Skip the Biggest Office Furniture Mistakes
1. Skimping on the Chair
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that on average, workers spend over 43% of their day sitting in a chair. Some professions spend well over 90% of the day. If you’re looking to cut business costs, chairs are not the right place! Yes, it’s tempting to purchase in bulk, the cheap display chair from a local retailer (I’m looking at you Costco!) And though the option can save the bank initially, it will end up costing you further down the road. Either you will end up needing to replace chairs, especially those lacking warranties, you or your employees will be less productive, or deal with pain from the chairs. Employees report skipping work or even quitting a job due to back pain caused by an ineffective chair.
The good news is, finding the right chair for your working needs doesn’t have to break the bank. Refer to Top 5 Office Chairs on a Budget for some of the best options to go big on the chair, without going big on your wallet.
2. Disregarding Furniture Ergonomics
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Furniture ergonomics are the ways that your business’ furniture contributes to that efficiency, both for yourself and your employees. Things contributing to your office ergonomics may be the style of chair. Does it have lumbar support? Proper upholstery, like breathable material, comfort? The style of desk. Is there space for movement, a sit-to-stand desk, storage? If employees are standing, do they have an anti-fatigue mat? If they’re looking at a screen, is there a good monitor arm to give proper line of site so they aren’t hunching or leaning? Consider that in a 4 year span, Ontario employers paid over $1 Billion dollars in employee muscular skeletal work related claims, including back pain, muscle strain, shoulder and hip pain. In the U.S. these costs account for 1/3 of all injury related costs to businesses. Save yourself the cost and pain (literally) of ineffective furniture ergonomics.
Keep in mind the overall look of your space is an important consideration for your company’s image and brand. However, be sure that your furniture looks are not detracting from your workplace ergonomics. Looks and efficiency can go hand-in-hand if you shop in the right place.
There are many factors to consider when looking at your furniture’s ergonomics. But remember, they will greatly add to your overall employee productivity, health and wellness. Ergonomics are also a factor contributing to employee retention and acquisition, or likewise, employee attrition.
Help your company acquire the talent you need by providing the furniture and ergonomics they need.
3. Leaving out Collaborative Spaces
How many of your job descriptions include phrases like teamwork, team member, work with, oversee, work under, provide direction, supervise, assist? What do all of these descriptions have in common? They require employees to collaborate or work as a team, not as an individual. Aristotle said it best, “the whole (company) is greater than the sum of its parts”… or something like that. By leaving out collaborative work spaces, you’re asking employees to work as individual parts but expecting the greater “whole”.
Like ergonomics, collaborative work spaces help you acquire and retain your talent. Employees are more productive when they have others to work with, build upon, and bounce ideas off. They will also contribute to your overall work culture, creating a space that employees want to be in and a business for whom they want to give their time, energy and efforts. Almost 35% of our entire lives are spent at work. Relationships in the office will be built based on how your space allows for employee interaction and collaboration.
4. Overspending on Name Brand | Skimping on Quality
What’s worse than spending too much money? Spending too much money on a product you can get for a fraction of the price. Certain brands are tempting because they’re flashy, well known, or even because a bigger price tag must mean it’s better right!? But the brand should not be a sole factor in your purchase. Some manufacturers (Friant, SitOnIt Seating, GroupeLacasse, DeskMakers as examples) make quality, comparable products to some of the biggest name brand manufacturers with the highest price tag. Then also consider used furniture options. Some furniture retailers may have access to quality, used office furniture for a fraction of the price.
Likewise, how awful is it to spend money on a product, only to have to replace it quickly? A great price can lose its allure when it has to be purchased again… and again… and again. Buying with quality in mind may have a higher initial cost, but will save you cost, comfort, and usability down the road. Shop around for the best value for your money.
What’s the difference between the first and second photos below? About $3,000 PER station. (Hint: The first one is the cheaper option, the second is the name brand!)
5. Buying without a Plan
You have 10 employees moving into a building. Congratulations! So you need 10 desks and 10 chairs right? Great, done. Oh wait, what about a break room? How about ergonomics? Storage? Collaborative areas or workspaces? Do you need accessories? Are you buying colors that look good, fit your brand? What about the brand you’re purchasing? The retailer you’re using? Does the furniture have warranties? How long until you need it- when does your lease start, and when does the furniture arrive? Have you measured your space? Has the retailer been in to measure and space plan? Did they render the furniture and make sure it all fits comfortably? Do you anticipate growth?
Wait a second. Growth? Yes, growth! You have 10 employees now. But at what point will those 10 become 12? 15? More!? We’re not saying you need to purchase like you’ll be the next fortune 500, but too often we see a business purchase for their exact needs at this moment only to come back 2 months later needing additional workspaces. Then a month later, back for more. The issue with this approach is now you’re having to pay for additional shipping and install. Now you may be losing a bulk discount from the manufacturer. Heaven forbid, the manufacturer may even discontinue a product you purchased previously and now your office starts to resemble the furniture version of Frankenstein. If you’re buying in 2021 then your manufacturer has likely introduced, yet another, price increase (insert eye-roll here). So yes, consider future growth, right along with, timeframes, branding, retailer, space planning, comfort, workday, fit, job descriptions- the need for privacy versus collaboration, looks, ergonomics, accessories, storage, spaces… on and on and on.
Phew. That’s a lot of considerations. Growing a business was the easy part. Okay, okay… maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Regardless, when you’re shopping to outfit your space, it takes a lot more than, “I have 10 employees that need a place to work”. Consider all the factors, both big and small. The right furniture supplier can help you to address each of these concerns in your purchasing process.
6. Not Ordering in Time
You’ve planned out your purchase. You considered your spacing, growth, ergonomics, manufacturer and decided on the perfect office furniture dealer. But even the best planning can go awry if you do not order with a proper timeframe in mind. Too often we see businesses set their plan in motion, only to hold off the furniture purchase until everything else is in place, disregarding shipping timeframes. In some cases, buying used furniture (assuming there is even availability) for instance may allow you to buy your furniture right at the moment you need it. But the majority of furniture purchases will require at least some time for shipping.
If you’re purchasing in the midst of certain complications (*cough *cough coronavirus) the delivery timeframe may be thrown off and/or difficult to predict exactly. Under normal circumstances, you can expect around 4-6 weeks between your furniture purchase and delivery dates. Lately, manufacturer shipping timeframes may range anywhere from 2 weeks to 16 weeks.
Now imagine you waited 5 weeks for your furniture to arrive but the shipper damaged one of your pallets. It does occasionally happen! Though this issue falls on the shipper, it delays your final product and install none-the-less. Allowing additional time will help negate any further, potential issues. These timelines are a consideration to work out with your furniture dealer. The right dealer will help you line up your furniture arrival with your lease date, other contractors, and move-in perfectly.
*BONUS* Buying From the Wrong Vendor
But wait, there’s more!
You’ve done your homework to ensure you haven’t made any common, furniture purchasing mistakes, only to find that after your purchase order is signed, your furniture dealer has suddenly become non-existent. MAYBE they installed the product, and you find you’re in need of enacting a warranty and they can’t be reached, or they’re giving you the run-around. MAYBE you did everything right, but your retailer didn’t space plan and double check the fit, feel, look or other aspect of the furniture in your space, and now it doesn’t work. There’s even the cases of “my retailer no longer exists/ decided the furniture business wasn’t for them/ went out of business”. Reviews matter. Costumer experience matters. Price matters. The choice you make on your furniture dealer, matters!
Like with all business, for the best outcomes, work with a well-trusted, experienced office furniture dealer. We know you’ve been waiting for the shameless plug… Wholesale Office Furniture has over 40 years of experience and innovation. Our jobs range from home offices to entire business buildings. We have furnished everyone from the work-from-home employee to Fortune 500 businesses. No job is too large or too small, nor should it be.