2 Jun

Avoid Mistakes When Buying Office Furniture

Whether you’re relocating or simply upgrading, you may be tempted to put off buying new office furniture. Why? Because although browsing through catalogues and choosing the right items might seem like fun, you’re actually making a substantial capital investment and that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. office furniture manchester

So before you start spending that hard-earned cash, here’s our advice on what to consider before taking the plunge and the common mistakes you need to avoid if you want to get it right.

Don’t choose looks over comfort

There are plenty of chairs that look great, but if they’re not comfortable, buying them will be a total waste of time. You need to consider whether or not your employees are going to want to sit in them for most of their working day, so it’s very important to actually try before you buy. In other words, ask for a sample and give it the “sit test”.

The same applies to any other seating – for reception, for example. Are your clients and visitors going to feel comfortable if you have to keep them waiting?

Always test your furniture

The saying “try before you buy” holds true for office furniture. Go to the supplier, sit in different chairs and look at different desks. Ensure that the chairs that you have chosen actually fit under the desks that you need. Make sure the chairs you want for more casual seating work with other pieces, such as tables or low level storage. A boardroom table may look quite small in the wide open space of a showroom, but actually dominate the space you intended it for. When it’s installed, will there still be room for people to sit around it?

 

Always ask your Employees opinion

You may have a vision for your offices and choose furniture on that basis. However, your employees are the ones who will have to sit at the desks and use the shelving and storage, so it’s very important to ask them what they think of your plans. When it comes to chairs, in particular, all employees are different and may will need an individual approach to ensure they are all seated correctly. This is where an ergonomic assessment is useful; it can identify individual needs of staff and help you ensure that you provide the correct workstation set-up. The bottom line? Your employees are going to be using the furniture every day, so it’s important that what you buy works for them, too.

Always have a plan

For most, buying new office furniture represents spending a significant amount of money. Therefore if you don’t give it enough thought or plan the purchase carefully, you could end up regretting your decisions at a later date. The most important thing as far as we’re concerned is to look at the long term and ensure your purchases will be useful for years to come. Quality furniture is built to last, so if you want to get the maximum return on your investment, you need to look ahead.

Evaluate what you already have, then cast your mind forward and consider the future needs of your business so you can invest in the appropriate pieces and, most importantly, try not to be too influenced by current trends; what looks very “trendy” now, may not look so good in five years’ time.

Never choose price over quality

Lower-priced furniture may seem like a good idea, but then spending less will most certainly get you a lower quality product. And that isn’t a great idea in the long run; it’ll need to be replaced in a few years’ time and you’ll have to go through the whole process all over again. Quality costs, simple as that, and if you want to make a worthwhile investment, always buy the highest standard you can afford. I years to come, you’ll be glad you did

Make sure it all matches

Most people like to match their furnishings, particularly fabric seating, screens etc., to their corporate colours. Clearly, it’s not always possible to get an exact match and so you may want to go for a contrasting colour as an alternative. Whatever you finally settle on, make sure you buy all your pieces from the same place. Office furniture manufacturers may have the same name for a colour, but the actual shades and tones may be considerably different. By all means buy from different sources if you want a wider range of colours, but we would always recommend looking carefully at samples to ensure everything co-ordinates well and there are no obvious clashes of colour.

All the above seem like obvious things to consider, but we’re often surprised at how little thought people put into what could possibly be one of the largest investments a business makes and we’re always happy to lend our many years of expertise to help with the process. After all, as with any big investment, it’s always a good idea to ask an expert.

1 Jun

How Green is Your Furniture?

As you probably know, we’re big fans of recycling here at R & A Office Environments. For years now, we’ve been spreading the Green message and we have seen a steady increase in sales of used furniture. As everyone becomes increasingly aware of our impact on the environment, 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. When someone no longer has a use for a completely good piece of furniture, there is no reason that it should wind up in a landfill so we really like the idea of putting such items to good use

However, we’re also aware that there’s a whole host of people out there who haven’t yet latched onto the idea of buying used rather than new.

So, if you still need convincing, here’s a quick recap on why we all need to do our bit;

Recycling Saves Trees

Although a large proportion of new furniture is made from wood from “sustainable” forests, world-wide de-forestation is still one of the biggest environmental concerns. Now we haven’t exactly worked out how many trees is takes to make a desk, but we do know that re-using existing office furniture can only serve to reduce deforestation and that’s a good enough reason for us.

Recycling reduces the use of toxic chemicals

When furniture is manufactured, there are usually a number of potentially toxic chemicals used in the process. Purchasing used furniture avoids the need for this and therefore reduces the impact of such toxins on the environment, particularly on the water supply.

 

Recycling reduces your Carbon Footprint

Buying recycled office furniture saves energy by removing the need for manufacture of new goods. This is turn reduces the amount of unhealthy greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, if furniture is being re-used, then less is sent for incineration and so helps reduce the amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere. Additionally, a surprising amount of water is used in the manufacture of furniture and anything we should be doing everything we can to conserve this scarce resource.

Recycling Reduces Landfill

We live in a beautiful world, but it won’t stay that way if we constantly create new landscapes by committing more products to landfill. Every piece of office furniture we’re able to reuse means there’s less to be disposed of. This can only be a good thing.

We have a wide range of used furniture in our warehouse and it offers excellent value if you are a new business starting up, or an established business moving offices or expanding your workforce. The furniture we sell has typically only been used for a fraction of its intended life span and we ensure every item has been cleaned and tested for quality and safety.

So if you were thinking of buying new office furniture, perhaps think again and go for used. You’ll be investing in the planet at the same time and if you buy from us, we can promise you’ll be saving money without costing the earth.

1 Jun

Create a Productive Workspace

recycled office furnitureWe pride ourselves in taking time to work with our clients to make sure they get exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to office furniture. It’s not always an easy process, but we wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we ended up selling something that wasn’t precisely what was needed. However, there’s far more to creating the ideal office space than getting the right furniture.

For example: Can being warmer make you work more effectively? What about the dim lighting that causes you to squint? Bad office design doesn’t just impact your mood, it can also impact productivity. At the end of the day, it’s important to make the office space as comfortable as possible since research has shown that your work environment has an impact on how you function.

Here’s our top tips for getting it right.

Temperature

It’s difficult to keep everyone happy, but you have to assume that if people are wearing coats and scarves when it’s in the eighties that your air conditioning is working too hard.

Similarly, if it’s the middle of winter and everyone’s walking round in shorts, you have to assume the heating needs turning down.

Research by Cornell University suggests that the ideal temperature for working is between 68 and 77 degrees; output increased by 150% in offices who started working between these extremes. Plus, making the effort to maintain a constant temperature all year round is more fuel-efficient and should help you keep utilities costs down.

Lighting

When it comes to general overheads, the cost of lighting your company premises can often be a significant part of your expenditure.

If the lights aren’t bright enough, this can lead to eye-strain and fatigue, which ultimately causes staff to make more mistakes and be less productive. A leading lighting company has done research showing that raising light levels in an office increased productivity 8% and decreased accidents by 52%.

Although most offices now have plenty of windows, remember that a certain amount of natural light is also critical, particularly when it comes to distinguishing colours – particularly important is you work in a creative industry. Research has also shown that those who worked in office with a greater amount of natural light were more alert and less likely to complain of fatigue.

Not everyone can sit next to a window however, so try to ensure that desks are placed to prevent too much shadow. If you have areas set aside for relaxing, i.e. breakout areas, it may be worth considering fitting dimmer switches to enable the level of light to be reduced.

Colour

So many offices are bland; the walls are often painted white or grey. Whereas this may be the simplest solution, it can also be very uninspiring. Colour affects mood and productivity and therefore it’s important to choose the right colours, depending on the mood you want to create. For example, blue is very calming and green is usually seen as being restful, whereas stronger colours, like red and orange, are stimulating and motivating. It makes sense to bear this in mind when decorating the various different areas of your office.

Space

There is no doubt that office space is expensive and when you’re paying for it by the square metre, it’s tempting to try and cram as much as possible into the space you have. However, if you want your employees to work effectively, you have to ensure they have enough space to work comfortably, both at their desks and when they’re trying to move around the office. Make it too crowded and people may well feel claustrophobic. There’s always the health and safety aspect too; you don’t want staff constantly, and literally, tripping over each other all day long.

You also need to ensure you provide enough storage space – no-one works effectively surrounded by clutter – and set aside space where you can meet and talk to customers.

When it comes to creating an effective, productive space, buying the right furniture is important, but the effort you put into making sure you get that right will be wasted unless you pay some attention to the space you’re going to put it in. Get it right and your investment will be rewarded by a happy and productive workforce.