Firms move to new space or buy new office furniture infrequently. In general this process is done every 5-10 years, usually at the end of lease term or because the layout and the furniture are no longer relevant to the work processes and interactions. More regularly the office manager purchases an extra desk here, a new chair there, and these purchases are usually the “least expensive stop gap” solution.
So what is a firm to do, given that the office furniture market is large and complex with so many options? Instead of detailing the various alternatives, here are the 5 biggest mistakes you can make when planning and buying new furniture.
Mistake #1 – Failing to allow enough time to shop and compare
The minimum time schedule is 8 weeks. You can use quick ship programs, in-stock, or even pre-owned product for certain situations. However, most contract furniture is produced with a lead time of six weeks from order entry. Add two weeks minimum for a simplistic review of style and finish options. You will need at least a month if you want to explore options for function, colors, and costs.
Mistake #2 – Ignoring or making a low priority of worker comfort
Today’s office worker needs at least a good chair for proper ergonomics. An adjustable keyboard platform and proper lighting and acoustic control also contribute to reductions in muscular and eye stress and work distractions.
If you want to save money, buy a cheap desk but don’t skimp on a good chair.
Mistake #3 – Thinking of furniture as a simple commodity
A desk is not just something to support a computer. Office layouts and furniture can be a valuable tool to enhance your brand, increase productivity (both individually and collectively), and for attracting and retaining top talent. Maybe your clients do not visit your office, but your employees certainly do. Studies have documented that the appearance of an office is the second or third consideration prospective hires consider when choosing a position. Proper furniture in a carefully planned layout can contribute to your bottom line.
Mistake #4 – Designing by committee
You can solicit everyone’s ideas about office design and furniture, but that is as far as it should go. You should rely on the advice of professional planners and designers. The final decision should be made by one senior person, perhaps in collaboration with the office manager or facilities manager, and it should be based on a number of factors including available options, suitability, lead times, functionality, aesthetics, and price.
The cheapest products are seldom good values. A $125 chair will not provide proper support, or outlast its depreciation schedule. In fact a cheap chair can hurt you financially– through lost productivity and poor worker morale. A knowledgeable contract furniture sales person can guide you through various options and can make your office look good and function efficiently based on a reasonable budget.