How often do you get home after work with a sore back, stiff neck and shoulders, and a headache from your PC screen? What health problems are your old, slightly broken but still functional – and therefore not yet ready for replacing – office chairs and desks causing you and your employees?
As technology leaps forward, more and more of us find ourselves behind a desk, sitting on some kind of office chair, staring at a computer screen all day. Whether you're a cog in the company wheel, or the owner, whether you work for yourself from home or sit in a large open-plan office, you're going to spend a good third of every day at your job – if not more.
So if we spend so much time at it, why are we buying so much bad furniture?
Making sure your company culture is right is important, but making sure you and your staff are physically taken care of is just as important – if not more so. Good quality, sturdy office furniture can help promote physical wellbeing, reducing sick days and increasing productivity.
Here are ten questions you should be asking the supplier when you buy office furniture – whether it's an office for 200 people or just you in your home office.
1 – What furniture do I really need?
You may think you need a desk and chair per employee and have done with it. But consider different working styles. Some people may prefer the type of desk that lets them work standing as well as sitting, while someone may prefer sitting on a Pilates ball for part of the day.
You may have a pool of freelancers who don't use the office daily and could share one desk space. Work out what you really need before buying too much or too little furniture.
2 – How long is it going to last?
The manufacturing quality of furniture is very important. One person sitting in a chair for eight hours each day, five days a week, puts a lot of strain on it, and if it's poorly made, it's going to break sooner than later.
A desk that can barely hold the weight of a laptop isn't much good, especially if that desk belongs to the office's bric-a-brac enthusiast and her collection of china puppies.
3 – What is it made of?
Knowing what your furniture is made of is useful for a number of reasons, including knowing how easily you'll be able to get a replacement if, for example, one of the desk supports buckles.
It also helps to know the materials if you are trying to Green your office – far better to buy sustainably farmed local pine or recycled metal than mass-produced hard new plastic.
4 – What kind of returns policy and warranty does it come with?
Even great quality furniture could come with a flaw, or simply not work in your office due to space constraints. Knowing you have the option to return it within a few days if it doesn't work, or that it will be replaced if it breaks, makes a big difference.
5 – What does it really cost?
Does the price tag include sales tax? What about delivery fees? If you're buying wooden furniture, does it include finishes, or is that the raw wood price? Is that fully installed, or flat-packed?
Make sure you get the full quote before you commit, so that you don't get any nasty surprises on the invoice.
6 – How much space and privacy does each person need and have?
A copywriter needs a different amount of space to a bookkeeper, and an architect needs different space to a customer service representative. Someone who spends a lot of time on the phone needs a quieter, more private space to people working on a collaborative team all day.
Know what each person or group of people needs before mass-buying identical desks and chairs for people with vastly different requirements.
7 – What style works for the company?
Are you a young, modern company, or an older, more traditional company? Is your company personality better reflected in solid oak desks with leather tops, or trestles and worktops? Overstuffed armchairs or light and portable collapsible stools? What kind of impression do you hope to give customers who visit your office?
8 – What kind of company culture is it going to encourage?
The furniture you choose and the way you lay it out is going to have a significant effect on the company culture. You need to consider whether you want to encourage teamwork or individuality, a fun and innovative atmosphere or a serious and dedicated one, a company where people want to gain experience and grow fast, or one where they want to settle into a long, stable career.
9 – Do I need flexibility or stability?
Some companies need people to be able to move around quickly and easily, change workstations within minutes rather than days, and be able to join a new team at a moment's notice. Others need long-term planning, teams that grow and work together for years and a sense of place.
The furniture you choose needs to fit into the kind of flexibility or stability you want.
10 – References
Finally, get references from the company making or providing your furniture. Ask for local references, whose offices you can visit to see for yourself if it works, of they know what they're doing, and what quality their furniture really is.
Bonus question: Can I buy furniture online?
Remember that most retailers, including amishtables.com, have online purchasing options, meaning that you can buy office furniture online from sellers who you can't visit under other circumstances. It pays to shop around and do cost comparisons, read testimonials and find the best place to buy furniture rather than getting in your car to go shopping.