Ask Yourself These 5 Things Before Buying New Office Furniture
A Furniture-Buying Guide for Facilities Managers
Buying new furniture for the office can be a simple process, if you don't think about things like comfort, ergonomics and long-term value. Going for what's cheap and easy to buy in bulk can remove the headache of researching, talking to different vendors and planning. But if you are interested in taking a more careful and measured approach, below is a list of five questions that can get you started with the furniture-buying process.
What do I do with the old furniture?
There are a few things you can do with old furniture. You could sell it to a furniture retailer or wholesaler. You could donate it to charity. You could have it recycled. Or, you can re-use it. Unless you have a pressing reason to get rid of it, giving old furniture new life will ensure you get the most value out of it as possible. How do you do that? Start by asking the dealer you're buying from if they have any refurbishing ideas. Furniture retailer Team Office says “[a] good, full-service furniture dealer will be there to help you throughout the life cycle of your office furniture.”1
What sort of furniture do we need?
Next, think about the kind of furniture you're needing. What kind of work should the furniture support? If the occupancy rate of your office is low, for example, and people spend some time in the office but mostly work elsewhere, then there's no need for you to get multiple desks when a worktable may suffice. Are shelves and storage really necessary, or are most of the company's records digitized and stored on the cloud? Are cubicles necessary, or are you making everything open-office? Thinking about these things may seem simple, and therefore unnecessary, but it's important to identify your specific needs from the get-go to prevent buyer's remorse later on.
What kind of material do we need?
If you're purchasing an office chair, the right material will depend on its use. For example, if you're looking for chairs for the executive conference room, leather is a sleek and stylish choice. But if you're looking for a desk chair for everyday work, mesh is a popular option that keeps the skin cool. For furniture in high-traffic spots, like lobbies or breakrooms, look for vinyl furniture—it's durable and easy to clean.
Is it comfortable?
To answer this question, it's a good idea to have some coworkers go with you to test out different chairs. What feels comfortable to a person may depend on several different things, like the kind of work they do, or their height and weight. Of course, as Office Furniture USA points out, ergonomics like “contoured seats, lumbar backrest supports, adjustable seats and armrests” are also important.2 Therefore, it's good to consider what's comfortable to your colleagues, as well as what's designed to according to ergonomic best practices. When you find furniture where the two overlap, you'll have found a winner.
What kind of support can I expect from the dealer?
The services offered by the furniture dealer can be just as important as the furniture itself. What kind of warranty does the business offer? If something were to happen to the furniture during the shipping process, how would the furniture be repaired? Just as you would when you buy any product or service, it's smart to ask for references. That way, you can ensure the person you're buying from is a trustworthy vendor who will provide the support you need—not just a quick sale.
Buying new furniture for the office isn't a decision to take lightly. The choices you make will have a big impact on office environment, employee comfort and overall productivity. If you go into the process armed with these five questions, however, you can make sure that you make a good purchase.