Cubicle Decorating Building Blocks.

Going cubicle decorating? Good start. By flashing up the ol’ workspace, you’ll make your cubicle your own, create some conversation starters for colleagues, and improve overall office morale and productivity.

Cubicle decorating begins with some pretty simple building blocks. These items are easy to find and easy to personalize: Start with these items and you can put that personal stamp on your cubicle in no time!

Plants, real plants. While plastic plants are easy to place and easy to take care of, real plants have significant advantage over their artificial analogues. Real plants exude oxygen, which is good news for your productivity (your brain needs more of the stuff, and offices are notoriously low in this life-giving gas).

Plants are also guaranteed mood boosters, and the right ones add an invigorating dash of color to a drab workplace. Just don’t get a plant that exudes pollen or a too-strong smell.

Just remember this when using plants for cubicle decorating: choose plants that won’t grow too much. You want a plant that will help you interact with your colleagues – impossible when it blocks the hallway or your view of the rest of the office.

Family pictures. Adding a framed image of your loved ones tells your workmates that you have a life outside your office. Having images of family creates a positive impression of yourself in the workplace, too.

Postcards. A real, written-in postcard from a family member abroad is cubicle decorating gold – a personal touch that shows your sense of adventure and (depending on where it’s from) a sense of belonging to a larger world.

Candy bowl. A dish of treats is more than just a cubicle decorating whim – it’s a great conversation starter and a cool way to make new friends, especially when you’re new and you need an excuse to socialize with your new cubicle neighbors.

Calendar. A personalized calendar that shows off your personality or interests can “brand” your cubicle as yours like nothing else can. Hey, you might also get to meet other colleagues who share your interests!

Relationships at Work: Managing the Minefield.

Admit it, it’s crossed your mind: the idea of having romantic relationships at work appeals to you, besides, you think Denise at Accounting has been giving encouraging signs, being a little too liberal with the office Post-its (see video above).

Join the club: Careerbuilder.com’s 2009 survey finds that four out of ten workers cop to dating a colleague at work, with three out of ten saying they ended up married to the person.

CareerBuilder.com’s Rosemary Haefner isn’t surprised by the results. “Employees spend many hours interacting with co-workers, so it’s not unusual for romances to spark,” says Haefner, who works as the site’s Vice President of Human Resources. “While workplace relationships may be more accepted these days, with 72 percent of workers saying they didn’t have to keep their romance a secret, it’s still important for workers to keep it professional and not let their relationship impact their work.”

“Keep it professional” – that’s easier said than done. Regardless of 72 percent acceptability levels, maintaining successful romantic relationships at work is a minefield, not just for the couple but for the whole office.

Part of it is the power equation that simply cannot be erased from the office context: relationships at work are as much about authority as they are about cooperation.

Employment lawyer Edward Hernstadt illustrates the problem: if things go south, an employee can always tell the law that she felt compelled to date the boss. “The supervisor will say, ‘I just asked you to go on a date,’ but the subordinate says, ‘I felt I couldn’t say no,’” recounts Hernstadt.

An office policy that sets the rules of legitimate relationships at work? This might sound positively authoritarian, but today’s litigious environment might force HR’s hand. Many offices now ask office couples to sign a “love contract” that spells out that their relationship is consensual and untied to company matters – this frees human resources from worrying about potential litigation in the future in case the relationship sours.

It’s a little less romantic, but it’s a very practical step to take for burgeoning relationships at work. And it saves the office a lot of Post-its in the process.

Pimp My Cubicle: Five Awesome Cubicle Do-Overs.

To break the monotony of the typical office cubicle, more workers are spending a lot of money on “pimp my cubicle” one-upmanship. Blame the uniformity of the cubicle farm; office cubicles are a damned efficient way of corralling a large workforce into a single workspace, but the mind craves variety.

I don’t know about you, but when the first time I tried to pimp my cubicle, I worked with a really low budget – and cheap clods like me began with action figures. Dollies for men. Surely you can’t be a sissy if your office cubicle action figures come from the hit show Futurama could you?

ThinkGeek sells three sets of Futurama action figures, including the star-crossed duo of Leela and Zapp Brannigan (pictured above – with the awesome addition of Richard Nixon’s head in a jar!).

Moving up the budget scale, indulge your Formula One fantasies by buying a RaceChair – an actual seat from a real-live sports car, lovingly transformed into a static office chair. How’s that for a comedown? One moment, you’re a critical collaborator on Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One team, the next, you’re warming a midlevel manager’s expanding backside.

RaceChairs cost as low as $2,000, but may go for over $11,000, in the case of a seat stripped from a Lamborghini LP640 Murcielago.

More pimped-out cubicles after the jump.         (read more)

Two Contenders for the Ultimate Eco-Friendly Office.

Get beyond the hype of the eco-friendly office, and you’ll find a workplace that tries to minimize its own environmental footprint. The ideal green workplace also puts systems in place that encourage their tenants/workers to do the same.

Like many ideals, this is harder than it looks. Very few workplaces meet the gold standard of the ultimate eco-friendly office, usually by meeting the tough standards set by the US Green Buildings Council through their LEED program. Which green offices made the cut?

Architectural firm Perkins + Will constructed their Seattle office with lofty green standards in mind – lighting that’s almost 50% more efficient than comparable spaces, water savings of up to 40%, and 80% of building materials sourced within 500 miles of the site.

The office’s design is plenty innovative, what you’d expect in a green design pioneer like Perkins + Will – a “solid white box” fixes the office’s center, from which the open design studio radiates. The box contains the conference rooms and service spaces; the rest of the office uses natural daylight and open furniture arrangements, all the better to encourage closer work between colleagues.

Perkins + Will’s eco-friendly office cost $1 million to build, covering 12,000 square feet in a six-story brick building. It achieved LEED Platinum on October 2006, the first platinum-certified project in Washington State.

Over in San Francisco, Google’s Bay area office pulls out all the stops to earn its LEED gold certification. Past the spectacular views of the Bay Bridge, Google’s workplace utilizes natural light to decrease energy costs (by making artificial lighting superfluous).

Building waste was minimized, through the re-use of partition walls, door assemblies, and furniture. New material used in construction was mostly sourced from local, sustainable sources.

What was thrown away was recycled – up to 64% of it, by Google’s estimate. Efficient water facilities were installed in bathrooms and kitchens. And indoor air quality was preserved by using low-VOC paint, adhesives, furniture, and sealants.

For Google, this kind of attention to detail isn’t a fluke – it’s company policy. In the following video, an employee chronicles the many steps that Google takes to earn its “ultimate eco-friendly office” stars:

Why Are Ergonomic Chairs Good for You?

When sourcing ergonomic chairs for your office, understand what you’re looking for – you need seats that can adjust precisely to each worker’s individual body proportions.

Ergonomic chairs, like other products of ergonomic design, are designed to fit the individual. A chair can be considered ergonomic when it specifically suits a worker’s body dimensions, the worker’s station, and the worker’s tasks. (Ergonomic Chairs – Features to Look For)

Because it conforms exactly to its user’s proportions, the ideal ergonomic chair provides lasting comfort, maximizes productivity, and minimizes the risk of injury. With office workers spending upwards of five to eight hours at their stations, the wisdom of investing in ergonomic office chairs becomes apparent. (Improving Office Ergonomics)

That’s why finding the right ergonomic chair takes more thought and effort than usual. But the effort really pays off.

Ergonomic Chairs – Designed for Productivity

The right ergonomic chair is designed specifically for the
type of work performed in it, and stays comfortable
throughout its use.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed
a checklist that evaluates the ergonomic benefits of
an office chair. (OSHA.gov) Ergonomic chairs must meet all
of the following criteria:
Backrest should support your lower back
Seat pan dimensions should fit the specific user
Seat front should not press against the back of knees and
lower legs
Seat is cushioned, and rounded at the front with a “waterfall”
edge
Armrests are optional – but if used, should support both
forearms and not interfere with movement.
In the long run, the right ergonomic chair pays for itself, by
increasing office morale and eliminating repetitive-strain
injuries that result from poor posture and inferior-quality
chairs. (Choosing the Right Ergonomic Chair)
Ergonomic Chairs from Cubicles.com
At Cubicles.com, our ergonomic chairs are built with features
that promote good posture and provide maximum
comfort. Our ergonomic chairs are meant to provide years
of comfort and service
Cubicles.com’s selection of ergonomic chairs includes highend
$600 Herman Miller chairs and lower-cost seats alike in
the sub-$200 range. Think of our ergonomic chairs as an
investment that pays off in reduced strain and increased
productivity for your workforce.

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