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Power Accessibility and Workplace Safety

Power Accessibility and Workplace Safety

Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all seen buildings with poor planning when it comes to power outlets. Think of an airport, an educational facility, or even your own office. If you have devices that need to be plugged in, you are restricted to the area within a few feet of a wall outlet. People end up “camped out” on the floor by the wall (sometimes in terribly inconvenient locations) so they can plug in a laptop or phone. Have you ever walked out of a classroom and almost tumbled over someone sitting on the floor with a laptop and their legs stretched out? Then you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Or how about this scenario: your business is relocating and turning a large office into a conference room. You want power in your conference table but there are no outlets in the floor, only in the wall. The quick and easy solution would be an extension cord and a rubber cord cover to bring power from the wall to the center of the room. While this solution is indeed easy and fast, is it the safest? Exposed cords on the floor (or even ones with a rubber cover) can pose a tripping hazard to those using the space, and can also get in the way of chairs if they are being rolled throughout the room.

How can both issues be put right? By providing power access in the center of a room, not just in the walls. Steelcase has provided a solution that is not only affordable and safe, it can be used in existing buildings without the need to core drill or trench into concrete subfloors! Steelcase Thread is a power solution that integrates easily into any space by routing power through a 3/16” high track that is installed beneath the carpet. The track has ‘ramps’ on either side, providing a safe solution that does not cause a tripping hazard. With Thread, floor monuments and freestanding power hubs can be installed almost anywhere in a room, allowing users to plug in from a centrally located seating area or work table without having cords running to the wall. Conference rooms also benefit from having power directly below where the table needs to plug in – no cords laying on the floor!

No matter the setting, Thread can help you make the most of your office’s real estate. With a simple installation process, low profile, and affordable price, Thread is a solution that is changing the way people think about power distribution. Ask the Porter’s Office Products Furniture team to learn more about how Thread can be integrated into your space!

Images provided by Steelcase. Visit https://www.steelcase.com/products/computer-support/thread/ for more information.

Safety in the Workplace

We all know the warning signs we see when in a car. The stop signs, crossing signs, and stop lights all keep us safe on the road. At home, we are all in charge of making our houses safe in the best ways we can for ourselves and our families. In the work environment, in can be hard to adjust to the new area and understand what is needed to remain safe. There are many tips we have for you to do your best to keep yourself and others safe while at work.

Be Aware

The most important thing to remember when trying to remain safe in the office is to be aware of your surroundings. Always concentrate on where you are going instead of texting or listening to loud music while walking. There may be a wet floor sign or something harmful on the ground that you could miss if you are not concentrating on where you are stepping. It’s very important to have your ears open too, just in case you don’t see those harms but someone else is there to warn you.

Company Policies

When you first are hired, talk with your boss about safety regulations. Ask about what the policy is on robberies, lockdowns, fires, and any other emergency you can think of. Memorize the lockdown drill and where the best emergency exits are located. If your boss assigns you an emergency role, be responsible for learning it. Your role could be pushing an alarm button or putting out a small fire in your designated area with a fire extinguisher. Whatever it is, make sure you practice it in your mind over and over until you have it down so that you can have a clear mind during an emergency.

Fire Safe Area

It is very important to try to keep your own area safe. One of the ways to do that is to make sure it is fire safe. Make sure your desk isn’t always cluttered, because then it becomes harder to contain if a little fire begins. You should make it a priority to protect important items and documents by using fire safe file cabinets or safes. Also, make sure that file cabinets, carrying cases, and other large objects are not obstructing your path to the fire exits. Every day, take a small break and walk your path to the nearest fire exits. Make sure that nobody has put anything in the way that could prevent you or others from getting out of the building.

Individual Safety

Now that the obvious physical safety concerns have been met, let’s talk a little more about mental, emotional, and internal health. An everyday office job can have horrible effects on a person’s well-being. Stress overloads often occur, depression can settle in, heart disease, back pain, and other horrible problems can easily become a reality to any worker. The mental and emotional problems from work can be reversed simply by decluttering and reorganizing your mind. Many people hold in more stress than is needed. Little things like to-do lists to get your thoughts on paper, listening to music, using a fidget pen or spinner, cleaning your desk at the end of the day, and taking short breaks can do a lot to improve your productivity and emotions. As for the back pain, what type of chair you have and how you sit in it can affect you greatly. If you can, try to find the best chair for you, and maybe even get a back support or footrest if you need. Make sure that you do your best to have good posture and often stand up, even if just for a minute every hour. The more short, walking breaks you take throughout the day, the less likely you are to gain weight and increase your risk for heart disease.

Sitting Well at Work

No two people sit the same. Which means nobody should be subject to sitting in an office chair that is suited for someone else. In fact, sitting in the wrong chair can have a long-term negative effect on your body. So how can you tell if your chair offers you the proper support?

Maintaining correct posture requires that your feet be flat on the floor with your knees and hips both bent at a 90-degree angle. Your lower back should be supported by your chair and your shoulders should be relaxed. The ideal position for your keyboard is having your elbows bent to about 90-degrees and your forearms and wrists level or slightly tiled downward to avoid strain on the wrists. Additionally, your computer monitor should be at or slightly below your eye level so your neck is not straining to look up at the screen.

So, what role does your desk chair play in helping you with proper posture? Ideally, you should be able to adjust the height to allow your feet to be flat on the floor. Chairs with a seat depth adjustment give you the opportunity to move your seat pan back so the back of your knees do not rest right against the seat pan, which can cause poor circulation to the legs. An adjustable lumbar will allow you to properly support your lower back. Finally, many chairs come with a seat tilt/tension lock or adjustment, so you can change how much resistance you feel when you lean back in your chair. The best chair for you will have all the adjustments necessary to provide comfort over a long period of time through proper support of your body.

But it’s not just your chair that can help how you sit! Other items like a keyboard tray and monitor arms will help you adjust your keyboard and computer monitor to be at the correct ergonomic height to not cause strain on your shoulders and neck. Having equipment that truly supports the way you work can benefit you both physically and mentally throughout your work day. When you sit well, you can work well!

Have questions about chairs and what kind is best for you? Contact the Porter’s Furniture Team and we can help you find the perfect fit!

Saving the Planet in the Office

Our whole lives we’ve heard, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Use less paper, buy reusable grocery bags, and recycle plastic bottles. Those are obvious, well-known ways to help our planet, but what are other ways to keep our life-long home safe and clean, especially in the workplace?

Power Saver:

This one sounds pretty obvious. Put your computer on auto sleep mode so if you are away long enough then your computer won’t be wasting excess energy. When you go to lunch, you can put your computer to sleep, but it saves much more energy if you shut down your computer. If the purchasing department of the company allows it, get LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. They last much longer and are well-known energy savers.

AC/Heater:

In the middle of the summer, it can be hard to turn down the AC. Having it on high is a very bad energy waster, though. It’s okay to have it on to a certain temperature, but it’s much more energy efficient to give employees small desk fans as they need them. As for the winter, you can also have some heat on so no one gets hypothermia and sues the company, but keep it a little lower and tell workers to bundle up if needed.

Carpool:

Some may think this is an awkward conversation to have with coworkers, but you’d be surprised how many people who live nearby would be willing to help save the environment (and money) by carpooling. Cars use many fuels that are harmful to the environment and even toxic to humans, animals, and plants. Decrease the amount of harm we place on our home by simply tag teaming with a few buddies.

Less Paper:

Computers may not be great energy savers themselves, but the sheer amount of paper used on a daily basis in the office is drastically worse. Many documents could be emailed and saved on a hard drive rather than printed out and stuffed in a filing cabinet. Plus, it can be a lot easier to sort and search for those documents digitally than by hand. As for to-do’s that we often put on sticky notes or paper pads, use a white board instead. Then you can simply erase it instead of throwing away many notes per day.

Spread the Word:

Many people have heard all of these suggestions, but they simply aren’t motivated to do something about it. When one person announces they are going to try and make a difference, it can spark a desire in others to do so as well. It’s a great way to find carpool buddies and an accountability partner or two. One person can make a difference in many lives, and in saving the world.

Space to Yourself; Creating Getaways Within the Office

Modern office design has seen an evolution toward open, collaborative spaces.  Cubicle walls are lowering, collaborative lounge and conferencing areas are being added, and even private offices often have full glass walls to give a feeling of openness.  There has been extensive research on how accessible collaborative office design can promote productivity in the workplace, and it can be easy to get caught up in the idea of having “no walls” to prevent separation and disengagement at work.  However, while the open office has its benefits, it is still important to remember that there must be a balance between areas where team meetings and group sessions take place, and spaces where individuals can hunker down and focus or take a break.  Thus, the importance of the ‘enclave’.

“These short-term retreat spaces give workers the change of pace—and of posture—that often stimulates new ideas and leads to better conversations down the road.  And for mobile workers, a private oasis is exactly what’s needed as they grab a few minutes to prep for the next meeting.  Meike Toepfer Taylor, a former Coalesse design researcher, calls these enclaves “ready refuge places where we can hide if needed.” 

“There’s mounting evidence that the lack of privacy is causing people to feel overexposed in today’s workplaces,”said Donna Flynn, who leads Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures research group. Along with giving people easy access to their colleagues, companies who practice collaboration also need to give workers “the time and places to focus and recharge,” she said.”

An enclave can be anything from a small nook with a table and chair to a completely separated room with lounge furniture.  Coalesse’s Massaud and Hosu lounge chairs are perfect for such a location, allowing relaxation or individual work to take place.

Others, like the Lagunitas collection from Coalesse and the Brody Lounge from Steelcase both create enclaves in and of themselves, no walls required!

Whatever it looks like, an in-between space like this may be just where you need to go to relax, take a phone call, or work on projects that require intense focus.  Everyone needs a place to get away from their desk and recharge during a hectic day.

Office Anxiety: Avoiding a Stressful Mess

Most office workers know how it feels to have a stressful day and have so much work that it bombards their cubicle. There can be so much chaos in one day that we can only wonder how so many items end up spread out everywhere across the desk. Along with the work, agitation increases very quickly. Why does a mess create more stress?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. gives us a great list about the effects of clutter on the mind.

  1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
  2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
  4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
  5. Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
  6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
  7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
  8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).

 

If clutter is so bad, what can be changed to decrease clutter and increase productivity? The obvious first step: Organize.

If you have papers piled and scattered all over your desk, get a little file cabinet with some file folders. By sorting all the papers into categories, it will save time in the long run. Have you ever written and printed a paper for a meeting and then lost it in your mess of a desk? With a well-organized file cabinet, you can rest at ease knowing that all your important documents can be found in a few seconds.
Even if those important papers are all tucked away in a secure place, there are still going to be random papers that are not needed anymore or pens, paperclips, and highlighters scattered.

At the end of each day take some time to throw away the junk and put away the miscellaneous items. For items that still need to be sorted by the end of the day, have a desk organizer to put them in so they aren’t all over the desk the next morning. I guarantee you will leave feeling better, and decrease the stress while coming in the next day. It’s also great time to ponder what you learned that day, take notes, and declutter your mind while you declutter your office. Many people leave the office still thinking about what they didn’t finish or what they are going to have to do the next day. If you write it all down, you will be much less stressed after the work day is over.
Going along with writing things down, during the work day many different tasks can be thrown at you. They will be rattling around in your brain until you finish them.

If you don’t write these down on a note pad, sticky notes, or a white board then your brain will be too busy to fully concentrate on anything else. Create a task list every day, and any time an assignment is thrown at you, jot it down. Holding the tasks in your mind while trying to focus on something else is like a baseball player holding onto every ball he caught during practice while trying to eat during his lunch break. Just catch each of the balls as they come, put them in a little basket next to you, and take care of them when you have time.
Stress may always be a part of the everyday working lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be decreased. Free your mind of the weight of worry by getting rid of any excess disorder.

Valentine’s Day: Office Party Ideas

The holidays are over, it’s a new year, and a new celebration is right around the corner. Valentine’s Day is a day of love and showing appreciation to the one’s you love. In elementary school, you used to get a huge box of paper valentines and tape suckers on them, but how do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with adults in the office?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Best Love Story”:

Many full-time employees are married and have families. Though this contest is directed mostly towards those who are married, anyone with a significant other can play as well. Have everyone write down how the met their significant other in 1-3 paragraphs. If there are a lot of people at the party, it can be split into a few groups first. Tell them to not write their name on the paper anywhere. Have one person read all the stories and then have everyone vote for their favorite. If you have groups, take the finalists from those groups and read those off to everyone else. Whoever wins gets a prize, and maybe also give the finalists a little prize as well.

Potluck:

While everyone is writing down their love stories, let them fill up their stomachs. Who doesn’t love a good, traditional potluck? Everyone gets the chance to show off their cooking (or shopping) skills. Suggest that everybody try to make/bring something related to Valentine’s Day. They can use red food coloring, try to make the items heart shaped, or just use lots of sugar to make the day extra sweet. You can even make it a contest, and whoever makes the dish that is most related to the holiday wins a prize.

Candy Jars:

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that gives you an excuse to stuff your face with candy and sweets. That is why counting jars are perfect for a Valentine’s Day party. Count how many pieces of candy are in each jar, place them all on a table with a sheet of paper in front, have everyone guess how many pieces are in each jar throughout the party, and then announce the winners at the end. You can do however many you would like with a great variety of different candies.

Secret Valentine:

Like a secret Santa gift, each employee would be assigned a worker to give a gift. The gift could be anything: chocolate, a stuffed animal, or a couple basket with goodies for an employee with a spouse. Make sure each employee tries to keep their person secret and deliver their gift to their cubicle or office space when no one is looking. You may want to hand out the names a week or two before Valentine’s Day so they have time to get the gift to them before the holiday. This is a great way of spreading the love around the office!

Employee Appreciation:

To the bosses: Since this holiday is a time to show love and appreciation to those who mean a lot to you, show your workers how much you appreciate all that they do for your company. Give your workers a small note with their favorite chocolate bar, or bring donuts or brownies for everyone. If you are feeling very generous, you could even do a drawing for different prizes, and everyone will get a prize. Start with small prizes, like candy baskets. Then slowly get a little fancier with gift cards to restaurants, spa gift certificates for them plus one other, and then more expensive items such as fit bits, cameras, or even a new TV. Your workers will definitely feel your appreciation.

Desk Layouts and Efficiency

 

Let’s face it…we all work differently.  When it comes to your personal work area, everyone has a certain way they prefer to set it up.  Some like open storage so they can easily access their supplies, others hate clutter and like to put everything behind doors or in drawers and boxes.  While many workers spend 6-8 hours at their desk every day, there are also those who are only in their office a few hours each week.  The layout of your personal workspace should reflect the kind of work you do and help you more efficiently carry out your daily tasks.  It’s not the same for everyone!

Imagine this: your job requires a lot of paperwork, but your desk does not have enough storage.  You end up walking over to the filing cabinet on the other side of the room 30 times a day to file documents.  Or, imagine the exact opposite.  Your work is almost paperless, and you would rather have a minimalistic workspace but you have a workstation full of files and overhead bins.  It makes you feel claustrophobic.  How can both problems be solved?  Through analysis of each worker’s needs and efficient workplace design.

If you are planning an office space redesign and want to make sure you are creating the best space for you to work in, here are some things to consider:

  • Does your desk have the amount and type of storage you need?  As in the above example, not everyone will necessarily need the same type of storage.  For those that have piles of paper, consider extra file cabinets for long-term storage and file sorters for items that may still need to be accessed.  For those who work mainly on the computer, a simple set of drawers for writing utensils or personal items will do.
  • Do you have sufficient surface area in your work station or desk?  While typically more work surface is better, it is not always necessary for every worker.  Call centers, for example, tend to have small work stations since their employees do not need much more than a phone and a computer.  The same would be true for workers such as outside sales reps who may need a place to plug in a laptop for a few hours each week but do not need a full desk of their own.  Those who work a full 8 hours at their desk may need more room to spread out papers, catalogs, drawings, or other documents.  Make sure you are not wasting space where it is not needed, while also giving plenty of space where it is needed.

  • Do you have any general complaints about your existing workspace?  Clearly this question can be a little trickier as it opens the floodgates for you to think about every detail you hate.  But as you think about it, keep in mind that this question is more about the overall space, not necessarily your work station (those have already been covered!).  For instance, are there a lot of people who complain about too much noise, or think it’s too dark and closed in?  For noise reduction acoustic solutions can be explored, while a slightly more open layout may help people to not feel so cramped and in the dark.

Whether you are adding to your existing furniture or starting from nothing, try and take into account the needs of your personal work space.  Not only could this improve the efficiency, it can also boost morale!  Happy you = more success for your business!

What’s New: Millennials

What’s new in business?

Millennials! As more and more millennials are assuming management positions and becoming consumers, they are changing the way we do business. Whether is it new technology, inventive ideas, or marketing methods; everything needs to be fast-paced with instant gratification. How does this effect old businesses? The way we manage our businesses needs to change.

Acceptance-

If you work with/ hire a lot of millennials, there is one thing that is more important to them than anything else: acceptance. They like and respond to immediate feedback of how well, or how not-so-well, they are performing their duties. They aim to please their supervisors and tend to be perfectionists, while sticking firmly to their beliefs. Millennials are very passionate about what they like and will go to great lengths to accomplish things that they believe in.

Technology-

Marketing on paper used to be the way to go. To market to your millennial customers, the internet is necessary. They Google everything! Millennials do not go anywhere without their smartphones. That means, expanding your marketing to social media is a must! Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are important websites to place ads for your business. The younger generation are more likely to see it. They love virtual everything, and even Skype is more likely to be used in the workplace now than ever before.

Flexibility-

New ideas to make work fun are constantly in motion. Whether it is checking Facebook every 20 minutes or bringing a distraction to work to get through the day, this is the most ADD generation. Doing their work on their own time table while balancing their social lives is the ideal job atmosphere for a millennial. Creating a deadline is important, but managing their time hour by hour may not go well. More and more millennials are looking for jobs/careers that they can do from home.

When hiring new employees or marketing to customers, consider these key attributes of the “new” generation. This may help control employees and grow your business.

On-Boarding Do’s and Don’t’s

Oh Hiya, Meg here! I think bringing a new client to our company is one of the most exciting times to be a part of the team. Of course, it takes an awful lot of work and planning, but it’s one of the most rewarding parts of a job. Here are a few of my best tips for meeting with a prospective client and how to get them hooked on your business:

onboarding

  •         DO Listen: Pay attention to exactly what it is that the client is looking for from your company. Each client will be looking for something unique, which means that you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of what your company has to offer. Listen for the issues, take notes, and provide solutions! I can always count on my trusty notepad and BIC Ballpoint Pen for keeping notes during prospective client meetings.
  •         DON’T Generalize: A quick way to turn a client away from your company is preparing a one-size-fits-all solution. Be sure that you’ve taken the time to fully assess what you can offer the client for their unique needs and tailor your proposal to them as much as possible.
  •         DO Problem Solve: Take time to meet with your team and plan a detailed solution for your client that fits your skill sets. Keep your team, and yourself, in check when it comes to providing solutions and be sure that you can deliver work you’re proud of. I’ve found that our clients appreciate having a solution in-hand, so my team puts together our proposals with our Swingline Manual Binding Machine. It allows us to organize a professional outline and our clients always leave the meeting impressed.
  •         DON’T Promise the Moon: On the other side of creating a thorough solution is over-promising. When bringing on a new client, it’s easy to promise the moon from your team. Be sure that your solutions are realistic in both the end goal and the timeline.
  •         DO Communicate: Do your best to make yourself open to client communication during onboarding. Your future client wants to know that even after they’ve signed on with you, you’ll be open to answering any questions or concerns. Stay in contact and you’ll have a lifelong client!
  •         DON’T Overwhelm: While open communication is wonderful, it can easily overwhelm a client when you offer up a daily email or phone call. Stay open and available, but keep yourself in check when it comes to checking in.

Of course, these tips aren’t a complete guide to onboarding a prospective client! One of the best guides that I’ve found for this process is from Hubspot. It’s full of wonderful tips for staying on track with a client throughout onboarding. Take a look here.

Until next time,

Meg