from the only window, consider turning it around so you can take advantage of the increase in natural light.

Try the Reach Test

Now your desk is oh so clean and tidy, sit at it and do some work. Is everything you need within easy reach? If not, move things around so that the things you need the most are within easy reach. You shouldn’t have to get up from your desk if you need to staple something, for example.

You should also take note of the things you don’t use; they should be moved somewhere else or put away completely in some of your lovely new storage!

We’re all individuals and so it makes sense to create a space that works for you and the way you like to work. Finding the right set-up may take time, but get it right and you’ll find you can work easier and more productively and that should make you feel happier too.

Time to get sorted.

4 Jun

Is Standing the New Sitting?

office furniture clearance

Could offices change from sitting to standing?

The human body wasn’t designed to sit for long periods. Yet millions of people have to do just that, day in and day out at work, putting undue strain on their spines and, as we’ve already highlighted in an earlier post, causing musculo-skeletal disorders which are costing the UK economy a fortune.

However, until recently, the design of the standard office desk had changed very little since it was first thought of and most of us sit at them for the majority of our waking hours.

Many think that sitting all day in the office is just what you have to do and then try to compensate for all that inactivity by heading to the gym at the end of the day. However, recent studies have shown that this is little or no compensation and, if we want to remain fit and healthy in the office, we need to be standing up more.

All the leading studies point to the fact that sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for you and, as a result, a growing number of businesses, particularly in the US, are encouraging their employees to work at standing desks.

But when it comes to the average office, changing the way employees work can present a major challenge. There’s the overall layout of the office to be considered, first and foremost and, more importantly for many businesses still struggling with the rebound from recession, expending large amounts of cash on new furniture, when the existing desks, etc. are perfectly functional, is not an option.

Take call-centres for example. The current, most common arrangement of rigid rows of desks, maximising the available floor-space to keep overheads to a minimum is not going to suit a shift towards more flexible work stations and these are the very staff that tend to spend the longest time sitting at their desks.

So if you did want to consider switching to standing desks, what sort of expenditure are you looking at?

Prices vary widely according to overall quality and design, but expect to pay in the region of £500 plus for one of the new sit/stand desks. This is significantly more than a standard desk, which can be bought in as cheaply as £150. This represents a considerable cost to larger organisations who may have around 1,000 staff working on-site at any one time, and many small businesses simply don’t have the budget to even consider changing.

There’s also the issue of choice. Although research suggests that alternating between sitting and standing at your desk to work is beneficial to both the employees and employer, making the transition can take some time and not every employee will be keen to make that change.

Professor Alan Hedge, expert in Ergonomics at Cornell University is sceptical about how far workers can change. Some will simply want to stay sitting, he points out. Employers also have to then consider how those at the new standing desks and those remaining seated will interact. It will more difficult to encourage communication between staff if they are working in essentially different ways. As a compromise, Professor Hedge thinks employees should all be encouraged to move around much more. “We need to think of sitting like driving,” he says. “Take a break regularly. Make small adjustments that encourage people to move around more.”

This includes walking to talk to a colleague instead of emailing them, making more frequent trips to the water-cooler to keep hydrated (two benefits in one) and encouraging people to use the stairs instead of relying on the lift.

However, what might finally change things is if evidence becomes overwhelming, health costs continue to rise, and preventing employees spending too much time sitting becomes part of an employer’s legal duty of care.

In California, with its cutting-edge technology sector, standing desks have become increasingly commonplace, encouraging employees to move around and constantly change their position as the work. This can elevates the heart rate and boost circulation and there may be evidence to suggest this makes employees more productive overall. Additionally, given the height of the working surface, computer keyboards are at the right level to encourage better work habits, keeping arms perpendicular to the body while typing.

In a nutshell, it is important for all employees to mix sitting and standing. Those who spend long periods of time sitting at their workstation should get up at regular intervals and move around the office. Those working in a standing position need to rest at intervals by sitting. It’s all about striking the right balance.

For now, standing desks are relatively uncommon in the UK, but it’s clear that, if the incidence of musculo-skeletal disorders continues to increase, employers will be looking at finding alternatives to the traditional way of working, not only for the better health of their employees, but also for the long-term profitability of their business.

4 Jun

Our Top Hot Desking Tips

office clearanceWith commercial rents still high and office budgets being tighter than ever, more and more companies are opting to implement flexible working conditions in their offices. This has also been prompted by an increase in flexible hours and part-time work and, due to improved technology, the ability of many staff to work remotely from their own home or other space away from the main office itself.

Open-plan offices are more in evidence than ever before. For most, long-gone are the days of cellular offices and the dreaded “cubicles”, the latter having been replaced by one large open-plan area which encourages staff to work together, collaborate and communicate.

It has also given rise to the idea of “hot desking” where, on the basis that not all your staff will be in the office at the same time, there are actually fewer desks than employees and no one has exclusive rights to a personal workspace.

Understandably, this is not always a popular decision. Old habits die hard and many simply don’t want to share, struggling to make the shift, both physically and mentally, to this new way of working.

Here’s our tips on how to make it as painless as possible;

Have a Clear Desk Policy

Whenever someone is going to be away from their desk for a particular period of time – how long this is will depend entirely on the type of work they do – they must clear everything from their desks. Clearly, there will be things that need to be kept somewhere while they aren’t working, so providing some form of secure storage for each employee is essential.

Keep it Clean

With many different people using the same space each day, it’s important to ensure that hygiene is maintained so you may have to factor in the cost of additional cleaning to ensure furniture is kept clean and hygienic.

Provide More Central Storage

It’s clearly not possible to leave piles of files on or around desks, so there needs to be adequate central storage for such items. Files and other documentation that might be needed by someone else cannot reasonably be locked away in personal cupboards or lockers. Returning such files to a central system may have the added effect of increasing productivity; staff needing certain information will not have to waste time trying to track it down.

Get a Library

Having an easily accessible bank of resources, reference material and standard documentation, available to all staff, at one convenient point is also essential. It can also be a useful area for people to get together to exchange ideas. Open shelving and soft seating are the best options here.

Provide the Essentials

Each desk should come with a standard set of office policies – such as Health and Safety, Fire, Visual display Equipment – and other key information, such as important telephone numbers, internal extensions and so on. You should also equip each workstation with a standard set of everyday things. This would include things such as staplers, a hole-punch, paperclips, etc.

Create the Right Environment

Large open office spaces full of empty desks can look a bit bleak, so provide other features such as soft furnishings, planters and attractive pictures to soften the appearance. The provision of more flexible seating can provide both additional work space and somewhere for staff to have informal meetings.

Think Ergonomic

Getting the right ergonomic workspace layout will help staff adapt more quickly to working in different positions. For example, chairs need to be adjustable, and any expandable workspace – such as pedestals – easy to move from one side of the desk to another, depending on what each individual user requires.

Get the Technology Right

When it comes to flexible working, laptops are preferable to desktop PCs. To ensure that this is suitable for everyone, laptop stands, additional screens and a remote mouse and keyboard may also be required. You need to ensure that each desk is equipped with a phone and there is easy access to power points and network connectivity to enable everyone to work efficiently.

Making the shift to more flexible working may not be easy, but getting the basics right and ensuring every desk has all the equipment employees need, will go a long way towards smoothing the path of change.

4 Jun

Is the Modern Office Shrinking?

From 30 June 2014, new legislation means that every employee now has the statutory right to request flexibleoffice furniture clearance working after 26 weeks employment service. For many employers, this will come as good news for the simple reason that, long term, it will enable them to potentially occupy less office space and therefore reduce office overheads as a result.

However, legislation aside, it’s clear that office workers in particular have been increasingly mobile over recent years and many already work remotely from places other than the traditional office. As a result, offices often seem to contain more furniture than people, with lots of empty offices and unused space.

So how do you go about working out just how much office space you really need?

The first thing is to get a clear understanding of how the space is used at the moment; on the whole, businesses usually over-estimate how much space is actually occupied on a day to day basis in a traditional office environment. Clearly, there will be certain staff who are almost always in the office (receptionists, for example) so having their own dedicated desk is the only option. However, despite what is generally thought, most desks are only actually used about 50% of the time. We know this seems very low, but when you factor in people on holiday, off sick, in meetings, on training courses, visiting other branches or working from home, you soon realise that it’s very rare to have everyone in the office all the time.

 

To get an accurate percentage though, you also need to look at peak occupancy times, as well as averages for the whole week or month. If you carry out this exercise, you’ll probably find that different departments are busy at different times and that it’s rare to have the whole organisation at peak occupancy at any one time. For most businesses, particularly those in the professional sector (solicitors, accountants etc.) peak occupancy still only represents about 60% of the total available space.

A word of warning though. Before you rush off and start reducing your total space by 40%, there are some other factors you need to consider.

Look at Your Layout

Generally, offices have far too much “circulation space”. By this we mean empty space for staff to move freely around the office. Clearly, Health and Safety has to be the biggest consideration if you want to reduce this, but in many offices, substantial savings on space could be made simply by rethinking where furniture is placed and how offices are laid-out.

Efficient Storage

Why is it that no matter how much space you allocate to storage, it never seems to be enough? When it comes to storing all your information, it’s definitely not a case of “one size fits all”. What you really should be thinking of is smarter, more efficient storage. In some cases, this may mean a bespoke solution, but it’s well worth the investment if it improves efficiency.

Size is Everything

If you fill your office space with furniture that’s really too big, it’s taking up valuable space that could perhaps be better used for something else. These days desk sizes, and shapes for that matter, are far from standard, and it’s worth spending a little more to get precisely what’s right for the space that you have, rather than simply buying the cheapest alternative and hoping it’s a good fit. Furniture that’s too big can create a lot of “dead” space.

Meeting Demand

Have you got a boardroom that no one ever uses? Or are your staff continually complaining that they struggle to find sufficient space in which to hold meetings? In our opinion, unless it’s going to be in great demand, a large boardroom is somewhere that goes unused for weeks at a time and it’s often more efficient to have several areas where a number of smaller meetings can take place simultaneously.

Take a good look at your offices. If you look closely, you may find that it’s full of furniture, filing cabinets and empty space rather than people and if that’s what you see, give us a call and we’ll help you design a space that works better for everyone.

4 Jun

What to Think About Before You Buy

Selecting new furniture for your office may not be the toughest task on your long list of things to do, but if you think it’s just a case of ordering the first things you come across that seem to fit the bill, you may be making a very expensive mistake. The furniture in an office can have a big impact on the way that everyone workrecycled office furnitures and getting it wrong could cause all sorts of problems in the future.

As much as we may hate to admit it, we spend a lot of time in the office. Too many of us suffer in an office environment that is not well designed and we make do with whatever furniture there is. But those in the know are aware that carefully selected office furniture can make all the difference in our productivity and overall effectiveness.

So whether you’re refurbishing an entire office or just looking for a few items that will improve your working environment; what should you be thinking about? **

 

Have a clear plan

Given how expensive new furniture can be, deciding to make the investment is not something that should be done without thorough planning. Carefully consider the needs of every employee and how each new piece of furniture will be utilised; involving your employees in the whole purchasing process is useful for helping to ensure you get exactly what’s needed.

Practicality over Style

It may look stylish and “cutting edge” but will it stand the test of time? Is it actually functional? The general rule is that furniture with a classic, timeless appeal will give the best long-term value. This also applies to whether the furniture is actually comfortable to use. You may not think it, but office furniture can have a great impact on the productivity of your staff. Not just because uncomfortable furniture will mean they are less likely to be able to concentrate but there are also issues of practicality. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consider such things as contoured chairs, adjustable seats and general ergonomic design, to ensure that you maximise comfort and minimise work-related injuries. It’s also important to think about productivity when selecting storage options. If it’s easy to store things and access them when needed, then less time will be wasted searching through cupboards and cabinets to find what you are looking for.

Finally, spend some time on selecting finishes and fabrics. If cleanliness is paramount, wipe clean surfaces are probably the best choice. It almost goes without saying that fabrics that are easy to clean are more hygienic and are best suited to high use items.

Forward Planning

Whether you’re starting a new business or adding furniture due to expansion, you should take into account how every piece will fit into your current and future environment.

You should also ensure that the range you choose from is not due to be discontinued or phased out. Even if you can only afford a few chairs and desks or aren’t ready to buy a big conference table just yet, at least you can be confident that you can add the relevant items you need at a later date.

You also need to consider how adaptable your new furniture is. Desks need to have enough space to accommodate laptops, monitors, printers, PDAs, mobile phone chargers, lighting, etc. So when making your purchase, it’s important to think about what space and storage you may need a few years from now, i.e. Does the furniture have the ability to hide cords? Will your conference room have a big enough table?

Flexibility is often Key

It’s a good idea to select furniture that can be easily moved and reconfigured as new needs arise. This will give you the flexibility to change your floor plan as necessary.

Some table design can be adjustable for height or can have more than one level. Some can be folded or expanded as the need arises. With wireless networks and technology becoming more popular, employees may not even need specific workspaces. In some offices, employers are electing to put wheels on desks with power outlets on the floor. This encourages employees to move their desks around in the general space, depending on whether they’re working alone, or as part of a team.

Is it up to the task?

If everyone had the same build or body type, buying new office furniture would be a whole lot easier. But that’s not the real world. Instead, you need to be able to comfortably accommodate individuals of all shapes and sizes. For example, a desk chair that’s only rated for use by individuals weighing up to 250 pounds can lead to problems if you have employees who weigh more than that. Choosing an incorrectly rated item can result in costly damage to the chair, and more importantly, injury to the person sitting in it. Any savings you would realise by purchasing a lower-rated chair would be far exceeded by the cost of your liability to the person who was injured.

Choosing Value over Price

Everyone loves a bargain, but the cheapest is definitely not always the best. Price be should not be your only guide when buying furniture. A piece of new office furniture may look good, but if it’s poor quality, it won’t last very long and will soon need replacement, incurring unnecessary costs. You should always consider the cost of purchase over the expected life of the furniture. For example, a chair that’s designed for occasional use will generally cost less than one that’s designed to withstand

heavy wear and tear. While it may be tempting to purchase the lower-priced chair, that would be a mistake if the chair will receive heavy use. Repairs and replacements could easily outweigh any initial savings and could even make the product more expensive in the long run. There may be an occasion, however, when you have to buy and inexpensive item to “make do” in an emergency. In that case, you should always consider this to be short-term measure and factor in the cost of a more suitable purchase at a later date.

First Impressions

Your type of business will also play a large part in determining the style and type of new furniture you decide to buy. For example, more traditional designs are generally more suited to financial and legal offices. Creative professions tend to go for something more modern or minimalist. It’s also a question of what your clients expect to see when they come to your offices. Your office furniture should be a reflection of your brand and you should choose your style accordingly.

In short, the furniture you pick for your enterprise must match the business, your own style and should suit the function for which it is acquired. By shopping carefully and wisely, you can get the right furniture at the right price. We understand that it’s not always an easy task, which is why we pride ourselves on offering a bespoke service to all our clients, using our skill and expertise to ensure they all get exactly what’s right for them, helping them create a space that’s great to work in.

Buying office furniture requires practical considerations that go far beyond aesthetics. The comfort and safety of your employees must be factored into every decision and by avoiding a few common blunders, we can ensure that the furniture you select will be one of the best investments your business makes, leading to improved employee satisfaction, productivity and, therefore, profit for your business.

** Of course all Office Furniture and seating must comply with current Health & Safety Legislation. For advice contact

us on richard.clarke@randaoffice.co.uk or go to http://www.hse.gov.uk**

4 Jun

Our Top Tips for Moving Offices

recycled office furnitureJust like moving house, moving your business can be one of the most stressful things you will ever do. There are so many things to take into account and it’s not something to enter into without a great deal of thought and planning.

Although we appreciate that everyone’s move will be different, we’ve been asked to help so many clients move over the years that we’ve put together a list of our top tips to make the process as painless as possible.

 

Ask the Experts

However organised you might be, don’t try to do it all by yourself. There are any number of companies out there who carry out relocations for a living and they’re the best people to get involved. You also have to recognise that the cheapest quote is not necessarily going to get you the best service. Ask for recommendations if you can and accept that quality is not going to come cheap. It’s always a good idea to meet with your chosen removers well in advance of the move to ensure that they know exactly what you need on the day. This will also give you the opportunity to discuss the various storage/transportation options available.

 

Get a Plan

The sooner you start planning your move the better, as far as we’re concerned. We would recommend at least 6 months in advance is the absolute minimum but it’s never too early. Set out a relocation plan and make a note of all the key dates you need to work to. Remember to involve your staff in the process as much as possible – you’ll be needing their full support as move day approaches

 

It’s a Team Effort

Clearly, how complicated the whole process will be depends on the size of your organisation, but it’s a good idea to put together a team of key staff to oversee the whole project. You will need to ensure you put the right person in charge, but there should be someone already in your organisation with the necessary skills to make sure the move runs as smoothly as possible. They must have enough time to devote to the office relocation project, be senior enough to be able to make decisions, be a good organiser and communicator and have sufficient financial skill to control the relocation budget. Ideally, the team should also include staff from other departments in the company, such as Sales, Marketing, HR, IT, & Finance.

 

Set Your Budget

As we’ve already said, relocating a business can be an expensive business, so it’s a good idea to work out all the costs as soon as possible to make sure that you’ve made provisions for everything you might need. However, there’s always going to be some additional costs; estimates may increase, prices may change and there will always be a couple of “hidden” costs you overlooked when you set out the original plan. A contingency fund of about 10-15% of the total budget should be more than enough to cover all eventualities.

 

Make Some Changes

As soon as you’ve decided to move, it’s a good idea to take a long hard look at the office furniture and equipment you already have and decide what items need to be updated and/or replaced. If you’re moving to bigger offices, you may well need more items of furniture to fill the new space and, as there may be order or delivery times to take into account, the sooner you decide what you’re going to need, the better. This is particularly true if your office furniture is bespoke and not normally carried as stock items. If some of your furniture will be surplus to requirements, it’s a good idea to start making enquiries for disposal of the unwanted items; there’s no point whatsoever in getting them moved to the new premises where they will take up unnecessary space.

 

Be Prepared

Print out a moving day checklist a few weeks in advance and make sure everyone in the organisation knows exactly what’s happening and what they’re expected to do both in advance of and on the actual day. We suggest a few weeks is ideal as this gives sufficient time to address any individual concerns and pick up on any details that may have been overlooked – the staff can be invaluable in this respect. However, no matter how carefully you plan your move, there will always be one or two surprises before it’s all sorted and it would be very easy to get side-tracked. Our advice is – Don’t Panic! If you’ve planned everything carefully, any surprises of this sort should be fairly minor and easily taken care of with a methodical approach.

 

We’re under no illusions that it will all go without a hitch and that the day of your move will be totally stress-free, but with enough forethought and planning, you should at least arrive in your shiny new offices with your sanity intact.