Office Desks On Steroids.

[Image © MotoArt.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Image © MotoArt.]

Executives in the top echelons of business love to spend on office desks – the type of office desks that telegraph accomplishment, prestige, and money to burn.

They’ve reached the pinnacle of accomplishment, or so the thinking goes – therefore these top-flight executives need office desks that show off their newfound rank and privileges to whomever might drop by their office.

Office Desks That Make a Strong Impression. Take the C-119 Flap Desk by MotoArt pictured above – one of a series of office desks crafted from wing flaps salvaged from the Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar” airplane that saw action in the Korean  and the Vietnam Wars. Now what does that kind of office desk tell you about the guy who sits behind it for a living?

MotoArt goes to extreme lengths to give the Flap Desk an intimidating impression, spending thousands of man-hours of labor cutting, polishing, and burnishing these impressive office desks, and topping them off with a 3/8″ glass top that conforms to the flap’s shape–

Customized to match the contours of the flap, it exposes the rivet detail and handsome intricacies of its construction. The legs are made of 4” x 8” architectural aluminum I beams. The legs are lightened by cutting radial holes at the top and bottom and are then powder coated for a rugged black wrinkle finish.

The Flap Desk is a limited edition office desk – after all, how many C-119s are around to provide their wing flaps, anyway? – which makes these office desks a rare but attractive proposition for executives on the rise.

More office desks on steroids after the jump. (Read more)

Going Green with Eco Friendly Office Furniture.

An eco friendly office is easy enough to commit to, if one just sticks to superficial environmental advice (save water! Print on both sides of the paper! Unplug that PC after use!). But it takes a real green warrior to meet environmental targets using eco friendly office furniture.

The government has been helpful enough, providing green furniture standards that provide a standard to live up to. The EPA in particular offers procurement guidelines to help you select eco friendly office furniture that lives up to the government’s high standards.

New furniture, then, can be selected using the EPA’s guidelines, which call for FSC-certified wood, water-based or bio-based glues for laminated surfaces, and recycled materials where possible.

New eco-friendly office furniture can also be bought based on their recyclability in the future – tables and chairs made of plywood, steel, chipboard, and plastics can be recycled easily at a processing plant, while compact laminates and MDF are more difficult to recycle in the future.

Go refurbished/remanufactured, if that’s an option for your office – not easy if you have a reputation to uphold, but getting easier due to the glut of furniture (you can thank the recession for bankrupting a significant number of businesses, freeing their relatively pristine furniture for use in the market).

Take the furniture our guys at Cubicles.com are ready to offer you – lower-cost, recycled workstations recreated from used cubicles – processed with eco-friendly procedures to replace and recycle the parts that can still be used.

Cubicles.com uses low-VOC coatings and recycled fabrics in its remanufactured cubicles. They look brand new, but come having already made most of its impact on the environment!

Buy local. Even if your furniture demands can’t live up to the earlier two points, you can still go green with your office furniture, simply by buying from a supplier nearby. By buying local, you cut down on the carbon emissions created by transporting your new furniture from point A to point B.

10 Steps toward an Environmentally Friendly Office.

Creating an environmentally friendly office takes baby steps. You don’t just change the lightbulbs, set up segregated trash bins, and expect the Green Office Council to give you a medal. No, it’s a long, hard slog, and may add an element of inconvenience in your office life.

Why do it? It’s worth it. Think of the positive impact you’ll make with an environmentally friendly office – and think of the improved morale in a workforce that knows they’re committed to something bigger than themselves.

1. Power down. Turn off equipment that isn’t being used. Don’t just turn them off – unplug them. Little did you know that equipment on “standby” mode still sucks up juice, to the tune of hundreds of dollars’ worth of energy a year! Unplug these appliances when not in use, or get a smart power strip that monitors electricity use, cutting off the power from outlets that have been idle for a while.

2. Turn down the thermostat. Reprogram your thermostat to be a few degrees warmer in the summer, and a few degrees cooler in the winter. Shaving off the degrees in this way can save you up to eight percent in energy costs per year.

3. Change the light source. Part the curtains, or open the blinds in daytime! The environmentally friendly office isn’t afraid to use natural light – it’s healthier than that sickly green artificial light that’s commonly used in offices.

4. Replace your gear. Newer PCs, for example, may be up to 70% more energy-efficient than PCs from four to five years back. Monitors might also help you cut down on your energy bill – if you switch LCD models for your CRT monitors, you can use a third less power. The lower energy usage will allow you to recover the costs of replacing your equipment within two to three years.

5. Email, but try not to print. Email messages don’t need to be printed out to be fully understood. Make sure getting a printout is absolutely necessary before you click “print”!

6. If you have to print, go with recycled and earth-friendly. Use recycled paper with at least 30% post-consumer waste, and print double-sided as much as possible. Go with soy-based ink, as it has lower levels of volatile organic compounds, and is easier to eliminate in the recycling process.

7. Check the bathrooms. Keep taps tightly shut – one dripping tap can waste up to 10,000 liters of water a year. A more committed environmentally friendly office would use a displacement dam – they place a small plastic container filled with stones in the toilet reservoir to displace some water in the flushing process – the water saved in this method adds up over the year.

8. Use real plants. Not only do they add a nice soothing touch to your office, but they also add oxygen to the surroundings, making the environmentally friendly office even more friendly to one’s health.

9. Ditch the paper or foam cups. Encourage the workforce to bring their own mugs to work. This reduces office waste and saves money.

10. Buy remanufactured office furniture. When you’re replacing your desks and chairs, look at remanufactured furniture as an option for your office. Buying remanufactured saves you money and lessens your impact on the environment, as you’re buying equipment that’s already made its footprint felt before.

This is more than just about being cheap – it’s about making a company-wide statement to your workers and your clients that you are willing to cut out unnecessary purchases for the sake of creating an environmentally friendly office. (Read Cubicles.com’s green office furniture page for more information about remanufactured office furniture.)

Office Cubicle Installation in a Little Over an Hour.

Cubicle installation isn’t a long, tiresome process anymore, at least not since the Sixties. When Herman Miller introduced their Action Office 2 (AO2) cubicle system, they introduced the open plan office into the business lexicon. They also made tedious office cubicle installation a thing of the past.

Take this example from Cubesolutions - this video shows a timed cubicle installation session, transforming a bare space into a 500-cubicle set in just over an hour. You’ve got to see it to believe it – office cubicle installation in a flash, giving you a complete office in the time it takes to finish your lunch!

Of course, the video leaves out the hard work done before the partitions are locked in place. The cubicle provider needs to know the dimensions of the work area, the type of cubicles that need to be installed, the type of electronics that will be used (AO2 cubicles accommodate cabling, but these need to be determined beforehand).

Our guys got this down pat, too – cubicle installation services and more. Ring us up if you want this kind of speedy magic pulled off in your workspace.

Click here to see Cubicle Installation video

Picking the Best Ergonomic Chair for Your Office.

 Picking the Best Ergonomic Chair for Your Office. Image © Quinn Dombrowski / Creative Commons.

Image © Quinn Dombrowski / Creative Commons.

I’ve got the world’s best ergonomic chair in my home office, and it suits me just fine. It was my old boss’s ergonomic chair, but I got it cheap when the business folded and I’ve been using it for the past 12 years.

How is it the best? Because over time, it’s adjusted to me - the depressions made by my back and backside have molded this chair, over the years, into one that fits my curves perfectly.

But not everyone has 12 years to make the world’s best ergonomic chair out of any garage-sale purchase. Certainly not facility managers who have to contend with quick employee turnover – no employee really has that much time!

The only real lesson you can derive from my example is this: the best ergonomic chair in the world is one that is perfectly adjusted to suit the individual.

The best ergonomic chairs provide adjustment mechanisms that conform to individual body shapes. No single body is unique, and each chair must be adjusted to match specific body shapes. In some cases, you might be better off hiring an ergonomics professional to do the adjustments.

Also, really good ergonomic chairs allow for constant movement. The back, armrest, and seat should be able to let you shift your body into other positions, while keeping your body in the proper posture.

Ideally, you should also get the best ergonomic chair that suits your profession. Doctors, software engineers, and art directors have totally different working habits – their ergonomic chair needs are different, too.

Nothing can substitute actually testing the chair out for yourself. Finding the best ergonomic chair for your needs can be a matter of just sitting in it, making a few adjustments, and asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • How much hip room do I have?

  • How much can I adjust the seat’s height?
  • How comfortable is my lumbar, or lower back?
  • How comfortable is my butt in the seat pan?
  • How comfortable is the chair when reclining?
  • How comfortable is the chair after an hour or so of use?

You don’t have to wait ten years to get the best ergonomic chair, as in my case – you just need a little patience, some hands-on experience, and the courage to ask the right questions.

(By the way, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the best ergonomic chair for you doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – check out our partner SeatingWarehouse.com’s selection of affordable ergonomic office chairs.)

Space Crisis for Office Cubicles.

As employers attempt to lower costs and maintain productivity with a shrinking workforce inhabiting their office cubicles, some offices are taking the game one level up by shaving the cubicle space each employee gets.

The Wall Street Journal reports that office cubicles have now become prime real estate in the recession. Companies are taking different tacks. Some are creating open floor plans and removing cubicles from their office spaces. Employees are now given rotating or random workspaces, instead of being assigned an office cubicle of their own. Other employees are given more opportunity to telecommute.

Manufacturers are following suit – new workstations designed by design group HOK now have an average area of 48 square feet, down 30% from five years back. Other companies “are reducing per-employee office space by as much as 50%, and their total footprint by as much as 25%,” the article reports.

One former office cubicle rat – now a telecommuting writer working from her own home – remembers the old days with mixed feelings. Says True/Slant’s Caitlin Kelly:

That’s one good thing about working alone at home. Right now, the only sound I hear — loud and clear — is my neighbor’s laughter and phone conversation. I’m not sure, short of a cabin in the woods, you can escape noise or other people and get your work done.

I can’t agree with you more, Miz Kelly. Although I’d add that some of these companies are plainly misled – why cut down on cubicle space and call that savings, when they can just buy remanufactured cubicles at a much lower price and keep their office cubicle inhabitants happy with a little more real estate? Just a suggestion.

What has ergonomics ever done for us?

First class seats, nuclear power plant control rooms, and cars that respond well to older drivers, among other things. The Design Museum in London features several key examples of good ergonomics leading to great results.

For example, the control desk at the CERN control room is the end product of intense study. That’s reasonable when you’re dealing with billions of dollars worth of sensitive scientific equipment. “It’s a huge scientific instrument, so it has to be right,” says the ergonomics show’s curator Gemma Curtin.

“They studied everyone’s jobs, how they needed to be connected, how items had to be arranged on the desk.”

Today, ergonomics is changing to accommodate shifting work habits and evolving technology, as well. The Design Museum of the future might take a look at how we’re using today’s laptops, along with their irritating tendency to be un-ergonomic at the worst possible times. Here’s a Duke University ergonomics expert with advice on how to effectively use your laptop at work.

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Pranks, Parties, and Other Fun Cubicle Activities.

How do you put a constantly-complaining colleague in his place? Simple: make his complaints of “I’m being buried alive in my work!” a reality, if only a little: Your next project: how to bury your whiney colleague’s cubicle. All in good fun, of course.

Frivolous? Hell no, you need these stunts to make life on the cubicle farm more bearable. Play is an integral part of a productive workforce – managers ought to tolerate a little prankery like the demonstration above.

Or an office party – with the holidays coming up, even businesses weakened by the economy ought to have an opportunity to celebrate, boosting morale and building teamwork.

Carin Warner’s workforce will be celebrating more humbly this year – “We’re going to scale back and still have fun together,” said Warner, proprietor of the Boston-based public relations firm Warner Communication, is based in Boston. Potluck party on the beach replaces weekend getaways for Warner, but no matter – the party is the important thing.

Teamwork will be reinforced by involving employees in the planning process – “The very coming together over a non-work task is in itself delightful, delicious and engaging,” said employee retention consultant Beverly Kaye.

Modular Furniture – Godsend for Facility Managers.

Facility managers take note – modular furniture is your friend. Today’s Facility Manager chimes in with some useful tips for managing office furniture, when the time comes to move ‘em around your territory.

Furniture that can be easily moved around is key. Ease of disassembly is another attractive characteristic for many FM’s. And it’s worth noting that this advantage is not limited to chairs, desks, storage, and the like.

“Modular interior construction is finally beginning to realize its potential,” observes Mark Paul, national sales manager for OM Workspace based in Naperville, IL. “Many buildings use movable walls, raised floors, sound masking systems, and indirect lighting fixtures to [facilitate easily reconfigured space.]”facilities management furniture trends

Wait, isn’t modular furniture expensive? Not anymore; one side-effect of the recession is a glut in used office furniture, and a corresponding surfeit of remanufactured office furniture that’s practically indistinguishable from brand new, but comes at a lower cost.

This provides an advantage for the facility manager with one eye to the future, and another on his bottom line.

Modular office furniture is not only adequately represented in remanufactured furniture catalogs (such as Cubicles.com’s extensive inventory of remanufactured furniture by Herman Miller – watch out, it’s in PDF). Modular office furniture’s increasing versatility and interchangeability offers the following advantages highly sought after by facility managers:

Adaptability: such furniture can be reconfigured to serve a variety of job types. They can be adapted to current usage, or put away when downsizing or restructuring occurs.

Compatibility: remanufactured office furniture catalogs allow facility managers to match newly-purchased furniture to existing product lines – minimizing the mismatch that often comes when the manager has to wait long periods before purchasing new furniture.

Customization: remanufactured office furniture allows a high degree of customization when called for. Call center operators and vice presidents have very different needs – a facility manager ought to be able to provide for the needs of both.

Mona Hoffman, vice president of marketing at Kimball Office in Jasper, IN, notes the way the wind is blowing for facility managers. “There is a need for multipurpose products that easily adapt to changing footprints and flex with the flow of people and projects,” Hoffman reports.

18-Button Mouse: Ergonomics Fail.


Image © OpenOfficeMouse.

Ergonomics isn’t rocket science – comfort is job one, and intuitiveness is always, always going to get you there two-thrids of the way. A seat that supports your lumbar area. Keyboards that cushion your wrist.

So what could the guys at OpenOffice be thinking with this un-ergonomic eighteen-button monster?  (read more)

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