6 Considerations Before Buying Office Furniture: A Manager’s Guide
Being tasked with buying office furniture for your company is a major responsibility. Purchasing new office furniture and equipment can be a major decision not only because contributes to and supports the well-being and comfort of your staff, but it also impacts office productivity.
Before spending days of visiting office spaces and browsing the Internet for the office furniture that everyone can agree on, it will pay to spend some time reviewing a few key strategic considerations.
When Buying Office Furniture, Price Isn’t Everything
Buying office furniture for can be an arduous process, especially if you have to take into account a large number of opinions, special requests, and differing opinions on style. Much more important are things like comfort, ergonomics and long-term value.
While you could alleviate the headache of researching by simply abdicating the decision to a low-priced vendor, you will be better served by taking a more careful and measured approach. There are a number of key questions you should consider with the furniture-buying process.
Here are a few simple tips to make sure you make the right choices for your organization or office.
1. Consider Your Budget
Yes, we said that price isn’t everything, but it is often the “main” thing. Every dollar spent is an investment and your investments need to be wisely spent. Before buying any furniture, you do need to consider the cost.
- How much should you allocate for chairs? For desks? And so on.
- How many of each item do you actually need?
- Where should you sacrifice aesthetics for superior functionality?
Determining how to allocate budget beforehand will help you narrow down your choices without compromising quality. Don’t cut corners on buying office furniture. If your budget is small, considering buying fewer, but higher quality pieces that will last. If that’s feasible you can always add additional pieces as your budget increases.
Also, if your budget is tight, consider how you might invest in items that can provide multiple uses. For example, a file cabinet that can double as a tabletop for a copier or printer.
2. Look at Ergonomic Needs
Employees will be sitting and working most of the day, so providing them a comfortable chair and desk is a must. More importantly, ergonomic chairs and desks are critical as they make working easier and healthier, as supported by numerous studies. Ergonomics considerations like contoured seats, lumbar backrest supports, adjustable seats and armrests are important.
Consider not only what’s comfortable to your colleagues, but also what’s designed according to ergonomic best practices. When you find furniture that does both, it will be worth the investment.
Aside from ergonomic chairs and desks, you can style your interior layout depending on your business type. If you want a cafe-like atmosphere where employees can easily communicate and collaborate with each other, then consider investing in a large table and a few chairs. If you need to retain a more formal environment with cubicles be sure to allow for sufficient work spaces and ease of access between cubicles. Your furniture buying choice should make your office environment conducive for work.
3. Flexibility and Functionality
Office furniture with multiple functionalities is usually a better choice. When you balance functionality with a reasonable price you obviously are getting more for your money. For example, do the desks have storage for files? Are the drawers easy to access and provide enough storage capacity? Can you stretch your legs and move them freely under the desks, or tables? Are they comfortable enough for your employees?
To answer these questions, it can be a good idea to have some coworkers test out different chairs and desks. What feels comfortable and functional can depend on several different factors, such as the kind of work they do, and their height and weight. Think about the kind of furniture you need and consider how your office will function. A beautifully appointed office is great, but if it’s not really functional, you’ll find yourself more frustrated than inspired. What kind of work does the furniture need to support?
For example, if people spend some time in the office but mostly work outside of the office, perhaps there’s no need for multiple desks if a worktable might suffice. Are cubicles necessary, or can you function with an open-office layout? Is shelving and storage really necessary, or are most of your company’s records digitized and stored on the cloud?
4. Consider Your Office Space
It is common sense to buy furniture that will fit in your office space. However, simply considering overall dimensions is not enough. Installing large pieces of furniture will do more than simply take up a huge chunk of your office. With a cramped space, employees won’t be able to move around freely or easily.
Take measurements of your room before you come into the showroom. It will save you a step and help you know what will work best in your space.
Also, arranging furniture efficiently can also help make your office look more spacious. The bottom line is to provide your office with the right furniture and remember to leave enough room for your team to be comfortable in.
Before buying furniture for your office, walk through the rooms and visualize the layouts. Where are the phone jacks and electrical outlets? Where are the best places for desks? Is there enough light or do you need to add lamps? Where are the doors of the room and are there closets or restroom doors to consider?
5. Aesthetic Considerations and Your Brand Identity
It makes sense to purchase furniture that will contribute to the beauty of your office. Good office design enhances the atmosphere, eases stress, and increases productivity. Don’t choose furniture just because you like its color or design, however. You should choose office furniture that complements your brand or “personality”. Your office furniture should, if possible, reflect your company’s identity and culture.
Learning the basics of the psychology of colors can be an advantage when choosing furniture. For example, Greens and orange shades can give your office a creative and energetic atmosphere. If you want to give a perception of coolness and tranquility, use blue. However, while it may be tempting, you may not want to buy furniture that is too colorful. Better to err on the side of neutral than garish.
The type of material will depend on its use. For example, if you’re looking for chairs for the executive conference room, leather is usually a stylish choice. But if you’re looking for a desk chair for everyday work, mesh is a good option since it provides ventilation for the user. For furniture in high-traffic areas, like your lobby or break room, consider something durable and easy to clean.
6. What Support Does the Dealer Provide?
The support you receive from your office furniture dealer is just as important as the furniture itself. What kind of warranty do they offer? If something happens to the furniture during shipping how will it be repaired? What services do they provide for delivery, assembly, set up, and installation? Just as you would with any major product or service, you should ask for references and check reviews.
What do you do with the old furniture? Furniture retailer Team Office says “[a] good, full-service furniture dealer will be there to help you throughout the life cycle of your office furniture.” There are a few things you can do with old furniture including selling it to a furniture retailer or wholesaler, or donating it to charity. Giving old furniture new life will ensure you get the most value out of it as possible. How do you do that? Ask the dealer you’re considering buying from if they can help.
Buying Office Furniture is a Major Project
Buying new furniture for the office isn’t a decision to take lightly. The choices you make will have a big impact on office environment, employee comfort and overall productivity. If you go into the process armed with these six guidelines, however, you can make sure that you make a good purchase.