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.

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.

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)

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:

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Solar Panel Price Drop Delights Green Building Contractors.

The New York Times reports that a crucial piece of the green building puzzle just got a lot cheaper:

For solar shoppers these days, the price is right. [Solar] Panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray.

The price drops — coupled with recently expanded federal incentives — could shrink the time it takes solar panels to pay for themselves to 16 years, from 22 years, in places with high electricity costs, according to Glenn Harris, chief executive of SunCentric, a solar consulting group.

The price drop can be attributed to worldwide increases in solar panel production, coupled with a global drop in demand. Polysilicon, an essential ingredient in solar panels, has increased in availability thanks to more plants making the stuff in China.        (read more)

Green Office Trends

The green office is here to stay, as more office managers realize that going green is more than a conscientious effort to save the planet, it also protects the health of their employees and saves the bottom line.

The green office trend may already be in your workplace, showing up as one or more of these things:

Telepresence. Google uses high tech in deceptively simple ways to minimize its carbon footprint. For example, business travel has been slashed to a bare minimum through the use of videoconferencing, reports the New York Times – not a tiny gesture when you consider that Google has 119 offices all around the world.

“Hundreds of meetings per day are done via videoconference,” says Google project manager Adam Banks. “The technology is primarily about making the company work better, but it has the nice effect of saving on carbon as well.”

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