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 RichmondBizSense.com 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 Cubicles.com‘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.

How to Choose a Modern Executive Desk

zira modern executive desk
Image © Global Upholstery Co.

No corner office is complete without a modern executive desk taking pride of place. The ideal executive desk does more than keep an executive’s papers from falling to the floor: it provides much needed storage and defines an executive’s workspace as well.

Once personalized properly, the modern executive desk also defines the personality and outlook of the executive who’s using it.

If you’re newly arrived to your corner office, and assuming you can choose the kind of desk you’ll be spending the rest of your executive career on, how will you go about choosing your new command center?

The right one will come to you, once you ask yourself a few questions:

How flexible do you intend to be? Modern executive desks come in modular versions, which can be set up easily, then reconfigured once your needs change down the road. High quality modular desks are easy to assemble and configure, with European connectors that make disassembly and reconfiguration a breeze.

What kind of electronics will you be using? Likely the answer won’t be “none” – you’ll need at least one grommet hole to tame those pesky computer and telephone wires. Look for a hutch with a sweep that keeps those wires in place. And look for height/angle adjustable keyboard trays that can help you work while maintaining a comfortable, ergonomically-friendly position.

How many people will you be working with? The best desks allow for collaboration with colleagues, coming with island worksurfaces that allow teammates to “meet at your place” and still have enough leg room below.

A good example of modern executive desk that fits all the above: the Zira line of desks, a modular desk system that can be infinitely rearranged to ensure maximum work efficiency and organization.

Zira offers a multitude of storage components, allowing you to find a way to store everything in your corner office the way you like – putting them away (your boring old files) or putting them up for display (that glowing letter from the Chairman).

This video shows you how easy it is to get that corner office started with Zira – and this link takes you to Cubicles.com’s desk page where you can look at Zira and many other modern executive desk options.

The Ultimate Herman Miller Office Chair… and the Contender.

In the beginning, there was the Aeron, the ultimate Herman Miller office chair – and then there was everyone else.

Times have changed since the Aeron was introduced fifteen years ago. (Among other things, the office hockey league has since been disbanded.) In its heyday, the Aeron was the ultimate status symbol. If your behind rested on an Aeron, you commanded the best Herman Miller office chair in existence.

Fast forward to today. The recession overtook us. Enron and Lehman Brothers fell. And formerly deep-pocketed facility managers are now looking for more cost-effective alternatives to the former King of Office Seats.

These days, the number one contender for the throne is the Eurotech Ergohuman Chair. Its popularity among office workers is surging ever higher, threatening to unseat the high-flying Herman Miller office chair leader.

How has the Ergohuman accomplished this? Firstly, it’s been able to match – or come close – to the high-end upholstery and adjustability features designed into the Aeron.

Once upon a time, facility managers figured the high cost was a proper price to pay for getting the Aeron into their offices. (And the cost is still high – you can expect to pay up to $1,400 for a top notch posture-fit Aeron.) Today, the Ergohuman delivers what people look for in an Aeron – for up to $700.

The Ergohuman’s ergonomics delivers: you get the same flexibility and adjustability you’ve come to expect from an Aeron, and you get the same tolerance for intensive use: the chair is designed to accommodate users who expect to use it for five hours a day or more, and deserve consistent comfort from beginning to end.

In the end, while the Ergohuman may fall a little short of the Aeron, the substantially lower price makes it a winner against the best Herman Miller office chair contenders. (Don’t take my word for it, check out the Cubicles.com seating page to compare how the Ergohuman does against the competition. You won’t be sorry.)

Top Tips to Prevent Carpal Tunnel.


Image © Andrew / Creative Commons.

Turns out that to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll probably need to change some deeply-ingrained habits.

Work posture, for one thing. Getting carpal tunnel syndrome may force you to change the way you type, for example, or wear a splint on your wrist while you work, on doctor’s orders.

There’s good reason for this advice: the doctor wants to keep your hand from assuming the posture it normally does. Which eases the pressure on the median nerve, the source of all your carpal tunnel troubles. The same posture day after day, on the other hand, can stress the tendons in your carpal tunnel to the point of affecting the median nerve – leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.

When someone has carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve is pressured by ligaments and tendons in the carpal tunnel in your wrist, which sometimes get swollen from abuse to the hands. Pressure on the median nerve can make your hand hurt, or numb the sensation in the affected hand.

So, to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to prevent your affected hand from assuming a posture that increases the pressure.

That means wearing the aforementioned splints to prevent carpal tunnel. But you don’t have to go that far. It may be a simple as avoiding a downward bent position for your wrists. Or not resting your wrists on hard surfaces – soft wrist rests for both keyboards and mice are now de rigueur for keyboard jockeys in the office.

Regular typists may also benefit from a seating posture that keeps forearms level with the keyboard; this minimizes the flexing your wrists need to do while typing.

Resting the wrist may also be necessary: this means regular breaks for your wrists, or switching the dominant hand used for a certain task.

These simple fixes can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from ever taking hold of your wrists. Nobody said carpal tunnel syndrome was hard to overcome!

Selecting a Mesh Office Chair – Pros and Cons.

The mesh office chair is becoming more and more necessary in the modern breakneck-paced office. But just as even the most advanced office computer can become a liability if badly-selected, the process of choosing a mesh office chair becomes ever more important: you can’t just leap into it blind.

Here are a few dos and don’ts to help your selection process along.

DO test drive that mesh office chair. No mesh office chair is perfect; the flaws aren’t usually evident in the first ten or twenty minutes of testing, much less just looking, at the chair in question. So don’t just “eyeball” it, or rest your hindquarters and call it a day.

Put that mesh office chair through its paces: Ask yourself first how long you’ll be sitting in the chair. The length of time you’ll spend in that seat will determine whether you need additional padding. Mesh seats are cool and comfortable, but extended use can stress the tailbone, causing pain and numbness over time.

DON’T settle on the first one you like. Have several different models to choose from, when selecting a mesh office chair. You’ll get a good idea of the varying quality of mesh office chairs in the market, and in the process, you’ll also discover what qualities you prefer in a mesh office chair.

You’ll probably choose a mesh chair that provides a balance between comfort and support. Some workers will prefer mesh seats that make your hindquarters feel like they’re floating on clouds; others will prefer stiffer padded fabric or leather seats with a mesh back.

DO think long-term. Mesh chairs don’t wear as well as leather or fabric chairs; mesh chair manufacturers have to choose between soft mesh that sags quicker, or stiff mesh with lower comfort. Herman Miller has managed to hit the right balance with its Aeron chair, as it uses a Pellicle mesh that combines softness with durability. (It helped that the Aeron’s ergonomic design won it raves in the workforce.)

DON’T neglect adjustability. Any ergonomics enthusiast will tell you that mesh seating alone won’t make your chair comfortable – adjustability counts. As we’ve noted before, you’ll need to adjust different elements of the mesh office chair to ensure they fit you and you alone – armrests, seat height, seat depth, backrest, and lumbar support.

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)

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

Four Smashing Office Design Upgrades for your Workplace.

Office design these days tends to the staid and practical – squares of space carefully rationed out to individual employees, uniform shelving and seating, all illuminated in that ghastly greenish fluorescent glow.

Fortunately, there are ways around cookie-cutter office design. Like flowers growing from cracks in the pavement, your own design sensibility can be brought to bear onto even the most boring workplace. Just don’t be afraid to project your own style onto your office, and you’re good to go!

Look through these examples, and take some inspiration to work.

office design, Herman Miller Celle Mesh chair

Image © Herman Miller, Cubicles.com

Herman Miller Celle Chair. A classic that adds both comfort and class to any office space, the Celle Chair from industry leader Herman Miller offers great value in an adjustable ergonomic mesh chair.

The Celle’s Cellular Suspension mesh technology provides comfortable seating with the added bonus of looking extremely sharp. Cellular Suspension moves with you – its loops and cells flex individually to give you the best possible support, however you move.

Get your Herman Miller Celle Chair from Cubicles.com’s seating page, where the Celle and many other cutting-edge seat designs are just waiting for you to take one of ‘em home.

office design, logerot side bookcase

Image © Aissa Logerot

Side Bookcase. A side-standing bookshelf? Yes, says designer Aissa Logerot – having one’s books on the side frees the walls for pictures, yet protects books from spills and stains.

This shelf, crafted out of plain wood planks, is an ideal addition to any modern office. You can use it as a coffee table, media center, or as a room divider; multiple functions that can only add charm to one’s office design.

To see two more smashing designs, click “read more“.

This Week in Innovative Office Furniture Design.

office furniture, menorah by SOM, winner

Image © SOM / Colin Gorsuch.

The office furniture manufacturer Steelcase just concluded its 10th annual Wreath and Menorah Design Competition last December 3, with architecture firm Skidmore, Owing and Merrill bagging the top prize.

More info on the contest and the winner, after the jump.                 (read more)

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.

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