4 Jun

Getting your Desk and Chair to Work Together

Finding your ideal desk and work height can improve your posture and help prevent painful back, neck and arm problems.

If your desk doesn’t fit you, it can cause you to hunch over your work or have to crane your neck forward, both of which can lead to strain on the upper body as you try to find a comfortable working position.second hand office chairs

You need to make sure you’re sitting in the best possible position to minimise the incidence of MSK (Musculoskeletal) injury. However, sitting correctly won’t be much good if you don’t ensure you also have the correct desk set-up to ensure you can work comfortably. So getting an ergonomic chair is not enough. You should think of your desk and chair as a mutually dependent workspace, where both units must fit.

Although chairs come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, desks are generally manufactured to certain specific dimensions; this is particularly true of height. If only the same could be said of employees who, unfortunately for office furniture designers, vary considerably in height from individual and individual.

 

Here’s how to work out whether your desk is the right height for you;

  • Sit as close to the desk as is comfortable, with your elbows by your sides, your upper arms parallel to your spine and so your hands can rest comfortably on the desk
  • Check your arms are bent at the elbows at a 90 degree angle.
  • Ideally your knees should be bent in a 90 degree angle with your feet parallel to your hips and flat on the floor

If you can’t do all of the above, you need to look at changing your seating position.

While we sit, the circulation to our lower limbs can be compromised. By the end of a normal working day (eight hours or so), the average person’s ankles swell by about 6 to 8 percent. However, if you already suffer from back, leg, or circulation problems, this can increase to around 10 to 15 percent and it has also been shown that sitting too high at your desk can increase the strain on the circulatory system as the chair puts greater pressure on the underside of the leg.

A seat height ranging from 42 to 56 centimetres off the ground is suitable for most workers. To test whether or not your chair is too high, slide your finger underneath your thigh at the front end of the chair. If it’s easy to do, the seat of your chair is set at a good height. If there is less than a finger’s width of space between your thigh and chair, it’s likely that your chair is too high.

Additionally, if you’re sitting this high, you may have to lift your feet of the ground or balance on your toes. This is also not ideal and should be addressed by using a footstool to rest your feet on throughout the day. Footstools can also be used to reduce pressure on the soles of your feet.

Being too tall for your desk can also be a problem. If you are particularly tall, try the “finger test” on your chair; if there is more than a finger width between your thigh and your chair, your desk is probably too low and you should consider making it higher. Raising the height of your work surface can also help ease back pain; it will enable you to sit straighter and therefore relieve the strain on your spine.

We must stress, though, that your work surface must be raised correctly and safely – simply putting books under the legs is not a good idea but believe us, we’ve seen that solution on many occasions! You should only raise desk legs off the floor using specially modified risers to ensure stability. Alternatively, some people prefer to use a writing slope to raise the actual working surface of their desks to the right height. If you go for this option, consider a slope with a built-in height adjuster, so you can easily utilise it for a variety of tasks.

Poor organization and configuration of your workstation as a whole can ruin your posture even in the best chai, so it’s also important to ensure things are organised on your desk’s surface to enable you to reach everything easily, without having to over stretch your upper body. Consider where you locate the tools (computer, keyboard, mouse, phone, etc.) you use most frequently, so that they are easy to operate without strain or undue effort.

It’s very important to consider ergonomics when purchasing a new office chair. However, the chair only determines how you sit. Your line of vision, movement of your arms and overall position of your body will influence your posture.

So it’s important to ensure you get your desk right as well; you spend a lot of time sitting at it so it’s worth make in the effort to ensure it’s a comfortable place to work.

4 Jun

Is it Time For a New Office Chair?

Here at R&A Office Environments, we have over 30 years’ experience supplying office chairs in all shapes and sizes, so we’ve put our heads together and come up with the definitive answer to this question, which is “It Depends”!

Now, we’re sure that’s not the answer you were looking for, but what we can do is give you some very good advice to help you decide whether it’s time to make a change.

second hand office furniture manchesterThe first thing to consider is how long you have had your existing chairs and whether or not they are still under warranty. Although this in itself does not determine whether or not a chair has come to the end of its useful life, it’s a very good indicator as to how long you can expect it to last. Generally, chairs with a longer warranty have proportionately greater life-span. This is because they are generally of a much higher quality in the first instance and thus will stand the test of time much better. Chairs with a 5 year warranty could be expected to last around eight years. In short, quality chairs are built to last.

A quality chair will probably be covered in a more resilient fabric, more suitable for heavy use, which will retain its good looks for a considerably longer time than a budget item, where you may find the fabric looks shabby long before the chair is no longer useful. Of course, this won’t affect the comfort factor, but it’s not a good look to present to clients. Take it from us; shabby chairs do not a good impression make, so if yours are looking less than presentable, perhaps it’s time to upgrade them.

You also need to consider how the chair is used. For example, chairs in offices that have a “hot desk” environment are likely to be subject to considerably more wear and tear than those which are used by one dedicated member of staff every day. Clearly, all chairs should outlive their warranty, but any additional months/years could be curtailed if the chairs are heavily used.

It’s important to look closely at the ergonomic credentials of any chair you buy. The more comfortable it is to sit on, the more the user will like it and, as a direct result, will take better care of it. It’s also a fair assumption that an ergonomically designed chair will have an excellent built-quality and be less susceptible to breakage. Don’t underestimate the value of training your staff to use their chairs correctly, either. Making sure they know how, and why, they should adjust their chairs properly will not only improve their productivity, but will also ensure that any problems with the chair will be quickly identified, allowing you to carry out any necessary maintenance in a timely manner. Much better to keep an existing chair in great working order than to neglect repairs and watch the chair slowly fall apart.

 

The most common complaint we come across form clients is the comfort of their chairs and this is often dependent on the foam padding. As a general rule, you should be able to sit in your chair for between 1-2 hours in absolute comfort. If your find this isn’t the case, it could be that the foam seat pad has either worn thin or become too compressed to provide the correct level of support. In which case, it’s time to look for a new chair. If you’re sitting on a relatively new chair and it’s uncomfortable, then chances are you bought the wrong chair. Sorry.

Take a look at the base of your chair. Does it have a five-point base? Are all the castors still working? As chairs are designed to be moved smoothly across the floor, a five-point base is important for stability and what’s more, to comply with current health and safety legislation. Some chairs still come with a four-point base, but we don’t recommend these as they are considerably less stable; if you are still using such chairs, they should be replaced straight away. Without all castors moving freely, even moving your chair backwards and forwards at your desk becomes a difficult task and can cause muscular strain. If your chair is not as mobile as it should be, it’s time to say goodbye and invest is something that does the job properly.

If your chairs have armrests, are they all working correctly and are they fully adjustable? Does the chair creak when you sit down? Do all the available adjusters (seat tile, backrest height/angle adjustment) still work for that matter? Chair are made to be adjustable for very good reasons; to ensure the user can sit in an optimal position to reduce stress on their joints and minimise the risk of MSK (Musculoskeletal) pain. So if you’ve got a fully-adjustable chair, it makes no sense to carry on using it if you can no longer make all the necessary adjustments to make sitting at your desk a comfortable experience.

Our final piece of advice would be, if you need a new chair, don’t be fooled into thinking a cheap alternative is the answer. The truth is that a chair in this price bracket is always going to be made to meet the price at the expense of quality, using a lower standard of components and this means it’s less likely to be fit for purpose, will, in most cases, be extremely uncomfortable and, well, it won’t last.

Look at it a different way. So you have to spend more on your chair? Well, if you consider how much more productive you’ll be sitting comfortably at your desk, focussed on what you’re doing and not experiencing any sort of back or neck pain, it seems like a more worthwhile investment.

As in all things, quality costs, but when it comes to office chairs, we think it’s a price worth paying.

4 Jun

Are You Giving Clients A Great Reception?

second hand office furniture manchesterCreate a Suitable Reception Area for Your Business

Your reception area is often the first chance people get to judge your business, so it’s very important to make great impression. Whether someone is visiting your building for the first time or the hundredth, they should always feel welcome.

How customers are treated and how they see your business reflected in this small area can sometimes determine whether or not they do business with you at all. Making sure you get it right is essential for good business.

It goes without saying that it should be comfortable, clean, professional, and inviting but there’s so much more you can do to ensure their first experience is a positive one.

So ask yourself a few simple questions before you open the doors of your business to the public.

What is the Reception Area for?

Depending on the sort of business you run, your reception area may be useful for more than simply welcoming clients. For example, it might be the perfect place to display your stock and draw the attention of customers to things you particularly want to promote. Consider investing in good shelving and/or display cabinets and place them at strategic points around the room; it can make all the difference in ensuring your products are shown to the best advantage.

 

Depending on the business sector, you can also include quirky items to match your business theme – elegant china and glassware for hospitality, an old typewriter for a publishing firm, etc. Remember to display only what is needed in this area, however, and keep the clutter out of sight.

How do we Greet our Customers?

It’s important that customers are greeted warmly when they first arrive, so it’s a good idea to have a member of staff on hand to welcome them. If you have someone seated permanently in the reception area for this purpose, make sure their desk is always kept tidy and free of clutter – this will tell people a great deal about your standards and how you do business. A shabby, untidy desk will never create the right impression.

Receptions can be busy places, and making sure they are kept free of dirty cups, old magazines and general litter can be time consuming, but will reap rewards in the long run.

Are they sitting Comfortably?

Unfortunately, we sometimes have to keep clients waiting. Making sure they feel relaxed and comfortable while they are in reception is vital, so you should put some thought into providing the right sort of seating. Sort furnishings should be easy to sit down on and, more importantly perhaps, get out of. A chair may look fantastic, but if your customer is going to struggle to rise from it when you greet them, they will feel uncomfortable and this could set the wrong tone for your meeting from the start.

It’s also important to ensure there is sufficient seating to accommodate everybody; no one wants to be the one left standing.

To prevent the reception looking shabby, it’s wise to choose hard-wearing or easy to clean fabrics. Choosing a cream sofa might seem like a good idea initially, but it will soon look dirty and you can guarantee it won’t be long before someone manages to spill coffee all over it.

A coat stand is also a good idea; having to sit with a coat on your lap or holding a wet umbrella is not a good way to start a meeting.

How Do You Look?

As first impressions are so important, the layout of your reception area is something you’ll want to think about carefully. Furniture placement, decorations and space considerations all need to be a part of the design so that office visitors get a positive impression the minute they step through the door.

Keeping the overall look of your reception area simple is essential. It should be clean, free of clutter, and professional looking. Bare walls are never a good idea, but nor is overwhelming them with too many pictures. Try using one large picture to create a focal point on each wall. If you do have shelving or displays, make sure they are tidy and well presented. Keep the colours neutral or, if brighter colours support your companies branding, keep these to smaller areas of focus; a feature wall, for example. You can also reflect your corporate colours in the soft furnishings, chair coverings, etc.

It’s important not to let the reception appear cluttered, but a low table is essential for holding cups, or for resting a laptop on. This can also be used to display any publicity or promotional material you might want your customers to see. Magazines open at recent press releases or articles on your business are a good way to let customers know of any recent developments or successes.

If you’re still struggling to get the right vision for your reception, it might help to imagine you are the customer and think about what you’d like to see. In other words, decide what you want your reception to say about your business, and use that philosophy to guide your decisions when it comes to deciding how it looks. Or you could ask us for advice, we’re always happy to give you the benefit of our expertise and we won’t charge for it either.

Your reception could quite possibly be the most important area in your offices, so it’s worthwhile investing some time (and money) in getting the look exactly right. Getting it wrong could make the difference between a one-time-only visitor, and one who returns again and again.

4 Jun

Be More Productive by Relaxing at Work

Have you noticed how the working day seems to be getting longer?

You spend at least eight hours a day at work. If you are like many people, that number is closer to nine or ten hours a day.

However, employers are starting to recognise this and realising that, quite often, the harder you work your employees, the less productive they become.

Many are also recognising that sitting in isolation at a desk all day is not exactly good for socialising and collaborating.

The answer? Helping your employees to relax more when they are at work. This might sound like a contradiction in terms, but providing a separate, open and welcoming space for employees to relax in can result in a far greater work ethic and are very much inspired by the domestic environment. When you go to a party, where do you find everyone congregating? In the kitchen, of course, so office relaxation spaces are often centred around the availability of food and drink.

With the modern way of working often meaning we’re spending much more time at our desks, glued to our computer screens, the idea of a break out area is becoming increasingly attractive to employees. But why should you, as an employer, create a break out area in your offices?

A break out area describes any space open to employees or visitors that is separate from their usual working area. It can be a place for employees to relax, eat their lunch and even hold informal meetings. Giving employees time away from their computer screen also complies with health and safety laws which require staff to take frequent breaks from their work stations when computers are being used. They can also be used for spur of the moment meet-ups with fellow employees or informal meetings with clients.

Small to medium companies can sometimes see a break out area as an unnecessary luxury that the company cannot afford but employers should consider the benefits and how this will impact on employees’’ performance before ruling it out.

 

An office break out area needn’t be extravagant or even take up much space. If a separate room isn’t available, why not use a screening system to section off part of your open plan office? However, most important is to create the right atmosphere in such spaces. Forget drab and dingy: people will prefer to stay at their desks if the space is dark and too closed off. Create a light and welcoming space, with good facilities that encourage relaxation and a rest from the job.

Remember to provide different types of seating if you can. Canteen or multipurpose chairs around a central table provide somewhere to hold meeting or have lunch. You should also add some soft furnishings, such as tub chairs or sofas, so employees feel relaxed and comfortable.

Different seating combinations also allows people to either sit in their own space, or socialise with colleagues as they prefer.

Low tables are also a very good idea as not everyone will want to use the space for “relaxing” in the traditional sense. Some may find it useful for working in and, given the rise of the laptop and wireless technology, moving your workspace around the office has never been easier.

The space can also be used for informal meetings with other staff and, depending on your overall ethos and relationship with those you do business with, it can also be the ideal place to meet with clients.

Ideally, the space should be easily accessible to everyone, but try to avoid a main traffic route; it’s hardly relaxing if people keep walking right through the middle just to get from A to B. Depending on what your business does, you may also have to consider the impact of sound; too noisy an area will be conducive to nothing other than more noise, so pick a quiet space where there is little noise pollution.

You could also consider putting up large whiteboards for brainstorming exercises, demonstrating a particularly difficult point or simply for doodling – although you may have to set some guidelines as to what the latter should consist of!

But why would you go to all this trouble?

Current research shows that offices with employees who are always working are not necessarily the most productive. Moving away from your usual workspace for as little as five minutes can be very good for regaining focus and allowing creativity to flourish.

All work and no play leads to absenteeism and compromised productivity. More and more companies are realising the benefits of providing relaxation areas for their employees. Such areas should be well thought out – ask for the views of your staff as to what they want and need, and how they would like the area to look. Or, if you’re still struggling, call us for advice. We’d be happy to help.

3 Jun

It’s time for the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

So many products aren’t built to last anymore and, when they are sold at a very low price, they are clearly designed with this in mind. We seem to be living in a disposable society.office furniture clearance Consequently, the amount of rubbish we produce is growing every day and, unfortunately, we are quickly running out of space in which to put it. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we cannot sustain our current throw-away lifestyle and need to reassess what we do with our waste. However, there are so many things we dispose of that could, and indeed should, be salvaged and put to good use.

Office Furniture is one of them.

When businesses expand or relocate, some items of furniture usually become either redundant or no longer suitable and it is estimated that in excess of 1,000 tonnes of office furniture are thrown away each year. However desks, cupboards and chairs in clean and good condition could all be reused.

Most office furniture is wood-based. It’s a disturbing fact that global deforestation is being driven by our seemingly unending demand for wood products. Although the majority of trees cut down are used for paper products and in the building industry, a significant amount goes into new furniture and, more importantly as far as we’re concerned, office furniture such as desks, chairs, tables and storage. So if we want to save the world’s forests, we need to reduce the amount of trees we fell and we can do this by reducing demand and, more importantly, reducing waste.

 

Apart from the impact new furniture has on deforestation, Defra estimate it takes 2.5 tons of Carbon emissions to create 1 ton of new office furniture. That’s a lot!

office clearance manchesterSo why not do your bit to reduce this impact on the environment by re-using existing furniture rather than buying new? It will drastically reduce your Carbon footprint and improve your green credentials. Think about it.

We have long since believed in doing our bit to help the environment. So that’s why, as well as selling new office furniture, we also have a fantastic range of used items.

In fact, we have seen a steady increase in sales of used furniture. As everyone becomes increasingly more green-aware, more and more of our customers realise that, not only are they saving money by buying used items, but they are doing their bit for the environment too.

We want to divert as much used furniture as possible from landfill and put it back on the market. The second-hand furniture we sell has already been manufactured to a very high standard, because we only resell the best. So you can be sure that you’re getting top quality furniture at a fraction of the original price.

We have a wide range of items in our Manchester warehouse, with new stock coming in every day. All our second hand furniture is of the highest quality and we have solutions to suit most tastes and everyone’s budget.

In short, it’s time to learn the three R’s of the environment: reduce, reuse, recycle. So consider buying used office furniture – It’ll reduce your carbon footprint, help you meet CSR targets and enable you to do your bit to protect the Earth for future generations

3 Jun

Health & Safety for New Office Furniture

When it comes to choosing new office furniture, there is more to getting it right than leafing through the pages of a glossy catalogue and choosing what you want based on price and appearance alone. There are all sorts of Health and Safety considerations to take into account before you go ahead and buy. ** office furniture clearance

Furniture, and the office environment in general, should be designed to make employees feel comfortable; if they’re comfortable, they’re more productive, simple as that. You’ll also get less incidence of absenteeism.

A well designed desk will reduce the chance of work-related injuries from over reaching, repetitive strain etc. It will also help ensure you comply with Display Screen Regulations for employees who spend a large part of their working day using computer equipment.

We’ve already talked about the importance of getting the right chair for every employee, as ensuring chairs are ergonomically designed can greatly reduce the incidence of back and neck problems and help keep them working efficiently.

Although less obvious, you also need to make sure the office is safe with regard to structural stability, wiring, and fire hazards, as well as considering the impact on the environment.

So, how do you go about choosing the furniture that’s right for you? Here’s our advice;

Is it Compliant?

The first thing you need to check is whether the furniture has been tested and complies with current standards. A list of the main requirements have been listed at the end of this post **. It’s important to ensure each item (chairs, desks, tables, etc.) conforms to the relevant standard.

Is it Stable?

All new furniture needs to be stable and suitable for the activity for which it’s intended. Every new item should be strong, durable and, if required easy to move without strain.

Is it Fire Retardant?

Unlike domestic furniture, there is currently no specific legislation regarding the flammability of office furniture. However, there is a requirement for every employer to carry out a thorough Fire Safety Risk Assessment for the office as a whole and this should include ensuring that all the office furniture, in particular any soft-furnishings, are safe and fire retardant. Depending on the overall risk – “low” in most standard office environments – all the furniture can also be assumed to carry the same risk. Clearly any furniture in commercial premises where there is a greater risk of fire (for example, where flammable materials are regularly handled) the furniture should be carefully chosen to ensure it meets the stricter requirements.

Is there provision for Cabling?

There are very few office desks that don’t have items of electrical equipment placed on them. You must make sure, therefore, that all desks, as well as tables and storage units, have adequate provision for safe routing of any electrical cabling to ensure employees are protected from any harm caused by electricity, tripping, etc.

Is it Ergonomic?

The science of Ergonomics effectively translates as fitting equipment to individuals and tasks and not the other way round. Desks need to be at the correct height, day-to-day working must be possible without awkward movement of over-stretching, chairs need to support the spine and encourage good posture. As this is a whole topic in itself, please refer to our previous articles for more in-depth information, including the benefits of making your employees as comfortable as possible and an ergonomic checklist to help you make the right choices for your staff.

Is it Sustainable?

Although there is no specific legislation currently in force in the UK, EU regulations stipulate that any items made from timber should ensure the materials are of legal origin and obtained from well-managed and sustainable woodlands. All our suppliers conform to this. Many manufacturers are also moving towards more sustainable production and including increasing amounts of recycled materials. If reducing your carbon footprint is important, you should look to suppliers that manage their significant environmental impacts, preferably through the use of management systems such as ISO 14001:2004. Personally, we would always prefer to suppliers that are embracing the wider principles of sustainable development as we pride ourselves on our own “green” credentials.

Taking all the above into account when choosing your new office furniture, will not only make sure it looks good, but also do your office, your staff, and the environment good too.

 

** 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 **

3 Jun

What to consider when buying new furniture.

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 works and getting it wrong could cause all sorts of problems in the future.second hand office furniture manchester

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 www.hse.gov.uk   **

3 Jun

A Useful Ergonomic Checklist

second hand office furniture

Office workers spend approximately 7.9 hours a day sitting at their desks. We’ve already talked about the importance of an Ergonomic Chair but, for total comfort, you need to ensure it fits the individual as best as possible.

Most offices have standard furniture, with uniform desks and chairs, etc, but correct ergonomic set-up is all about adjusting work areas to suit the individual. Firstly, it’s important to recognise that common ‘ergonomic problems’ – e.g. neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist pain – are not usually the result of any specific or significant injury, but usually arise as a result of furniture, particularly chairs, being badly adjusted or particular tasks being performed incorrectly over a long period of time. Similarly, small adjustments to the way your employees sit and work at their desks which will help prevent development of these types of aches and pains.

To get you started, we’ve put together some advice to help you assess whether you’re the chairs in your office are helping, or hindering your employees when it comes to sitting comfortably.

 

First and foremost, it is essential to have the correct type of chair. Regardless of finish or design, your chairs needs to have these basic features:

  • both the back rest and seat height should be adjustable
  • they should have a well-padded seat
  • hey should have a 5-point base with castors (providing floor is carpeted);
    • Adjust the seat height so that your wrists (when resting on the desktop) are at the same height as, or slightly below, your elbows (i.e., elbows at 90 angle).
  • When seated, your hips should be at right angles
  • Are your feet flat on the floor? If not, it’s time to get a footrest.
  • Adjust the angle of the backrest: generally it is best to have the backrest at a 90 degree angle to encourage you to sit upright.
  • Adjust the height of the backrest. Modern office chairs have an outward curve in the lower part of the backrest that is designed to mould into the inner curve each of us has in our lower back. If the backrest is too high or too low, this outward curve of the chair will feel as though it is digging in to your back. If the backrest is at the right height, you should be able to slide your hand behind your back and not notice any gaps.
  • Chair backrests come in different heights. Ideally the backrest should come to a height just under your shoulder blades. Those with taller frames may need a chair with a higher backrest than someone who is shorter.
  • When sitting your back should rest against the back rest with your backside right back into the chair. Sitting on the edge of the chair causes greater strain to your back muscles. Don’t slouch forward – this works against your back’s natural curves.
  • Make sure that your chair moves easily over the floor when moving away from the desk. If your floor is carpeted, you may need to look at using a plastic floor mat.

But this is just the start. It’s also imperative to ensure you are sitting correctly, by adjusting the chair accordingly. As most of us sit at non-adjustable desks, making sure the chair is adjusted correctly is the first thing you should look at. The following adjustments are recommended to keep everyone sitting in the best position to minimise aches and strains.

So, if you want to keep your employees comfortable and reduce the incidence of work-related repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, we suggest you work through the checklist above and follow the advice to make the necessary adjustments to your chairs.

The most important thing, however, is to ensure employees work in a relaxed, neutral and supported position. Avoid static shoulder elevation while at your desk by regularly “shrugging” your shoulders to relieve muscles and avoid prolonged periods sitting in one position or performing the same task. Breaks from your desk are important to ensure variety between the muscles and joints being used and the muscles and joints being rested. Try ways to break up your sitting and add in more standing or walking where possible. For example, try standing up while on the phone or have a stand-up meeting. Take regular breaks away from your desk, even walking from office to office can help.

Finally, it goes without saying (although we will anyway!) that it’s just as important to spend less time sitting outside of work. The average adult sits for 90% of their leisure time, so it seems there is some room for improvement. You don’t have to stand or walk for 100% of your leisure time of course, as sitting is very comfortable. But try to find a healthy balance between sitting and other physical activities. Your body will thank you for it.

3 Jun

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then We’ll Begin…….

 

Millions of working days are lost each year through staff absence due to back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders and conditions (MSD’s). This can translate into hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of revenue being sacrificed through reduced productivity and sick leave.

More worryingly, there are an increasing number of litigation cases involving employee absences caused by pain and discomfort resulting from poor work posture.office furniture manchester

If your office chair and desk is affecting your health or that of your employees, it’s time to think ergonomically. Given the amount of time that they spend at their computer or workstation, it is vital that they are sitting comfortably and, more importantly, correctly.

 

Implementing an ergonomic process has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of developing MSDs and it’s important to address the following;

 

Lead from the top – Right from the start, the powers that be need to get behind the idea and then come up with an inclusive strategy which they can then explain to their employees. Management needs to be 100% committed to improving the workplace and the well-being of their staff.

 

Identify Existing Problems – This is one of the most important steps as identifying the problem sufficiently early can prevent the occurrence of MSD’s.

 

Include the Employees in the Assessment Process – Only the employees themselves can comment on their individual issues and can provide a valuable insight into potential hazards. It’s important that management encourages clear two-way communication with the workforce at every stage of the assessment process.

 

Encourage Early Reporting of MSD Symptoms – This can accelerate the job assessment and improvement process, helping to prevent or reduce the progression of symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and subsequent losses to revenue via down-time or unnecessary claims.

 

Provide Appropriate Training – Ensuring both management and staff are well-informed is an important element of the process and can lead to early detection of potential MSD symptoms.

 

Formulate a Strategy for Ongoing Monitoring and Control – This should be fairly straight-forward once all the above points have been addressed. Again, the involvement of employees is imperative to ensure all procedures are fully understood.

 

Evaluate Progress – As with anything in business, your strategy must be constantly evaluated (and revised where necessary) to ensure it leads to continuous improvement in working conditions and reduce MSD related losses. Again, staff involvement at this stage will ensure that ergonomic assessment is incorporated into your daily business operations, rather than being viewed as a separate process.

 

Sitting in an office chair is, at best, a necessary evil, but if you are sitting in an office chair that is not designed with your body in mind, it is only a matter of time before you feel uncomfortable.

So, if you’re reading this article sitting down—the position we all hold more than any other, for an average of 8 to 9 hours a day—stop and take stock of how your body feels. Is there an ache in your lower back? A light numbness in your rear and lower thigh? They may well be caused by doing precisely what you’re doing—sitting. You most probably need a new chair.

2 Jun

Creating the Right Environment

office clearance manchesterIf you wanted a great holiday, would you book a hotel with grey walls, no furniture and bright fluorescent lighting? Of course you wouldn’t. Why? Because it wouldn’t exactly be a great environment to be in.

We know offices are for working rather than relaxing, but if you want to keep your staff happy, you have to consider how working in the space you provide is going to make them feel. If you want them to be productive, creative and happy, there’s a few things to bear in mind when it comes to deciding what your offices look like.

The Personal Touch
Allowing your staff to bring in personal items, family photos or pictures costs you nothing and can instantly make them feel more relaxed and in tune with their surroundings. People always work better when they feel comfortable and it’s worthwhile letting your staff personalise their space if this helps them be more productive.

Let People Choose How to Be Creative
Everyone is inspired in a different way, so if you want to cater to the needs of all your employees, you need to provide all sorts of tools to help them do what they do best. For example, some people work better on whiteboards and it can be useful to have a number on easily accessible walls around the offices. Low tables in breakout areas with paper, pens and even coloured pencils can all help promote creativity and help staff express ideas.

 

Forget One Person Equals One Desk
The old thinking was that you needed a desk for every employee. Now, with the increase in remote working and flexible hours, staff can often reduce the number of desks you need, leaving more space for open, flexible areas where staff can meet, sit and, most importantly, think.

Adopt a Zoning Approach
Be like an urban planner and think of your offices in terms of different zones. By this we mean places to work independently, or a space to work together, places to congregate and chat and, most importantly, spaces in which to sit quietly and just think. This will give employees the flexibility to move around the office depending on what they’re trying to achieve and can often lead to much better motivation and productivity.

Create a Buzz
When you go into a shop or a restaurant, don’t you usually prefer to see lots of people milling around? The same applies to offices. Clearly, you have to take care not to let them get too noisy, but creating a lively “buzz” in your offices can often lead to employees feeling more inspired and keen to get on with the job. Also, a certain level of noise can reduce inhibitions and enable staff to communicate freely. Whereas quiet spaces have their place, no-one wants to be in a library-type environment all the time. Whispering is not a good form of communication.

Allocate Specific Work Spaces
It’s all very well having a warm, open, welcoming environment with lots of activity and noise, but what about those staff that really just need some peace and quiet to focus on a deadline or particularly tricky task? You need to ensure you provide adequate space to enable individuals to have some “quiet time” and it may be useful to set aside a particular area of the office specifically for this purpose. Again, it’s best to equip this with a range of different types of furniture – a desk or meeting table, a sofa, some comfortable chairs and a low table – to accommodate various different working styles.

Take it Slowly
Often, the first offices of a company are put together on a very tight budget which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to all of the above ideas. Our advice would be to initially buy good value second-hand pieces of furniture which say something about the style or image you’re trying to create. You can then use these items to build a bigger, more relvant environment further down the line when funds are not so tight. Many firms start on this basis and, even when they’ve grown beyond all recognition, they still keep at least one piece of the original furniture stock just to remind themselves how far they’ve come.

Involve Everyone
It’s easy to have an opinion on how your offices should look and how you think they will work best, but the only people who really know the answers are the ones who use the space every day. In short, before making any changes, ask your staff what they want or need to help them work better and be more productive and creative. At the very least, spend a day sitting in the space your staff use and observe what they do. Where do they congregate, which areas do they never seem to use, and why? It could be an eye-opening experience and save you a great deal of time and money into the bargain.

No matter how well your business is doing and how happy your employees appear, most businesses could be doing more to get the most out of both their office space and the people who work in it every day. Making even some of the changes we’ve suggested above takes time and, perhaps more importantly, money, but we think the results will prove the investment of both more than worthwhile.