Office Furniture Buying Guide
How to choose the right furniture for your office
If you are about to start shopping for your office furniture: stop! Unless you have taken the time to consider exactly what your business needs, it is likely you will waste money and purchase items that are either not fit for purpose or are completely unnecessary. This office furniture buying guide aims to help you consider every aspect of your office and understand exactly what you need your furniture to do. So take some time to read through before you make possibly one of the biggest investment decisions that your company will face.
The three basic furniture items that every business will need are:
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, and different offices will have different needs. But these are the basic items that nearly every office will require, and they form the basis of this guide.
If you are an employer, you have a responsibility to your staff to furnish the workplace in a certain way. While it might seem frugal to purchase the cheapest items, particularly if you have a large office to fill, in the long-run it could end up costing you an awful lot more. While your employees will almost certainly appreciate the extra money spent on their work environment, the real benefit to them comes from a comfortable seating area that reduces the aches and pains that can occur after sitting in the same position for a long period of time.
As part of any health and safety assessment, the ergonomic capabilities of an office should be under high scrutiny. If employees are made to sit in chairs that are unsuitable, they can end up with back-aches, headaches, spinal compression or ligament strain, not to mention that they will feel uncomfortable, which will reduce their motivation and productivity. Not only could this cause them to take more sick days, but it could also result in your employees looking for some sort of compensation for their injuries. It is best to purchase practical, reliable furniture from the beginning, and it doesn’t always have to cost a fortune – it just has to meet a certain number of requirements. Furniture is one of the most important things to consider when setting up office, and this guide aims to make the decision-making process methodical, informed and easy.
Make a Plan
Before you even start looking at a single office item, you need to accurately assess exactly what you will need. How many people will you have working for you? How many of them will need a private working area, and how many will be able to share a working space? How much space will you need for storage, and does each working area need room for a computer, drawers and a filing system, or are most of your documents kept online? Draw a rough plan and take some measurements so that you can then go shopping with a specific layout in mind.
If you are replacing furniture rather than starting from scratch, it might be worth assessing the items you already have. Maybe you could ask your staff what they like/dislike about the current stock, and what they think they need to better do their job, so you know what to look out for while you are shopping. You may even discover that there are certain items of furniture that you don’t’ need to replace at all, or that you can use more effectively elsewhere, which will, of course, save you money. Conversely, you may realise that there are other items of furniture that need replacing that you hadn’t even considered. Talking to your staff will also help to ensure you purchase furniture that is fit for use, after all, your employees will be the ones using the products. If they tell you that their current desk is too wide, for example, so they cannot reach across as they would like to, you will know to look for something narrower when shopping. Or if someone complains that their chair is too uncomfortable because it is made for someone who weighs less than they do, you will know to look for something more supportive to their needs.
You also need to think ahead a little, and try to predict any changes may occur in the workplace over the next ten years. You will need furniture that can accommodate these changes. The storage solutions that you buy need to be able to house current equipment and files, as well as those you may need in the future. If you are replacing your filing cabinets, for example, look for something bigger or more efficient than what you already have, even if you think you will be able to throw away most of your documents. In fact, replacing your storage system is a great opportunity to go through all your paperwork and decide what needs to be disposed of and what needs to be kept, filed or used.
Many furniture retailers now provide CAD planning,
so you can have some help with your layout. You will still have to give them the measurements and a rough guide as to what you are hoping to achieve, but these computer-based plans will help you to accurately see how certain pieces of furniture will fit into your office, giving you the confidence to purchase the items you want without having to worry about whether or not they will fit. A CAD drawing will take into account room around each piece of furniture so that you can open doors, push back chairs and just generally ensure that you do not over-fill a room. However, it is also a good idea to measure door frames, as while a lot of furniture can be delivered in a flat-pack, some items, particularly those made of solid wood, will come in an inflexible unit, and if it can’t fit through your doors, it will be a wasted purchase. And an expensive one at that!
If you want to do your own plans before making any decisions, you could draw up a scale drawing and cut pieces of cardboard into scale representations of the furniture you have in mind. Then you can experiment a little before settling on a final layout.
You may also want to reconsider any plans you have for heavy solid furniture in upstairs offices, unless you have a heavy-duty lift system, as it could be difficult trying to heave a mahogany bureau up a flight of stairs, and most retailers will charge extra for the inconvenience.
Look for functional items
This is particularly important when shopping for office desks. Chances are, that you won’t want to buy 200 desks that all look exactly the same, unless you have an extremely large company, because it is unlikely that all your employees will use their desks in exactly the same way. You will usually need a desk that is able to accommodate at least a computer, with all of its cables, and probably a phone and an in-tray. There may be some employees that will bring in their own laptop, and so will need less space than those working on a desktop machine. A communal printer, fax and scanner is usually plenty for a small office, but where is this going to sit? And does each employee need their own set of drawers and shelves, or will some people be able to cope without? Do your employees often work late, or overnight? If so, they may also need space for a lamp, as poor lighting can be damaging for the eyes.
You will most likely want to look for desks with plenty of space underneath them, such as the Commerce II Executive Rectangular Office Desks,
to ensure employees have room to move their legs without kicking furniture or files. You should include space for a footrest, for ultimate ergonomic comfort, or look for furniture that incorporates this into the design. The Fellowes Standard Footrest would be an excellent purchase for each of your employees, but it will need a little space under the desk to really be useful. Also, you will need to decide whether each worker needs their own individual desk, or whether it would be more efficient and budget-friendly to purchase desks that can accommodate two or more employees, such as the Interface Ergonomic Bench Desk Cluster.
If you decide on cluster tables, will you need to put up screens for a little privacy, like the Presence Bench Curved Desktop Screen or do you want to encourage communication between your employees? Cluster desks are useful if you have small teams that need to work together on projects, as it will keep them close enough to confer without disrupting the whole office. They are also a convenient option if space is tight but you have a number of people to squeeze into the room.
You should also pay close attention to the chairs you are considering purchasing. Many of them have a suggested usage time, which is obviously a guideline, but if your employees regularly work ten-hour shifts and you purchase a chair that is only suitable for four hours, then it is likely to have a negative impact on their health.
And what about storage? Do you need rows and rows of filing cabinets like the Bisley Contract Steel Filing Cabinets? Or is yours an office that keeps everything stored online? If so, a few pedestals for under the desks, like the Vogue White Mobile Pedestals and a few shelving units, might be all you need. You could keep a stationary cupboard like the Triumph Everyday Double Door Stationery Cupboards at one end of the room for essential items like pens and notebooks, and maybe a bookcase like the Venture Bookcases at the other end for catalogues, reference books and any other important business literature.
All this might be fine for your regular office workers, but what you order for your reception staff might be a little different. Depending on the style of your reception, and the impression you want to create of your brand, this will likely be a little grander than the general office furniture; after all, this will usually be the first and last place that visitors to your business see. A reception should never look cluttered or messy, so more spacious furniture might be something to consider. If you work somewhere that generates a lot of complaints, such as a school, a spacious desk creates a barrier between the angry parents and innocent reception staff and this may come in handy on occasion.
If your reception area is especially large, you may want to think about placing a curved desk in the middle or to the side of the room, such as the Celsius Curve DDA Reception Desk.
This gives a bold, imposing look, that leaves visitors in no doubt as to where they should go if they have just entered the building, after all, nobody wants guests roaming the corridors unsure of where they are heading. It is possible to get reception desks in a variety of styles, but fashion should always be secondary to function, so if you are tempted to get something a bit more interesting, make sure it serves the right purpose.
Your receptionist will probably need to get up and down from their chair more often than the office staff, since they will be meeting and greeting visitors regularly, and may also be asked to do tasks like filing which require them to be moving around. In this case, they will need a chair like the Grammer Office Tiger UP Fabric Executive Chair which comes with your choice of caster wheels for whether the floor is carpeted or hard wood. You may also want to invest in some comfortable seating for this area, so that visitors will be happier to wait for their member of staff to meet them. The Palette Vinyl Tub Chairs come in a range of bright colours that will help to brighten up any waiting area and make it look like a fun, welcoming environment. A reception is also the best place to keep any awards that your business may have won. They should be safely behind a locked glass so that they can be seen, but not stolen or damaged. A cabinet like the Shield® Wall Display Cabinet is the perfect opportunity to show off your well-deserved awards.
Alternatively, if yours is a business that rarely receives visitors, but takes a lot of calls, you may only need a small desk like the Solar Rectangular Cantilever Desks, and a chair with a phone and notebook.
What about your boardroom? If yours is a large company that regularly holds meeting with a large number of people, you will need a desk that can accommodate this need. For many, the conventional rectangle table is just what they want for their meeting room, since they promote hierarchy and ensure that everyone has to look at the big boss at the head of the table, and if the room is rectangle-shaped, then of course, something like the Elite Kassini Barrel Shaped Conference Table is perfect. However, round tables are generally better to encourage everyone to speak, since they don’t feel as though they are forgotten about on the end, so the Sven Ambus Circular V-Base Meeting Tables are a lovely solution. The only problem here, is that round tables don’t give employees the same amount of room to make notes, and a very big round table means that everyone has to shout across to make themselves heard.
You should also consider whether your employee canteen really needs the same standard of furniture as the office. The canteen is usually (but not always) somewhere that only employees are privy to, and it is not somewhere that they would usually spend more than an hour. So it is perfectly reasonable to choose simpler, lower quality furniture for this area, since it will get a lot less use than the office furniture. Plastic chairs such as the Polypropylene Eco Chair and metal-based tables like the Flexi Rectangular Canteen Tables are easy to clean and perfectly suitable for canteen use. You could also consider buying a few bench sets, like the 3 In 1 Convertible Folding Bench Unit which would also be appropriate and can easily be folded and stored when not in use.
Consider employee comfort
Your employees’ opinions are vital; after all, they are the ones who will be using the furniture, and their comfort is essential for motivation and productivity. However, you should be careful to ensure it is comfort that is motivating their interest, rather than a desire for a more fashionable style. You want to buy good quality furniture that will stand the test of time, and for that reason you should absolutely avoid furniture trends or quirky fashion items. You are designing an office, not a fashion showroom – and even if you are designing a fashion showroom, you will still want to purchase items that can be used for years to come and not detract from your work. By sticking to simple, classy pieces, you will get the best long-term value for money, even if these are the pieces that cost the most.
So how do you choose furniture that will ensure the comfort of every one of your employees? When it comes to your office chairs, you should look for features like:
Lumbar backrest support: This feature allows the worker to sit upright while supporting the whole of the back. While there are many chairs that support the upper back, lumbar support is essential to prevent lower back pain and slouching. Lumbar support also allows the user to lean back in the chair, maintaining the natural curve of the spine and protecting it from damage, without restricting movement. The Sofia Inflatable Lumbar Support Operator Chair is a great choice if lumbar support is important to your employees, as it provides an inflatable support and has many adjustable settings, so it can be modified to the individual for maximum comfort.
The BN Kubik Leather Executive Chair is another chair that has the option to add lumbar support, as well as adjustable arms and seats. It is a little more expensive, but it certainly looks business-like.
Adjustable seats: This is possibly the most important ergonomic aspect of your office chairs. It is important for your employees to sit at the correct height for them in order to prevent bad posture which can lead to debilitating aches and pains. The employee should be able to sit back and still be able to comfortably work at their computer, without the need to slouch over their workstation, while the chair should be at the correct height so that the arms can be supported by the desk. Something like the Pledge Kind Full Back Executive Chair With Height Adjustable Arms would be a great choice, as it allows the user to make any adjustments necessary to their comfort. A slightly cheaper option would be the Urban High Back Operator Chair With Height Adjustable Arms, which can come with an added seat slide and is available in a wide range of bright colours. Also look for chairs with reclining options, since these allow employees to stretch their backs a little if they are feeling stiff from leaning over their computer keyboards too long. It might also be worth investing in adjustable computer monitors for extra convenience. In fact, anything that can be adjusted to suit the individual will allow you to create a uniform, smart office that will cater for everyone.
Contoured seats: These are perhaps the most controversial aspect of office seating. There are many benefits to sitting on a chair moulded to the shape of the average person’s back and bottom; for instance, they can improve posture, reduce pressure and help prevent hip pain caused by sitting awkwardly for long periods of time. However, there is an argument against them that suggests there is no such thing as the “average” person and that those with bigger posteriors may actually find these chairs more uncomfortable. It might be wise to ask your staff what they would prefer, and try to find similar styles with both contoured and non-contoured seats, in order to cater for everybody. For contoured seating, take a look at the 24 Hour Quattro Posture Chair, which can also come with lumbar support if required, or the Humanscale Freedom Leather Task Chair.
Armrests or no armrests? Naturally, people tend to lean towards chairs with armrests as they provide an extra leaning area that looks more comfortable at the end of a long working day. However, armrests can create a huge inconvenience if they don’t fit snugly under the office desk. The ideal seated position is upright and close to the table so that you are able to use the desk to support your arms as you work. If the armrests sit level to or above the desk, you will not be able to get as close as you would like. Of course, you will be able to use the armrests to support your arms, but this is still not as comfortable for a long-term seated position. If a chair is adjustable, so that the armrests can be brought down, this may be the best solution. Alternatively, if the chair is to be used in a waiting area, or for somewhere else that does not require desk use, arm rests will be perfect. The iTask 24-7 High Back Posture Office Chair comes with multi-functional arms, which could cover every possibility.
Take note of the materials used
Office furniture comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and different materials. While the best quality is usually made of solid wood, this can often be the most expensive option, although it will last a lifetime. Darker wood options like the Fernhurst Solid Walnut Twin Pedestal Computer Desk tend to be sturdier and look smarter, while lighter wood desks like the Cavalli Solid Oak Keyhole Computer Desk can help to brighten a smaller office.
If solid wood is not an option on your budget, then there are cheaper wood veneer or MDF desks which can often provide more contemporary styles. These are items which are likely to need replacing in the future, so be sure to keep some money aside for these purchases in five to ten years. You could also consider purchasing glass desks, which will give the office a transparent, futuristic feel, although these pieces of furniture will need cleaning much more often, as they will show up every single coffee mug ring and become smeared quickly. While these desks might seem like more hassle, they can often look very smart. Take a look at the Presence Ergonomic Desks, for example, or the Sapphire Executive Glass Desk With Credenza. Both of these would give any office the business-like atmosphere it requires. Whether you choose glass over wood is simply a question of your personal tastes, and which material you feel would best reflect your company’s brand.
With most desks, there are filing options, cupboards and bookshelves to match, but this is something you should check before purchase. An office looks much smarter if all the furniture is matching and uniform, so be sure to take into account all of your needs before making a final buying decision.
Once you have chosen your desk, you will want office chairs that will complement your furniture. Chairs are available in an even wider selection of materials, so that the decision-making process can be even more difficult! Of course, different materials come with different price-points, so that is something to take into consideration.
Many office managers are quick to jump at the opportunity to purchase leather chairs, especially for themselves, as they look business-like and stately. They are also generally more comfortable than other chairs, and the best quality ones can last a long time. However, leather chairs are not the best option for those who will be sitting down for most of the day. They tend to be less supportive for sitting up at a computer, and they are very temperature-sensitive, feeling icy cold on winter days, and far too warm on hot summer days. However, for those that spend very little time in the office, a leather chair would be a wonderful treat. Take a look at the Chester Executive Leather Wood Chair, for example, which is at the lower price range for leather chairs, but certainly looks the part!
If you like the look of leather chairs, but would prefer something a little more budget-friendly, then leather-faced chairs might be better for you. These chairs are usually padded out with another material and then only the top layer is made of leather. The quality is nowhere near as good as that of pure leather chairs, but they are an excellent compromise and cost a fraction of the price. The Kansas Leather Faced Manager Chair is the perfect budget option, providing elegant style without the high cost.
The trend lately, has been for offices to lean towards mesh-backed chairs, in an effort to provide an ergonomically safe workplace.
This seating option has been popular due to the cheaper prices and the perceived benefit to the employee. For example, mesh provides excellent ventilation which keeps the user from overheating and also helps to prevent muscle fatigue. Mesh tends to mould around the back of the user, creating unique support and comfort for each individual. It is easy to clean and very resistant to wear and tear. However, where mesh chairs can disappoint is when the mesh is pulled too tight across the structure, so that it cannot provide adequate support to the back. Equally, if the mesh is too loose, it will cause the employee to have to sit further back in the chair to be comfortable. And even if the mesh is pulled perfectly, it can start to sag after a few years of long work days.
However, for temporary use, or if you are on a strict budget, mesh chairs can be very practical. The Optima Mesh Office Chair is a popular choice due to its low price and attractive range of colours. Alternatively, the Flexion Leather & Mesh Office Chair combines mesh and leather in an attempt to provide the best qualities of both materials, which might be a welcome option for you.
The most popular chairs are generally fabric-covered chairs. These provide the comfort required without costing too much. There are various different fabric options, and it is important to look at the weave and width to ensure you buy a good quality chair. As with everything, the more you can spend, the better chair you can hope to receive.
The best thing about fabric covers is that you can have almost any colour your heart desires. If you are trying to create a fun, bright atmosphere in the office, buying chairs in rainbow colours will certainly aid with this. Fabric chairs are also much better at staying at a regular temperature, unlike leather, as they do not tend to conduct heat as well. Of course, as with everything, there is sure to be a downside; fabric colour fades over time and is not as hard-wearing as leather. Fabric is also more difficult to clean and is prone to staining. However, if you implement a rule that forbids staff from eating at their desks, then your fabric chairs should hold up fine! Consider a chair like the Ascot Wooden Framed Executive Chair, which comes in six different colours so that one is sure to fit in your office. The Cadiz Fabric Manager Chairs make an excellent budget option if you have a lot of furniture to buy.
Finally, plastic chairs are the very cheapest option, although not recommended as a long-term solution. While they are available in every colour under the sun, and are easily wiped clean, they rarely provide the ergonomic support needed for someone sitting at their desk for a long time. They are usually uncomfortable, impossible to adjust and can look cheap and tacky.
You might choose to purchase plastic chairs for areas where employees are only expected to sit for short periods of time, for example a canteen or conference room (although they still don’t really provide the most executive appeal). In these cases, you should consider a chair like the Grammer Office Passu Plastic 4-Leg Side Chair which can be bought with or without arms, or the Swift Vinyl Conference Chair Chrome Frame with Plastic Writing Tablet, which comes in a pack of four. Plastic chairs may not last as long as the other options on the market, but they are cheap to buy and replace, which is something you may consider to be more important.
If you are getting your furniture delivered, then the ability to move desks around might not seem too important. But if you intend to expand in the future, chances are that there will come a point when you will have to rearrange the furniture in order to make room for more employees, or maybe even move it into a new office completely. In cases such as these, it may be wise to look for desks that are on wheels, or even make cheaper choices that tend to be lighter. Solid wood furniture is nearly always very heavy and imposing, and so is a better choice for offices that are well established and unlikely to be exposed to much upheaval.
Small desks on wheels might be worth investing in if you will be hiring a number of freelancers or temporary staff. In these cases, something like the Cornice Glass Computer Desk is ideal, as it can be easily moved into whichever room you need to set up a temporary workspace. When considering these occasional desks, there is no need to spend as much money, as there will be less wear and tear to worry about.
When you are choosing your office chairs, however, movement will be a much bigger issue. Your employees will be pushing their chairs backwards and forwards along the floors every time they sit down and get back up again. If your office is completely carpeted, then a four-legged chair will be your best bet, such as the Girsberger Yanos Four Legged Conference Chair. If it is a hardwood floor, then you might want to consider a chair with caster wheels, as these will prevent any damage from the constant friction.
They will also save your employees ears from that nasty scraping sound every time somebody stands up. Look for soft casters for hard floors, as these will help to stop the chair from rolling away too quickly and ultimately save a few accidents involving people sitting down where there is no longer a chair! Another option is to purchase a chair mat, which is laid underneath the chair, providing a barrier between the wheels and your beautifully polished floor. If this is something you might want to purchase, take a look at the Hard Floor PVC Chair Mats Contoured. Hard casters work better on carpeted floors as they can push through high piles, so this is an option if you don’t want to settle for a simple four-legged chair. A really good seat is the HAG H03 350 Chair, which gives you a choice of casters so you can purchase the ones that work best for your office.
You can also purchase office storage on caster wheels, like the Interface Colour Mobile Combination Cupboards, if you feel like this might be something that you will need. If you need filling cabinets that can be easily moved from one room to another, or sets of drawers that can be transported around the office without effort, then this is something you should look into.
When making such an expensive and important investment for your business, it is vital to look at the opinions of those that have already purchased the furniture you are interested in. Many sites give their customers the option to review what they have bought so that others can learn a little more about how they can benefit from a piece of furniture (or they can read about why they should not waste their money!) Look for products with four or five stars, if that is how a certain site’s review system works, and don’t be afraid to contact the seller if you have any questions or need reassurance that the furniture will work for you. It is always good to listen to recommendations from friends and family too, since they will have your best interests at heart.
For many, the colours they choose for their furniture may be a secondary issue to functionality. However, colour can have a profound influence on the mood of a room. If you are looking to create a room that suggests professionalism, elegance and class, then dark wood furniture should be at the top of your list. While this is generally more expensive, mahogany and walnut woods are considered to be the most business-like options.
If you can’t afford solid wood, then black glass gives an equally corporate feel to a room, albeit slightly more modern and minimalist.
But if you believe in colour therapy, you will want to fill the office with a few vibrant shades. Pick fabric chairs in orange to create an atmosphere conducive to creativity and energy, or blue accents for a calm and mindful vibe. Be careful not to clash colours, as this will just cause confusion, and few workplaces function well in an air of bewilderment!
Generally, it is the saturation of the colour that is more important than the actual shade. Choose brighter, bolder colours to help stimulate the minds of your employees, or muted, soft shades to soothe them. It might be an idea to keep the bright colour in the heart of the office, and keep the pastel colours for the reception and canteen, so that employees always have somewhere they can go and wind-down.
A company’s budget is always going to be the most important factor in any purchasing decision. Make sure you set your maximum budget before making any purchase decisions, and then buy the best pieces you can afford, while weighing up functionality, style and quality. Don’t be tempted to spend even a pound more than your budget, as it will have a knock-on effect on other budgets and will frustrate your accounts manager. But do use as much of the available money as possible, since spending as much money as possible now will hopefully keep your costs down in the future. Taking the budget into account is one of the most difficult things you can do, as even a simple office chair can vary greatly in price, costing anything from £45 to £500, but it is essential.
When looking at the prices of each individual piece, do not forget to factor in the cost of delivery and installation if it is needed. On such bulky items, this is sure to be quite an expensive add-on that cannot be overlooked (unless your business is in removals, in which case you could probably get your employees to help with this!) And if you intend to collect and install the furniture yourself, you will still have to consider the money lost from your business as your time is spent elsewhere. It may still be cheaper to pay for the furniture company to do it for you.
Also, when browsing furniture, take note of any warranties or guarantees included in the price. These could end up being invaluable if anything goes wrong with your furniture, but all too often these are considered “extras” that cost more to purchase. If your desired piece of furniture comes with a year’s warranty as standard, that is great, but if not, you may want to consider including one in your budget.
It is a good idea to talk to others about dealings they have had with furniture suppliers. An after-care service is an essential part of a good business-client relationship, and if others have felt that this was something that was lacking in their purchase, then you know to look elsewhere for your office furniture. You want to know that if a drawer gets stuck in one of the desks, or a wheel falls off one of your chair casters, that your supplier will either have someone come out to fix it, or be able to quickly replace faulty stock. When you are looking to spend such a large amount of money, the very least you should be able to expect is a good after-care service.
Also, make sure to ask your furniture supplier about their policy on returns. Despite expert planning and months of research, it is still possible that you will order too much, or something that is not quite right, and it would be reassuring to know that items can easily be returned if necessary. If you are having some items specially made to your specifications, you may find refunds more difficult, so this is definitely something to check before spending any money.
When making your order, be aware that delivery times can vary, but they are usually around four weeks, which is a long time to wait if you are just setting out and have nowhere for your employees to sit! To avoid any delays, order your furniture as soon as possible. You must also remember that installation will take more time, and will possibly have to take place over a day or two if you have a very big company. This may require you to close the business for this period, which could cost you custom, so choose a delivery date when you are not expecting to be extremely busy.
While this guide has been generally aimed at small business offices, there is always a need for good quality home office furniture. Your requirements will be slightly different to those of a new or established business with employees, and you will not have the health and safety worries of staff if you are a sole trader working from home. However, you should still consider your health and look for ergonomic solutions where possible.
Working from home, style might be more important to you than in a business environment, since your office area will have to fit in with the rest of your décor. It may also be wise to look for multi-functional pieces that allow you to work from home during the day, and then let the kids sit and do their homework in the evening. Since most house phones are now obsolete, you may only need room for a mobile, or perhaps your home line is where most of your business calls come in, and so it makes sense to keep it close. You won’t be sharing any equipment, so you will need it all within a reasonable distance, and presumably you won’t want these appliances dotted all over the house, and storage will be essential since important files could easily get lost around the house if they are left lying around.
If you are lucky enough to be able to dedicate a whole room to your office, and you have a big enough budget, then you will be able to purchase some bigger pieces of furniture such as the Cavalli Solid Oak Keyhole Computer Desk and matching accessories. However, most people have to make-do with a small corner of another room, and in this case, something compact and discrete might be better. The Centro Mobile Computer Desk would be useful in this case, since its caster wheels make it easy to relocate if needed. Another popular option is to purchase a laptop desk, that is built to be used while sitting in a comfy sofa or chair. So in theory, you could work while catching up on the latest episode of Eastenders (although we wouldn’t recommend it – that’s how mistakes are made!) If this sounds appealing to you, you should consider something like the Spectrum Real Wood Veneer Laptop Desk Walnut. These lightweight desks are easily lifted and moved for added convenience.
What do you do with the old furniture?
If you are refurbishing a large office, you will probably find it difficult to get rid of all the old pieces of furniture. It might sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people forget about removing desks and chairs to make room for the new products. You may be able to sell anything that is in good condition via online selling sites or second-hand furniture retailers. Or you may prefer to give some, or all, of it to a charity shop, so that your items can help others. Even pieces in less-than-perfect condition may be useful to some people, who will be able to refurbish the furniture or turn it into something new.
Otherwise, you might want to consider hiring a skip, or taking individual pieces to be recycled.
How to maintain your office furniture
The better you look after each piece of furniture, the longer you can expect to use it. Every material has a slightly different way that it should be cleaned, and it is worth taking note of this so you don’t cause unnecessary damage.
When cleaning glass furniture, manufacturers recommend purchasing a glass cleaning solution to prevent leaving streaks and water marks.
Metal-based furniture, including those with a chrome finish, should be polished regularly with a duster, since they are prone to collecting dust. If a deeper clean is required, a damp cloth and a touch of mild detergent will remove any marks. Wiping dry with a paper towel will create a beautifully shiny surface.
Leather and other fabrics should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent them from fading. Leather should be deep cleaned using specialist leather products, but a slightly damp cloth will do for minor spills. Fabric should always be treated as soon as a mark appears using a mild soap and damp cloth, but the area should never be saturated.
Keep wood furniture away from sources of intense heat or cold, such as fireplaces and air conditioners, since the extreme temperatures will cause the wood to warp. Also keep out of direct sunlight in order to keep the colour at its best. Wood should be polished with a dusting cloth.
Office Furniture Jargon Buster
Ordering large amounts of furniture is already a daunting task, but it is made all the more confusing with technical jargon. It can be difficult to understand what the specifications mean, and this makes it hard to know if you are purchasing the correct item, particularly if you intend to buy everything online. Take a look at our handy jargon buster to help you understand the difference between phases such as solid wood, wood veneer, and wood effect furniture:
Anti-tilt mechanism: This can be found on filing cabinets and is a mechanism that prevents you opening more than one drawer at a time, so that the unit doesn’t fall forward.
Bench desk: A bench desk is one that is designed to be extended. Generally you would buy two or more bench desks at a time, but they would share components such as legs and beams. This type of office desk helps to reduce costs and save space.
Bistro furniture: This term usually relates to furniture that should be used in a canteen environment. Usually plastic or metal materials are used for chairs, benches and tables, as they are easy to clean and maintain. While the chairs are not ergonomically designed like office chairs, they are sturdy and lightweight.
CAD design: CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, and it works as a way to design the layout of your room before making any purchases. The picture has a 3D element to it, so that you can see exactly how it will fit into your room, and it works based on the actual measurements you provide and the actual measurements of each piece of furniture. It is the easiest, most realistic way of viewing how your room might look, and helps to give ideas if you are unsure of where everything should fit in.
Casegoods: This term usually refers to furniture made of hard material, but is also used when talking about furniture that is assembled in store and delivered ready-made.
Caster wheels: Standard wheels go backwards and forwards, while caster wheels are able to move in any direction. These are usually included on most wheeled office chairs, with the option to have hard or soft casters. Choose hard casters for carpeted floors and soft casters for hard wood floors.
Ergonomics: This is to do with the way the furniture suits the individual to create a safe, comfortable working environment. While it is primarily linked to office chairs, other furniture plays a part in ensuring the health of the employees.
FIRA Certified: FIRA stands for the Furniture Industry Research Association which awards its certification to pieces of furniture that they consider to be high-quality.
Fire retardant: In the case of furniture, this means that the material has been treated with a substance that reduces its ability to catch fire. Most furniture fabrics are tested to British standard BS5852.
Flat-packed: This refers to furniture that requires self-assembly when it arrives. It is easier to transport and should come with instructions so that it is not too difficult to make.
Gas-lift chair: A gas-lift function allows a user to easily adjust the height of a chair via a useful lever.
Laptop table: This is a lightweight, slim design table that is usually lower than an ordinary desk. It is designed to be able to be transported easily around the home or office, so that people can even work on their laptop while sitting on the sofa.
Leather effect: While real leather furniture can be extremely expensive, furniture finished with a leather effect can give the same executive impression at a fraction of the price. Leather effect is usually made from synthetic materials.
Leather-faced: Furniture made with a leather-faced finish, has a thin layer of leather over the top of other, cheaper materials, so that the user can enjoy the real leather design without the huge price.
Lumbar support: A chair that works to support the lower back to prevent slouching. These supports can be in the form of a cushion, or you can buy chairs with inflatable support so that you can choose how much padding you need. If you have a chair without lumbar support, you can buy individual support cushions that can be taken with you wherever you go. This is particularly useful for those who regularly suffer with back pain.
Modesty panel: On a desk, the modesty panel is a thin section of wood placed underneath the main working area that is intended to shield the lower body from view.
Pedestal: The section of a desk that carries the drawers. It is usually separate from the rest of the desk and is an optional extra. They often come on caster wheels so they can be easily relocated if needed.
PC trolley: A compact workstation on wheels that can be easily transported around the office. It is a versatile option for a company that hires a lot of freelancers or temporary staff, as it means a new desk doesn’t have to be set up for every new person.
Sit-stand desk: Popular in some European countries, sit-stand desks allow the user to easily switch between sitting and standing as they work, which is considered to be better for the employees’ health.
Solid wood: This material is considered the best quality and is the most expensive for good reason! Crafted completely of wood, each piece of furniture is unique, thanks to the various grains and markings from the tree. These pieces of furniture are sturdier and more resistant to damage.
Storage desk: These desks provide extra storage as part of their design, which is invaluable if space is an issue.
Wood effect: Furniture that has been labelled has having a wood effect finish is usually manufactured completely of man-made materials, but has been designed to have the look of wood. While this is a lower-quality option, this furniture is usually cheaper and can come in a range of different colours for a fun effect.
Veneer: Just like the veneers you have on your teeth, real wood veneer is a thin layer of wood over a piece of furniture to give it the look and feel of solid wood. As it uses less wood, the furniture is usually cheaper and lighter, and is a good compromise for those with a low budget.
Wave (or radial) desk: An ordinary desk that has an extra wide section on one side. This gives extra workspace if required, although these are best used in offices with plenty of room as they are quite bulky.