Amy Lopez, CHID, IIDA
Buying office furniture can be a substantial investment, but eventually furniture needs to be replaced. Items become dated, wear out, or don’t allow your office to function as efficiently. There are lots of advantages to updating your business’s furniture, but it’s important to have criteria for deciding when it’s time to make the investment. Here are five key indications it’s time for an office update.
1) WHEN YOUR BUSINESS IS GROWING & YOU NEED TO OPTIMIZE SPACE
With today’s advanced technology, an increasing need for collaborative work, and expanding options for employees to work remotely, there are a lot of opportunities to improve how you effectively use your office space. Ideally, an office should provide a range of environments that facilitate different working styles. It should include quiet, private work areas that allow employees to focus on intensive tasks, conference rooms for small dedicated groups to work on projects, and lounge spaces that promote collaboration and socialization. These are all important environments to have in your office. Take a look around and ask whether your current furniture is wasting space. Do you have too much space tied up with individual workstations? Would it be better to repurpose an area into focus spaces that cater to different tasks?
2) WHEN OFFICE FURNITURE ATTACKS
Maybe “attacks” is too strong a word, but having ergonomically correct furniture is one of the most important things you can do for employee health. If furniture is broken or outdated, it’s critical to replace it with ergonomic desk and seating options. But that’s not the only thing to consider when it comes to employee health. The office environment your employees are in also has a big impact on their psychological health.
Studies have shown that employees in “traditional” offices with low ceilings, cubicles, and little or no access to sunlight and natural views had higher levels of stress and heart-rate variability than employees who worked in offices with open spaces and plenty of windows. If your office is closed off and dingy, it may be time to consider updating your office to include communal work areas that take advantage of windows. Try and provide opportunities for workers to change their work environment, change postures and stay active throughout the day.
“”traditional” offices with low ceilings, cubicles, and little or no access to sunlight … had higher levels of stress”
3) WHEN YOU WANT TO ATTRACT THE BEST TALENT
According to a workplace survey conducted by Skype, one of the biggest factors for attracting and retaining top-quality employees is the overall quality of your work environment. The environments that people work in have a big impact on their job satisfaction as well as health. Businesses tend to attract better employees if they take a holistic view of how their office space impacts workers. When a potential hire comes in your door, what kind of impression does your current office give? Top talent will have plenty of options for where they can work. They’ll automatically be attracted to offices with beneficial layouts that have lots of natural light, and functional spaces for both socialization and focused work.
4) WHEN YOUR TEAM NEEDS THE SPACE TO COLLABORATE
Julie Barnhart-Hoffman, design principal at Steelcase WorkSpace Futures, explains that “Collaboration relies on social networks, informal connections, how many interactions you have during the day. The variety and type of spaces where you work — workstations, hallways, cafés, team spaces, lounge areas, etc. — have an impact on how well you collaborate.” Providing space for collaboration to happen is crucial. Does your office have a casual area where workers can easily go to brainstorm and chat and the noise won’t disturb others? A large table or work surface near individual workstations can provide an ad hoc collaborative area. Mobile white boards can be shared across groups to encourage idea generation. Technology such as videoconferencing, file sharing, and messenger applications can also be utilized to promote collaboration and reduce noise around the office.
5) WHEN YOUR FURNITURE HAS A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR BRAND
Whether you like it or not, your office furniture makes a statement about your business. Office décor creates an instant impression for everyone who comes through your door. Your office doesn’t necessarily require the most expensive furniture, but it should say something about what your business represents. Repurposing or reusing old furniture and materials can show you’re environmentally conscious, but an office with worn-out or mismatched furniture will send a disjointed and unfavorable message to your clients and employees. Meanwhile, buying furniture with high environmental standards may indicate you’re green without making you look cheap. Look at your office with a critical eye and make sure your furniture is accurately representing your company brand and promoting the right office culture.
Office décor creates an instant impression for everyone who comes through your door.
TIME TO GET STARTED?
If your office furniture is failing in any of these areas, it’s time to start considering your options. While it can be daunting to consider the cost of replacing an office full of old and outdated furniture, there’s no need to panic. There are a number of things you can do on a budget to transform your workspace. If you don’t have certain furniture pieces, they can sometimes be bought used. Along with your current furniture, they can be refinished, reupholstered, and refurbished to look new and fit a cohesive style. This can also help you maintain an environmentally friendly company policy, and even help you achieve important points if you’re working toward a LEED certification.
Of course, there are significant advantages to new office furniture, especially when your office needs more significant changes. New office furniture comes with warranties, which save you money on repairs in the long term, and is better ergonomically designed. Even though new furniture requires a larger investment, a portion of the cost can be defrayed by tax deductions. When it comes to a major office redesign, the best strategy is to be conscientious of value, but not cheap. Consider the most important items of furniture you need to replace or add to your office, and invest in new, quality items. Then think creatively about how you can refurbish and repurpose old or used items to create a stylish and functional space. Just remember, we’re here to help you with any of these decisions.