The importance of a good office chair, desk and cubicle is discussed in the article “Working Things Out” by Kathleen Mitchell. The article suggests that in most office redesigns, chairs are often an after thought. At Office Furniture Outlet we know the correlation between a good chair and productivity level. We also know the difference between conference chairs, task chairs & multi-task chairs. What you do at work and how you work is what should dictate the type of chair you will need.
If you have a more physical job where you are moving a lot your office chair should be one that moves with you. If you just need chairs for meetings then you may only need an adjustable hight feature on a chair. Often a used chair is a great choice as you are able to get a better chair with more functions for less money. Commercial furniture has a very long lifespan and handles the daily use well.
At Office Furniture Outlet we can help you find the perfect fit in a new or used office chair. Office Furniture Outlet of Virginia has been providing affordable new and used office furniture and services to business for over 20 years. Call us today to let us know how we can help you with your office furniture needs (757) 855-2800.
Posted on 22 May 2012. Written by: Kathleen Mitchell
The Right Chair, Desk, or Cubicle Can Make All the Difference
Ron Gordenstein was talking to a business manager a few weeks ago about how to redesign an office to make better use of the space.
“We had spent two days discussing new workstations when I noticed the three women working there all had put something on the backs of their chairs for support,” said the president of Broadway Office Interiors in Springfield, explaining that one was using a pillow, another had a rolled-up blanket, and the third had a cushion strapped to the back of her chair.
Replacing the office chairs was something the department head hadn’t considered, because they were only about a year old. But she changed her mind after learning about their importance. “Office chairs are often shortchanged when salespeople discuss the redesign of an office. But good chairs are the most important piece of furniture a company can buy,” Gordenstein said.
Research shows that comfortable and versatile office furniture can make a pronounced difference in a workplace. Experts say improper seating can lead to fatigue and loss of productivity as well as cause health problems that range from back, neck, or shoulder issues to carpal tunnel syndrome.
“It’s critical to have a good chair. People don’t realize how often they switch positions during the day,” Gordenstein said. “I tell people they need to be able to exercise in their chair — move quickly to answer the phone, grab a file, work on the computer, and perform different tasks required in their job. Their chair needs to support them during all of these efforts as they shift from one thing to another.”
Sarah Sopelak agrees. “A chair is one of the most important pieces in an office. Most employees are sitting for eight hours, and if they are in the wrong chair, they can develop bad posture that can strain their backs and affect their health over time,” said the interior designer for Lexington Group Inc. in West Springfield and Jablonski Devriese Architects in Springfield. “Ergonomics are very important to successful work and health, and the right chair will result in higher productivity.”
Although chairs may indeed be the seat of needed change, desks, workstations and even color schemes can affect the amount and quality of an employee’s work, in addition to his or her job satisfaction.
A myriad of options exist today, including two-drawer, pedestal-style filing cabinets on wheels with padded, upholstered tops that can double as seats and be pulled out from beneath a desk for a quick discussion, as well as desking systems with flexible setup options that encourage interaction and workplace collaboration.
“There is a whole new world of office furniture available,” said Alison Smith of Alison Smith Interior Design in Greenfield. “People should think about new ways of viewing their workspace. Many have preconceived ideas of what an office should look like, but everything is changing in the work environment.”
Office chairs with mesh backs promote circulation, which can prevent sweating or discomfort caused by room temperature.
That includes the configuration and layout of furniture and space within a building. “If you have old-fashioned furniture, it’s probably taking up unnecessary space and is not functional for today’s work environment or supportive of the collaborative way business is done today,” Gordenstein said.
Form and Function
Opinions about comfort can vary, but high-quality ergonomic office chairs are built with adjustable functions that can help everyone achieve proper posture. Experts say the following options provide the most comfort and versatility.
• The seat should slide forward and backward as well as move up and down;
• The back of the chair should move forward and backward and, ideally, have angle adjustments;
• The chair back should have an adjustment that allows it to be raised or lowered to accommodate people of different heights.
• The arms should be adjustable because this helps to prevent wrist, neck, or shoulder problems.
Another option is adjustable lumbar support. “There are pneumatic devices which allow a chair to support either the lower or mid-back,” Sopelak said, explaining that some operate via a knob that can be tightened or loosened, while others have a piece that slides up and down along the back of the chair. A feature that promotes comfort, but is not necessary for good posture, is a mesh back because it allows air to circulate which can prevent sweating or discomfort caused by room temperature.
But it’s not enough to go to a showroom and sit in different models. “You have to try a chair in your own office because, when you are in a showroom, you are not performing the tasks required at work,” Gordenstein said. “It can take a few days before someone knows if they like a chair. We get calls all the time from people who have had back surgery or who are miserable because their back hurts. A chair is not a doctor or a miracle maker, but if you are in a comfortable chair, it does make a difference.”
Layla O’Shea agrees. “Your chair should work for you so you can do your work,” said the sales and marketing director for Broadway Office Interiors.
As a result, experts advise business owners or office managers to bring sample chairs to their workplace and solicit opinions from the people who will use them.
Price ultimately plays into the decision. Gordenstein said people get what they pay for in chairs that cost $200 or less, but an $800 chair is not necessarily four times better than a $200 chair, as the brand name can affect price.
Although high-end chairs can be expensive, used office equipment is a viable option, and shoppers can often find everything they want or need in this department.
Furniture used in waiting rooms is also changing. Smith said many businesses are adding bariatric chairs, which are wider and structurally designed to support people who weigh between 500 and 750 pounds. “They are absolutely necessary in waiting rooms in the medical field and discretionary in business settings,” she said. “Chairs in waiting rooms should also have arms because many people need them to get up.”
And vinyl is making a comeback. “Some vinyls are antifungal and antibacterial,” said Ken Wytas of Discount Office Furniture Inc. in West Springfield. “Today’s vinyl is very different than the material of yesteryear and can look very nice.”
Ease of Operation
The layout of work areas has undergone enormous change in recent years. Technological advances and the ability to store information electronically has led to a reduced need for filing cabinets. Large, wooden executive desks have also gone by the wayside, and workstations today are typically built using desking systems with a variety of optional modular components.
“Space is at a premium these days, and people are trying to get more into less,” said Wytas.
Gordenstein said private offices and cubicles with high walls are becoming extinct. “Executive offices are no longer showplaces, and in most companies managers are on the floor working alongside everyone else,” he told BusinessWest, adding that open environments allow people to work collaboratively. “Businesses want desks to be adaptable and flexible so the arrangement can be reconfigured whenever it is needed.”
Desking systems come in a wide variety of finishes, which range from colored laminates to wood stains such as cherry, maple, mahogany, and walnut, which is becoming a popular choice.
Considerations include whether employees need open or closed desk areas. Options include site screens that can be attached to the back or sides of a desk. They are available in clear or frosted glass as well as solid materials, and can be added or subtracted according to the amount of privacy needed.
Desks often serve several functions, and the newest models can be lowered or raised with the turn of a knob. Docking stations can be built into them to accommodate laptops, cell phones, and other devices, and electrical outlets can also be installed into panels.
Flat-screen computer monitors can also be mounted onto arms built into or attached to the desk, making more room available on its surface. “Mounting computer screens and using the cubic space in a work area effectively can result in significant savings by reducing the size of the space a business needs,” Gordenstein said.
Sopelak agrees. “Everything is more compact today, and desks have become smaller,” she said.
Desking systems can be arranged into U shapes or L shapes, or have peninsulas that can be used for short meetings. “The open space on either side allows people to sit and talk with the person behind the desk,” Sopelak said. “There are so many possibilities and options with the designs that are available today.”
Vertical panels, which can turn open space into cubicles, are still used in some offices, but the trend is to make them shorter. “People want privacy when they are seated, but they want to be able to stand up and collaborate with others. Shorter panels also allow more natural light into the space and make it feel larger,” Sopelak said. “If there are windows in an office, you want to get daylight to every workstation possible.”
Panels come in a variety of materials and colors, and many have rail tiles, which allow paper trays, drawers, and other storage units to be mounted on them and lifted off the work surface. “The essence of what was used to be a cubicle can now be moved or reconfigured at a later date, which results in cost savings,” she said. “The ease of flexibility is what draws buyers. Work stations can be multi-tiered and have different panel heights so the space is open, but the person has privacy from the employee sitting across from them.”
Meanwhile, the color scheme in an office can create interest and atmosphere and affect people who enter as well as those who work there.
“Dark rooms are hard to work in, and white is sterile,” Smith said, adding that, since color evokes strong emotions in people, neutrals work best. “Color sets a mood, so it’s important to have a color that people are comfortable with.”
However, spot color can be used to create visual interest. “You can use the fabric on a chair as an accent or have one wall painted in a more vibrant color than the rest of the room,” she said.
Spot color can also be added via fabric used on the tops of padded, mobile pedestal files. “Or people can have a stripe of fabric put around the panel on a workstation,” Sopelak said. “They can also choose to have different colors in different areas to distinguish between departments. But earth tones are preferable, as they won’t go out of style.”
Wall coverings are becoming popular, and offer a durable option that can be easily cleaned. “When people think about offices, they have an image of painted walls. But using wallpaper can add texture, color, and pattern to an area. And today’s wallpaper is contemporary, beautiful, and durable,” Smith said.
Sopelak said neon colors, which include greens and oranges, are popular choices for chair upholstery. “People can have fun with color or create a sophisticated or classic atmosphere with it,” she told BusinessWest.
Gordenstein concurred, noting that subtle patterns go a long way toward hiding imperfections. “People often choose color on chair upholstery or the doors of cabinets above desks,” he said, as he pointed out fabrics with soft designs.
There is no doubt that the workplace will continue to change as technology advances, and the right office furniture can result in greater comfort and higher productivity — if it reflects those changes, said Mark Proshan, owner of the Lexington Group.
“People need to think about whether they want the most cost-effective way for people to work,” he said, “or whether they want to give them creature comforts that will help them work at peak efficiency.”
post via: http://businesswest.com/2012/05/working-things-out