Buying New Office Furniture? Follow These Important Dos and Don’ts

Office furniture affects more than just the aesthetics of your company; it also affects productivity levels, worker satisfaction, morale, culture and more. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right type of furniture for your office. To make the process a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of some important dos and don’ts to follow when choosing new office furniture.

Do Choose an Appropriate Size

You should choose office furniture that’s appropriately sized for the workplace. If it’s small, workers may struggle to perform otherwise simple tasks like using the computer, printing documents or filing papers, resulting in lower productivity levels. On the other hand, furniture that’s too big will clutter your office while restricting the use of other furniture. To prevent headaches such as this, you must choose the right size furniture.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS), office workstations should be at least 60 to 72 by 60 to 84 inches. This figure accounts for the entire workstation, however, and not just the desk and chair. Nonetheless, you should choose furniture to accommodate this space.

Don’t Choose Mismatching Colors

You don’t have to necessarily choose all new furniture in a single color, but it should match at the very least. Maintaining a cohesive color scheme with your office furniture is essential to creating an attractive, functional workplace.

While using furniture in mismatching colors may sound harmless enough, it can affect workers’ productivity. According to Inc., there’s been a growing trend surrounding the use of bright colors in office furniture. Studies have shown that bright colors promote higher productivity levels, elevated mood and even lower stress levels.

The Top Tens has a list of the top clashing color combinations, some of which include the following:

  • Red and purple
  • Orange and green
  • Pink and bronze
  • Silver and yellow
  • Blue and gold
  • Purple and yellow
  • Brown and black
  • Gold and black
  • Orange and blue

Do Consider Your Company’s Future

You should consider your company’s future when shopping for new office furniture. Office workplaces have changed dramatically over the past few decades. Today, for example, technology plays a key role in the office – and the furniture should reflect this trend. In addition to a slide-tray for a computer keyboard and mouse, desks should feature wire holes and other cable management solutions.

Office desks with cable management solutions will allow your company to grow in harmony with modern technology trends. Additionally, it can protect workers from slip-and-fall injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 15% of all work-related accidental deaths involve slip and falls. While there’s no fool-proof way to prevent all fall-related injuries from happening, concealing computer cables in a desk can certainly help to reduce the risk.

Furthermore, you should choose office furniture that’s easy to move and arrange. As your company grows, you may find yourself hiring new workers. This means you’ll need to set up additional workstations. As long as your office furniture is flexible and easy to assemble, this shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s bulky, cumbersome or otherwise poorly designed, though, adapting to future growth may prove difficult if not impossible.

Don’t Overlook Other Expenses

The sticker price on a new office desk or chair doesn’t reveal its total cost. You’ll probably face other expenses associated with buying and owning office furniture. Known as the true cost of ownership, you must consider these expenses when choosing new furniture for your office.

The true cost ownership for office furniture includes expenses such as shipping, handling, taxes, installation, assembly, etc. Before buying new office furniture, contact the vendor to inquire about these expenses. Most reputable vendors will gladly explain the cost of ownership, giving you a better idea of the furniture’s true price.

Do Create (and Follow) a Budget

Of course, you should create and follow a budget when choosing new office furniture. This means determining the maximum amount you are comfortable and willing to spend. Depending on the size and structure of your company, you may need to consult with other upper-level executives to create a budget. Regardless, setting and following a budget is necessary to prevent “sticker shock” from overpaying.

Here’s a fun fact: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reportedly spend more than $92 million on office furniture over the past decade. Considering the agency has roughly 17,000 to 18,000 employees, that translates into roughly $6,000 in furniture per employee – a hefty price to say the least.

Small-to-medium-sized businesses pay considerably less for their office furniture. Statistics show that companies with more than 10 employees spend roughly $130,000 per year on office furniture and supplies. With that said, there’s no cookie-cutter format to follow when creating a budget for your company’s office furniture. You must consider your company’s net profits, debt liabilities, growth projections and other factors. Only then can you set an appropriate budget.

Don’t Choose Price Over Quality

While setting a budget is important, you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for a low price when choosing furniture for your office. You have to think of office furniture as an investment. Buying a dozen or so low-quality desks made of cheap materials may initially save you some money, but you’ll end up spending more in the long run when you’re forced to repair or replace it.

High-quality office furniture is stronger, more durable and designed to withstand countless years of use. So, while it may cost more than cheap furniture, it’s well worth the investment.

Do Consider Maintenance and Ease of Cleaning

Whether it’s a chair, desk, conference table, cubicle, etc., all office furniture requires regular cleaning as well as basic maintenance to preserve its appearance and integrity. The amount of work and time this involves, however, varies. A large desk with built-in shelves and a filing cabinet will require dusting, whereas the casters on an executive office chair may require tightening. Furniture made of genuine wood also requires more work to clean than furniture made of other materials.

You can always outsource your company’s furniture cleaning and maintenance to a third-party cleaning service, but you should still consider the time and energy this takes. Most office cleaning services charge by the hour, so furniture that’s laborious and time consuming to clean will cost you more money.

Don’t Buy Without a Plan

It’s a good idea to plan ahead when buying new office furniture. Unfortunately, many business owners and office managers make purchases on a whim, neglecting to exercise diligence beforehand. They end up overpaying for subpar furniture that doesn’t meet the needs of their company or employees. You can prevent problems such as these by planning ahead.

Planning begins by assessing your company’s needs. If you’re relocating to a new office, perhaps you want to invest in an entirely net set of desks and chairs for your workers. Additionally, you should consider the way in which the furniture will be used. A cubicle workstation should feature a comfortable executive chair with an adjustable height mechanism and armrests. Traditional non-adjustable chairs, on the other hand, will suffice for a conference room where guests typically only sit for a short period of time.

Do Choose Furniture That’s Ergonomically Designed

Ergonomics is no longer something you can ignore when buying office furniture; it’s a requirement.  Defined by the OSHA as the process of “fitting a job to a person,” it’s an important element to creating a safe, productive working environment. Ergonomic office furniture is designed with an emphasis on comfort and ease of use.

OSHA explains that nearly one-third of all work-related injuries and illnesses are attributed to musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, trigger finger, muscle strains and lower back injuries. These injuries cost employers billions of dollars each year. Ergonomic office furniture protects workers from these injuries by creating a safe and effective workspace.

Going back to the basic definition of ergonomics, ergonomic office furniture is designed to minimize strain and pressure on the worker using it. An ergonomic office chair, for instance, may feature lumbar support, an adjustable height, adjustable armrests, a swivel base and other adjustable features.

Don’t Buy Used Office Furniture

Why shouldn’t you buy used office furniture? Well, used furniture – like many used items – can be hit or miss. You might get lucky and find a gently used set of matching office furniture for a low price. More than likely, though, you’ll end up with a heavily worn, damaged furniture that breaks shortly after you purchase it.

Furthermore, you really don’t know what you are getting with used office furniture. Even if it features a name brand label, it could be a knockoff. There are nefarious companies, and individuals, that sell counterfeit furniture. To the untrained eye, a knockoff office chair may look like the name brand its impersonating. When you finally use it, though, you’ll realize this isn’t the case. Knockoffs lack the high-quality materials, craftsmanship, specifications and attention to detail as the real thing. For these reasons and others, it’s best to stick with new furniture for your office.

Do Check the Warranty

Consider the warranty when choosing new office furniture. All reputable furniture manufacturers offer some type of warranty for their products. Some of the vendors who sell the furniture may also offer a warranty. Even if you never use the warranty, it’s nice to know you covered if the furniture breaks or otherwise doesn’t live up to the promises made by the manufacturer. If the leg falls off your chair, for example, the manufacturer will typically send you a replacement or offer to repair it at no charge to you.

You should keep all documentation regarding your furniture purchase for warranty purposes. Depending on the specific brand, you may need this information to register your product and obtain warranty benefits. Besides, keeping receipts is essential if you want to write off your office furniture as a tax-deductible expense (which you should).

Keep in mind that most used office furniture isn’t backed by a warranty, which is another reason to stick with new furniture for your office. Some manufacturers allow owners to transfer the warranty of their furniture to the new owner. However, this usually requires the original owner to provide you with the proof of purchase – and that rarely happens when buying used furniture.

Don’t Throw Away Your Old Furniture

Unless it’s irreparably damaged or otherwise no longer functional, you shouldn’t throw away your old office furniture. You can often sell your used furniture to other business owners, which will offset the cost of new furniture. Many companies sell their used office furniture on Craigslist, eliminating the need for handling or shipping the furniture. With Craigslist transactions, the buyer typically goes to the seller.

If you’re planning to move to a new office, you might be able to sell your old furniture to the new tenant. If another company is preparing to move into your existing office, for instance, see if they are interested in buying your old furniture. Since the furniture is already set up, they won’t have to worry about assembling it, making this an attractive arrangement for everyone involved.

Alternatively, you can sell your old office furniture to a liquidation company. Liquidation companies work as the middle man between sellers and buyers. You sell them your old office furniture, and they’ll attempt to resell it for a profit. The downside to liquidating your old furniture is that you’ll typically only get a fraction of its value. Nonetheless, this is still better than throwing the furniture away.

Do Consider Storage Space

Finally, consider storage space when choosing new office furniture. Regardless of the industry in which your company operates, workers probably need to space to store documents, pens, staples, printer ink and more. If a desk doesn’t feature built-in storage solutions, you’ll have to purchase additional furniture like shelves and filing cabinets.

Choosing the right office furniture takes time. You can always opt for the first set of furniture you find, but investing the necessary time and energy into choosing the right type will help you create a more productive, beneficial environment for your workers. Just remember to follow the dos and don’ts listed here.