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Celebrating Spaces

Top 3 office trends that you should try…

By | Celebrating Spaces, Work Better

Celebrating Spaces

Part 5

Here at Office Needs, we’re pretty big on office furniture and interiors. This week, for the final part of ‘Celebrating Spaces’, we wanted to talk about some of the trends we’ve noticed in many successful workplaces – and why we believe you should be trying them too!

Last week, some of our team visited Clerkenwell Design Week, and enjoyed checking out lots of exciting ideas and inspirations. We wanted to round up some of our thoughts, and make suggestions as to the ones you may want to adopt in your own workplace…

1. Get your green fingers out in the workplace…

Loads of showrooms we visited were showing off the power of plants – not only are they a great way to add a dash of extra colour in your office (and we were particularly loving the splashes of green against this year’s strong presence of pink fabrics), but they also oxygenate the room and help boost productivity.

Have you tried dotting plants around your office yet? It’s a lovely way to customise your workspace, and different plants have a variety of different benefits (keep your eyes on this blog, as we’ll be sharing an article soon listing our favourite office plants).

Our highlights: the ‘Living Wall’ created by Scotscape, in the Buronomic showroom. A genuinely innovative idea involving turning a wall into a sea of greenery – and certainly a great talking point!

2. The breakout star? Breakout furniture!

Everywhere we went, manufacturers were tempting us with a comfortable place to sit down – from stylish dining furniture to striking meeting booths.

Have you created a welcoming breakout space in your workplace yet? A good breakout space might be used for a variety of purposes, from eating to informal meetings. We believe it’s important to put as much effort in to your breakout space as you do into your desks and office chairs – although you and your colleagues might spend most of your time at your desks, tempting people away from them can have a huge amount of benefits.

If your team can be welcomed into a stylish, comfortable eating area, they are less likely to spend their whole day glued to a screen (you should generally be taking a brief break for every hour of computer use, if possible), and will gain extra chances to bond with other colleagues. If inviting meeting spaces are provided, this will also encourage more brainstorming sessions and other collaborative work, especially if the booths are designed with technological integration in mind.

Our highlights: being spoiled for choice by Lee & Plumpton’s wall of colourful breakout seating, and listening to the amazing acoustic benefits of Era Screen’s meeting booths.

3. Furniture that keeps you moving… even when you’re still!

We’re all for making your workplace as comfortable as possible, but we’re also big fans of anything that keeps your body moving at regular intervals throughout the day!

While some of the ideas we saw might have been a bit eccentric for most companies to use on a regular basis (a bike that makes a smoothie when you pedal, anyone?), there were also some great, subtle ideas to make sure you’re keeping active in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, standing desks were on offer around the festival, since it’s now a well-established idea that sitting and standing throughout the working day is a great way to improve your productivity and wellbeing at work. However, we were also pleasantly surprised to see that there were some interesting takes on this trend – including programmable Cosine sit-stand desks over at Tangent, where hot-desking workers could have their own desk height setting saved on an electronic sit-stand desk. To us, that feels like a great incentive to make sure workers keep using sit-stand facilities at regular intervals throughout the day!

Our highlights: engaging our core muscles with Metalicon’s clever combination of a standing desk, and a balance board (you stand on this innovative piece of kit while working, and it forces you to keep slightly re-adjusting your position, thereby burning extra calories). It certainly helped us to justify the free fish and chips on offer afterwards…

We hope you’ve enjoyed our thoughts on what we saw at Clerkenwell Design Week 2018, and make sure to get in touch with our team if you want help updating your office furniture and interiors with fresh ideas! We’ll be back next week with a brand new theme, so see you then!

Join us next week for the first part of a new theme!

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Big Ideas in Small Spaces

By | Celebrating Spaces, Work Better

Celebrating Spaces

Part 4

Here at Office Needs, we’re pretty big on office furniture. Redecorating or revamping an office can be an exciting process for even the least creatively minded, but such visions of complete interior do-overs are usually more inclined towards a grander scale. This week, we’re tightening our focus down to much smaller workspaces and how to get the most out of them – welcome to ‘Big Results from Small Spaces’; Part Four of the monthly theme for May – Celebrating Spaces!

Not all of us have the luxury of working in the kind of sweeping, warehouse-sized ultra-modern offices that most promotional materials and furniture showrooms tend to feature. For most, space is at a premium – and so making the most out of what’s there becomes one of the key considerations when furnishing it.  

1. Choosing the right furniture

When working in a smaller scale environment, the amount of floor space that each piece of furniture takes up suddenly takes on a whole new importance. It’s not just raw square footage, either – finding an arrangement that minimises wasted space, whilst still allowing for convenient and unhindered access to everything in the room, can end up being something of a headache.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to fall solely on you to painstakingly optimise every facet of your office space – sometimes it can be a welcome relief to get a little help from a professional.

Help with finding an efficient layout, as well as guidance on which products and product ranges are best suited to different wants and needs, all comes under the banner of a Space Planning service – which we at Office Needs can provide. Tapping into the experience and knowledge of a furniture professional can be a much less stressful way to make sure your office works for both you and your workflow – and perhaps most importantly of all, that it works for your budget, too!

2. Finding the right desk

For most of us, the humble office desk is something of the cornerstone of the room. It’s where we spend the vast majority of our time each working day, and it needs to fit into the room layout in such a way as to allow for both chair/seating access, and for the various cabling and wiring needed for any computers, phones or printers and the like that are going to be stationed on top.

Thankfully, desks are available in all manner of shapes and sizes – whether it’s a straight rectangle to fit flush to a wall or against other desks, or a radial (also known as a corner) desk that can tuck neatly into a corner.

There are even desks with telescopic frames that can have their width adjusted for whatever space is available, making them much easier to fit into a tightly packed office or into a very specifically sized gap.

The choice of seating can also be a factor in finding the right desk. Having a chair that can’t fit neatly under the desk when not in use can cost valuable floorspace in a multi-person office, so it’s worth considering whether a chair without arms or even a stool is the right way to stow seating nicely away.

Sit-stand desks can also really shine in a more cramped environment, since not only do they have health benefits for their regular users (see our blog post with more on these great desks here), but they can also help your team to hot desk effectively if you don’t have room to allow fixed work spaces. The adjustable height means any user can sit comfortably, and changing it for the next person just requires the touch of a button!

3. Maximising Storage Space

When it comes to storage, there are plenty of options available in a huge spread of sizes and shapes. From floor-to-ceiling cupboards, to bookcases, all the way down to storage boxes that can sit on a desk – finding a solution that’s efficient for both your environment and your personal workflow can make a real difference to the space.

Under desk options like pedestals offer a great quick-access unit that can slot neatly into floorspace that would otherwise be already accounted for, and many can also be locked if they’re going to be used to hold anything confidential or private – or even just to keep your lunch safe from disappearing from the office fridge!

For an office with a little more space available, a larger option like a cupboard can offer a surprisingly versatile way to store a wide variety of items. Many feature interiors that can be rearranged or even restructured with extra shelves, or modular components like a mini filing pull-out, or a rail for hanging things from, providing a convenient one-size-fits-all solution to a whole range of uses.

Whichever storage solution suits your needs, there are plenty of options style wise too – metal finishes, wood finishes; traditional swing doors, or sliding tambour style cupboards; open bookcases or half cupboard, half bookshelf hybrids – there’s any number of ways to put a more personal stamp on even the most limiting of office environments.

4. Keep your small space tidy…

If you’re short on space, here’s our mantra to stop you feeling crammed in – de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter!

In all seriousness, having precious desk space wasted by things sitting in the way is annoying even when you do have room for a large desk. If you’re trying to save precious inches with a smaller desktop, that space is at even more of a premium – so invest in a few simple solutions to stop you feeling overwhelmed.

Good cable management is key to removing unwanted clutter, as well as getting some good desktop storage to keep your essentials tidy (we love these striking MyBox sets from Leitz to keep desktops looking neat).

Give us a shout if you want to chat about adding cable management or storage sets to your new office setup – you’d be amazed what these little details will do to make your small space feel bigger.

That’s all we’ve got space for in this week’s blog post! We’ll be back next week with another entry in our Celebrating Spaces collection, so see you again then!

Join us next week for Part 5 of ‘Celebrating Spaces’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Does your workplace sound productive?

By | Celebrating Spaces, Work Better

Celebrating Spaces

Part 3

As the weather slowly gets cheerier outside, we think it’s a great time of year to make your workplace cheerier inside! Here at Office Needs, we believe that a well-designed work space is one of the best productivity boosters out there. So welcome to Part Three of the monthly theme for May – Celebrating Spaces!

We often think about designing a great workplace in terms of visuals. But what about the audio quality? When you sit in your office, are the sounds around you a benefit or a distraction for your working day?

In this blog post, we explore some thoughts around sound and work spaces…

1. Firstly, the bad news…

This may not surprise you, but a classic study into workplace noise showed that overheard speech and general office noise have a detrimental effect on a variety of tasks. So if you’re sitting in a noisy office (and yes, that does include noise from servers, printers and noisy colleagues) without any kind of sound absorbing features, you’re probably not working at your best!

If you’re reading this blog and thinking this sounds horribly familiar, then we’ve got some thoughts on how you could make your workplace sound better…

2. Try adding music to your day

Music is an interesting topic in the workplace – a huge number of studies have been conducted over the years to investigate whether it really does make us more productive.

Good news for those who love to block out the world with a Spotify playlist – there is some evidence to suggest that it can help us work better. For example, a landmark study back in 1972 showed that when factory workers listened to upbeat music, they performed better at work.

However, despite other studies that have supported this over the years, it has become increasingly apparent that the type of music, and the task you are doing while listening, are crucial factors in whether it helps or hinders your concentration. Generally speaking, evidence suggests that the following guide is true:

  • Pick music without lyrics to reduce distraction
  • Pick music with a steady rhythm and mood
  • Don’t listen to music all the time – the benefits appear to reduce if it’s constant
  • Don’t listen to music you really like or hate – this distracts you more
  • Music has negative effects on tasks involving reading comprehension, so stick to other types of task for a better effect

However, there is another important thing to remember if you want to really feel the positive effect of music in the workplace…

3. Beware office headphone etiquette…

If you do decide to use earphones, whether noise cancelling or otherwise, there is one major pitfall awaiting you – office etiquette!

Although it is becoming increasingly common to wear headphones in the office, it can also be a little awkward for colleagues to identify the difference between someone listening to music or sitting in on a conference call, for example. Headphones are often seen as a sign that someone doesn’t want to be disturbed, which may or may not be accurate, but might present problems for colleagues who need to transfer a call to your desk or get your attention.

One often-cited suggestion is a system of only using one earbud if you’re happy to be disturbed (not quite so easy for over-ear headphone users). However, this doesn’t work for everyone, so it’s definitely worth checking with your team whether you can come to an accepted form of headphone etiquette (and you can always cite our blog as an argument for sometimes wanting to use productivity boosting music in the workplace!)

So what should you do if you can’t effectively use music to soften the sound of your workplace?

4. Try creating a better sounding office!

Yes, we appreciate that some noises will simply be a part of office life (and some can be good noises – like the sound of someone opening a new packet of Hobnobs). But it’s definitely possible to ease the distracting effect by thinking about acoustic absorption in your office space.

Essentially speaking, sounds are caused by waves, and when these waves hit an object, one of three things happens – they are reflected straight back out into the room, transmitted through lightweight materials (like some office cubicle walls) or partially trapped and turned into a very small amount of heat energy.

So if you want to reduce the disturbing noise that’s bouncing around in your office, one of the best ways to do it is to introduce more objects that can soak up the noise.

For example, if you have an office with rows of desks where people make a lot of phone calls, you could add sound-absorbing screens, or specially designed sound-absorbing baffles that hang from the ceiling between the desks. This won’t eliminate the noise, but will soften it, and stop it travelling around the room as much.

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You can also create specially designed meeting areas that feature sound absorption, from soft seating booths to complete glass structures. This allows you to add meeting space to a busy office without teams disturbing each other.

That’s all from me this week, but I hope you enjoy making your working day sound better! If you do have great ideas for productive playlists, why not share them with us on social media?

Join us next week for Part 4 of ‘Celebrating Spaces’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

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How Secure is your Workplace?

By | Celebrating Spaces, Work Better

Celebrating Spaces

Part 2

As the weather slowly gets cheerier outside, we think it’s a great time of year to make your workplace cheerier inside! Here at Office Needs, we believe that a well-designed work space is one of the best productivity boosters out there. So welcome to Part Two of the monthly theme for May – Celebrating Spaces!

Now that May is here, we’re sure you’re being bombarded with information, tips and thoughts on GDPR – but how many of these articles are focusing heavily on the digital side of the new legislation? While it’s undeniably important to keep your virtual space secure, it’s vital not to forget about the physical components that will get your workplace GDPR compliant in time for May 25th. 

Here’s our top three tips for getting your workplace ready in time…

1. It’s not just what is in your building, but who is in your building…

A lot of the advice around GDPR centres on where your data is being kept, but it’s also important to bear in mind the fundamentals of good general security – including how visitors move around your building.

Every business needs visitors from time to time, whether it’s due to maintenance requirements or needing to meet clients, customers or suppliers onsite. However, these additional people in a building represent one of your biggest physical security risks.

Chances are that you already have a visitors’ policy in place, if only for health and safety concerns, but it’s important to read back over this to check you’re properly looking after all your sensitive data when someone else is in your workplace.

For example, making sure that all visitors have clear identification badges makes it easier for employees to challenge a lone visitor who’s waiting in the wrong part of your building, and integrating your visitor policy into your training schemes means that any colleague will feel confident knowing what to do if they need to step in and chaperone a visitor.

TIP: It’s also worth checking whether your visitors book is GDPR compliant… after all, you can’t display someone’s personal data to the next visitor who needs to fill it in! Click on the link to our Security Sale below, where you can find some great options that come with built in security sheets!

We also think the following tip is a great way to ensure nothing is accidentally seen by the wrong eyes…

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2. Try a clear desk policy (and a clear virtual desktop policy too!)

While paper-free offices are still a target for many businesses, every now and again something simply needs to be a hard copy. The problem that often arises from this is that paperwork stacks up quickly – and paperwork in the wrong place is one of the best ways to end up with a data breach.

Why not try a policy of always keeping your desk clear when you’re not working there? That way you can ensure no prying eyes come wandering past without your knowledge. This idea also extends as far as your computer desktop – while privacy filters (as in the picture below) are a great way to ensure anyone not directly in front of your machine can see the data onscreen, it’s also a good idea to lock your desktop with a password while you’re absent.

A successful clear desk policy does also depend on secure storage options being available. While some buildings benefit from entire rooms of lockable storage, chances are your workplace can do a lot with just a few key pieces.

For example – why not add lockable pedestals that can go either underneath or directly next to your desks? Desk high pedestals add some crucial extra surface space, but under desk size is great for offices with less square feet of room. These can give a good amount of individual storage space, and be complemented by much larger lockable cupboards that teams can use for record keeping or sensitive in/out trays.

Speaking of in/out trays, don’t forget to customise your lockable cupboard storage by dividing it up in the most efficient way for your team – that way you can maximise the amount of storage you get for your money and space! You can get everything from trays and shelf dividers to whole lateral filing shelves, so that you can create the perfect use of every inch. Our team are always happy to help if you want to find out more about what products are available.

3. Safe destruction is just as important as safe storage

One of the big changes coming in GDPR is the need to have properly defined retention periods for all your data – you can’t just keep everything forever!

However, you can’t have a successful retention policy without a secure destruction policy at the end of it. After all, keeping papers in a locked drawer won’t do them any good if they’re thrown out into general rubbish at the end of their retention period.

Many offices already use shredding as part of their data destruction process, but it’s worth double checking with your GDPR lead whether your current shredding practices are definitely in line with the new legislation. For example, they might like you to look into cross-cut shredders (where the paper is cut horizontally as well as vertically, for a more secure result) or even micro-cut shredders (like cross-cut, but smaller!).

While it’s true that cross- and micro- cut shredders do take a little longer (they have to cut the paper in more than one direction, after all!), don’t despair if your current shredding pile is looking a little intimidating. Auto-feed shredders can be a good solution for some offices (so you can load the bin and walk away), or there’s always the final option of choosing a secure shredding service that can take all your sensitive documents off-site for certificated destruction.

P. S.  Remember that digital data has a physical footprint too…

As we mentioned earlier, a lot of advice has centred around keeping your digital data safe in the run-up to May 25th. However, even if your firewalls and password policies are now updated and running beautifully, if you fail to provide physical ways to move and store digital data safely, you’ll still run in to problems.

One of our favourite ways to keep your data safe but portable is using encrypted drives – these handy accessories keep your data encrypted and password-protected, and can come with a variety of options such as prompting for password entry after a period of inactivity.

By introducing these into your office, you can have a quick and easy way to move files around and take them with you off-site, and they should fit nicely into many companies’ new security policies.

That’s all from me this week – hope these tips help you to finish off your GDPR preparations! Remember you can always ask us if you’re looking for a particular security product to help keep your physical data safe and secure.

Join us next week for Part 3 of ‘Celebrating Spaces’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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How great workspaces make great workplaces!

By | Celebrating Spaces, Work Better

Celebrating Spaces

Part 1

As the weather slowly gets cheerier outside, we think it’s a great time of year to make your workplace cheerier inside! Here at Office Needs, we strongly believe in the power of good office furniture and interiors to improve your working day. So welcome to Part One of the monthly theme for May – Celebrating Spaces!

Here at Office Needs, we’re always on the lookout for the latest tips on how to work better – and it’s amazing how many times the work environment is cited as a crucial factor in workplace happiness. Interior design has a huge impact on how we view and interact with our work space, even when we’re not particularly aware of it – even the least design-aware among us will usually have at least a slight opinion on the design or aesthetic of their work space. 

Here, we argue why certain features of your office’s interior design are so important to happiness at work, and provide some suggestions too! 

1. The Importance of Light

Something that we don’t always consciously think about is the availability of natural light in an indoor environment. As well as reducing the need for artificial lighting (and cost!), natural light also has an enormous physiological effect on the human body.

Sunlight is an essential component in the production of vitamin D, and contributes to healthy levels of serotonin in the body – which has a significant impact on regulating our mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, stems from a lack of natural light in winter months, and is estimated to affect nearly 1 billion people worldwide – often completely unknowingly. It can cause lethargy, sleeplessness, and often intense depression for months at a time during the colder and darker days of autumn and winter.

With such a large proportion of our waking hours tending to be spent at work, having access to sunlight in the workplace takes on a far greater importance than many of us realise – but most especially for the surprisingly large number of people with lower-than-average vitamin D levels, as the human body literally can’t produce it otherwise.

A pioneering 2014 study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that workers operating without windows or natural light consistently performed worse than those with sufficient access to daylight – productivity, physical activity and mood all noticeably declined, and quality and duration of sleep was also significantly worsened compared to those seeing more daylight.

The study concludes that the “design of office environments should place more emphasis on sufficient daylight exposure of the workers in order to promote office workers’ health and well-being”.

The placement of windows is crucial to giving workers plenty of exposure to daylight, but unless your company is intending to custom-build a new premises with that in mind, it’s unfortunately something that you often don’t have much control over. Instead, managing the layout of rooms and furniture within the space takes on a whole new importance in order to maximise the amount of useable light and ensure that as many of the workforce have access to it as possible.

A good rule of thumb is that light from a window will have health benefits for around 1.5x as far into the room as the window is tall – so desk and table arrangements should ideally be based on keeping good access to that area of effect for as many workstations as possible. Rooms that are used most often should ideally be along the edges of the building, so as to have access to the majority of windows and the light that they offer, while inner-building spaces are best reserved for less regularly used functions, like copier rooms or storerooms.

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2. Furniture

Choosing the right furniture for you and your workplace is something that can radically change the dynamic of your office – and can be an enjoyable process for even the least creatively inclined. As well as helping to solve practical problems and frustrations in your work environment (like uncomfortable chairs!), outfitting or redecorating is a fantastic opportunity to really refine and reinforce the function and philosophy of your company. Maybe you’re streamlining the environment to improve the efficiency of your workflow, encouraging a more relaxed feel in a dedicated break space away from the bustle of the main work area, or even just setting a unified colour theme across a floor or building to better represent the company colours or ethos.

While such a dramatic redesign sounds like a rather lofty ambition for those of us without a large budget, even a smaller business with more modest spending power can still find plenty of ways to redesign and revamp an office by prioritising more pressing concerns, and making sensible, informed product choices.

Seating and desking are great examples of this – there are plenty of options for every budget, that will still fulfill specific practical and stylistic requirements. A cutting-edge steel framed, floating top, solid hardwood desk might be perfect for an office that welcomes lots of visiting clients or guests – but a similarly high-end desk wouldn’t necessarily be as important in a more practically-minded workspace, or for an office replacing a whole lot of desks in bulk.

The most important thing to get right is that the desks and chairs you choose are ergonomically suited to the person sitting at them – after all, your project is intended to make you and your colleagues work better! Once you’ve accurately decided what it is that you want and/or need out of the product (how many hours a day will the user sit on the chair, for example), then you’d be amazed how many products might fit your criteria while staying within your budget.

3. Ergonomic Considerations

Something we talk about a lot – for good reason! – is ergonomics in the workplace. Lighting has a huge impact on our mental and physical health, but posture and physical comfort is another major factor in our day to day wellbeing.

A common misconception is that getting a high-quality chair and desk setup which addresses all of the main posture and physiological concerns is a very expensive endeavour. While it’s true that it certainly can be, it’s important to stress that it doesn’t have to be!

Height adjustable (or sit-stand) desks are available at a huge spread of price points now that the technology has become more widely known and cost-effective, and height adjustable workstations (that fix onto an existing desk) present another, cheaper alternative to a full desk replacement.

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Slow-burn adoption of sit-stand workstations is a good way to keep costs down if replacing a whole office or floor’s worth of desks in one hit is too much of a strain on the budget, but also serves as a great way to introduce the concept to a workforce that’s otherwise very used to sitting.

Placing a single height adjustable table or desk in a meeting area, or on the end of a row of desks, can encourage staff to stand for short periods without being too much of a change to established routines, and using a more communal setting to pilot a standing approach also helps get more people on board more quickly.
Doubling down on the benefits of a well-lit space with an ergonomically considered workstation also confers the most concentrated benefits on the workers using them, giving the best possible chances at a positive reaction and a more meaningful adoption of healthier workplace practices going forward – boosting productivity and staff happiness more effectively.

Smaller ergonomic considerations can also be an incredibly cost-effective way to improve worker wellbeing without breaking the bank or impacting routines – something as simple as a padded mousemat with an integrated wrist support can do wonders for desk-bound employees who spend the majority of their time at a computer, without requiring any changes to that worker’s process or thinking.

That’s all from me this week – hope these tips help you to plan your workspace more effectively! Remember, you can always talk to us about upgrading your furniture or designing a new space – we’re happy to help.

Looking to increase your comfort and productivity
– at a great price?

Join us next week for Part 2 of ‘Celebrating Spaces’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

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