Archive: June 2013
Capital Choice Office Furniture raffles off two Herman Miller Celle Chairs at the Builder's Exchange Golf Outing!
Mike Will of Fairfield Insulation and Drywall, Inc. & Valerie Howes of Wallick Construction are the lucky winners!
Both are pictured with their chair, presented by Susan Wagner, Marketing Manager at Capital Choice Office Furniture.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 26, 2013--
While nice weather and too many meetings rank high on the list of things that decrease productivity in the office, more than 70 percent of both office workers and managers believe that workers are more productive today than they were five years ago, according to a recent survey from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.
Both office workers and managers agree that the following elements are essential to a productive work day:
-- Mobile technology (29 percent office workers / 37 percent managers) -- Break times (23 percent office workers / 33 percent managers) -- Telecommuting (19 percent office workers / 35 percent managers)
On the other hand, both groups call out the following top two reasons for decreased productivity in the workplace:
-- Technology limitations (31 percent office workers / 43 percent managers) -- Non-collaborative work environments (25 percent office workers / 33 percent managers)
Companies looking to increase productivity in their offices and overcome some efficiency hurdles should consider the following solutions:
-- Collaborative workspaces -- Businesses should take steps to create workspaces where employees can easily communicate and share ideas for group collaboration. Office furniture options now go far beyond the traditional chair, desk and cubicle. Companies should consider designing an open office environment by including a mix of casual and formal meeting areas to encourage spontaneous conversation and teamwork. -- Breakrooms -- Stepping away from work in nearby breakrooms helps foster productivity by allowing healthy mental breaks, an opportunity to refuel and casual conversations. To help make a breakroom inviting and effective, companies should include comfortable furniture and offer a variety of snacks for workers. -- Technology -- Companies should equip their employees with the technology needed to get work done efficiently -- from printers and PCs to products that help enable telecommuting, such as tablets and remote access VPN's. Implementing a managed print services program can also increase productivity by eliminating the need for workers and in-house IT staff to supply and maintain printers throughout the office.
"We're seeing a trend in the right direction with 70 percent of workers and managers saying they're more productive now than five years ago," said Tom Heisroth, senior vice president for Staples Advantage. "Providing employees with the right tools and resources is essential to improving office-wide productivity. At Staples, we make it easy for businesses to be productive with everything they need including technology, breakroom supplies, furniture and office products."
BYOD & Productivity
Office workers and managers also weighed in on how a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy impacts productivity. Thirty-five percent of workers and 54 percent of managers believe BYOD policies increase productivity. With Gartner predicting that half of employers may impose a mandatory BYOD policy by 2017, companies should consider effective policies that can grow with demand. One key requirement for BYOD is a strong security policy, for which Staples offers the following tips:
-- Implement a strong password policy on all devices that "times out" every 15 minutes. -- Use data wipe software with the ability to "wipe" the data off a device if it's lost or stolen. -- Avoid saving data to a personal device, only to corporate servers.
Office workers and managers also agreed on a number of other hurdles to productivity including too many meetings (both 44 percent), nice weather (27 percent, 26 percent) and office space temperature (40 percent, 38 percent).
About the Survey
Staples conducted an online survey of more than 250 office workers and 250 managers at organizations of all sizes across the U.S. The survey, conducted in May 2013, asked a series of questions about productivity in the office, from both the office worker's and manager's perspectives.
Article Source: Wall Street Journal
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Updated: Tuesday, June 18 2013, 06:56 PM EDT COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia/Ken Hines) -- Treadmill desks are enabling some central Ohio employees to improve their health at the office by staying on the move while they work at their desks.
New research suggests that office employees spend more than 77 percent of each work day sitting in front of computers. Doctors say that sedentary lifestyle can lead to major health problems, even for those who hit the gym after leaving work.
Rod Bouc, the Director of Operations at the Columbus Museum of Art, is one of a growing number of workers who have turned to treadmill desks to combat the health issues associated with conventional office work.
“In the afternoon, sometimes you feel a lull around 2:00, you get sleepy," Bouc said. "With the treadmill desk, you don’t have that."
Bouc's desk allows him to sit, stand, or walk on a treadmill while he works.
He said he walks two to four miles during each work day, and now has the energy to visit his studio after he leaves the office.
“Right away, I started feeling better. I think other people might, too," he said.
Michael Reese designs workplace settings at Loth in Columbus, and said the treadmill desks are growing in popularity. “Our bodies are meant to be in motion," Reese said. "If you think of your grandparents always moving, today we are mostly on the computer or on the phone. Even after work." The moving desks come at a cost, but many can be purchased for prices similar to those of high quality stationary desks. Reese's coworker, Connie Miller, said the treadmill desks are worth the price -- and the small effort it takes to make the transition to walking while working.
“It takes a little adjustment to get the feet and hands to go at the same time, but it wasn’t bad at all,” she said. Another adjustment users of treadmill desks often make involves bringing extra shoes to work, but Bouc said he found a way around that problem by adding inserts to his loafers and wingtips.
The artist, originally from Nebraska, said the initial goal he set after purchasing the desk was to walk the same number of miles he used to cover on his farm. After reaching that goal, the 63-year-old said his next planned milestone is to walk an amount equivalent to a trip to the West Coast.
BY LISA GIRARD
The work environment is evolving at many companies these days, resulting in the need for new office design. At some businesses, for example, individual cubicles and offices are being dismantled in favor of a more open environment in which an employee's work station is wherever he happens to plug in his laptop.
Whatever the specific design, the emphasis today is clearly on being lean and flexible, says Alan Feltoon, managing principal at Washington, D.C.-based MulvannyG2 Architecture. He is one of three experts we consulted to come up with questions small-business owners should ask before designing or refashioning an office to meet the requirements of today's fast-changing workplace.
Do I want to encourage transparency and camaraderie?
More companies are knocking down walls and cubicles to create more open space. Now, top executives and managers may even sit in open areas with other employees. Feltoon recalls an office he designed for an investment bank, where he used glass instead of solid walls and provided open space for "impromptu get-togethers." The owner of the firm wanted people out in the open to convey an image of transparency to clients. An open design also can encourage team spirit. "When you open things up, all of a sudden, you have a vitality and transparency that encourages conversation, participation and learning," says Janet Pogue, principal at Gensler, an architectural firm based in Washington, D.C.
How do I provide privacy when necessary?
While you may want a more open office design, it's still important to provide spaces where employees can work quietly on individual tasks or simply have a private conversation. People spend about half their time in "focus mode," so the office needs to have a mix of "me spaces" for individual work and "we spaces" for group work, Pogue says. She suggests designing privacy rooms where there are no visual distractions.
How much space do I really need?
Office designers used to plan for about 250 square feet per employee, which included a walled workspace with a desk for a computer and personal items, such as photographs. Now that number has dropped to 150 square feet. The photos are on each person's laptop, which can move from home to the office and then to different locations within the office. Feltoon calls it a "'work from anyplace" mindset, and with an increasing number of companies letting employees work from home certain days, the office may only be partially occupied at any given time. "You don't want to pay for more space than you have to," he says.
What if some people often work from home?
As it becomes more common for employees to work at least partly from home, companies need to be concerned about home office design, too. Ergonomics is an important but often overlooked issue in home offices. "Being huddled over your laptop at the kitchen table is not the way to go," says Tom Polucci, senior principal and director of interior design for HOK, a New York City-based architecture, engineering and planning firm. The computer monitor should be positioned properly relative to your chair and desk height to avoid stress and strain on your back, neck, shoulders and eyes. You also need the right kind of lighting to reduce glare and eye strain. You might hire a consultant to help your employees set up their home workspace. Alternatively, "your health insurance provider might have information available to assist employees with home office set up," Polucci says.
How can I make my space flexible?
A young, growing business that is expecting to add employees and services doesn't want to be pouring precious dollars into reconstruction. Pogue suggests keeping your space as flexible as possible. You can buy desks and tables on rollers for easy movement to reconfigure a space on the fly and create "plug and play" areas where employees can take their laptops to work. Private offices can double as huddle rooms for group meetings, and you can use dividers to make conference room space as big or as small as needed.
How do I make my reception area warm and welcoming?
The reception area "is the first impression someone is going to have of the company," says Polucci. So, it's important to create a comfortable and hospitable atmosphere. You can impart a feeling of warmth by allowing daylight to stream in and by making artificial lighting indirect and soft. Some designers suggest specific paint colors to convey a certain vibe: creams and beiges for sophistication, blues for honesty and loyalty, and greens for prestige. Finally, the overall space should not be imposing. "If it is a large lobby, for example, we create pockets of space within that volume for people to have a comfortable place to go," Polucci says.
What do I want my office space to say about my company?
Your office design can help communicate your corporate mission and image to both clients and employees. That can be especially important if you change your business model. Pogue uses the example of UBM, which with Gensler's help, redesigned its office to reflect its transformation from a century-old print media company into a 21st century online media firm. "Their San Francisco office was moved from a dated 1980s style cubicle farm into a bright, open and fully networked space that communicated the paradigm shift the company was undertaking," she says. "The space redesign not only clearly reflected the company's new focus and products, but allowed their employees to live the brand on a daily basis."
What kind of employee behavior do I want to encourage?
Your design can incorporate elements that will help you achieve certain results. If you want to encourage recycling, for example, you can install recycling stations throughout the office, providing easy access and clear instructions. Do you want more mingling between employees in different departments? Create a centralized coffee bar or printing station that will entice them to leave their immediate work area and share their thoughts with co-workers from another group.
Do I have comfortable places for employees to socialize and relax?
Popular spaces are cafes, pantries and other spots where people naturally congregate. Some businesses offer more elaborate amenities, such as fitness rooms, acupuncture/message therapy centers, dry cleaning drop-off points, and wellness rooms for everyone from nursing mothers to employees who don't feel well. "Creating spaces that allow employees to socialize and get some exercise or rest is important to create a sense of balance and well-being," Polucci says.
How do I make the space as green as possible?
Thinking in terms of sustainability is becoming the norm in office design, Polucci says. "We're designing every project with a sustainable focus, from mechanical and electric to lighting to recycled, renewable and reused materials. And we're to a point where many of the sustainable choices add no cost." For example, some overhead lighting will automatically grow dimmer as more natural light enters the space. Such a system can pay for itself in reduced energy bills within three years, Polucci says. Many "green" offices also use carpeting made of recycled content and wood harvested from sustainable forests.
After a dip in business to start the year, the office furniture industry rolls into NeoCon this week with continued expectation for some growth for the remainder of 2013 and improved business fortunes in 2014.
Written by Mark Sanchez
The latest quarterly outlook from the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, issued in late May, continues to project that North American shipments will grow 2.1 percent this year to $9.5 billion, followed by shipment growth of 7.2 percent in 2014 to $10.1 billion.
The updated BIFMA outlook, prepared by IHS Global Insight and issued quarterly, offers the same growth projections as the previous forecast three months earlier. The 2014 projection is a slight downgrade from the previous outlook of 9.0 percent shipment growth in 2014, and subsequent outlooks will likely change as economic data and industry sales reports come in throughout 2013.
“This far out, it will ebb and flow some more before we get there,” said Tom Reardon, executive director of BIFMA.
The industry began the year down slightly from the start of 2012. Through the first three months of 2013, industry shipments in North America declined 1.6 percent to $2.10 billion.
Growth is projected to come in the latter six months of 2013.
In his most recent activity index issued last month, analyst Mike Dunlap said he expects business to pick up and to “see a modest acceleration during mid- to late-2013 and into 2014.”
In the days after NeoCon, the massive trade show in downtown Chicago where the industry rolls out its latest product innovations, both Steelcase Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. are scheduled to report quarterly results.
Consensus estimates among brokerage analysts have Steelcase reporting sales of $689.9 million, up 2.1 percent from a year ago, and net income of 13 cents per share for the three months that ended in late May.
Analysts expect Herman Miller to report quarterly sales of $440.2 million, a 4.6-percent increase from the same period in 2012, and net income of 36 cents per share.
Companies that recently reported quarterly results posted lower revenue for the first three months of 2013, which they attributed in part to continued softness in sales to the federal government.
East Greenville, Penn.-based Knoll Inc. recorded relatively flat revenue of $137.5 million for its furniture segment for the January-to-March period. Knoll has facilities in Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
Furniture sales for Iowa-based HNI Corp. declined 3.4 percent to $365.8 million, and Jasper Ind.-basedKimball International reported a 3-percent sales decline to $119.4 million. Kimball attributed the year-to-year decline to two “unusually large” projects in the hospitality market that shipped in the same period a year earlier.
Kimball President and CEO Jim Thyen told analysts in May that the company’s orders were “showing a nice uptick” that was “spread pretty evenly across the book of business for the furniture segment.”
“We’re seeing increased customer activity particularly (in) increased size and projects and increased confidence to explore order activity much sooner,” he said.
An event meant to focus the nation’s attention on the importance of the small business community will feature events in five cities across the country this year. The U.S. Small Business Administration is holding its annual National Small Business Week from June 17-21, 2013.
This will be the 50th anniversary of the event, which the government organization uses as a chance to highlight the impact small businesses have in the U.S.
More than half of all Americans work for or own a small business in the U.S., according to the SBA. As a result, small businesses are responsible for about two in every three new jobs created in the U.S. on an annual basis.
This year’s National Small Business Week will feature events coast-to-coast, on each weekday, starting in Seattle on June 17, Dallas on the 18th, St. Louis on the 19th, Pittsburgh, on the 20th and finally in Washington, D.C., for the final day.
Each city will host forums for small business owners to discuss the small business landscape, business coaching services, networking events, and various awards ceremonies. The 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year will be announced at the end of the week in the nation’s capital.
Event details for each of those host cities have not yet been announced through SBA.
National Small Business Week will also feature daily online forums on topics important to small business owners and entrepreneurs including access to capital and and exporting. The SBA will also be live streaming events throughout the week at SBA.gov.