13 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Office Furniture

Many business owners postpone buying new office furniture, believing it’s unnecessary or a waste of money. Whether it’s a chair, desk, cubicle or conference table, though, all types of office furniture will eventually need to be replaced. So, how do you know when it’s time to upgrade the furniture in your office?

#1) It’s Old and Outdated

A company’s office furniture speaks volume about it’s culture and workplace attitude. Companies with outdated office furniture are often viewed as being cheap or inattentive to their workers’ needs.

If your office features 1970s-style wood paneling with dated chairs and desks, employers will take notice. They’ll assume your company runs its operations using the same outdated tactics, resulting in a negative image. You can present your company as an industry leader that cares about its workers, however, by using modern office furniture. But this is just one reason to consider upgrading your office.

#2) Workers Complain About Back Pain

When office workers start to complain about back pain, it’s usually a good idea to invest in new furniture. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), nearly half of all U.S. workers experience back pain symptoms each year. It’s so common, in fact, that lower back pain accounts for more work-related disabilities worldwide than any other disease or condition, according to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD).

It’s not just workers in laborious industries like construction and manufacturing that experience back pain; office workers experience it as well. When workers sit at poorly designed desks for eight or more hours a day, it can stress their spine and supporting structures and subsequently cause back pain.

Thankfully, back pain can often be avoided by using ergonomic office furniture. An executive office chair featuring lumbar support, for instance, will reduce stress on workers’ back while protecting against common injuries that could otherwise cause pain and inflammation. So, listen to your workers and be aware of any back pain they are experience.

#3) It’s Not Team Friendly

Does your office furniture encourage collaboration and teamwork? If not, perhaps it’s time to upgrade.

As revealed by Harvard Business Review (HBR), offices today are now being designed with an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. HBR researchers say that 85% of U.S. office workers in the 1980s preferred working in confined, distraction-free spaces. Fast forward to the 1990s and the trend shifted: office workers now seek open environments in which they can easily collaborate with their colleagues.

Unfortunately, some offices today still feature an outdated design with confined spaces. If workers are unable to converse freely amongst themselves, it can hurt their productivity (we’ll get to that soon). They’ll have to walk across the office or send emails back and forth just to ask or answer a question. In an open, team-friendly office design, though, workers can collaborate freely and more naturally.

#4) You’re Moving But Can’t Disassemble Your Existing Furniture

When moving to a new office, you have one of two options regarding your furniture: you can either take it with you, or you can replace it with new furniture. The former, however, typically requires dissembling your furniture.

With the exception of small furniture pieces like file cabinets and chairs, you must break down your office furniture to move it. Doing so will allow you to squeeze otherwise large tables and desks through doorframes and tight spaces. Attempting to move a large conference table into the office and up several flights of stairs isn’t practical, and in some cases, it’s not even possible. By disassembling it, you’ll break it down into several smaller pieces that are easier to move.

But disassembling office furniture isn’t always easy. It’s not uncommon for screws and bolts to become stripped, in which case you’ll have to cut them out. Furthermore, dissembling office furniture requires knowledge of how it was assembled in the first place. If you don’t know this information, and are unable to find the manufacturer’s instructions, replacing it with new furniture is probably your best option.

#5) It’s Held Together with Duct Tape

Originally invented in the early 1900s, duct tape is one of the world’s most versatile items. It features a fabric backing and is coated with a synthetic material like polyethylene. Because of its unmatched strength, duct tape has become a highly useful tool in the workplace.

To put its versatility into perspective, NASA veteran Jerry Woodfill says that duct tape has been carried on every mission since the Gemini days (1960s). It was even used during the Apollo 13 mission, during which NASA astronauts used duct tape and other small items to repair the craft’s failing carbon dioxide scrubbers.

With that said, duct tape shouldn’t be used to hold together office furniture. If the seat cushion has fallen off a worker’s chair, for instance, don’t use duct tape to reattach it. Granted, duct tape may hold for a little while – sometimes months or even years – but there’s no telling when it will fail. And when it fails, it could send the worker crashing to the floor below. Besides, using office furniture that’s bound together with duct tape doesn’t exactly create a positive image for your company. Regardless of type, any office furniture that’s held together with duct tape should be replaced ASAP.

#6) Productivity Has Slumped

If your company has become less productive in recent months, perhaps it’s time to invest in new office furniture. When workers are forced to use outdated furniture that’s broken or poorly designed, it shows in their productivity – they’ll generate less work while clocking the same or more hours on the job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. workers clock about 8.8 hours a day. However, statistics show that workers are only productive for just under three hours a day. To encourage a higher level of productivity in your office, consider upgrading to ergonomically designed furniture. Office chairs with castor wheels, for instance, allow workers to move around their respective cubicle or workstation without standing up.

#7) It’s a Safety Hazard

Certain types of office furniture can pose a tangible safety hazard to workers. According to the BLS, more than 80,000 U.S. office and administrative workers sustained an injured while working in 2008. There are a few common types of injuries sustained by office workers, one of which are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explains that MSDs are injuries affecting the muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons. Workers who work in awkward postures or perform repetitive tasks have a higher risk of developing MSDs. If a worker is forced to use a computer and keyword in an awkward position, he or she may develop the MSD carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The repetitive motion of typing, combined with a poorly designed workstation, creates the perfect recipe for CTS.

Eye strain is another common injury sustained by office workers. When workers stare at computer monitors, it stresses and strains their eyes; thus, causing discomfort and even temporary vision loss. Known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), it’s responsible for more an estimated 10 million doctor’s visits every year.

The right office furniture can protect against these and other injuries. A computer workstation with a pull-out tray for the keyboard and mouse, for instance, will reduce the risk of hand and wrist injuries like CTS. Additionally, using an office chair with an adjustable height feature can protect against eye strain.

#8) Computer Monitors are Placed on Boxes

If workers are using cardboard boxes, milk crates or other everyday items to support their computer monitors, you should probably purchase new office furniture. Items such as these are not suitable for holding computer monitors. They lack the strength and integrity needed for secure monitors. And if a worker accidentally brushes against it, the monitor may fall.

Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions available to support computer monitors. High-quality office desks are typically designed with an average height of 28 to 30 inches. When used in conjunction with an adjustable office chair, this creates the perfect area on which to place a computer monitor.

#9) It’s Not Tech Friendly

Offices today are designed with an emphasis on technology, and for good reason. Companies rely on technology to conduct their normal operations and promote a fast and efficient workplace. Not all office furniture is tech friendly, though.

Older office desks, for instance, may lack cutouts and tunnels for cables. As a result, workers who use such desks are forced to run their cables over and around the furniture. Most modern office desks are designed with cutouts or other solutions for cables. Given the fact that a typical computer workstation has nearly a dozen cables, this is a feature that office managers shouldn’t ignore.

The bottom line is that your office furniture needs to support the technical revolution. Not only will workers appreciate the convenience it offers, but tech-friendly furniture also reduces clutter and creates a more cohesive appearance throughout your office.

#10) It’s Cheap and Poorly Made

If your office furniture is cheap and poorly made, you should probably upgrade it. Some business owners assume that buying cheap furniture such as this will save them in money. In reality, though, they typically spend more money either fixing or replacing it shortly thereafter. A desk made of cheap particle board, for instance, may fall apart or break, whereas a high-quality desk made of solid wood or similar high-end materials will last for years and years.

#11) Eclectic Mix of Different Styles

Don’t make the mistake of designing your office with an eclectic mix of furniture. Your office should follow a central theme in which all the furniture and furnishings complement each other. Incorporating a handful of different designs with no real sense of cohesion creates a messy and uninspiring environment.

Rather than using an eclectic design for your office, stick with a central theme. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you must use a single color or style in your office. Rather, you should use colors and styles that follow a general theme to achieve an attractive, functional work space.

#12) It’s Reached the End of It’s Lifespan

No office furniture lasts forever. Even the highest quality furniture must eventually be replaced. And if your office furniture has reached that point, you should go ahead and replace it.

According to Baylor University, office chairs last for about eight years, at which point they should be replaced. Desks, on the other hand, usually last for a little longer, especially when properly maintained. Nonetheless, office furniture will eventually degrade to the point where it can no longer feasibly me repaired, and the only solution available is to replace it.

So, how do you know if your office furniture has reached the end of its lifespan? Well, if your furniture is broken, functionality flawed, severely worn or otherwise showing signs of serious age, it’s probably best to replace it. In some cases, you may be able to repair slightly worn furniture. In other cases, repairing could cost more time and money than simply replacing the furniture.

Before dumping an old or worn piece of furniture, check to see if it’s under warranty. Many reputable manufacturers offer multi-year warranties on their respective products. Assuming it’s under warranty, the manufacturer may repair or replace it at no additional charge.

#13) You’re Looking to Reinvent Your Company’s Image

Finally, you should invest in new office furniture if you want to reinvent your company’s image. As explained by GC Partnerships, an office is more than just a collection of desks and chairs; it forms the perception of how others view the company.

Silicon Valley tech companies acknowledge the importance of an attractive office design. Google, for example, designs its offices with a combination of colors like blue, red, yellow and green, which happen to be same colors used in its famous logo. Microsoft, on the other hand, uses clean, symmetrical lines with box and rectangular shapes, similar to its own logo. These are just a few examples of how companies use office designs to present and reflect their image. If you want to reinvent your company’s image, the right furniture can help.

If any of the aforementioned signs apply to your office furniture, you should bite the bullet and replace it with new furniture. While buying new office furniture costs money, most business owners will agree that it’s a smart investment. First, office furniture is typically considered a tax-deductible expense, meaning you can write it off on your taxes. Secondly, supplying your workers with new furniture can improve their productivity and boost morale.