Boardroom Tables Buying Guide

boardroom tables buying guideContents

Introduction

Types of boardroom tables

Why choose boardroom tables?

Designing a boardroom

10 top tips on running a good meeting

Questions to ask before shopping for a boardroom table

Choosing a boardroom table

General best practices when buying boardroom tables

Further information

Introduction

The boardroom is the pulsing heart, the nerve centre, of the working office. It’s where Directors meet to strategise, where team meetings and team building sessions take place, and it’s the place where you will make and break deals with customers and suppliers.

No doubt you’ll want it to look spectacular, projecting the right, professional image of your brand; quite rightly so too, because first impressions count. You may spend a good deal more money on single furniture items here than you will in any other part of your office. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to choose the right kind of boardroom table, as it provides the centre stage for all the action that takes place in this room.

Styles of boardroom tables vary greatly, although they can be broadly broken down into one of five types, and each one has its advantages. The shape of the boardroom table you choose can have a significant impact on group dynamics and you’ll want to use that consciously.

Whether you opt for the imposing, hierarchical style of the executive rectangular table, the equalising, collaborative nature of the round table, or something in between, the style you choose will have a big impact on how meeting delegates feel when they’re seated around the table. Use that to your advantage and you’ll start every meeting off right.

In this buying guide, we’ll explain why a boardroom table is a great investment and will break down the various styles of boardroom tables available to you. You’ll be able to understand the pros and cons of each, helping you to narrow down your choices.

We’ll give you advice on designing the perfect boardroom to help you create the perfect image of your business, and give you the lowdown on running the perfect meeting with our ten top tips.

Choosing the perfect boardroom table takes some careful thought and forward planning, so you’ll find a list of questions you should be asking that will help you narrow down your choices, as well as a rundown of the various factors that will influence your choice, including types, materials and height.

Finally, we’ll give you our best practice guidelines for choosing a supplier or online retailer, as well as completing your purchase. It pays to do your homework and keep yourself safe when purchasing online, so follow this guide to keep yourself right and avoid scammers or hidden charges.

Any significant furniture purchase is a business investment, so follow through this guide and you’ll have a great idea of what your requirements are and the kind of model you’ll be looking for before you even start browsing.

Types of boardroom tables

Traditionally, boardrooms are where your board of directors would meet, hence the name. Today, they serve a multitude of uses as a multifunctional business room, suitable for a variety of tasks. Boardroom tables are usually designed with an executive feel, as befitting their original use, but can be more contemporary, as appropriate to your brand image and ethos.

Managers can spend up to a third of their working time in meetings, so it’s important that you design spaces that facilitate effective, constructive discussions and are comfortable in which spend time.

Boardroom tables, unlike general meeting tables, are usually single unit pieces of furniture; long tables rather than multiple tables combined. They are solid, hardwearing and elegant, often made from hardwood, or a combination of melamine or wood surfaces and metal frames. Models often come with a choice of seating combinations to give more flexibility to the room.

These tables are usually the central piece of furniture in a room, grounding it and tying everything together into one complete design. They can help to create the right environment, allowing you to set up or dispense with a hierarchical structure, shape group dynamics, encourage participation and create a professional space in which to interact with clients and customers.

Modern styles feature in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and layouts, and often come with additional facilities such as cable tidies, power supplies and data connection ports.

The boardroom is often the nerve centre of a business; it’s where the strategy takes place and the big decisions are made. It’s also often an area into which clients are invited. Choosing the right style of table can make a big first impression on any visitors you might have and can create the right atmosphere for teams to get into planning and decision making.

There are many different types of boardroom tables available, with the main difference being the shape. The most common boardroom table shapes are rectangular, ‘boat’ or barrel, oval or D-end, rounded and modular. Each type offers its own individual advantages, and the choice you make will depend primarily on the kind of meetings you run and how you want to shape the group dynamics.

Rectangular

These are the traditional boardroom tables you’re probably familiar with. Big, solid rectangular surfaces which are sturdy and imposing, giving a very executive feel. They are ideal for meetings with a definite chairperson who can sit at one end and lead proceedings. They’re equally suitable for more modern uses, with a projection screen at one end to be used for presentations.

If you’re looking for a boardroom table that means business, where meetings have a definite hierarchy, rectangular models are the ones to choose. They project a power dynamic and allow leaders or chairpersons to project authority.

Boat or barrel

Boat or barrel shaped are similar to rectangular tables but have bowed edges, softening the shape somewhat. They are ideal for meetings where you’d like to maintain a similar dynamic and hierarchy as the previous style, but where you want delegates to feel like the space is softer.

The bow shape also means that delegates look ‘inward’ more, to the group, with more visibility across the length of the table than with rectangular shapes. This can be beneficial for creating more open discussion and a better range of contributions from your team.

Oval or D-shaped

Oval, or D-shaped edge tables offer rounder edges than either of the two previous styles. They are great for both formal and informal meetings and give delegates a full view of everyone at the meeting, while still having a shape that lends itself to a main speaker or chairperson, or to a presentation.

Rounded

Rounded boardroom tables are the ultimate style for dispensing with the traditional hierarchy and group dynamics, and truly putting everyone on the same footing. They retain the executive look and feel of many of the other styles, but the 360° layout means everyone has an equal field of view and no one person is at the head of the table.

They are perfect for meetings and company cultures in which you wish to project the message that “we’re all in this together”. They encourage collaboration, projecting an air of equality and equanimity. They are great for roundtable discussions, planning and strategy sessions and team building meetings.

However, be aware that in meetings with no clear hierarchy or leader, it can be difficult to make decisions. Later on, we’ll take a look at running meetings and offer some tips on group dynamics that can help with this.

Modular

Modular boardroom tables come as separate rectangular and ‘D’-shaped edged units that can be combined and reconfigured in a number of ways. This is ideal for maintaining flexibility in your layout; for important directors meetings, you can opt for a rectangular style, but when you hold a meeting with other staff members, you can soften the table with D-edges.

Modular designs also allow you to change the number of seats available at the table, making them a more flexible solution for a variety of uses and in a range of spaces.

Why choose boardroom tables?

Many people opt to use normal, everyday tables in their meeting rooms. The advantage of this is that you can often combine a number of single tables into a larger meeting room table that is configurable depending on the number of delegates, for example.

However, boardroom tables have significant advantages. Many of these are qualitative; that is, it is about the presence and feel of the tables. Large, executive boardroom tables can be imposing, or can give a professional air to a meeting room. They say you mean business, which can be great for getting people into the right mindset and projecting a more formal image for your meeting.

Your boardroom should be the nerve centre of your business, with many companies opting to have a permanent boardroom space, either separately or doubling up as a regular meeting room.

If you’re hosting a board of directors, you don’t want them to be crammed into a small space, with repurposed standard tables. Instead, you want a meeting room that recognises the directors stature, and the fact that there will be tough talk, hard decisions and focused planning taking place.

That said, boardroom tables are ideal for meetings of staff members at all levels; gathering staff teams in a solid, executive boardroom says that you value their opinions as much as those of the board of directors, and can really set the tone for a productive meeting.

Boardroom tables are also great for impressing clients. Taking clients into a well-outfitted, classically-designed boardroom with an impressive wooden boardroom table projects an aura of success and professionalism. It shows that your business is succeeding and can afford to invest in high quality pieces of furniture, rather than just throwing together some individual tables and calling it a boardroom.

The traditional boardroom set up encourages dialogue between participants while also allowing a set hierarchy, with one person leading the agenda, gathering responses and calling for decisions. It also allows for a team to gather together to view a presentation by one or more delegates or by visiting speakers and suppliers.

It’s important to think carefully about the layout to ensure that everyone can see who is speaking, or can have full visibility of any presentation or A/V equipment. That’s why boardroom table styles have evolved and developed over the years. Newer styles offer a hybrid of the former, formal style of rectangular desk while allowing for more visibility around the table.

Also, circular boardroom tables mean you aren’t tied to the formal hierarchy of older styles, allowing you to run meetings your way, in line with your company culture. This means that you can opt for a boardroom table without the fear that you’re tied to the old style of imposing executive hierarchies.

Designing a boardroom

Designing an effective boardroom is about balancing décor, furniture, lighting and accessories with your specific requirements for the kinds of meetings that will take place there. You’ll want to create a particular atmosphere, whether that’s a non-nonsense, executive feel, or one of collaboration and roundtable working.

It will need to be fully-equipped with everything you need to run a productive meeting, without interruptions or halting to sort out A/V equipment, for example.

You’ll also want to consider how your boardroom expresses your company image, whether that’s simply in atmosphere or through incorporating branding into the space.

Follow our guidelines for setting up the perfect office space below.

Décor

Regardless of the rest of your office décor, you should think of your boardroom separately. What might work in an open plan office space might not be most suitable for a boardroom. When choosing colours, opt for light, neutral colours; too bright and it will be distracting (pure white can be very stark), too dark and it can lower the mood of delegates or make them feel tired.

That’s not to say that you can’t inject a bit of colour, though. You might want to consider one strongly coloured feature wall, or introduce colour accents in your seating or soft furnishings.

Think about the psychology of colour, too. Blues are calming, which can reduce stress, while greens are natural and symbolise harmony, which could be conducive to good collaboration; however, either of these colours could be too soothing, lulling delegates into a stupor. These might be better reserved for relaxation or main office areas.

Purples are considered regal and executive, but they are also considered to be good for improving critical thinking, making them an ideal choice for meeting rooms. Red is energetic, but it is said to increase blood pressure and could increase the chances of fiery, confrontational meetings.

Furniture

You’ll need to think about how you’ll set up the room in terms of furniture; later we’ll go into more detail on how to choose the right table, based on the styles we’ve already described, and you’ll need to consider chairs. But before we look at furniture add-ons, you’ll need to get prepared.

Measure the boardroom to start with. That will gauge how big the furniture can/should be. Think about the maximum and minimum number of delegates you’re likely to have in your meetings. Be careful though; when you’re measuring, you also have to allow space to move around freely.

Allow around 42” between each edge of the table and the wall for people to move to get around and to pull out their chairs properly. You should also take an audit of all the power sources in the room, as this might govern where and how you situate your table to allow for the use of A/V equipment.

Once you’ve measured up and you’ve decided on a style of table, you’ll need to think about chairs. There is a vast array of styles designed specifically for boardrooms, while other chair styles will also work well. The kind you choose will largely depend on the style of table you’ve chosen, the overall feel of the room and the décor, and other factors including comfort and size.

Boardroom chairs come in a variety of styles; the main ones are 4-leg, cantilever and swivel. Each has their pros and cons. 4-leg chairs are the standard style you’ll be familiar with. They are often available in budget styles and some models can be stacked for easy storage to allow you to use the room for other purposes.

Cantilever chairs are on a moulded frame that has ‘give’; they have a bit of bounce in them, which can add comfort and keep delegates from getting uncomfortable.

Swivel chairs are usually mounted on wheels or casters and can turn 360°; this gives great visibility, allowing delegates to turn to face everyone else at the table without strain and discomfort.

Further to the styles of chairs, you can also choose a variety of materials. The main choices are leather, vinyl and fabric.

Leather chairs have a plush, executive feel but require maintenance and are often only available in black. Fabric and vinyl are available in a wide range of bright colours. Fabric chairs are comfortable and hard wearing but require some maintenance to prevent staining and they can encourage sweat in warmer rooms. Vinyl is hard wearing and incredibly easy to maintain, but can be uncomfortable (although you could opt for a balance of vinyl chairs with some fabric padding).

Layout

Once you have your measurements in place, you know your minimum and maximum delegate count and you’ve decided on the style of your table and chairs, you can plan the layout. With all the measurements and specifications to hand, sketch out a very rough design for the layout, being sure to consider power points, A/V equipment and any storage or accessories in the room.

Err on the side of less is more; if you feel the room is too empty, you can always add furniture later on, but for now, concentrate on the minimum you need for an effective boardroom. You don’t want the space to become cramped as it will have a negative impact on your meetings.

Lighting

As with any part of your office design, you should utilise as much natural light as possible. While artists prefer north-facing light for true colour representation, a south-facing light is warm for most of the day, depending on the season and time of day.

Utilise windows to let in as much natural light as you can; if you are on the ground floor or you experience harsher sunlight, blinds can be used for privacy and to reduce glare.

If natural light is not possible, or for meetings during dark winter months, you should choose your electric lighting carefully. Overhead fluorescent lighting in a smaller boardroom space can cause headaches and fatigue, but low-light lamps can induce tiredness and a lack of concentration too.

Finding the right balance is crucial; wall-mounted uplighters that can be dimmed are probably your best bet here as they sculpt and shape the space while providing plenty of light.

Audio/Visual technologies

Now, carefully consider you’re a/V technologies. Most modern boardrooms will, as a minimum, have a projector screen of some kind. However, most modern businesses opt for large flat screen TVs with high resolutions for casting presentations from laptops or tablets.

These days, technology has improved to such a degree that there’s no need for long trailing cables that are trip hazards. Ensure that as much of your A/V technology as possible is wireless and run everything from the cloud for easy access. This kind of set up is relatively easy to maintain and will reduce your reliance on the IT department.

Branding

Although we’ve already covered décor, there’s one final thing to consider when you’re designing your boardroom, and that’s branding. Your boardroom is the perfect ‘flagship’ space for your business and is a great way to promote your company culture to staff as well as project your corporate image to clients and customers.

How you incorporate your branding is up to you, but there are a number of options. The first is to choose a décor that relates in some way to your logo and brand, possibly by choosing an accent colour from the logo for use throughout the room.

The next is to have a neutral décor and incorporate your brand through posters and other visual displays. Be sure to use high-quality prints, though, and have them professionally framed to ensure you maintain the executive feel of your boardroom.

Finally, most companies now have sleek, eye-catching logos; you’ve probably spent a lot of money on yours, whether you’re a brand-new company or just needed a modern update. Make the most of your logo by physically incorporating it into your décor.

We’ve seen some incredible examples of logos that have been blown up to massive proportions and stencilled or printed onto the walls, usually in ‘slices’ that cut through the room, becoming more abstract. This way, the feel of the logo will become part of the room itself, even if it’s not immediately apparent to guests that’s what they are seeing.

10 top tips on running a good meeting

Running a successful meeting doesn’t require some hidden, arcane knowledge or skills that you aren’t privy too; successfully chairing a meeting is about good, old-fashioned common sense. Forward planning, sticking to your agenda, managing delegated and ending well is all it really takes, but let’s break this down by looking at 10 top tips for managing an effective meeting.

Agenda & objectives

Every meeting should a specific and clearly-defined purpose. Before crafting an agenda, think about what you want the meeting to achieve. That objective will largely govern the agenda, but an agenda is more than just the main purpose.

Most agendas will require a specific format for the type of meeting being held, but generally it will include following up on action points from the last meeting, the core content of the meeting broken down into sub-points and closing with any other business that delegates want to raise.

This should be delivered to all delegates before the meeting takes place, ideally with enough time for members to ask for new topics to be included if you deem them important enough. Crucially, it’s important that you stick to your agenda, with no exceptions.

Meetings that stray from the agenda are almost without exception ineffective.

Attendees

Run through your agenda items and make sure that you invite everyone who is crucial to proceedings. It’s common to attend a meeting with an agenda point about the rollout of a new IT system, only to find that no one has invited the IT Director who would be able to explain this properly.

Leaving important people off the list prevents decisions being made; if someone can’t make it, ask them to delegate someone to take their place.

Also, check the actual attendees against your list; surprise visitors are not good for anyone in important meetings, so find out who any unfamiliar faces are and check their reason for attending.

Time

Your agenda will be shaped by time, primarily. Make sure you stick to your allotted time slots for each discussion topic. As chairperson, it’s on you to corral the attendees and stick to the agenda. If a topic discussion has grown arms and legs, you will have to find a way to shut it down and move on, even if only on a temporary basis.

Shape

Further to the last point, attendees should be able to see you lead a meeting that has a clearly defined shape. Summarise all discussion points at the end of each and get confirmation from attendees that it’s a fair summary.

Watch for body language among delegates; if you see too many people yawning or shifting in their chairs, it might be time for an unscheduled break. Unfortunately, you might need to spend some of that break re-jigging the agenda to suit.

Close the meeting well too; too often meetings peter out with no clear end, which is unsatisfying for delegates but also diminishes your role as leader. Tell people what will happen next.

Park discussions

If something comes up during the course of discussion that is unrelated (or only tangentially-related) to the point at hand, park it. This means acknowledging it and explaining that it will be added as an agenda point for a future meeting or, if pressing, that you will take it up on a one-to-one basis, with the results of that discussion added to a future agenda.

No monopolies

As chair, under no circumstances should you allow anyone to derail or monopolise the discussion. If it happens, don’t be afraid to call them out; it’s likely that the rest of the delegates will share your perspective on this. Tell them that you appreciate their contribution but that other people need to be heard too.

It’s your meeting, and your rules. Stand your ground on this and you’ll display effective leadership qualities; fail to do this and you run the risk of your authority being increasingly challenged.

Ban technologies

Other than any A/V equipment required for presentations, ban the use of all technology during the meeting. No phones, no tablets; be firm on this, as anyone who is using such technology is not participating and there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a discussion only to be interrupted by an “important call” to a delegate.

State this rule upfront; if anyone is waiting on an important call, ask them to consider sending a delegate in their place, or ask them to put their phone on vibrate and quietly excuse themselves from the meeting when the call comes in.

Prewire

Sometimes critical decision will be taken during a meeting and the fate of whole projects or departments could rest on the success or failure to get a positive agreement. If you have such a decision within your agenda for the meeting, “prewire” delegates by talking to them one-to-one in advance.

This way, there are no surprises and you’ll have had a chance to bring delegates around to your preference on the outcome. It’s time-consuming, but it will significantly increase your chances of success in a decision.

Take notes

Ideally you should have a note-taker present, but it’s also important that you take down critical notes too. Don’t use a computer or laptop for this, as you might look like you aren’t concentrating. Instead, write them down in a notebook reserved for meetings. It’ll give you a brief historical record of what you found important enough to note down, and might catch points that the notetaker missed.

Follow up

Regardless of the outcomes of the meeting, there should always be action points delegated to attendees and to yourself. It’s important that you don’t wait until the next meeting to discuss these. Send out formal notes to all delegates, but follow up on important points by phone or email the same day.

Questions to ask before shopping for a boardroom table

While there are countless styles and models of boardroom tables out there, choosing the right one for your requirements is much easier if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. The easiest way to do this is to write down your answers to the questions that follow.

Then move on to the next section where we’ll discuss factors such as material types in more detail, helping you to further narrow down your choices.

  • What size of space do you have?
    • The size of your room will be one of the key factors that governs the type of boardroom table to opt for. You might want a big, plush, executive table, but if you only have a small boardroom or meeting space, delegated might not have much room to move.
    • Conversely, a small table in a very large room can seem disproportionate and make the meeting area look weak. This won’t feel good for delegates and it will look bad to clients and customers too.
  • How many people does the table need to seat?
    • Think about the size of your organisation; do you have a large or small staff team? Don’t buy a table that is to big which mean make delegates feel separated from each other and, equally, avoid a small table that will crowd too many people together.
    • Give yourself a realistic idea of the maximum number of delegates you are likely to have at any single meeting and use that as your yardstick when choosing a style of table.
  • What is the primary purpose of the room?
    • Will the room only be used for general board or other meetings? If so, you probably won’t need much in the way of technology. You might consider a flipchart or whiteboard, but these are easily stored when not in use and don’t take up a lot of space in the room.
    • However, if you will be hosting presentation, you need to consider the room required to give space for A/V equipment.
  • Any additional purpose?
    • Also, if the room is going to be used for ceremonial purposes or other events, you’ll need to factor in that space too.
  • What kind of group structure do you prefer?
    • We discussed the various styles of tables at the beginning of this guide, with a particular focus on how the shape of a boardroom table can govern or enhance the group structure. Think about group dynamics and how you want delegates to feel (or yourself to look) within the room.
  • Technological requirements?
    • Aside from leaving space for A/V equipment, you’ll also need to think about power sources and data ports. Many modern boardroom tables have the option of including cable tidies and discreet power and data points that will allow you to power laptops and charges and access your network without lots of cables trailing across the floor.
  • Choice of material
    • We’ll cover this topic in more detail below, but it’s worth asking yourself at this stage what kind of impression do you want to give? Are you looking for a sleek, executive feel, a warm and welcoming atmosphere or a fresh, modern look?
  • Choice of colours
    • We’ve also discussed colours earlier in the guide when we talked about designing the perfect boardroom. Now is the time to ask yourself what colours you’ll want your furniture to be.
    • Most boardroom tables come with wood finishes, but you can often choose to have either wooden panels or metallic legs; the choice you make here can have a big impact on the overall look of the room.
  • Consider accessories
    • With every boardroom, there are accessories to go along with your furniture and what you choose will depend on your requirements. You can choose to add wall clocks so that everyone can keep track of the time, coat stands for attendees to hand their jackets and waste bins to prevent rubbish and clutter building up.
    • You could also choose to bring some of the outside in, by adding some plants. Natural plants have many benefits but require upkeep and maintenance. However, you could add a touch of the natural look by using beautiful artificial plants. Modern varieties look incredibly realistic, and they only need a minimum of maintenance.

Choosing a boardroom table

Type

We’ve already outlined the types of table available, but here’s a quick ready reckoner for how the styles relate to group dynamics:

Rectangular

 

 

Executive feel, best used where strong hierarchies are in place. Chairperson or most senior member usually sits at the head of the table.
Boat/barrel Maintains the hierarchical structure of rectangular desks but with a softened feel that is less imposing.
Oval/D-shaped Suits both formal and informal meetings, hybrid style of the previous too; allows for looser or more temporary hierarchical structures as well as freeform meetings.
Rounded No one delegate has a superior position at this kind of table; ideal for showing that your company culture values collaboration more than hierarchy.
Modular Adaptable style that can act like any of the others; perfect if your boardroom will host a variety of kinds of meetings.

Material

As with most kinds of tables, you have a choice of materials, with the main kinds being wood veneer, melamine and hardwood. The cost increases respectively with these material types, and each has its own advantages.

Veneer: Veneer can be either thin wood or melamine. These styles are usually MDF or another kind of relatively cheap substrate, with varying degrees of quality of veneer over the surface, depending on price. Wood veneer is a cheaper way to get that plush look but be careful; on closer inspection of some kinds of wood veneer, you’ll see inconsistent grain patterns due to the varying wood strips that have been used to form the surface.

Veneers are easy to maintain and generally wipe clean, but because they are made with a cheaper substrate, they may have a shorter lifespan than other styles.

Melamine: As opposed to melamine veneer, these are fully melamine table tops, meaning they are heavier, more durable and longer lasting. They can also be purchased with wood veneers and will cost a little more than basic MDF veneers.

Hardwood: These are the most high-end, executive tables, fashioned from solid hardwood. They are heavy, incredibly durable and very long lasting; as long as they are properly maintained. Wood may need specialist cleaning products to maintain their finish and any spills should be wiped immediately to prevent staining.

Colour

With hardwood tops, your choice of colour will be governed by the type of wood; mahogany, cherry, oak, maple or walnut, for example.

You have more choice available with veneers; some styles come with a similar number of choices of wood effect finishes but also have options including concrete, white or sand.

Think carefully about the choice of table colour and how it will fit in with your existing or chosen boardroom décor. Alternatively, if you’re looking for an expensive, executive hardwood table, you might want to choose one and fit the décor and other furniture around that.

Height

Boardroom tables tend to come in height ranged of 720-740mm high. There’s not a great deal of difference here and they are designed to make them comfortable for use by most people. However, you should make sure you checking the specifications against any seating you purchase to ensure that delegated can comfortably sit on their chairs at the table.

Legs

As with table tops, you have a choice of material for the legs or frames. You can choose from aluminium or steel with polished chrome surfaces or, for that ultra-modern look, high gloss white frames or legs. You can also wood panel end leg designs with optional modesty panels beneath the table top.

Some models come with height-adjustable feet that allow the table to stand firm on uneven surfaces; ideal if you need to run a cable beneath the table, for instance.

General best practices when buying boardroom tables

A boardroom table is usually one of the more expensive single pieces of furniture you’ll buy for your business. As with any significant investment of this kind, you should trust your instincts when choosing where to buy from. By following best practices for shopping, you get a top-class product from a reputable supplier at a great price. Here are our top tips for buying boardroom tables in the best way possible.

Do some homework

Shopping for business furniture has never been easier, thanks to online shopping. You can opt for a preferred supplier, a reputable supplier you’ve never used before or an online retailer you’ve only just heard of. However, when it comes to online shopping it pays to shop around and do your research.

Always ensure your chosen supplier is legitimate, reputable and trustworthy, whether you’ve heard of them before or not. Some of the key warning bells to be aware of include:

  • Security flags or warnings from your browser / anti-virus software; these are usually flagged up when the browser is aware that the retailer is not legitimate, has been hacked or is being used as a front for phishing
  • Most trustworthy retailers will post customer feedback and reviews; if you don’t see this, it would be a warning sign
  • Again, reputable suppliers will post contact details including their registered office and phone number. If you don’t see these, or there’s only a PO Box number, best to avoid
  • Retailers invest a lot of money in creating working, user-friendly and content-rich websites that act as an extension of their brand. If you come across a site that has outdated design, broken images or links or poor spelling, grammar or overall standard of English, look elsewhere
  • If prices seem too good to be true, they usually are; look for the catch
  • Very young, new businesses or websites

It’s incredibly easy to check on a website’s authenticity these days thanks to the ‘whois’ service that allows you to enter a URL or IP address and check the owner. You’ll be able to see the registered address, legal name of the company and how long the site has been running.

Website owners have the option of hiding these details behind those of their webhosts; many private individuals do this for safety but large retailers shouldn’t. If the details are hidden behind a host, you might want to look elsewhere. Go with your gut; if you’re checking ‘whois’ in the first place, alarm bells were already ringing.

Website’s that look authentic could actually be cloned by scammers to phish for credit card details. While this is rare, most browsers will pick up on it, flashing you a warning screen that tells you this website has been reported as unsafe or may not be run by who it says it is.

Even if you find an authentic website, it’s a good idea to steer clear of buying from young, unproven companies. They will try to undercut competitors to gain a foothold so you could get a great deal, but if they collapse and go into administration, you could lose your rights to any warranties or guarantees, leaving you no option but to replace an item fully out of your business funds if there is a fault.

Use the reviews

Product reviews can be a great way of gaining information on a product. Five-star reviews are helpful but sometimes more can be learned by looking at one-star reviews.

However, don’t presume that a bad review means a bad product. Customers may have purchased something that wasn’t properly suited to their requirements and others can moan about factors out with the hands of the supplier, manufacturer or retailer.

Bad reviews can also be a chance to see what the retailer does when things go wrong; look for follow up comments. Check a selection of reviews and use averages.

At Office Furniture Online, we post reviews on most products through an independent site called TrustPilot, where we score an Excellent rating of 5 stars.

Compare prices

Thanks to online shopping it’s never been easier to shop around for the best deal. You can compare prices on like for like products with just a click thanks to comparison sites and browser add-ons, so always ensure you gather a few different quotes before making your final decision.

Headline prices may look attractive, but do ensure you check all of the costs included in the purchase. Some common expected charges are listed below:

  • VAT: Currently at 20 per cent in the UK, VAT can transform a bargain into a rip-off. Check that the headline price includes VAT or otherwise before your checkout.
  • Import or export tax: Overseas traders often offer significant price reductions but you don’t just have to be wary of quality and health & safety standards; you could also be hit with a significant import/export fee that you’ll only find out about when you take delivery.
  • Delivery: At Office Furniture Online, we offer free delivery on most of our products to UK addresses. Some suppliers, though, will charge expensive fees for delivery, especially for large items, so be aware of the situation before you buy.
  • Admin: This is no longer common, but it’s something to watch out for, especially if you’ve opened up a company account. Always check your invoice for hidden charges.

Remember that price isn’t always everything! You’re making an investment in your business and you also need great customer service and aftercare, including cast-iron warranties and guarantees, as well as great quality products. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra to ensure you get these.

Only purchase what you need

Lastly, it’s important that your purchase will be a proper solution to the problem you are trying to resolve. Stay focused on your requirements, going back to the list of answers you made earlier, and only buy what you need. Don’t be seduced by new technologies or gimmicks if they aren’t essential to your purchase as you could end up paying for features you never use. Think of how much value for money you’re getting and look past the shiny things!

Further information

By following this guide, you should be able to narrow down your choice of boardroom tables and pick the style that’s perfect for your requirements. At Office Furniture Online we have a wide range of styles available, with upfront pricing, next day delivery for free on many items to UK addresses and full specifications on each model.

However, if there’s any specifications you can’t find, or if you need some advice on choosing the perfect table, talk to our sales team. They’re on hand to give you all the help you need. You can reach them by phone on 0844 248 7001, email us on sales@officefurnitureonline.co.uk or complete the contact form on our site and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.