The Unique Challenge of Call Center Office Seating.

Given the intensive, 24-hour nature of the profession, call center professionals demand office seating that can stand up well through multiple shifts, these shifts adding up to continuous use day in and day out without rest. In short, call center office seating must endure intensive use, far more intensive than you’d get from a nine-to-five job.

Not only should call center office seating survive these multiple shifts, they ought to stay comfortable through long hours of usage. That’s a tall order for an intensive-use chair.

Finally, the call center office seating must be economical enough so that buying them in bulk remains an attractive proposition.

Let’s look at each of these properties in turn – durability, comfort, cost, and a few other items – and examine how these should affect your choice of call center office seating.

Durability is essential in call center office seating, for good reason: few other office chairs undergo the kind of punishment that call center seats endure.

Call center office seating must be specially reinforced, or otherwise constructed to stronger specifications, to comfortably seat a succession of users who will use them for longer than the usual 40 hours a week.

The U.S. government is a major buyer of intensive use chairs, and the Fed’s General Services Administration has set standards for selecting such office seating. Buyers refer to Federal Standard 834A to decide how to test chairs that are acceptable for government-issue intensive use environments (DOCX file) which, like call center office seating, requires constant use over 24 hours a day.

Any chair that survives Federal Standard 834A (or its old name, FNEW 83-269E) ought to be all right by any call center’s book.

Comfort is a key requirement for call center office seating. After all, call center workers are expected to rest their posteriors in them, for hours on end, dealing with numerous demands like generating sales and consulting with customers.

These chairs must also be easy to adjust for multiple users on different shifts, and may need to be specially reinforced to accommodate users weighing more than 250 pounds.

Therefore, ergonomics are a big issue for call center office seating experts. Because call center telemarketers must sit for long hours at their chairs, they need to be comfortable with their seating positions, to avoid productivity-draining comfort breaks and long-term possibility of injury, and reduce attrition in the medium term.

As Dr. Leonard B. Kruk of Office Visions Consulting puts it, “Call centers are often characterized as ‘high stress.’ This type of environment often leads to high employee turnover when ergonomics are ignored.” Workplace stress and its expensive ramifications, concludes Kruk, can be addressed by attending “to those conditions that have a negative impact on a worker’s well-being.”

Cost is a matter of some debate -for some supply managers, no price is too small for happy telemarketers, while others may balk at high prices for call center office seating.

Luckily, the market has that concern well in hand – supply managers may choose from a wide variety of intensive-use chairs rated for continuous use, with prices that suit most reasonable budgets (the Concorde Executive chair, for example, falls in the lower middle of the cost range).

In conclusion, the “challenge” of finding good call center office seating is not much of a challenge after all – if you know the right things to look for, plenty of office seating suppliers out there will have what your supply manager needs.

Fact and Fiction: Unconventional Office Chairs and Your Health.

Anybody who gives a damn about their own health needs to take a long, hard look at how office chairs affect their well-being. In fact, many do – growing concern about the health implications of office chairs has spurred growing sales in ergonomic chairs, exercise balls, office exercise videos, and more.

But this swelling growth industry has also created plenty of noise: bad advice about health and office chairs has mixed in with the few good nuggets, and many conscientious consumers are endangering their own health in the process.

Much of the hype has to do with unconventionally-designed office chairs – using kneeling chairs in the office, for instance, or repurposing exercise balls for use as desk chairs. This site, among others, claims that exercise balls improve spine alignment, provide room for stretching, and “burns 350 calories a day”.

Exercise Ball Reality Check

Here’s your reality check: exercise balls do not offer a significant improvement in posture when used as office chairs. As the New York Times’ Anahad O’Connor reports, “As far as posture is concerned, there is not exactly a compelling body of evidence.”

O’Connor cites a 2009 British study that found prolonged sitting on an exercise ball caused the same level of slouching and “poor sitting position” compared to regular office chairs. The study concludes: “No benefits were found through sitting on [an exercise] ball over that of [office chairs] in prolonged sitting as both seating types.”

A second study conducted by the Research Institute Move in the Netherlands “concluded that the advantages with respect to physical loading of sitting on an exercise ball may not outweigh the disadvantages.”

Kneeling Chairs: No Better?

The same thing might be said of kneeling chairs, the substitute-for-office-chairs-du-jour for a growing number of lumbar-conscious office workers.

In a study conducted for the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Mats Ericson and Ian Goldie found that spinal shrinkage levels were greatest for workers using kneeling office chairs. A study for Applied Ergonomics journal concluded that as far as posture was concerned, kneeling chairs were “no better than conventional chairs and could be worse than well-designed conventional office chairs.”

The Ergonomics Report’s Jeanie Croasmun has the final word:

Just like a hammer might be a valuable tool for some tasks (hanging a picture), in others (washing dishes) it’s useless or may do more harm than good. The exercise ball might be great for strengthening and toning in the gym or at home, but it can’t compete with a truly ergonomic chair for long-term sitting in an office environment.

Workers using kneeling chairs and exercise balls as office chairs have one thing in common, says John Triano: “both of these alternatives require more active use of one’s muscles (e.g. for balance and to sit upright) than a traditional office chair.” While Triano does not discount these alternative office chairs outright, he recommends that you get a doctor’s approval before use.

Customizable ergonomic office chairs, the type recommended by the National Institutes of Health, remain your best healthy-back bet. The NIH offers six properties to look for in an ergonomic chair – while these may be pricier than exercise balls or regular office chairs, the savings you’ll get from not seeing your back doctor on an ongoing basis definitely offsets the cost.

Where do Office Chair Designers Get Their Inspiration?

Now THIS is an original office chair – office furniture concern Herman Miller recently unveiled their new SAYL chair. Designer Yves Behar found his inspiration from the cables and towers of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge; the office chair that resulted from Behar’s brainstorm looks original in every sense, despite being derived from an architectural icon known to millions.

The SAYL’s design is far from arbitrary – the wires and structure together comprise a revolutionary intelligent frameless back support that adapts more readily to a user’s motions and body shape, without stinting on the body support. In other words: this office chair boasts of both beauty and brains.

Finally – to soothe environmentalists – the SAYL office chair is created using 21% recycled content.

The SAYL office chair’s revolutionary design is no fluke – Herman Miller has long demonstrated how to transform the humble office chair into an outlet for design breakthroughs. In fact, where groundbreaking design is concerned, the company has long been a leader in the furniture industry.     (read more)

Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Office Cubicles

Are refurbished office cubicles an option on your radar? If you’re furnishing your office, they should be. Under these economic conditions, you want your furnishing budget to go as far as you can, and refurbished office cubicles might be your ticket.

New office furniture is ideal – but these cost money, and with the wide selection of refurbished, remanufactured, and otherwise like-new used cubicles on the market, entirely unnecessary.

Still, you need to do your homework before buying refurbished office cubicles. Experienced facilities managers ask certain questions when looking for refurbished office furniture – you can ask them yourself and save the frustration and wasted time. The following questions, we hope, will make buying refurbished office cubicles less an exercise in frustration and more a walk in the park.

How big is my budget? Determining your working budget can give you an idea of how much office furniture you can purchase – but you can be sure you can purchase more refurbished office cubicles than brand new on any given budget. You can spend a great deal less by buying refurbished office cubicles instead of brand-new. The money you save from buying refurbished office cubicles can either be invested in a larger order than usual, or be reinvested for other office purposes.

A caveat: purchasing refurbished office cubicles will require that you are flexible on size, color and accessories.  (read more)

The New-Cubicles Look for Less

New cubicles are easy to get for any size workforce, but a middling office supply budget is hard to reconcile with a large requirement for new cubicles. If you have a large-ish office you’d like to stock with new office cubicles, that presents a problem.

The high cost of new cubicles, for one thing, can put a damper on your dreams of new office furniture domination. To take an example, new Herman Miller Eames shelves may cost you upward of $3,000 a unit. Extrapolate that to other new Herman Miller products, and you might end up spending a pretty penny and not yet furnish the whole office! (Imagine that – you blow your whole budget on new cubicles and you only have enough just for the sales department.)

The trick is knowing where to save costs – buying new cubicles manufactured from virgin resources may not be a wise move. But dumping new cubicles doesn’t mean that you compromise on quality – not all cost-conscious options are quality downgrades. Used cubicles can be just as effective – looks- and function-wise – as new office cubicles. You just have to know where to look.   (read more)

Manager’s Chair Super Deal for Summer

If you’re looking for a sweet deal on manager’s chair furniture this summer, you don’t have to look far: is working with office chair systems provider OpenPlan Systems to offer you an executive chair with the perfect combination of features and price.

The manager’s chair furniture included in this promotion come in two levels of customizability and comfort, from a darling of office chair reviews with a more-than-standard amount of adjustability, to a day-to-day manager’s chair with a modicum of features together with a good helping of comfort.

The Manager’s Chair (model 4008) by OpenPlan Systems provides a feature-rich executive chair configuration with a surprisingly low price tag. This manager’s chair is almost completely adjustable, providing ergonomic support that can go toe-to-toe with any manager’s chair contending on the web’s office chair reviews.      (read more)

Pimp My Cubicle II: More Cubicle Accessories to Die For.

Since the last time we published a list of cubicle accessories (titled “Pimp My Cubicle”), we’ve come across a bumper crop of more cubicle decorations that you can use to liven up your cube.

Personalize your cubicle with these cubicle accessories, and not only will you come across as a more interesting person, those fabric walls won’t feel like they’re closing in much.

App Magnet, Attractive Cubicle Accessories.
Image courtesy of Jailbreak Toys. All rights reserved.

App Magnets. Can’t afford an iPad? Use these magnetic cubicle wall accessories from Jailbreak Toys to transform your magnetic whiteboard into the next best thing. No, you won’t be able to use these to surf the web, find your location, look up movie schedules, or improve your sex life… but can a real iPad secure those notes and bills to the wall? We didn’t think so.

Each App Magnets cubicle accessories set comes with 18 individual epoxy magnets, each measuring 7/8″ x 7/8″, and retailing for $12.99 (less $486.01 compared to the real thing).

(Continue reading about these indispensable cubicle accessories)

Buying Cubicles for Sale? Here’s What to Look For.

If you’re a facility manager checking out cubicles for sale, count yourself lucky. At no other time in cubicle retail history, since Herman Miller’s Bob Propst invented the office cubicle in 1968, has stock been so high and price points so low. But how will you choose from the wide selection available in the market? Simple – consider the factors presented below.

Collaboration potential. According to a 2008 Steelcase Workplace Satisfaction Survey, making connections with coworkers represents a huge quality-of-work issue to a majority of respondents – 98% believe they require access to the right people, compared to 97% who believe they need access to the right technology and tools.

This affects your choices when checking out cubicles for sale – do your cubicles permit collaboration? Do individual cubicles have space for colleagues to come in and discuss? Do you have specialized cubicles specifically for group work, absent a readily available conference room? In a work environment where consultation is key to productivity, these may be make-or-break questions when considering cubicles for sale.

More criteria after the jump. (Read more)

Advantages of Armless Office Chairs.

Armless office chairs are usually the last choice for many office workers. No surprise there – why give up the comfort and great optics of an office chair with arms?

Still, armless office chairs have a role to play in the office. A supporting role, true, but an important one nonetheless.

Armless office chairs are ideal for offices with little space to spare and only a tiny budget to work with. Sometimes the two go together; tenants of small office spaces generally don’t have much overhead to splurge on the latest Herman Miller office chairs for the whole crew. So armless office chairs can, and do, fill the slack.

Because of the lack of arms, armless office chairs can be slid under the desk with little trouble. And the lack of arms doesn’t get in the way of most armless office chairs’ appearance: they come in a wide variety of designs and colors, one of which is bound to suit your office needs.

Even with armless office chairs, you still need to do your due diligence with regard to comfort and adjustability. Your armless office chair should be adjustable, and work well with your body frame.

If you’re in the market for armless office chairs, you should test more than one before settling on your final choice. (In our opinion,’s seating department is a great place to begin choosing.)

This is crucial – there’s a high correlation between comfort and productivity, and you don’t want your armless office chair to get in the way of working effectively!

Upside to the Downturn: Pre-Furnished Offices.

The recession has provided one upside to new businesses – many real estate companies offer more than just cheaper office space, they provide free furniture too!

Al Harris at reports how landlords have used old tenants’ furniture as an incentive for new prospective tenants who don’t mind taking over old furniture as long as it saves money.

“It was an enormous factor,” said Andrew Rose of Elephant Insurance. The UK-based auto insurance company opened their first U.S. division last year at Innsbrook in a former Capital One building that came decked out desks and chairs, filing cabinets, refrigerators, cafeteria equipment and trashcans.

“At the time the cost and complexity of taking a space that needed to be fully outfitted versus a turnkey solution was fantastic and the economics were phenomenal,” Rose said.

“If you look at the value of the furniture and accommodations we got here, conservatively a half million to $800,000,” Rose said. He couldn’t say how much they pay, but said it was “a stones throw away from free.”

The packages vary – some companies will throw in the furniture for free, others will need to pay a little extra. That extra is, of course, a fraction of the cost of buying brand-new furniture for the whole office.

Getting office furniture in the package is hard to beat (though we should say‘s refurbished office furniture comes close), and having that as an option may be a Godsend to new offices trying to grow in today’s uncertain business environment.

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