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.

Noise in Open Office Plans Kills Productivity.

Office cubicle stations beware: open office setups can be bad for corporate productivity. According to Julian Treasure, Chairman of sound consultancy The Sound Agency, the impact of sound on business is way out of proportion to the attention it’s been given so far.

Most organizations have no idea about the impact that sound makes on business, and therefore don’t seek to control it. But sound does affect workers on a very deep level – changing behavior in subtle ways for both good and ill.

In open office plans, Treasure notes, average ambient noise can drop productivity by over 60%. The good news, Treasure reassures us, is that workers in open office plans can triple average productivity just by wearing headphones playing the sounds of twittering birds.

Don’t take our word for it, listen to Treasure’s TED Talk below.

Office Interior Design Helps Heal Patients.

A doctor’s office layout can help greatly in facilitating her patients’ well being – a consultation room’s interior design can improve the quality of a visit, the Mayo Clinic announced in a new study.

These surprising findings were revealed through a randomized trial published in Health Environments Research and Design Journal. The Space and Interaction Trial tested a new office interior design, which had both patient and physician facing a computer screen at a semi-circular desk. The study randomly tested 63 pairs of patients and doctors.

Participating physicians felt that they were able to share more information, while patients felt they had better access to information.

“This study supports the notion that the space in which people meet can influence how they work together,” said Dr. Victor Montori, one of the study’s principal authors.

The study was a result of collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and the office furniture company Steelcase.

Is the future looking up for office furniture industry?

A qualified yes, says industry analyst Michael Dunlap.

A survey of executives at key furniture makers and suppliers registered a 51.45 quarterly office index as of October, the best result since July 2008.

Out of 10 measures, eight show an upbeat trend – these include shipments, new product development, and capital expenditures. A few job-related sectors are still below 50 (although showing a trend towards improvement) – employment, hours worked, per-employee costs and personal outlook.

For Dunlap, a noted industry analyst, this snapshot of the furniture business shows an improving business climate. “More than 42 percent reported they are optimistic about the future. It was only 25 percent in April,” said Dunlap, the principal in Michael A. Dunlap & Associates LLC, which conducted the survey.

The October survey indicates the industry likely bottomed out on the second quarter, Michael Dunlap said.

“The continued increases in shipment, orders, and others factors during the third quarter suggest that we have passed into a new stage of recovery,” Dunlap predicted. “There may be some bumps ahead in the road, because this recovery is going very slowly.”

True that – the latest results from the Federal Reserve’s survey of economic conditions nationwide show furniture companies in Richmond suffering from lowered demands and closing plants.

In other words – still rough going, but the furniture industry looks like it’s turned the corner!

Cool Vespas Resurrected as Office Chairs.


Image © Bel & Bel.

Office furniture that’s been around the block doesn’t usually generate a lot of consumer demand. But what about office furniture that’s been recycled from classic scooters?

Watch out for Spanish design house Bel & Bel’s new creations in your local cubicle farm: super-classy hand-made leather office chairs, made primarily from Italian Vespa scooters. The Vespa’s front shield creates a perfect silhouette for an office chair back rest – combined with a few key spare parts, these make office chairs that make an incredible visual impact.

Also, given the variety of colors that old Vespas came in, you’ll probably find a Vespa chair that suits your office, no problem.

In the old days, Vespa scooters were a symbol of carefree Continental lifestyles, immortalized in movies from the Sixties. But the Vespa’s air-cooled two-stroke engine is dirty and bad for the environment; the proliferation of cheap two-stroke cycles around the world accounts for much of the air pollution in developing countries.

“In the cities of many developing countries, the pollution is horrific,” says acting director of the Energy Efficiency Center at the University of California at Davis Daniel Sperling. “Two-stroke engines are a big part of the problem.”

But Vespa is still tres cool for so many retro-maniacs. Sure, old Vespas kill the Earth a little for every mile they run, but that’s no reason to hate them completely, right? So Bel y Bel made the leap from Vespa scooters to office furniture – rejuvenating Vespa retro cool and rehabilitating its polluting former life at the same time.

Office Furniture: Re-used or Remanufactured?

Office furniture being the expensive, long-term investment that it is, it behooves you to figure out how you can get the biggest bang for your office buck.

Brand new office furniture might burn you in more ways than one – you might end up paying top dollar for chairs, desks and cubicles that just won’t get the kind of use that justifies the expense. (Especially during these parlous economic times.) When your big operation cuts its workforce, what are you going to do with all that extra office furniture?

Consider alternative number one: used office furniture. With office closures being far too common these days, it’s a buyers’ market for used office furniture: barely used, and much cheaper than their brand new counterparts.

How much should you expect to pay for used office furniture? It depends on what’s available, and how much of it you need. Of course, quality will be highly variable, and you can’t expect to get exactly the color or make you want.

Now consider alternative number two: remanufactured office furniture. What’s the difference? Remanufactured office furniture comes from previously-used office furniture, but put through a remanufacturing process that strips off the old surfaces, refurbishes the structure, and refinishes the surface so the whole thing looks practically brand new – despite prices that may be up to 80% cheaper than comparable brand new furniture!     (read more)

Special Seating Deal this October!

Forget about ghosts and goblins this Halloween. You know what’s really scary? Lumbar pains, especially when they strike the executive workforce.

If you’re the guy who made the decision to buy the chairs in the office, the suits will blame you for their lowered productivity and increased suffering. Luckily, there’s a way to correct the situation.

For the month of October, Cubicles.com is offering Offices to Go’s Leather Executive Seating solution for the special price of $199! (Originally $239). read more

October is National Ergonomics Month!

Since 2003, October has been celebrated as National Ergonomics Month (NEM), since being designated by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). NEM is intended to promote ergonomics issues to executives, students, and the general public, by spreading information and services to the community.

This year’s slogan for NEM is “A Time for Teaching, Learning, Networking, Service, and Fun!” Because we all know that ergonomics is a barrel of laughs. Seriously, I’m surprised nobody’s discovered the comedy potential of carpal tunnel syndrome, I’m smiling just thinking about it.

October really serves as a kick-off month for National Ergonomics Month’s outreach activities. Ergonomics boosters use NEM to make presentations at schools and offices.

The list of upcoming events can be viewed at the HFES website. For example, Georgia Tech is sponsoring a Bad Design contest that highlights bad design on campus, and proposes fixes to each bad design. Ditto with the University of Illinois, which has a Bad Design contest of its own.  (read more)

Herman Miller: Where Green Manufacturing is Company Tradition.

Herman Miller walks the talk where the green office is concerned.

By 2020, the company plans to minimize solid, air, and water emissions; establish a LEED silver certification for its buildings; use 100% green energy; and sell 100% DfE-approved products.

This builds on a proud Herman Miller company tradition of sustainable design and construction – its headquarters was recognized as one of the first “green” office and manufacturing complexes in the U.S., with corresponding high numbers in employee productivity.

So we’re only following in the revered Herman Miller way when we at Cubicles.com offer remanufactured Herman Miller cubicles in our product lineup.

Our remanufactured cubicles look brand-new, but have been painstakingly reconstructed from pre-used Herman Miller cubes; they’re engineered to look, feel, and work like the brand-new product!

Just look at the extremes we reach to ensure that our cubicles are made with as little impact to the environment as possible:

(read more)

Rethinking Office Cubicles?

Image of cubicles © Arjun Kartha.

Office cubicles just work for many companies. They’re compact, efficient working spaces. They rationalize the use of office space. Finally, office cubicles offer an egalitarian solution that many highly-stratified companies turn to when communication breaks down between layers in the corporate hierarchy.

But has the time come to reconsider cubicles?

Consider this: layoffs are decimating the workforce – gaps in the cubicle village are starting to show. The space-saving cubicle is becoming obsolete in offices with office space to spare.

At the same time, a growing chunk of the remaining workforce has a different view of cubicle hierarchy: the enclosed walls clash with a millennial generation that values face time.

“Office design is going from an ‘I’ to ‘we’ concept,” says designer Collin Burry of Gensler, the global architectural and design firm. “Millennials would be miserable sitting in a closed office all day long.”

Companies now face the challenge of integrating the differing workspace demands of multiple generations within the same office. Case in point, healthcare concern McKesson and their redesigned office space:

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