When it comes to business success and the modern office, you need to be one thing – productive. Of course, that sounds very simple when you put it that way, but becoming and staying productive is actually quite a complicated thing.
Productivity means many different things and there are various sub-sections which fall under the one umbrella. Productivity includes equipment, how well it works, how fast it works, how energy efficient it is, expenses and how much they impact on profits, customers and how many you have, their individual value and how many purchases they make, and it also includes employees and their morale.
You might wonder why the happiness of your employees is a big deal; surely as long as the work is being done, it doesn’t matter whether they’re smiling at their bespoke office desk and loving their job, or not? Well, actually that’s a dinosaur attitude. If you are a business that doesn’t place the utmost importance on employee morale, then you’re simply not going to achieve productivity. It’s that simple.
Let’s break it down into the most simplistic form. Employees do the work, whether they make the machines do it or they do it themselves, they are the ones controlling the process. If an employee is happy and motivated, they work will harder without being asked to, they will come up with ideas around the conference table on a constant basis, and they will care about the job they’re doing. When you care about something, you perform better, because it means something to you.
Now, on the flip-side, if your employees aren’t happy, they’re going to do the very bare minimum and nothing more. They will come to work, get through the day, watch the clock, and go home. That’s it. They won’t go above and beyond, they won’t care about coming up with ideas, because they won’t see the point in it if you don’t listen, and as a result, more mistakes are likely.
Is that a productive picture? The first one yes, the second one most definitely not.
The other secret is that productivity equals profits. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out; if you’re more productive, you’re doing more with what you have, and that means more money coming your way.
Business means money at the end of the day.
So, we’ve realised that morale is vital, but how can you increase that? There are countless things you can focus on, but one of the most basic, and one which many businesses overlook, is the office furniture you place in your workspaces. This includes your main office, your canteens, your break spaces, your reception areas, your conference rooms, and any other rooms you have within your building that are under your control. Every single one of these rooms needs to be optimised in terms of comfort, support, and efficiency. The style of the room also needs to be pleasing to the eye; us humans are visual creatures and we work better when we’re proud of a space, e.g. we like the look of it.
It’s not hard to figure out – a dark and old office isn’t going to be as fun to work in as a dynamic, modern, and bright coloured office, right? These are basic things which are so often overlooked in favour of big marketing campaigns and software changes.
Perhaps it’s time to go back to basics and actually address the issues at hand, buy stylish office furniture and ensure that everyone has what they need to be able to do the job they’re being paid to do.
In this guide we’re going to concentrate on the link between business success and office furniture. Sometimes it’s the basics which yield the biggest rewards!
If you’re considering an office revamp in the near future, you’ll find a lot of useful information here.
The Benefits of Choosing the Best Office Furniture For Your Workspaces
There is a reason we spend so long decorating our homes and making them look just right; we spend a lot of time there and we want to be relaxed and happy. We want our homes to be stylish and comfortable, because that makes us feel good. The office environment is no different.
There are two sides to the coin here. You can choose substandard furniture and save money, perhaps even go for second hand office furniture which has seen better days, and sure, you’ll have extra cash in your business account. You can look at your walls and think the paintwork is fine, and will last another year or so, and you can make do. That’s fine, it will continue being functional. However, will it be productive? The answer is no, it probably won’t.
We’ve already mentioned that employees want to work somewhere dynamic and modern, perhaps with cool office seating and a decor which connects to the link between colour and mood. If you can tap into these elements you can increase productivity. Would you rather work in a boring, dull office, or a shiny, modern one? Be honest! Employees are far more likely to be motivated to get out of bed in the mornings and go to a beautifully designed and comfortable office than an old, uncomfortable one. Remember, we’re humans after all.
Millennial employees are also far more likely to look for modern office design when they choose where they’re going to work. Think about offices that Google or Apple put together – they’re sleek, shiny, comfortable, and have everything in place for optimal performance. If you want to attract new talent, that’s what you need to do, and if you want to keep your existing, experienced employees, you need to show them that you care enough about their wellbeing to provide them with a functional, attractive, and supportive place to work.
Let’s sum up. The main benefits of placing importance upon your furniture choices are:
- Looking into ergonomic furniture choices will help to reduce the number of aches and pains your employees suffer, therefore reducing the number of lost working days experienced through sickness
- Increased morale which has a direct impact on productivity, and therefore profits
- Creating an impressive office space also helps to create a quality first impression for visitors into your building – first impressions are vital, especially when it comes to attracting new business opportunities
- Higher morale means less mistakes, and therefore happier customers
- New furniture, which is functional and designed for your space, will save you money in the long run, as opposed to constantly fixing old furniture time and time again
- Better use of space in the office environment increases efficiency and therefore productivity once more
There really are no downsides. Okay, it’s going to cost money to purchase furniture, but you’re going to need to buy it at some point anyway, and over time, it will more than pay for itself! In addition, as an employer you have a responsibility to provide your employees with a safe and supportive working environment. If your staff are constantly complaining about aches and pains, surely it’s time to put two and two together and consider the possibility that your office furniture is past its best?
Let’s further examine some specifics now, starting with desks.
An office desk is not just something to lean on, it is a functional piece of equipment which has the power to make someone productive, or hinder them the point of a total lack of efficiency. When you’re considering the role of office desks, you need to think about size, material, type, and placement.
Most businesses purchase an all singing, all dancing CEO office desk, but they go for general or basic types for their office staff. That’s the wrong way to look at it! Your employees are the most valuable asset your business has, so why do they need to make do with a substandard option? Why not purchase chic office desks which give them the space they need, whilst also creating a stylish look to your entire space? By doing that, you’re showing your staff that you care about them enough to take this step, and that instantly increases morale. You know where morale leads by now, surely.
Placement is Vital Too
It’s also important to look at where you place desks. Ensuring that nobody is having to deal with glare from windows or overhead lights is important, but also making sure that collaborative areas aren’t placed right next to someone who needs to concentrate too.
A little clever thinking will ensure that everyone is able to complete their individual tasks without being hindered in one way or another. This is a situation in which a space divider or acoustic panels could also come in handy, or possibly making use of acoustic panels to cut out background noise whilst someone is concentrating on close work. That also means that people who are brainstorming don’t feel bad about speaking aloud. Again, productivity!
Sit & Stand?
Another area to think about when it comes to desks is a somewhat new feature, but one which has been found to be extremely beneficial. We are talking about standing desks. A study – by the University of Leicester, published in the British Medical Journal – found that using a sit and stand way of working, e.g. sitting for a period and then standing, by using a height adjustable desk, actually increased productivity and employee engagement.
This is down to the fact that standing is a form of exercise, and the change between sitting and standing is enough to give a boost of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. This increases focus and concentration, therefore reducing mistakes and increasing attention to detail.
Whilst it might take a little while for your existing staff to get used to the idea of standing for a certain amount of their day, once they try it they will probably see the benefits, and feel better for the boost of exercise too. A sedentary lifestyle is no good for general health and wellbeing, and this sit and stand way of working is considered to be a great antidote to that.
What is it Made of?
Next up, we need to talk about materials and textures. Recently there has been a lot of talk about biophilic office design, i.e. bringing elements of the outdoors into the office space. Evidence has shown that links with nature help to reduce stress and create a more peaceful and harmonious working environment. To achieve a biophilic workspace you simply need to add natural materials, such as plants or water features, but you can also opt for classic wooden desks too.
Opting for a strong wood such as this will give you durability and help your desks last the test of time, but they will also give you that biophilic effect and its associated benefits. If wood isn’t for you, how about a glass office desk? Glass reflects the light and creates a brighter feel to the office space. Whilst they do take a little looking after in terms of cleaning, the effect is more than worth the effort.
The choice of materials and textures really comes down to durability and whether you want a modern look to your office or you want to go for a contemporary office feel. Whichever you go for, make sure you’re consistent across the board to create the right look.
Don’t Forget Your Reception Desk
The other type of desk you shouldn’t forget is your reception area. If you’ve gone for contemporary office furniture in the rest of your space, you need to continue this theme to your reception too. Conversely, if you’ve gone modern, you should make sure your reception reflects the same feel.
A reception desk needs to be the centrepiece of your reception area, but this space also needs to be stylish and clean, to create that all-important first impression. Your receptionist is the first person a visitor is going to come face to face with, so where they are sitting needs to be professional and stylish too.
Curved desks are popular in reception areas, but desks which are enclosed on either side are too, helping the receptionist feel safer and also ensuring that nobody can see any work or documents which may be on the reception desk. Of course, it goes without saying that you should never keep confidential documents on a desk anyway!
As a final note on office desks, before we move onto another subject, check out this useful video which gives 12 office desk hacks to help improve productivity. Maybe you’ll find a useful hint in there to add into your new design!
What you sit at is possibly the most important part of the deal! Office chairs need to be comfortable and they need to be supportive. The prevalence of lower back pain and neck pain, as well as the link between posture and migraines, all adds to the huge amount of lost working days UK businesses experience due to sickness every year.
In addition, it comes down to ventilation, the ability to adjust the chair to personal needs, the size of the chair, the look of the chair, and the material.
The Key Feature – Ergonomics
As far as possible, your seating needs to be about ergonomic chairs. Ergonomics is about ensuring the person who sits in that chair is supported, i.e. their lower back, their neck, etc. These chairs can be adjusted, usually height, chair tilt, seat tilt, removable arm rests, and also lumbar support. These adjustments help to create a bespoke seating environment for that particular employee and therefore cuts down on aches and pains.
Sitting incorrectly is one of the main reasons for chronic pain at work, and it’s so easily remedied! Simply purchasing the best seating options and educating your staff on how to sit properly, is all it will take in most cases. If you think about the amount of hours that most office workers spend sitting at their desks, it’s no wonder that many go home with a sore back after sitting incorrectly for that length of time. Take the pain out of the equation and you’ll show your employees that you care about their health, they’ll feel valued as a result, morale will be on the rise, and you’ll experience less sick days overall. Remember, sick days impact on profits too.
Materials Also Matter
Aside from ergonomic design, you also need to give some thought to the material that the chair is made of. Plastic chairs are not much fun to sit on in the summer months, especially if you’re wearing a skirt. These stick to bare skin and also make trousers feel rather sweaty at the same time. That isn’t going to make anyone feel good, it’s going to make everyone uncomfortable and it will impact on productivity as a result – we work better when we feel good!
Any type of chair you choose should be made from a material that is breathable and light, as well as easy to clean. You can even purchase chairs which have their own temperature control these days; the hyperchair is designed to keep that individual at their ideal temperature – this is perfect for that all too familiar situation when one member of staff is hot, one is cold, one can’t make up their mind; this all affects productivity, because it is about comfort!
As with desks, it comes down to placement too. If you have collaborative office furniture and you’re encouraging your staff to brainstorm and work as a team, you need to have enough chairs within that space for people to sit down, stand up, move around, etc. High stools or tub chairs are a good choice here.
Make sure you have enough chairs for the people who are likely to be using the space as a bare minimum, and make sure all your chairs match in design, to keep your space looking stylish and chic at the same time. Remember, appearances do matter, especially if you are in a meeting space and you have external delegates visiting your office.
As a final word on chairs, check out this interesting infographic which really highlights some facts about the damaging impacts of a bad office chair
Meeting Room Furniture
Around the boardroom furniture is where you’re most likely to discuss important ideas and creative solutions to problems. Now, do you think you’re going to encourage your staff to come up with these ideas if the space they’re sitting in is depressing and dark? No. They’re not going to come up with anything and they’re going to hope the meeting finishes soon, so they can get back to their regular work.
The problem with this scenario is quite obvious – a lack of ideas and solutions means that your business is going to stagnate. A business which is dynamic, collaborative, and focused on team work is far more likely to be productive compared to one which relies on management to make every decision via their own ideas. This isn’t a high morale situation, because staff won’t feel that their ideas are going to be taken seriously.
On the other hand, if you invest in some quality boardroom flip top tables, perhaps some interactive whiteboards, and some comfortable boardroom chairs, you’ll find more ideas coming your way, because you’re actually encouraging them. You’re saying to your staff, ‘here is a space designed for ideas, give them to us!’, and they will.
The problem with most meeting rooms is that they’re dark, small, and not all that inspiring. If you want to inspire, you need to create a brighter and more innovative space. Throw open those windows, let in the light, make sure the temperature is right, and look towards comfort. Do some research into various meeting room layouts and ideas and find one which suits your particular employees best. You can always use modular office furniture and move your layout around when you need to, e.g. if you have a large and formal meeting coming up, which requires a standard approach.
There are plenty of ways you can take the ‘boring’ out of the boardroom and create a bright and innovative space which inspires and motivates. By doing this, you’re going to find ideas and solutions coming your way, which will all contribute hugely to your business success.
Breakout Spaces & Time Out
When your staff take their breaks, which you should encourage them to do, you need to provide them with a comfortable and relaxing space. Your staff should not be eating their lunch at the desks or refusing to take breaks because they need to hit deadlines. It’s not in the realm of health and wellbeing to allow this to happen, so you should always encourage regular breaks and times out. The results will be that your employees are more focused and engaged, increasing productivity and therefore your business success. All that from a break!
In order to provide your staff with the most comfortable chill out area, think about utilising breakout spaces, with quality and colourful breakout furniture. These spaces can be used for collaboration, breaks, and simply for five minutes’ time out, so they’re as multifunctional as they are attractive.
This space should be away from the regular office environment, and if possible you should try and include some elements of nature, to give that chilled out, tranquil feel. Plenty of natural light and fresh air is a great addition too, so if you do have an outdoor space you can utilise and the weather is on the positive side, you could think about moving things outside. If not, remember those biophilic features we mentioned earlier.
There are many low cost office furniture ideas that can be used for breakout spaces and general chill out spots, such as sofas or even high stools for that coffee shop vibe.
The point is that by giving your staff this type of space, you’re showing them that you care about their health and wellbeing. Remember, whilst a breakout area can be used for work, it is also a break and chill space, and that means you don’t actually have to provide it. By doing so, you’re proving to your employees that you value them, and that is going to have a major impact on morale.
We’ve talked about the main office furniture choices so far, but we also need to talk about the smaller items which finish off the whole look and feel of an office space. The detail is often in the finishing touches, and these can be as small or large as you want them to be. One which you do need to incorporate regardless is office storage.
Stylish office storage is an integral part of running a functional office. You need somewhere to storage certain items, including confidential paperwork and other documents, and whilst you don’t want to go down the route of excessive shelving and too many filing cabinets, you can look towards smaller cabinets which blend in with your overall decor and add a finishing touch to your space.
In addition, think about the walls and the colour of your space. Okay, strictly speaking this isn’t office furniture, but the power of your furniture can certainly be enhanced by the design of the space it is in!
Black office furniture looks fantastic with a pop of colours on the walls, or a little abstract artwork, and white office furniture is really complimented by the natural greens of the biophilic design way of thinking. Of course, you can go for any other colour choice and team it with a look which suits, but make sure that everything matches, to create a space which really looks the part.
By the end, you’ll have an office which wouldn’t look out of place in a style magazine!
Now we have come to the end of our furniture guide, can you see how important your desks, chairs, storage units, and other furnishings are for your business success? These items aren’t just about function, they’re about so much more! There is a definite link between your office furniture and the bond between your employees, and by strengthening that bond, you’re boosting the overall level of morale in your space! Do we have to say once more what morale leads to? Productivity!
If you want your business to succeed then you need to give your employees an inspiring, motivating, comfortable and supportive environment to work in. Think about this from a personal stand point – would you want to work in an office that is too hot/too cold/too dark/too light, or basically uncomfortable? No, you wouldn’t, so don’t expect your staff to either!
If you’re reading this and thinking it’s time for an office renovation, then planning is your first step. Think carefully about the look you want to achieve and come up with a budget idea which will allow you to purchase what you need.
Give our sales team at Calibre Office Furniture a call on 0800 0125 654, or drop us an email, and we’d be happy to talk to you about where to begin.
Thank you for reading!