Is your office furniture killing you?
(Office furniture checklist to encourage productivity, without compromising on health and safety)
“Happiness inspires productivity”- Shawn Achor
According to research (Sundstorm 1994), most people spend 50% of their lives within indoor environments, which greatly influence their mental status, actions, abilities and performance. Another study found that the rate is even higher for office workers who spend around 90% of their time in indoor environments.
The next question is- Is your office furniture taking care of your well-being?
Choosing the right office set-up helps both sides of the coin and should not be compromised at any cost. The quality and comfort of the furniture can directly impact the productivity of the employees, minimize fatigue and occupational injuries. The overhead expenses on compensation and medical coverage can be brought down at the same time. Considering this, the effort and time in picking office furniture becomes fundamentally important and should not be impulsive.
Wondering how to narrow down on selecting the right kind of office set-up? Whether you are looking to set-up a new office, renovate or remodel an existing one, or to throw in your two cents to your employers for a better workspace- here’s a checklist for an office set-up that encourages productivity, without compromising on health and safety:
Quality: One obvious parameter is quality. However, this can often be overlooked when the decision is taken only based on the budget. Too much bargaining leads to compromising on the quality. The big picture here is to evaluate the cost of ownership over expected lifetime of the furniture.
How long do you intend to use it before you replace it? Is it aligned with a plan?
Style: At parallel comparison to quality is style. The design and style of the furniture decides the aesthetic of the office space. In fact, more than the physical appearance, it goes a long way in communicating the work-culture and the image of the company. More and more organizations are paying attention to this parameter, as part of their branding activities.
How do you balance style with functionality Are you paying for style or for functionality? The balance is to choose a design and style that is timeless. While being quirky is the new kid on the block, choosing a fad may compel you to replace your furniture even before it has run it’s course.
Again, is your office furniture compromising on comfort for style? Is the furniture ergonomically designed to take care of postures? Does your chair provide backrest support? Are your seat-heights and arm-rests adjustable?
Functionality: Balancing style with functionality. Of outmost importance is the functionality of the furniture. Multi-purpose furniture brings convenience as well as helps in taking care of the storage. While selecting office furniture, considering the existing office space is vital and going for versatile furniture can make a lot of sense. Furniture that can be easily dismantled, re-configured and fit in different shapes, helps a great deal to mitigate the uncertainties.
Functionality of the furniture can also be used to encourage a healthy lifestyle choice in an organization. Is the choice of furniture encouraging more active lifestyle by increasing movement? According to a report by WHO, inactivity is one of the main “cause of about quarter of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes cases, and 30% of heart disease cases.”
Is your office furniture techno-friendly? Does it provide option to move around? Can it cater to the flexibility of accommodating your growth plan? Does your choice of furniture help you in managing space and flexibility in your expansion plan?
Others: There are more practical considerations that should not be ignored in the process. For instance, the overall color scheme and lightning of the furniture and office space can affect the mood and productivity (Perceptual and Motor Skills 1988). According to a research by University of Texas, the interior color scheme alone can impact the mood of the occupant. Also, the difference in perception and preference between females and males affects them differently. Attractive as it may be, too much quirkiness can lead to distraction rather than productivity.
Maintenance of the furniture should also be considered. Is it stain-proof? How well does it act against moisture, bacteria etc.? What kind of cleaning agent can be used and how durable will it be?
Ultimately, there can be more to the list than the ones above. However, these are indispensable if you want to get the right start.