Relationships at Work: Managing the Minefield.

Admit it, it’s crossed your mind: the idea of having romantic relationships at work appeals to you, besides, you think Denise at Accounting has been giving encouraging signs, being a little too liberal with the office Post-its (see video above).

Join the club:’s 2009 survey finds that four out of ten workers cop to dating a colleague at work, with three out of ten saying they ended up married to the person.’s Rosemary Haefner isn’t surprised by the results. “Employees spend many hours interacting with co-workers, so it’s not unusual for romances to spark,” says Haefner, who works as the site’s Vice President of Human Resources. “While workplace relationships may be more accepted these days, with 72 percent of workers saying they didn’t have to keep their romance a secret, it’s still important for workers to keep it professional and not let their relationship impact their work.”

“Keep it professional” – that’s easier said than done. Regardless of 72 percent acceptability levels, maintaining successful romantic relationships at work is a minefield, not just for the couple but for the whole office.

Part of it is the power equation that simply cannot be erased from the office context: relationships at work are as much about authority as they are about cooperation.

Employment lawyer Edward Hernstadt illustrates the problem: if things go south, an employee can always tell the law that she felt compelled to date the boss. “The supervisor will say, ‘I just asked you to go on a date,’ but the subordinate says, ‘I felt I couldn’t say no,'” recounts Hernstadt.

An office policy that sets the rules of legitimate relationships at work? This might sound positively authoritarian, but today’s litigious environment might force HR’s hand. Many offices now ask office couples to sign a “love contract” that spells out that their relationship is consensual and untied to company matters – this frees human resources from worrying about potential litigation in the future in case the relationship sours.

It’s a little less romantic, but it’s a very practical step to take for burgeoning relationships at work. And it saves the office a lot of Post-its in the process.

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)

Micro Management: Some Small Office Design Tips to Remember.

The rules are very different for stocking a small office: the best small office design ideas don’t use the same rules as big offices. Yes, you too need to create an orderly, productive environment – but no, you don’t have as much space to work with, and chances are you have a smaller margin for error.

Working with a small office design forces you to zero in on your needs, fast. Do you expect frequent client visits? Then you’ll need furniture that leaves a good impression. No patchy second-hand furniture, or worse, wildly inappropriate furnishing choices (one small travel agency I visited this week had, I kid you not, a bed).

Is the industry you’re working in a stable one? You might think about leasing furniture to stock your small office. On the other hand, choosing to buy your furniture outright may keep your budget low, and compel you to buy only the stuff you really need.

Tough questions like these can help you decide what furniture you need to be productive in your small office. Some things will always stay constant: a decent desk; a comfortable chair; a telephone; a PC.

If you’re working from home, your work and personal facilities should be separate, or as separate as possible. Have a separate phone line for work, so you don’t miss important calls from clients if your kid is on the line.

Think of your power consumption – can your small office location cope with the extra wattage you’ll need to consume for your enterprise? Do you have enough power outlets to cope with a PC, desk light, printer, scanner, and fax machine all sucking up juice at the same time?

Finally, you should add a light touch to your small office design – a painting in the right place, or a photo frame of your husband and kids can lighten the mood in your small office. Ransack your personal wants and needs to create an office that’s not just a pleasure to work in, but also a place you want to visit again and again. The alternative is just too horrible to contemplate!

Two Contenders for the Ultimate Eco-Friendly Office.

Get beyond the hype of the eco-friendly office, and you’ll find a workplace that tries to minimize its own environmental footprint. The ideal green workplace also puts systems in place that encourage their tenants/workers to do the same.

Like many ideals, this is harder than it looks. Very few workplaces meet the gold standard of the ultimate eco-friendly office, usually by meeting the tough standards set by the US Green Buildings Council through their LEED program. Which green offices made the cut?

Architectural firm Perkins + Will constructed their Seattle office with lofty green standards in mind – lighting that’s almost 50% more efficient than comparable spaces, water savings of up to 40%, and 80% of building materials sourced within 500 miles of the site.

The office’s design is plenty innovative, what you’d expect in a green design pioneer like Perkins + Will – a “solid white box” fixes the office’s center, from which the open design studio radiates. The box contains the conference rooms and service spaces; the rest of the office uses natural daylight and open furniture arrangements, all the better to encourage closer work between colleagues.

Perkins + Will’s eco-friendly office cost $1 million to build, covering 12,000 square feet in a six-story brick building. It achieved LEED Platinum on October 2006, the first platinum-certified project in Washington State.

Over in San Francisco, Google’s Bay area office pulls out all the stops to earn its LEED gold certification. Past the spectacular views of the Bay Bridge, Google’s workplace utilizes natural light to decrease energy costs (by making artificial lighting superfluous).

Building waste was minimized, through the re-use of partition walls, door assemblies, and furniture. New material used in construction was mostly sourced from local, sustainable sources.

What was thrown away was recycled – up to 64% of it, by Google’s estimate. Efficient water facilities were installed in bathrooms and kitchens. And indoor air quality was preserved by using low-VOC paint, adhesives, furniture, and sealants.

For Google, this kind of attention to detail isn’t a fluke – it’s company policy. In the following video, an employee chronicles the many steps that Google takes to earn its “ultimate eco-friendly office” stars:

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’s selection of affordable ergonomic office chairs.)

Why Are Ergonomic Chairs Good for You?

When sourcing ergonomic chairs for your office, understand what you’re looking for – you need seats that can adjust precisely to each worker’s individual body proportions.

Ergonomic chairs, like other products of ergonomic design, are designed to fit the individual. A chair can be considered ergonomic when it specifically suits a worker’s body dimensions, the worker’s station, and the worker’s tasks. (Ergonomic Chairs – Features to Look For)

Because it conforms exactly to its user’s proportions, the ideal ergonomic chair provides lasting comfort, maximizes productivity, and minimizes the risk of injury. With office workers spending upwards of five to eight hours at their stations, the wisdom of investing in ergonomic office chairs becomes apparent. (Improving Office Ergonomics)

That’s why finding the right ergonomic chair takes more thought and effort than usual. But the effort really pays off.

Ergonomic Chairs – Designed for Productivity

The right ergonomic chair is designed specifically for the
type of work performed in it, and stays comfortable
throughout its use.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed
a checklist that evaluates the ergonomic benefits of
an office chair. ( Ergonomic chairs must meet all
of the following criteria:
Backrest should support your lower back
Seat pan dimensions should fit the specific user
Seat front should not press against the back of knees and
lower legs
Seat is cushioned, and rounded at the front with a “waterfall”
Armrests are optional – but if used, should support both
forearms and not interfere with movement.
In the long run, the right ergonomic chair pays for itself, by
increasing office morale and eliminating repetitive-strain
injuries that result from poor posture and inferior-quality
chairs. (Choosing the Right Ergonomic Chair)
Ergonomic Chairs from
At, our ergonomic chairs are built with features
that promote good posture and provide maximum
comfort. Our ergonomic chairs are meant to provide years
of comfort and service’s selection of ergonomic chairs includes highend
$600 Herman Miller chairs and lower-cost seats alike in
the sub-$200 range. Think of our ergonomic chairs as an
investment that pays off in reduced strain and increased
productivity for your workforce.

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,

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’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“.

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