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How to Incorporate Biophilic Design in the Workplace

Work. Life. Balance. Three words commonly used to describe how we should navigate through our lives, but how are you feeling? It’s been cold and dreary for the past three months. Chances are your 8 hours of fun time was spent inside: at a gym or in your home. A little over one-third of people don’t get more than 15 minutes of outdoor time in the course of a workday. So, it’s probable that many of us are suffering from “the winter blues” making it hard to stay focused at work. Biophilic design may be the solution for your office.

What can we do to make us feel energized and productive all year long?

What are some ways to make your workplace surroundings healthier?

While this is not a new idea, biophilic design is an answer. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” is a primary example. Where a design has fluidly brought natural elements indoors, mimicking outdoor environments.

A more screen centered world has made it commonplace to inject nature into our workspace. The design community has fully acknowledged the importance of biophilic office design, as it improves worker productivity, innovation, and morale.

To this point, the virtual forum Human Space emphasized that workplaces that have introduced elements of nature have observed a reduction in mental fatigue among staff members and an upsurge in workplace wellbeing.

What are 4 components of Biophilic Design?

1. Plants

The most obvious answer is the introduction of plants and greenery. This is a great place to start if you’re looking to bring the outside in. This addition can be as reasonably inexpensive as a potted plant on your desk. Desk plants can be an extension of our personality and typically don’t require much maintenance.

Biophilic Design in the Workplace is wood walls with green couches and indoor plants and wall hangers.

Living walls are also low maintenance option. Leaf walls and bio canvases artistically create spaces that mimic outdoor environments. Several manufacturers offer a wide range of biophilic products making it easy to add textures and color to any space.

NASA researchers set out to find the best ways to clean the air in space stations. Their Clean Air study found that certain plants are effective at removing chemicals that have been linked to health problems such as headaches and eye irritation.

2. Natural finishes

It’s not JUST about plants. There’s a lot more to nature than greenery. Think about all the textures along a hiking trail: wood, plants, dirt, maybe sand, clay, stone, moss, water, etc. Any of these could be an inspiration for your office design.

Biophilic Design in the Workplace can be as simple and hanging natural textures and colors such as grass, wood or clay and dirt textures images.

Wood is one of the more commonly used natural components for office design. Wood tones, whether real wood or laminate, make your space feel more inviting. Wood or wood laminate can be used on any surface of an office making it one of the most flexible finishes.

A simple way to add hints of these natural elements into a space is to choose an earth tone paint for your walls. Also, fabric choices give you thousands of options to highlight glimmers of waves or floral patterns.

Biophilic Design in the Workplace can consist of encouraging employees to create mood boards of natural images and textures.

3. Windows and natural light

You may remember our blog on workplace lighting: Factors Affecting Employee Performance: Lighting and Temperature. Artificial light has an adverse effect on office workers, leading to eye strain, eye fatigue and often is a trigger for headaches. With our ever-increasing dependence on devices and screens, using natural light can brighten, highlight and provide a shot of Vitamin D. Not surprisingly, natural lighting has also shown to have a huge impact on sickness/ absence rates.

A recent research project found that workers who had a window that offered a view of natural scenery recovered lower levels of stress at a much quicker rate than those who only had a landscape view of a blank wall.

4. Manmade elements

You can employ artwork depicting plants, animals or landscapes; shades of green, yellow blue and brown; floral patterns; and naturally chaotic shapes, curves, and circles rather than angles and straight lines. All these additions can help achieve a biophilic space.

Biophilic Design in the Workplace can be created within communal spaces such as Amazon does. Greenhouse-like rooms are added to the workspace.

The latest trend offers conference or office space options literally outside of the normal work environment.

Major employers such as Amazon have bought into the biophilic idea in a big way, adding amazing structures like glass-domed greenhouses to their company headquarters. Featuring 40,000 plants climbing on walls as high as four stories, the greenery creates an environment that mimics a rainforest.

At Google, offices are designed to maximize employee health and satisfaction. Workspaces are filled with plants, reclaimed wood, views of nature, water installations and even more exotic biophilic elements like rock walls.

Google achieves a Biophilic Design in the Workplace by adding a rock climing wall.

That said, the average company can realize the same benefits of biophilic design through much simpler means with much less investment. Surveyed employees describe feeling revitalized and energized in biophilic spaces, and in turn, they are inspired by the feel-good response plant life, natural lighting and other natural elements in biophilic design offer.

Health is an ever growing concern in the workplace and because we are furniture experts we get asked daily, “Is it better to sit or stand while you work?”  The answer is neither black or white.  The answer is actually both.

“According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management, standing desks are the fastest-growing employee benefit in US workplaces. One reason for their popularity: Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time damages your health, even if you get plenty of exercise when you aren’t sitting.”

“… a standing desk is unlikely to help with weight loss or avoiding weight gain, there may be other reasons to stand while you work … standing, rather than sitting, may reduce the risk of shoulder and back pain.  Other potential health benefits of a standing desk are assumed based on the finding that long hours of sitting are linked with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer (especially cancers of the colon or breast) premature death.”

While these statements hold true there should be a good mix of standing & sitting during your workday.  Nothing in excess is beneficial.  So, if you are tied to your desk and you don’t have the ability to take walking breaks a good healthy alternative is standing.  15-30 minute standing breaks every hour can help increase circulation which can help keep you focused on tasks, especially after lunch.

Of course, you want to get the proper furniture / equipment to create the optimum working environment.  So, here are some things to consider when choosing an adjustable desk option:

 

IMG_1471Sit to Stand Desk. This option allows your ENTIRE desk to rise and fall for sessions of sitting and standing.  This option has the most customization.  It adjusts to the user’s unique height.  It also allows the user to view working documents on their desk without strain.  There are also several different options of mechanism available:  crank, pneumatic and electric.

We suggest one of our blended options.  This includes a new adjustable base paired with a pre-owned work surface.  Unit pricing starts at $435.00 each, we offer options for all base mechanisms – suitable sizes range from 42”w -72”w.

 

pr1-per-ss3221blk^openRiser. Like the VERIDESK, this option sits on your standard desk.  The user can adjust for both seated and standing.  This option has some of the benefits of the above option with a couple downfalls.  It takes up a good portion of desk space.  Additionally, it is difficult for some users to view documents on their desk top while standing.

We suggest this price sensitive version of a pneumatic desk riser.  It features vacuum-sealed surfaces and can hold up to 33 lbs.  It is available in black and goes well with any type of computer.  It allows the user the luxury of proper height adjustment with its easy touch feature. This height adjustable monitor and keyboard stand offers premium quality and is environmentally friendly.   Retail $262.00 each

 

Adjustable Monitor Arm & Keyboard. This allows your monitor and keyboard tray to adapt to the user while sitting or standing.  This option is not as flexible, allowing for lesser overall height adjustment.  Some users do not feel the keyboard feels sturdy when extended for standing.  Using a monitor arm and keyboard tray in conjunction with your Sit to Stand Desk would give you the maximum flexibility for all scenarios.

Our best source:  ESI / Ergonomic Solutions Inc.  Featuring a multitude of keyboard and monitor arm solutions.  All available to ship in 72hrs.  Visit their site:  www.esiergo.com

 

Monongahela.1Don’t forget about your chair. Just because you’re going to commit to standing for a portion of the day doesn’t mean you can skimp on your chair.  You still need to have a chair that adapts to your seated height and supports your back.  A waterfall edge seat is recommended, to prevent cutting off circulation in your lower legs.  As well as adjustable arms and seat pan;  both allow for maximum flexibility whether you are 5′-0″ or 6′-4″ tall.

We suggest the Monogahela Chair.  Part of Tri-State Office Furniture’s exclusive line of seating.  This chair has all the bells and whistles of a Herman Miller or Steelcase chair, with a minimal price tag.  These chairs are only $175.00 each.

 

71CwyNXxkhL._SL1500_Last but not least, make sure to get an anti-fatigue mat, so you can stand in comfort. We suggest this option, which costs about the same as the co-pay to your chiropractor, $52.00 each!  Features include:  waterproof, durable, slip resistant, beveled edges, and it’s Greenguard Certified.

Using an ergonomically designed dome surfaced anti-fatigue mat is the perfect solution for improving workers comfort and productivity. This mat provides all day comfort and relief from aching feet and legs and also can help relieve back stress that occurs from long periods of standing.  Tapered edges and rounded corners help eliminate trip hazard.  Waffle underside grips hard floors or carpet.

 

Source: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/standing-desks-are-they-worth-it.html

Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-truth-behind-standing-desks-2016092310264

Source:  https://uwaterloo.ca/kinesiology/how-long-should-you-stand-rather-sit-your-work-station

A Roman Philosopher by the name of Gaius Plinius Secundus once said “Home is where the heart is”. This is a popular quote that many people use today as a way of saying that a place becomes a home because you put your heart into it.  A person’s home is comforting, filled with cherished items and family. While home is everyone’s favorite place, most people end up spending more time in the office than at home every day. Although some people like to keep work and home separate, it is not a bad idea to make your office homier. Your office space should be somewhere between home and work, it should be comfortable yet still functional. It is possible to make your office more inviting. With just a couple tweaks your office will be feeling more comfortable in no time.

 

  1. Clean & Clutter free

 

The first and probably the number one way to make your office more inviting is having a clean and clutter free space. Nothing could be worse than trying to get work done when your desk and computer desktop are a mess. Having clutter makes you distracted and can take your mind away from the task at hand. Not only can clutter take away your ability to get work done, but it can take away from you comfort level as well. Here are a few tips on how to declutter your space.

  • Desk drawers- Drawers should be thought of as a hierarchy of importance. This means the closer the drawer is to you and your dominant hand the more importance it has. You should keep the items that are a staple to your work available in the top for easy retrieval.

 

  • The top of your desk- When making sure the top of your desk is neat you need to keep track of what you use, whatever you don’t use throw it out. Be efficient!

 

  • IN/OUT Box-Vertical in/out box over your horizontal in/out box. With horizontal it only places files into a neat pile where things can get lost/misplaced. Vertical boxes allow all files to still be shown so nothing will be misplaced.

 

  • Wires-Clean up wires in your office spaces so that they do not get in your way. Tie them neatly under your desk, you can tape them to the side of your desk, or just get rid of any that are not needed.

 

  • A simple background- Having a personal picture as your background is popular, but once you start placing files and icons over it things can start to look messy and can affect your productivity. A simple fix is to use a solid color or even a faded picture as the background, this makes your desktop look calm.

 

  • Store only temporarily items- Just like your desk only keep items on the desktop temporarily. Examples of what are temporary items are pictures that still need editing, or just working documents. Once you are done with what you are working on, file it if it needs to be kept or trash it if you do not need it anymore.

 

  • Use software to help with organizing- There are software for the Mac(Dragthing) And Windows (Fences) that will sort and organize everything into it’s different categories. Examples are “daily use”, “projects”, this makes everything easy to find and neat. Both software have free trails then monthly payments.

 

  • Make filing automatic- With programs for the Mac(Hazel) and Windows (Belvedere) you will not have to move files manually anymore. You can set up your own rules for frequent commands like automatically deleting files after one month or even storing screenshots into a screenshot file. Both programs have a free month trail then monthly payment.

 

  • Create Multiple Desktops– For the Mac this feature is already included by hitting F3 you can create more desktops, for windows (Dexpot) the program needed to be downloaded but is free. By having multiple desktops this can help give you a fresh start on one desktop or you can have a desktop for different uses. For example, a desktop for home and another for work.

 

  • Clean up- Lastly, before you leave your office space for the day make sure to clean everything on your desk and your desktop. This way it will be enjoyable to return to the following day.

 

 

  1. Aesthetics

 

  • Color- A good way to add some color to your office space is to add draperies and colors that please the eye and that will not distract from work.

 

  • Office chair- it is important that your office chair is comfortable yet still functional. You should have an arm rest that is low enough for the shoulders to rest and for the elbows to bend at an 90 degree angle. Feet should also be flat and firm on the ground while sitting down.

 

  • Equipment- A quality keyboard and mouse are important so that you can get your work down without having to worry about technical problems.

 

  • Personal touches- Bring in some pictures, a decorative pillow, maybe even a lamp that you like.

 

  • Final Touches- Lastly, make sure to get rid of anything broken or dirty from your desk so that it looks clean and put together.

 

 

  1. Create and Use Systems While at the Office

 

  • By having a daily system, you can help reduce clutter and anxiety.

 

  • Files- Color-coded files and folders will help you keep things together and to see what is what.

 

  • Routine- Create routines such as when you check emails, take breaks, block time to work on different things, and to return calls.

 

 

  • Think before you print- Every time you go to hit the print button ask yourself does this really needed printed or could it stay in electronic form. Also, make sure the document looks how you want it to appear.  Utilized the print preview.

 

  • Use the touch it once system– When you pick up a piece of paper decide what to do with it then either shred it, toss it, file it, or trash it. This way paper doesn’t just move back and forth across your desk. There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place, even if that means the trash.

 

 

  1. Personality

 

  • Bring in Items- Add decorative items, photos, and souvenirs to make the office more comfortable.

 

  • More Inviting- Display items that make you smile, remind you of good times, or loved ones.

 

  • Inspiration- Make a motivational board that has images and quotes that inspire you to achieve your goals.

 

  • Clutter- Even though you need to add personality, make sure to not clutter up your desk. If it is possible hang some items on the walls.

 

  1. Bring the Nature Inside

 

  • Outside- Living plants, flowers, unique stones or even seashells can brighten up your desk. This adds a touch a nature, and will bring some of the freshness of outside in. Everyone gets the winter blues having a touch a nature will help.

 

  1. Brighten Up the Space

 

  • Lighting can set the mood and make a difference in productivity, behavior, and hormonal balance.

 

  • Booster- Use natural light as much as possible. The sun is a mood productivity booster.

 

  • Backup plan- If you cannot use natural lighting to your advantage, get a lamp that can also show your personality.

 

  1. Nourish Your Body & Soul

 

  • Snacks- Stock your office space with healthy snacks, such as granola bars, fruits, and mixed nuts.

 

  • Mugs- Drink your tea/coffee out of a special mug that you brought in from home. Maybe it says something like “Dog Mom” or “#1 Dad”.

 

  • Bottles- Drink water out of a decorative reusable water bottle. Not only are they cute, they are good for the environment.

 

  • Music- If possible, keep music on hand to elevate mood and concentration. Music without lyrics is best because there are not words to distract you from you task.

 

References:

 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245615

 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227489

Smart organizations recognize their primary objective is to boost the performance of their people. In our knowledge-based work economy, people are the engine that keep companies growing, adjusting, expanding, improving and innovating.

Not surprisingly, well thought out office design can be a formidable tool for maintaining employee performance. And a side benefit is that what usually supports productivity also boosts employee health and wellness. It’s all interrelated!

Given the nature of today’s work practices, how can the office design better bolster employee performance?

How can office design champion all of the various activities involved with knowledge work . . . things like collaboration, creativity, innovation, privacy, and engagement, among other concerns.

In this blog, we’re going to look at how office design in 2019 can affect these concerns. We’re also going to preview other office design trends for the coming year, such as branding, “no receptionist” entry ways and designing for Generation Z.

Agile Workplaces

Office design that has agile working centers around enabling office staff to work where, when and how they choose.

Agile working centers around enabling office staff to work where, when and how they choose, with maximum flexibility and access to the tools and technology allowing them to perform at peak efficiency.

With an agile office design, it’s likely that a majority of staff won’t have designated desks.

Rather, some might have, while most others are assigned clusters. But basically, they are urged to work away from the desk, choosing a setting that is best suited for the task at hand. As an example, this might include any of the following:

  • Soft seating and breakout spaces that are perfect for brainstorming and informal meetings, or just to relax and unwind;
  • Quiet spaces that provide a haven for reflection, deliberation and private research;
  • Touchdown spaces (or simply desks) that offer staff a place to log in and work from;
  • Private meeting rooms meant for more formal meetings.

This approach focuses on performance and results, not just “being present.” It’s been documented in many cases to give rise to more collaboration, improved workplace wellbeing, greater overall productivity and higher employee retention. Work also becomes an activity rather than a place that can be completed anywhere the individual chooses and removes the need of having a reserved desk for every staff member.

Gone are the days when offices and cubicles were the focus of office design.

In their place are well thought out open floor plans with enhanced benefits including ample access to natural lighting with the intent to improve opportunities for staff members to connect, create and sense being better-off and healthier.

In general, the move to more flexible office layouts has also been good for accessibility say experts in the field. “Open work spaces are much more beneficial and useful from an ADA standpoint,” observes one consultant. “Walls, partitions and doors are all potential barriers and also present the best opportunities for errors in design and construction.” As an example, a minimum of 32 inches of clear opening width is required for doorways. Take away the door and away goes the issue.

Need for audio privacy

audio privacy glass meeting room is classic office design

Noise is a concern in most workplace environments.

As we’ve seen, modern office design tends to focus on open-office layouts that support gatherings and impromptu meetings, but the need for individual focus work isn’t going away anytime soon.

Imagine a person analyzing data or writing in the same room with people answering customer calls non-stop.

In fact, studies have shown that more than 50 percent of open-office users are unhappy with sound levels in their workplace. Distractions and frustrations abound.

Building in spaces where workers can make quiet phone calls, complete heads-down work effortlessly and uphold some measure of audio privacy goes a long way to ensuring workplace fulfillment.

So, how do you create the balance between privacy and connection that workers crave? Designing for and providing a balance of space types to support both focused work and collaboration is important.

A common example of audio privacy is glass meeting rooms. While others can look in and see the people in the meeting talking, they wouldn’t know what the details of the meeting are.

Other firms have put in focus booths that provide space for concentrated work and reflection.

One intriguing approach is the use of “phone booths,” private soundproof pods that allow workers to take private calls without occupying conference rooms or having to wander far from their work station. Such phone booths are sound insulated to produce a situation where users experience greater privacy. Many come fully equipped with motion-activated LED lighting and integrated ventilation, as well as power/USB portal.

Other strategies could include:

  • Try separating energetic and noisy areas from quiet spaces. Create places for people to come together without annoying colleagues.
  • Ensure that people are sitting nearby those with comparable work patterns or subjects of study.
  • Consider a “virtual door” policy in which people sitting in an open work station aren’t necessarily free to talk.
  • Describe policies for employees to be able to reserve quiet space and collaborative space.

Employee wellness

employee wellness is important in office desing by providing them with active furnishings.

A healthy employee is a happy employee and in 2019, this is going to be just as important as ever. We’re not saying you have to include a gym in the office (unless you really want to) but do advise encouraging staff to be mobile. More and more architects have begun to integrate office designs to promote workers’ health and well-being.

Active furnishings

Use of supportive chairs, good desk layout and standing desks are effective ergonomic strategies to endorse employee health at the worksite.

While it may seem extreme to use the recent popular phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking,” truth is, protracted sitting has been linked to numerous adverse health conditions, including an enhanced risk of cancer, weight gain and back discomfort. Unlike nurses and doctors who may travel among stations and patient rooms, office workers largely spend most of their time in a seated position.

Integrating sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, or bicycle desks helps alleviate the effects of prolonged sitting, supports work productivity and has also been found to support creativity. Strategies include either requiring every workstation as a sit-stand desk or making specified sit-stand desks accessible to anyone when they so choose.

Maximizing the quantity of natural light

This is another workplace design objective that can be achieved by increasing the amount and size of windows, helping to make the most of smaller spaces. Exposure to an ample amount of natural light is highly important for one’s health. One opinion is that it helps to regulate circadian rhythms – a person’s daily cycles of waking and sleeping hours. When circadian rhythms are unregulated and upset, people are more apt to undergo higher stress levels, a drop in productivity and constant fatigue.

Beyond natural light, it’s also important to take into account the role artificial light plays in a workplace. An absence of suitable indoor lighting can contribute to an assortment of physical health issues including eyestrain and headaches. While the amount of light required may differ among employees, depending on their age, task and how they work, it’s crucial to implement a lighting design that provides adequate lighting that can also be adjusted.

About that mid-morning break

The mid-morning coffee break of years past is now all about finding moments for reflection. With studies indicating even the briefest moments of meditation have a profound effect on a person’s energy and focus, it’s important to encourage employees to take a break, and perhaps a few deep breaths. Open conference rooms and empty offices can easily be used as 10-minute stress reduction spaces – no phones allowed – with the addition of a few pillows and throws.

Climb those stairs

Another tactic that has gained popularity is the use of internal connecting stairs. Incorporating accessible, thoughtfully placed stairs within the office environment can reduce the dependence on elevators and offer a convenient way to mix short periods of physical activity into the workday. Climbing stairs is a low-impact physical activity that increases heart-rate and burns calories, and research has demonstrated its connection to cardiorespiratory fitness and a lower risk of stroke.

You want employees to engage with one another

Office design that encourages engaged employees are likely to be a company’s best source of new ideas.

It’s been shown that engaged employees are more productive, more profitable and safer than less engaged employees. They tend to create stronger customer relationships and stay longer with their company. Engaged employees are likely to be a company’s best source of new ideas.

According to a recent study by Steelcase, however, workplace disengagement is a widespread problem not only in the U.S., but around the world. Studies have shown that disengaged workers cost U.S. businesses up to a whopping $550 billion each year.

Workplace strategies to foster better employee engagement include:

  • Provide work spaces that enable better visibility, openness and greater mobility to foster engagement. When workers are more likely to see one another, they are more likely to connect and collaborate.
  • Provide collaborative spaces that incorporate the five “Cs: coffee, CNN (or other news outlet), circulation nearby, connectivity and comfortable seating. These five are especially successful for “hub” spaces on the floor.
  • Organize a floor plan into “team neighborhoods,” to promote team identity and sense of place.

Let’s take a few minutes to preview other office design trends that will be popular this year.

What, no receptionist!

That’s right, some companies have decided to do away with the traditional front-desk receptionists, sometimes using technology to direct guests to where they need to be or having a more informal entry area.

In many offices today, virtual receptionists have taken over the phone lines and visitor management systems handle signing in visitors. This is especially true among tech companies.

More and more start-ups don’t have the budget or the need for a full-time receptionist. For example, they might not receive many visitors or get a lot of calls on their central line.

For a variety of reasons, some large tech companies are also opting not to use a receptionist and are designing their office spaces to accommodate this decision. One CEO believed that a receptionist would “serve as a buffer” that “makes the organization seem too formal.” He went on to say that the best way to design the entrance area is by making it a comfortable lounge area where people can meet on equal terms.

Turn your office into a branding tool

Many organizations want their workspace to reflect their brand, a marketing tool that helps them stand out, as well as a way to reinforce the company’s culture among its employees.

This design concept is based on the office space idea that companies have a story to tell the way you design your interior can help you share that story to inspire your employees, the community in which you operate and prospective customers. Put simply, this concept uses office and interior design to give your work environment a sense of identity.

When the brand becomes part of the office life, then it is no longer solely the job of the marketing department to communicate that brand. The brand becomes everyone’s responsibility.

So, how is this achieved?

The company uses space as a physical embodiment of the brand. This is achieved through architecture, lighting, landscaping as seen in retail stores, office showrooms and office environments.

Move over millennials, designing for Gen Z

Three young men are designing an office for gen z.

Much has been written about how offices have been designed for millennial employees, but fact is, many designers have shifted gears to learn how to more effectively design for the newer, younger Gen Z, loosely defined as those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

Research indicates that a Gen Z workplace needs to emphasize technology, encourage stability and boost efficiencies. Gen Z can be expected to prefer collaboration and open work spaces more than their coworkers. According to one recent survey, Gen Z-ers believe their colleagues enable them to do their best work.

When in the office, the Gen Z-ers want a more flexible office design, with the freedom to easily switch locations rather than being stuck in a cubicle. This shift can begin with flexible furniture, such as adjustable desks and tables, adaptable chairs and sit-stand workstations. Moreover, there should be a variety of spaces for distinct types of work, such as collaboration zones, meeting rooms and places for individual work.

So, there you have it. You’ll see that there are a number of common themes running through these trends to include collaboration, open office space with a choice for privacy, and a need to recognize the importance of employee wellness, to name but a few.

We invite you to contact the design professionals at Tri-State when planning to adapt your office space to the needs of your current and future employees. 

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog on Biophilia. What’s that you say? It’s all about connecting your employees with nature and creating a calming and relaxed office environment.

Your employees spend a lot of time at the office! So, you want to be certain you’re fashioning the best work environment possible to help your workplace make your employees happy. If your space is lackluster and boring, chances are your worker happiness, creativity and efficiency will suffer. On the flip side, an inspired workspace will make them happier, healthier and eventually more productive.

Multiple studies have shown that productivity is directly related to employee morale. Happy employees are productive employees!

Many components influence overall employee happiness in the workplace: salary, management style, company culture and physical office environment are all among the principal factors that have an impact on happiness.

One the easiest ways to impact morale is with updates to physical workspaces.

Office fact: One of the earliest innovators of the modern office chair was Charles Darwin who added wheels to his chair to get to his specimens quicker while in his study.

Traditionally, office spaces were planned to provide personal space for a worker to have a “place for themselves” and some sense of independence. Over time, either due to space limitations or more project-related teamwork, the design of office spaces underwent changes with less cubicles and more common areas.

True, each worker still has an assigned desk or workstation with some aspect of privacy, but there are also places allocated for collaboration.

Office putting greens, classic subway cars and revolving bookcases are among the zany features that could be found in Google’s fascinating offices. Google is celebrated for its remarkable workspace designs. And while the offices may look cool, there’s a reason behind their grasp on workspace.

In this blog, we’re going to explore ways to make use of office space to create a well planned, more productive workplace that will make your employees happy.

Office common areas promote interaction

IMG_1240

Office common areas encourage exchanges among employees at work. Where workers come together, whether they merely need to pick up a printout or they’re taking a coffee break, often determine how teams form and bond.

Effective office common area layout design can assist this space in serving as a melting pot for ideas and afford opportunities for the exchange of information.

Identifying the importance of office common areas is the initial step in deciding what goals your company’s shared spaces will have.  

Planning your office layout

Sitting areas and break rooms with cozy seating and appropriate areas for working inspire workers to do their thinking in public in contrast to being closeted away in a cubical or secluded office. Such “public” thinking can be a fertile ground for growing new ideas, sparking spontaneous discussions and brainstorming, as well as creating unplanned collaborations.

You can plan these office common areas around functions and features that will draw employees together, such as printers, snack areas, coffee machines and high-traffic walking areas.

IMG_1239

Common areas lead to collaboration

We’ve all heard about an R&D company that started out as five people in the garage sitting around with a couple of folding chairs and tables. There was a sense of energy, a buzz. Something was happening. But as the company grew, it moved into larger, more conventional office space, with upper management in their private offices with windows and staff occupying a variety of cubicles.

But something else happened – they lost that energy. So, what was missing? We like to call it collaboration.

Collaboration, by definition, is “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something; to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor; to cooperate with an agency or instrumentally with which one is not immediately connected.”

The significance of collaboration in the workplace has been well-documented of late. It has been shown to boost employee satisfaction, lead to more effective problem solving, improve self-awareness, and contribute to a culture of ongoing learning.

What are the benefits of collaborative offices?

Info-graphic: Productivity Facts. Close work friendships boost employee satisfaction bu 50%. People with a best friend at work are 7x more likely to engage fully in their work.• Build a community on creativity and camaraderie. Maybe the biggest appeal for a collaborative office is the “collaborative” part: people simply work better when they are working with others. For example, a mobile app development start-up can connect with an ad agency and collaborate on a project. Or a law firm can access the facilities of an accounting agency. Collaborative offices produce an atmosphere that encourages an exchange of ideas and teamwork.

• Create friendly competition. With the friendly competition that will arise from a collaborative team environment, you will unintentionally encourage employees to compete for the best ideas. Friendly competition will only bring out more thought-out solutions.

• Develop momentum. When employees work with one another, they can develop a strong momentum that can allow them to get projects done more efficiently. Goals met quickly lead to happier clients, plus a greater ROI.

Info-graphic: Productivity Fact, Employees who report being happy at work take 10x fewer sick days than unhappy employees.

• Assure better office health. Workplaces that foster collaboration have been shown to lower stress while boosting employees’ overall mood. In today’s nerve-wracking and stressful world, it’s crucial to nurture meaningful relationships whether at work or at home.

• Encourage attendance. Knowing that your workmates are counting on you to finish a task or bring ideas to the collaborative work space table means that you will make every effort to be there.

• Achieve more energy. A career relegated to the four corners of an office cubicle can deprive an employee of momentum. With collaborative workspaces, employees can inspire one another and profit from a fast-paced environment. Working alongside people on the same wavelength can revitalize an employee’s determination and give them a boost.

• Gain access to more information. Co-working spaces are filled with hard-working, intelligent and inventive people all in one place. The volume of know-how and creativity that is shared in these spaces is one of the biggest benefits of a collaborative workspace, and a great reason why everyone should spend a bit of time working with them. Working with and getting to know people from all through the company allows a worker to soak up new ideas from others who are not normally in their network.

How to create collaborative workspace

Just because an office houses a numerous amount of people doesn’t mean it leads to healthy interface. Just throwing people into a shared space isn’t enough.

Many of the more forward-thinking organizations are recognizing the value of collaboration in the workplace, as two (or two dozen) heads are better than one when it comes to sharing ideas and innovations. And these days, collaboration means more than simply gathering in a conference room for an hour-long brainstorming session. Many firms are totally redesigning their workplaces to promote further communication and interaction among its employees.

Office Fact: People in the United State spend at least 1,896 hours per year at work. (Better make sure you get a comfortable chair from Tri-State Office Furniture) December Deal $99.00 Haworth Improv Task Chair.

What can you do!

As noted, office designs of the past have typically favored cubicles and segregated work spaces. You know the ones: rows upon rows of desks partitioned and separated. But, as we’ve also witnessed, such designs hinder collaboration and give rise to a high-stress work environment. And, really, will such office space persuade workers to appear at the office every day?

Enter collaborative spaces. These are well-defined areas where employees are encouraged to meet, share and, of course, collaborate!  These are not open offices, but rather spaces for various departments to connect in a neutral zone. They are the melting pot for ideas where workers of any department or position can consider suggestions without fear of ruffling any corporate feathers.

Such layouts on centered on the belief that the best ideas come from people getting coffee together or chatting at the copy machine. The goal here is to create “thinking” areas which persuade workers to do their thinking in the company of co-workers, rather than alone.

There’s a good reason open-minded companies design their offices with shared amenities and group areas – it’s a proven benefit for the entire company.

Include multiple workspaces. Your office calls for a mix of spaces to boost productivity and for employees to feel at ease. Truth is, an office full of individual desks or cubicles or only shared spaces won’t be successful, as people want to have the ability to be more collaborative, but also want some privacy and vice versa.

To ensure your office space will make your employees happy, give them a choice of where they want to be. A good mix might include individual desks, an open table, a breakout area and some smaller, private rooms to make a phone call without the whole office listening.

Provide quiet spaces. Some tasks demand silence and it may make your employees happy to have a space for a bit of seclusion. In order to provide employees with some respite, a quiet corner or open room could be walled off as a “quiet area.” These spots can still hold multiple employees at one time, but with the appreciation that this is a place to focus without interruptions.

Office Fact: The most popular exhibits during the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia were the New Office Equipment and Office Furniture exhibits.

Okay, by now, you probably have a pretty good grasp of the definition of a collaborative workspace – but what are the specific elements of such a space? An effective collaborative work space might include any number of innovations. Here are but a few examples:

Designated lounge areas: Communal lounge areas, which are often furnished with comfy couches offer employees a place to rest, unwind and connect. While these spaces will serve as a sort of escape from the everyday grind, they also afford a spot for employees to get together and problem solve in more stress-free surroundings.

Fluid floor plans: Here’s one trend in office design that’s on its on its way up — hot desking. With hot desking, workers take whatever desk is open, rather than having a permanent place of their own. Perhaps the biggest advantage is this allows employees to work near others who they might not usually see, giving a boost to idea sharing and teamwork.

Community tables: The name might give you a hint, if not, it’s a table that has no single owner or user, that can be used by anyone and everyone. The community table can be utilized for a variety of purposes and people can even create their own uses for it. Bringing people together to eat, chat and meet is critical. The community table encourages people to step away from their desks and spend productive time with colleagues. It’s also a great working space to give you flexibility in the way you work, and perhaps even somewhere to play board games or ping pong!

Office Fact: The idea of comfort was not in fact for the benefit of the employee. The thinking behind it was in fact that if the chair was as comfortable as functional as possible so that employees would stay in their chairs longer and therefore do more work!

You simply can’t put off updating your office any longer.

Today’s businesses enjoy more creative freedom when designing the workplace than ever before. To keep your employees’ morale, motivation and satisfaction at a consistent high, you need to create a more dynamic workplace that encourages cooperation and collaboration.

In conclusion, you should already be thinking how to include collaborative spaces into your office if you have not done so already. Happy employees are productive employees, and even small changes can spur emotional well-being.

You might simply begin by taking that empty cubicle in the corner and turn it into a small lounge area. Use that storage space in a more inventive, enticing way. Businesses do not need new facilities to make change but rather manage what they have more effectively. You may not need to make huge changes for your current workplace to make your employees happy!

Finally, if you’re looking for innovative and collaborative workspace furniture for your office, Tri-State Office Furniture offers a wide variety of high-quality furniture items to suit your company’s evolving needs.

Pittsburgh Magazine has selected Empire on Liberty by RDC Design-Build as the 2018 Ultimate House. The project includes a 3,000-square-foot penthouse, condominiums and commercial space.

The 2018 Ultimate House is just a short walk from Children’s Hospital and Lawrenceville and is seamlessly woven into the fabric of a colorful Bloomfield neighborhood packed with tidy homes and thriving businesses.

With a spectacular list of sponsors from the area’s best in home design, the 4th Annual Ultimate House will open its doors for public tours in April 2018, with all ticket proceeds benefiting The Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

For additional information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Heather Barritt, hbarritt@pittsburghmagazine.com.

Ultimate House Progress Photos

We are just weeks away from unveiling Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2018 Ultimate House – Empire on Liberty. These photos, taken in late February, show the steady march from former warehouse to magnificent penthouse.

Click here to view photo gallery >>

Ultimate-House-Progress-Photos

Welcome back Tri State Office-ians, last blog we looked at an in depth look as to what performance improvements and issues come from an open vs closed office space. If You haven’t already read that blog click here. As for this blog, we’re going to get right into the factors affecting employee performance.…

It’s not wrong to say that your workspace atmosphere can have a profound effect on your employee’s wellbeing, they do spend most of their time there after all. But where privacy and collaboration are one thing to keep your employees, and as a result your business, feeling fresh and energized. There is an easily over looked aspect of your business that by taking control of it can improve your employee well-being and help you become more energy efficient. What is this secret character of your business you may ask? Well it’s right in front of your very eyes… Lighting and Temperature.

Factors affecting employee performance in the workplace:

Yes, it’s in front of your eyes both figuratively and literally. It may seem so simple, but lighting and temperature are a hard-to-miss part of your everyday life that you pay attention to, but very seldom have control over. Especially in an office atmosphere where you are sharing a space with 15 other people. The technicalities of lighting and temperature go far and beyond a general learning_center_graphic_pp422understanding since it has so many different styles and systems it can come in. To simplify this topic for you I’m going to use another theoretical.

Workplace lighting

You’re a CEO and your company is in the midst of your new office transition because, you decided that it was time to move spaces after hiring 50 new employees. You just picked your office layout (open or closed) and your human resource department comes back to you telling it’s time to decide on a form of lighting for the office. They tell you this is a critical step because it can affect yours and your employee’s well-being. One of your team members tells you that you should choose a fluorescent, parabolic down lighting system because it shines light directly downward and it’s a cheaper option.  Another team mate tells you that you should use lensed-indirect, LED lighting because it will be more energy efficient and should lead to fewer screen glare problems. You can probably see already there are a lot of things to consider. Why make something so simple into such an ordeal though?

Well one reason is that lighting can negatively affect you with short term problems such as cuts and falls, to long term problems such as eye strain and back ache. Of course, it depends on the type of work you do to allow you to maximize your efficiency and minimize your injuries. For example, lighting that is good for a factory could be bad for an office. Similarly, but less extreme, offices that do mostly paper based work should not use the same lighting as offices that use mostly computer based work, since the extreme contrast caused from the glare on the computer can cause eye fatigue and strain1. This is where the conflict starts since most office lighting tends to be set for working with paper. The task seems almost un-avoidable. A solution to this problem can be resolved by blessing you employees with a previously aforementioned, oddly emphasized word. That I will reference you back to now… (dramatic pause) control.

In 2012 Wiley academic article titled Development of an Intelligent Lighting System Using LED Ceiling Lights into an Actual Office, Keiko Ono of Ryukoko University in Japan tested a hypothesis that “there are reports that in other countries, individual illuminance control increases intellectual productivity and reduces power consumption.” To test this, they created an intelligent lighting that delivered the desired light level and color to each individuals desk2.  These systems are equipped with adjustable lighting, illuminance sensors, and a power meter that is each connected to a network to monitor it. After the tests, the individual lighting system confirmed a reduction of 30-40% in power consumption and the range of preferred illuminance was between 200 and 800 lux for power temperature2. The article claims that when it comes down to it

“Intelligent lighting works to increase convince and comfort for the people who work in the office and achievement of an individually disparate and environmentally optimized space that emphasizes intellectual creativity and productivity…”

Try saying that 3 times fast! Of course, this is compared to an office where a uniform environment is attempted to be created, but as history has shown this does not work for every one person, or IMG_2253company. It’s best to decide which lighting option will be best for you based on the kind of work you do. You don’t need this expensive equipment though to make the lighting comfortable in your office. You can use what we call in the biz, “adjustable task lighting” AKA lamps. Specifically, desk lamps of which there are plenty of options. By this point your probably thinking “what about temperature? You have been blabbing on for 3 paragraphs about lighting and have not so much a grazed the topic!” If that’s not what you’re thinking, Thank you. But if that is what you’re thinking, don’t you worry, I’m getting to it right now!

 

Temperature and productivity in the workplace

Just like lighting, the indoor environment of your office can affect wellbeing and health, along with motivation. Temperature is a long-debated office topic, and topic in general that has yet to be resolved completely since everyone has different wants and needs. Temperature can affect your productivity in ways that lighting can’t. Where lighting can affect your eye sight, temperature can simply make you feel uneasy. Even the most motivated people have trouble maintaining productivity under adverse hot, or cold conditions. In a study that monitored office clerks showed that at 77 degrees Fahrenheit workers were typing 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees workers were typing 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate3; This was just a measure of performance though. It’s not fair to assume though that temperature created these adverse changes alone though. This is where temperature and lighting come together.

A study done in Australia worked to look at this issue. In the study, they brought surveys into several companies to discover how changes in building design and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) can affect occupant’s work productivity, and well-being. The surveys were made on a number of self-reported Likert-scales (1 = ‘very good’ to 7 = ‘very bad’); self-reported measures are one of the only practical ways to measure work productivity and well-being. Along with other cognitive tests to measure the validity of the self-reported measures. The study found that no single IEQ stressor affected work performance directly rather the IEQ stressors affected individual state factors such as motivation, alertness, and focus4. The study also found that the size of the reduction in work performance depended upon the number of environmental stressors imposed on an individual at any given time, meaning participants felt they were more productive and felt better when they had one, or no stressors, but when the number of stressors exceeded two, or three work performance recedes back to the average4. Therefore, the layout of your building is worth considering before you move, or start a business because if you can, it is best to choose a layout that can allow environmental control be given to your employees. Because, if your employees have even the slightest bit of control they have reason to feel empowered and as a result be motivated to work hard and be creative, boosting your business and their happiness.Tri-State Office Furniture_Registered Logo_WITHOUT WHITE BACKGROUND1122

By. Dylan Edmonds

 

References:

  1. Hedge, Alan, William R. Sims, and Franklin D. Becker. “Effects of Lensed-indirect and Parabolic Lighting on the Satisfaction, Visual Health, and Productivity of Office Workers.”Ergonomics38.2 (1995): 260-90. Web. 1 July 2016.
  2. Ono, Keiko, Mitsunori Miki, Masato Yoshimi, Tatsuo Nishimoto, Tetsuya Omi, Hiroshi Adachi, Masatoshi Akita, and Yoshihiro Kasahara. “Development of an Intelligent Lighting System Using LED Ceiling Lights into an Actual Office.” Electronics and Communications in Japan95.10 (2012): 54-63. Web. 1 July 2017.
  3. “THE AGE-OLD DEBATE: ‘THE OFFICE IS TOO HOT/ THE OFFICE IS TOO COLD’.”Managing Accounts Payable10.10 (2010): 9. Web. 1 July 2017.
  4. Lamb, S., and S. Kwok. “A Longitudinal Investigation of Work Environment Stressors on the Performance and Wellbeing of Office Workers.” Applied Ergonomics52 (2016): 104-11. Web. 1 July 2017.

 

 

 

 

View Actual Story >>

Ed Meyer overcame challenges with the help of others — now he gives back to those in the same situation.

April 12, 2018
Content provided by Tri-State Office Furniture.

Ed Meyer knows the importance of giving back to the community and helping those in need — he and his family were once those who needed a hand.

While growing up in Beechview, Meyer’s family didn’t have a lot of money; they never took a vacation, didn’t have a car and there were times when there wasn’t food.

tristatebody

Meyer was born with lymphangioma, or a cystic hygroma, a cyst that is most commonly found in the neck, and needed surgery immediately after birth. Many thought he wouldn’t survive his medical challenges, and he was baptized and given his last rites only two days after birth. He overcame, but over the course of many years received countless treatments and surgeries that his already-struggling family scraped to pay for with loans and donations.

Today, Meyer is the president and owner of Tri-State Office Furniture, a business that sells both new and refurbished office furniture. He started his business in March 2010 with only six employees and has grown it to three locations, a sister company and 67 employees.

Tri-State Office Furniture says it has the largest selection of new, remanufactured and used office furniture in the region. At the warehouses in McKees Rocks, Charleston and Wheeling, West Virginia, customers can find brand name corporate and residential office furniture at a fraction of the suggested retail price.

In addition, Tri-State buys and rents office furniture, provides delivery and installation, professionally cleans office furniture, reconfigures existing workstations and offers free design layout and space planning.

“It’s not just about revenue, but about what we can create,” Meyer says. “More jobs, better jobs, making our business bigger and stronger and keeping our customer service is near and dear to me.”

As president and owner, Meyer oversees all of the stores and his entire company, but he makes time to give back to the community.

“We’re on earth to help ourselves and our families, but if you can’t also help other people and animals, what good are you?” he says.

As part of his philosophy, Meyer has involved his company in Pittsburgh Magazine’s Ultimate House project, where all proceeds are donated to The Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital — a fund that wasn’t available to his family during his medical issues.

“When I started this, it was good for business,” he says. “But it was even better when I found out it was for The Free Care Fund.”

Meyer says because he grew up poor, he feels for people who don’t have money but are trying their hardest — especially those who are in the position of trying to figure out how they can help a sick child live.

“I give back as much as I can and help people, not for accolades, but out of the goodness of my heart,” he says. “It’s the way I was raised.”

~ Sponsored content is created and paid for by the marketer.

 

 

Benefits of Pets in the Workplace

Hello, I’m George the dog, I’m two years old and I work at Tri-State Office Furniture in Pittsburgh PA. I come to work every day with my mom, Dianna. I love coming to work because I get to see all my friends and then I play with my Kong until I can get all the delicious treats to come out. Work is so much fun! 😊 I try my best to be good, but I get so excited being surrounded by all my friends and visitors, that sometimes it’s hard for me not to talk to them. I don’t mean to be distracting, I just love to play! When the time comes, I go into the kitchen during lunch and hangout with the Tri State Office Furniture employees. I like it in there because the floor is chilly and a big furry boy like me gets hot and really enjoys the change in atmosphere. Also, the employees will sneak me treats if they have any left overs… shh don’t tell my mom though. I love coming to work with my mom it’s so much better than sitting home alone with no one to talk to.

This isn’t all I do though, my mom tells me I’m a big help at work because I help raise the morale of the workers and help lower stress1! She also says that I can help relax customers when I greet them at the door! She says this has something to do with a change of perception given to an individual when they experience animals in their environment2. For example, people have been recorded as having reduced blood pressure when looking at dogs or chimpanzees2; This increases the likelihood of an employee, or a customer having a better experience. This makes sense since pets, dogs specifically, have a history of positively reinforcing good habits in their owners and those who are near them. This is because dogs, like me, have the ability to teach love and kindness by showing unconditional acceptance1george

A study set out by Meredith Wells and Rosie Perrine of Eastern Kentucky University set out to explore if pets in the workplace truly have these effects on employees. The research was conducted by sending out 443 surveys to companies in which the employees rated their feeling of pets in the workplace from one to six and then proceeded to answer a series to open ended questions on the subject. By the end of the study, it was found from the surveys that the employees did in fact perceive the pets as relieving stress by providing a pleasant diversion from work and creating a more comfortable work environment1. The participants did worry though that the pets could become a nuisance or distraction because of barking and other biological effects on employees such as allergies1. The research paper ended by emphasizing how the results of the study showed that many employees perceive pets in the workplace to reduce stress and benefit the organization.

Where it’s essential to consider the happiness of your employees, it is also necessary to look at things from your customers point of view and get any understanding of what they want and expect from you. Depending on the industry you’re in, the atmosphere of your office can determine if you get more or less business. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you try make every person who enters your door feel comfortable and welcome. In some instances, this could mean having art around the office, or having a refreshment bar at the entrance. In terms of animals though something as simple as a fish tank could make a difference in relaxing customers2. Animals can also stimulate the environment to act as an ice breaker and help facilitate interactions between individuals. As the token office pet, I can guarantee that an animal will help encourage interactions and at the least help heighten mood!

Another study by Meredith Perrine and Meredith wells set out to find how pets affected a person’s perception. The study recruited 482 undergraduate students to answer questions about their perception of a work environment. During the study participants were shown different images of an office space with and without a pet and were asked to answer six questions from the customers perception and six from the employee’s perception, along with some open-ended questions. The results from the study showed that when participants imagined themselves being a customer in an environment with dogs and cats they would have a better mood2.It was also shown in the data that the office with animals was perceived as encouraging more social interaction. As you might have guessed animals in the workplace did in fact cause a change in perception. It seems that having a furry friend like me in the office sure can pay off! Pets have and always will be your best friend when you need them they are there for you unconditionally and it may be work to take care of them but it ultimately pays off in the long run if approached properly.

By. Dylan Edmonds

References:

  1. Wells, Meredith, and Rose Perrine. “Critters in the Cube Farm: Perceived Psychological and Organizational Effects of Pets in the Workplace.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, vol. 6, no. 1, 2001, pp. 81–87., doi:10.1037//1076-8998.6.1.81.
  2. Perrine, Rose M, and Meredith Wells. “Labradors to Persians: Perceptions of Pets in the Workplace.” Taylor and Francis Online, Routledge, 28 Apr. 2015, www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2752/089279306785593928?needAccess=true.

 

Office Atmosphere – Part 1

In today’s world, there are a plenty of resources open to you and your business that grant you extended flexibility in the way in which your businesses day to day operations can be ran. In this article we will analyze the pros and cons of open vs closed office furniture. Whether that be actual physical resources, or non-tangible assets such as ideas and experiences there seems to be no ceiling to what can be done. How do you look through all the information though without knowing what option is best for you? Yes, you could try them all, but in business time is money and it’s not good practice to waste either. Luckily you don’t have to because the internet is filled with people who will do that for you and report back the results!

It’s the little things you do every day that improve your quality of life in the long run. Goals such as eating breakfast and laughing more often can provide the change necessary to live a happier life and improve your well being. In this series, we will be looking at the ins and outs of office ergonomics and what the pros and cons are of the different options available. We will be looking at everything from how workstation setup can affect productivity to temperature and how it can affect employee motivation. We, here at Tri-State Office Furniture, have took the liberty of looking through a series of academic studies and articles and will report the findings so that your business can take a lucrative step that could take your business to the next level. Now look no further while we introduce our first topic to you…

*Open Vs. Closed Office furniture*

Here’s the deal, you’re a CEO and you just hired 50 new employees so you decide that it’s time to make the decision of moving office locations. While discussing how the new office atmosphere should be set up your human resources team brings up a lot of good things to consider, one of which is an open vs. closed office environment. During a meeting one of your team members tells you ceothat a closed office furniture is the best decision because it allows for the employees to stay concentrated and avoid distractions. Meanwhile, another one of your team members is telling you that an open office is the best choice because it facilitates communication of ideas between employees. How do you make this decision though?

Well, there are a couple things to consider while making this decision. The first of which has to do with being task oriented. As a leader, sometimes it is important to look back at your organization and remember what the goals are you want to achieve. It is believed that the open office work environment can rip down the metaphorical wall between co-workers and increase communication between individuals, groups, and even departments and as a result, improve morale and increase productivity. Depending on how demanding the job is and what is required of it, you need to decide what will be the best option to give your employees the privacy they need, along with the motivation to keep improving. For example, QBE Canada a business insurance specialist group found that when they removed the cubicle walls their employees began to talk and collaborate unprompted. This was an important change in their businesses atmosphere because as an insurance company it was important for them to account for all sorts of risk and the open office space allowed and encouraged for employees to share information to find a resolution to a client’s situation1. open office furnitureThey reported that this was more obvious while working with an unnamed North American contractor that required a more holistic view of the company’s risk because it encompassed property, casualty auto, and professional liability. For QBE, this change worked because they knew what they needed to accomplish and an open office environment assisted in reaching their goals.

Like mentioned in our previous blogs, the second thing to consider is one of your two most important assets, people. The setup of your office space can be one of the driving motivators to what your employees achieve every day at work and can affect their happiness in the long run. Therefore, making sure they are comfortable is well worth your time. If you need any more convincing to put your employees first, Jim Goodnight the CEO of SAS industries an analytics software company once said “If you treat employees as if they make a difference in the company, they will make a difference.” This means that if you put your employees first, they will put your customers first. Mary Zalesny and Richard Farace are two tested academics from the University of Missouri and Michigan State University respectively. They did a study on this exact matter where they took a satisfaction survey before the move, after the move, and six months after the move where they asked employees involved how they felt about their office environment. In the study, they reported that employees who were moved from a traditional (closed) office space, to an open office space claimed their new work station was less adequate and came with more distractions2. Of course, not all reports of the open office are negative and the problems reported are not the same, but it is something to consider while making this decision. If you’re wondering how to approach this dilemma, try giving your employees a survey and ask how they feel about the office environment now and ask what they might like to see changed to try and improve the office environment further.

closed office furnitureThis is where the open office vs closed office furniture debate comes into play. Some argue that an open office is helpful and increases worker collaboration and productivity and others argue that this isn’t the case and that the open office space negatively affects employee mood and productivity. What are these claims based off? For one of course there is bias which is behind any view in one way or another, but there is also research behind the feud. For example, the belief that the open office will facilitate communication is derived from the social facilitation hypothesis, which states that the performance of routine tasks will improve in non-private areas. The belief states that employees who find their job boring may find that contact with other people provides a source of stimulation and by default improves how they perceive their job3. Meanwhile, the group who says the open office space negatively affects employees say that initially moving to an open office space will only increase interactions for a short period of time before they revert back to their earlier behavior and create ways to regulate their social contact. What is the right option though? Well it all comes down to your company’s culture and what is right for you. In other words, your company needs to be its metaphorical self and do what will better it in the long run. This may seem like a vanilla answer, but it’s a situational dilemma that is bestowed upon you as a leader. Remember though, you are not alone because you have a network of people in your company to discuss the pros and cons of each decision for your company specifically.

This is not the only situation to discuss on this topic there are plenty of more scientific based arguments to discuss. Next blog we will be looking at how having individual control over your environment can empower and motivate your employees. This will lead us further into our discussion about the open vs closed office furniture debate and further analyze the pros and cons of each.

By. Dylan Edmonds

COMING UP NEXT BLOG: Stimulation control and employee productivity

References:

  1. Gudeon, Chris. “Breaking Down the (Cubicle) Walls.”Canadian Underwriter79.8 (2012): 46-48. Web. 31 May 2017.
  2. Zalesny, M. D., and R. V. Farace. “Traditional Versus Open Offices: A Comparison Of Sociotechnical, Social Relations, And Symbolic Meaning Perspectives.”Academy of Management Journal30.2 (1987): 240-59. Web. 31 May 2017.
  3. Brennan, A., J. S. Chugh, and T. Kline. “Traditional versus Open Office Design: A Longitudinal Field Study.”Environment and Behavior34.3 (2002): 279-99. Web. 31 May 2017.

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There are many reasons why business owners or managers need office furniture. Those include new business startups, businesses that are expanding, satellite office setup, installation of a home office, and because a business is moving into a new space. There are three solutions to satisfy your need for office furniture:  New, Used, and Remanufactured.  We will explain the differences between each and then walk you through the pros and cons of each in this blog.

Each one of the three types is valuable.  A purchasing agent must decide which is the best.  Because each business is unique, a blanket answer to that question is not available. In this “Designing the Perfect Office” blog we walk you through the considerations before you choose office furniture (including a case study) and help you determine your needs for furniture.  Along the way, this blog will provide you with everything you necessary to decide which is best for you.

Welcome to Tri-State Office Furniture and our 525,000 square feet of warehouse showrooms.

 

Considerations — Before You Choose Office Furniture

Office furniture is a tool that helps your valued employees do their jobs in comfort and with efficiency. The same level of consideration should go into choosing office furniture as goes into choosing computers, electronics, and even your business’s location. The outcome of your efforts either creates a space where you, your managers, and your employees are comfortable, engaged in their tasks, or uncomfortable and distracted.

While your team’s comfort is important, office furniture does more than just provide comfort.  Several other important Considerations are:

  • The special needs of employees, their job, and the function of their job. Think about lighting, noise pollution, security, and privacy, etc.
  • The design of your office and layout of the furniture. Think about traditional office design, open office design or a hybrid of both.
  • The impact of your office’s design on visitors, customers, and clients. Think does your office design inspire confidence or create concerns?
  • The ability of your business to grow, add new employees, services, etc. The decision you make is greater than the needs of today and should include the projection of your business’s future needs too.

Each of these points impacts the decision-making process of whether to go with new, used or remanufactured office furniture. On top of these needs, are the differences between all three of these options and other considerations, such as cost, availability, etc? A good example of why this matters comes from the tech industry.

Case Study: Open Office Design and Its Downfall

Back in the .com era, startup companies sprang into existence almost instantly. Their budgets were short, and for many, their life spans were even shorter. These are the companies that brought us the open office design. A design that discarded cubical cities and created a task-oriented space. This design occurred because of short budgets and the idea that cramming people together would increase their productivity, creativity, and focus.

Since then open office design has taken off as the coolest trend, but studies show that open office design does not increase productivity, creativity or enhance focus. In fact, it does just the opposite. The constant drone of 100 phone conversations, people chatting, telephones ringing, the sound of 200 hands typing, and people coming and going impedes creativity, productivity, and destroys focus. [1]

This is a prime example of why the result of what you create should be forefront during the office design process. What you create is a tool that will either help your team excel or not. Notice that we have not even gotten to the “which is better for you — New, used or refurbished.” That is because setting up an office is more than just picking out a nice looking desk. The process can become overwhelming, but that is why Tri-State Office Furniture is a leader throughout Pittsburgh (McKees Rocks) PA, Wheeling WV, and Charleston WV.

We are here to help you evaluate your office’s needs, show you furniture that fits those needs, and to reduce the stress of buying furniture for your office. Reach out to us at any point during the design process, and we will happily provide you with outstanding service. Chat with us online at Tri-State Office Furniture.

 

Consider Your Office Furniture Needs

There are many factors to consider when you plan an office. A good tip is to think about what your office needs are for today, and will be for the next year. Those two aspects become the current list of needs for your office. That does not mean you have to buy everything you need today, but by being aware of your immediate needs and upcoming needs, you can make a more informed decision about how to proceed. A short list of things to jot down before shopping for office furniture:

Total usable square footage

Estimation of visitors — Do you need a waiting area and reception desk? Privacy, meeting, and conference needs

Total number of employees

Specialty groups of employees — Think accounting, marketing, etc. Shared space needs such as work centers, etc.

Lighting needs total budget

Your goal it to get the most value for the money spent. Remember that the money you spend on office furniture is not all of the money that you spend. The rent for your office space is also part of that process. That is why it is important to get the most usage out of the space you have. The process of designing an office space is all about creating value both for the use of office space and the opportunities that your office space can provide. From here, you can look deeper into what type of office furniture you need — New, Used or Refurbished

New Office Furniture — Pros and Cons

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Pros — One of the best features of new office furniture is that you are buying the latest style with options to include easy implementation of the latest technology. If your business model is constantly adjusting to meet the evolving needs of your industry, then consider the benefits of new office furniture, rather than used.

Pros — New designs also help to send a message to your employees and customers. An office that is current exudes the feeling of confidence and style, and that is a power statement. Consider the trends of open office design. The reason that so many non-tech offices opted for open office designs was to appear innovative. Tech startups are highly innovative, and that message was not lost on other industries.

Pros — New office furniture also means good opportunities for choosing green products, green manufacturing, and sustainable materials. If your customer’s corporate vision includes environmental concerns, then consider the benefits new office furniture offers.

Con — One of the downfalls of new office furniture is that is usually the most expensive. Tip: However, if your team requires something specific then remember that there is no substitute for the best tool for that job.

Resources: Reach out to Tri-State Office Furniture if you have questions, need help with ordering or designing your space. You can chat with us online, by phone, or send an email.

Used Office Furniture Pros and Cons

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Pros — One of the many great features about used office furniture is that it is often the most affordably priced so you can easily extend the value of your purchase.

Pros — Another positive of used office furniture is that there is usually a large selection available in many styles, colors, and materials.

Pros — Used office furniture is a green product. It fits right into the mantra of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Buying used is very green.

Pros — It serves a purpose and can be a good starting point for a new business venture.

Cons — Finding large quantities of matching styles is difficult, but not impossible. The exception is cubicles, which are usually available in quantity.

Cons — It can have little flaws, such as chips, dings, and scratches.

Cons — It can show its age by its design — Think 1970’s style

Used office furniture is almost always a great deal. If you have a limited budget or need furniture to get your business up and running, then used is a great way to go. Many of the designs are somewhat timeless, and at Tri-State Office Furniture all of our used office furniture is high quality.  Don’t take our word for it, please explore our huge selection of used office furniture.

 

Remanufactured Office Furniture

 

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Remanufactured office furniture is something that many people do not consider simply because they don’t know about it. We are always excited about remanufactured furniture because it has a like-new quality without the like-new price.

Pros — Resurfaced to match your color schemes — including cubicle wall fabric and laminates for desk surfaces. Remanufactured offers some of the most creative options for office design.

Pros — This is a highly green form of furniture as it repurposes and reuses existing products thus limiting the impact on the environment. As far as green furniture goes, this is one step down from used furniture, but the results are amazing.

Pros — Less expensive than buying new.

Pros — In great shape with clean, scratch-free surfaces

Pros — Great value with modern styling and color options

Cons — Requires a longer wait time for custom color and fabric choices

Cons — Not always available in large quantities

Cons – Usually more expensive than used.

Cons — While refreshed color schemes help add a modern touch, styles can be dated

Remanufactured office furniture means that the piece has new fabric (cubical walls) repainted or stained wood and refinished wood. At Tri-State Office Furniture we offer in-house electrostatic painting and will work with you to match your office color schemes.

Remanufactured furniture is a real boon to office design. It bridges the gap between used and new, and it does so with sophistication and value. Reach out to use about our selection of refurbished office furniture or to ask questions about our electrostatic paint process.

 

Why choose Tri-State Office Furniture?

We offer outstanding prices on new, used, and refurbished office furniture.  Some other reasons to choose us:

Tip: We ship nationally, and we work with offices of all sizes.

Huge Selection — When it comes to office design and furniture selection, Tri-State Office Furniture is here to help. We offer a long list of services and one of the largest furniture inventories throughout the Tri-State area. Local businesses can stop by any of our three massive warehouses and peruse our 525,000 square feet of quality office furniture. We have physical locations in Pittsburgh (McKees Rocks) PA, Wheeling WV, and Charleston WV.

Full design services — Take advantage of our design service which helps businesses of all sizes get the most out of the space they have. Email our design team to get started.

Regular Local Deliveries —We offer regular deliveries to businesses within the Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Cleveland, Akron, Erie, Charleston, Huntington, Beckley, Parkersburg, Ashland, and Clarksburg.

Established Companies – We carry recognizable name brand furniture in used, refurbished, and new options.

Versatile Stock – Our products work in both the corporate and residential settings

We are happy to answer your questions or put together a quote that is specific to your business. We are easy to work with and make the process of designing and furnishing your office a snap. Contact Us for questions, inventory, or help with new, remanufactured or used office furniture. We provide a non-pressure sales process and work with you so that you can make an informed decision about how to furnish your office.

 

Learn More and Dig Deeper:

 

  • The Open Office Concept is Dead — Fortune

 

When you think about making changes for your business everything needs to be evaluated. From future market forecast, market depreciation, durability, over all benefit, and cost. There are many things every business owner must consider before making a change. Working closely with the accounting department, consultants, and field experts will ease difficulty of selecting from the choices that are available. This process applies to talent acquisitions, technological upgrades, office relocation, brand expansion, marketing plans, and the list goes on, however one business element of greater importance is office furniture. Does office furniture value and price correspond?Modern_clock

 

Future

Expanding or restyling is an investment into the future of your business. New Office Furniture could be for an expanding clientele or due to new office staff. An evolving office staff is a foundational component to a solid and loyal team that will bring about strong workforce and strong ROI for the company. Increasing the office furniture value is one component into increasing the Company value.
stock-illustration-38494248-5-years-anniversary-golden-label-with-ribbonQuality

Looking for staying power is another important element to not only the organization and workforce but also to workplace stylings. Having a reliable physical space for organization and structure and stress free operations to be completed. There are also warranties available to guarantee the excellence of the products. This also guarantees longevity, which is a big part of office furniture value because these products have a longer use life than is what is deemed by the depreciation value per standard accounting regulations.

 

Atmosphere

Having an aesthetically pleasing and functional space is another element to office furniture value. Atmosphere simultaneously benefits employees, employers, and clients. There is a cycle of confidence, hard work, commitment to set goals, and positive results when surrounded by a stimulating ambiance. Being set up for success is a big part of achieving success.

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Finding the right items for the right price that meets the quality, atmosphere, and growth capabilities is what any business owner wants. Finding the right price point is specific to each organization. There are solutions for every budget, especially when considering second hand items like, office chairs, reception desks, conference room desks, lounge area seating, filing cabinets, and cubicles. Finding office furniture with the right price with all the important elements of buying new office furniture met is definitely a valuable find. Browse our new and used items in one of our warehouses today.

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