A good office furniture consultancy won’t just sell you furniture. They’ll act as your guide, a partner, in helping you to navigate change and transform your workspace for the better.
But not all office furniture consultancies are the same.
The question is, are you getting the most out of yours?
Read on to find out.
Back to basics; why it’s important to find the right office furniture
The office furniture in your workplace has always had a direct impact on employees’ health and wellbeing, their engagement levels, and their ability to be productive.
A good ergonomic task chair, for example, provides comfort. And when your employees are comfortable, they’re more likely to be healthy, happy and productive.
Post pandemic, we’re more aware of this than ever. During the first two weeks of lockdown more than half of workers reported new aches and pains compared to their normal physical condition, as they adjusted to working from makeshift setups at home.
And research by Steelcase found that people working from home without an ergonomic chair and desk reported higher levels of stress and poorer wellbeing, which, in turn, had a detrimental impact on performance.
Ultimately, the office furniture within your workplace will determine how your employees feel and how well they can do their jobs. And this has a direct impact on business success.
Mistakes organisations make when buying office furniture
Some of the common mistakes organisations make when buying office furniture are:
Buying without a plan or strategy - Investing in office furniture without a clear plan or strategy can lead companies to make the wrong choices.
Not considering the needs and wants of employees - Buying office furniture that doesn’t support your employees to work in the way they want, or putting aesthetics over comfort, can have a negative impact on how employees feel and how they perform.
Choosing price over value - Price is always going to be a key factor in your purchasing decision. But when evaluating the price of different options it’s important to consider the value of the product and the cost of ownership over the expected life of the furniture. A cheaper, poor quality task chair may need to be replaced after 5 years, whereas a higher quality, more expensive option may last you 20, costing you less in the long run.
Not buying furniture with growth needs in mind - You may buy a whole suite of new office furniture that is perfect for your business now, but it’s a good idea to think ahead about how those items will fit into your future environment too. By choosing flexible furniture that can be easily moved and reconfigured as new needs arise, you’ll have the option to change your workspace as necessary.
A good office furniture consultancy can help you avoid these common mistakes. They can help you plan a strategy for your current and future needs, will get to know you and your employees so they can advise on the best solution, and help you get the best value.
How a good office furniture consultancy can support you through every stage of your project - and beyond
Let’s take a closer look at how a good office furniture consultancy can support you to create better workspaces for your people and your business.
A good office furniture consultancy will work closely with you to understand your people, your working practices, your brand and your objectives.
By understanding what your people need and want from the working environment, they can advise you on the best products for your space. They can also help you to identify how your office furniture can support your wider business goals. For example, if your company is invested in reducing its overall carbon footprint, they will help you to make sustainable choices.
A good consultancy will also carry out an audit to assess and review your current furniture. There may be chairs, workstations or other furniture that can be repurposed or reused, for example.
They will also strive to understand how you currently use the space and identify any areas that are under or over used. They’ll look into how many meetings you have, the tools and technology workers need to do their best work, and if relevant, how the space can be best utilised to support hybrid work.
Design and specification
Once you’ve agreed on a clear strategy, the consultancy will create a design and list of furniture that’s most conducive to your needs.
They should discuss different options with you, using product brochures and 3D renders, as well as organising visits to showrooms to help you evaluate your options. They’ll help guide you in choosing the right aesthetics, finishes, ergonomic and environmental standards, and tech integrations for your needs. For example, if you’re looking to achieve a BREEAM, LEED, SKA or WELL rating, they should be able to guide you on the products that meet the criteria.
And they’ll also make sure the elements you choose work together in both design and function, helping you to avoid costly mistakes.
Delivery and installation
Ideally, your project will be supported by a project management team who will ensure all orders are synchronised to arrive on time and fit with your schedule so any disruption to the business is minimised. They’ll also be able to work with manufacturers to ensure packaging waste is kept to a minimum.
A good office furniture consultancy will use an experienced team, not employees or a general moving company who lack the expertise to assemble office furniture. And if there are any issues, the project management team will be on hand to resolve any issues.
A good office furniture consultancy won’t abandon you here. First off, they can organise training for employees on how to use the newly installed office furniture ergonomically, and how to adjust for individual preferences or to support different activities.
They can also provide ongoing maintenance. Office furniture today is made to last longer, with longer warranties and replaceable parts. Across the industry, manufacturers are increasingly adopting a circular economy mindset. So when it comes time to replace the fabric or wheels on a task chair, your office furniture consultancy can handle it for you.
And as your needs evolve, a good office furniture consultancy will help you adapt your furniture and your space so it continues to meet the needs of your people and your business.
They may also be able to support you with asset management, so you can keep track of all your furniture assets across your real estate. So when one office is done using a piece of furniture, it may be that another location within your organisation can benefit from it. Having an inventory of exactly what you have, where it is, and if it's available, makes it easy to manage - while also making your investment go further.
End of life support
When you have furniture you no longer need, a consultancy can help you find new homes for it, recycle it, or ethically dispose of it for you. A whopping 1.2 million ofﬁce desks and 1.8 million ofﬁce chairs end up in UK landﬁll each year. A good office furniture consultancy will take care of it responsibly for you, so it doesn't end up in landfill.
What to look for in an office furniture consultancy
So if you’re already in the process of considering and evaluating office furniture consultancies, what should you be looking for when making your choice?
Or, if you are already working with a consultancy, this checklist will help you determine whether you’re getting everything you need.
Here’s what you should be looking for from an office furniture consultancy:
- More than just sales - You want a partner that can help you build your workplace strategy, who will get to know your people and your business, and who will offer expertise and quality service before they even show you office furniture.
- Knowledge and expertise - Expectations of the workplace are changing, and wellbeing and sustainability are high on the agenda. You need a partner who can help you navigate these changes and provide expert advice, from how to create spaces that enable everyone to thrive, to how to meet criteria for green building certifications such as BREEAM, LEED, SKA and WELL. They should be at the forefront of changing office design trends and research, and be able to share that knowledge with you.
- Experienced team - You need a highly experienced team who can guide you through your project, from strategy through to design, delivery, install - and beyond.
- Ongoing support - A good office furniture consultancy won’t abandon you after the sale or installation, they’ll continue to guide you as your business grows and your needs evolve, providing up to date insights on how to make your workspace work better. And they’ll manage any repairs or part placements as needed.
- End of life schemes - Having a partner who offers a buy-back scheme, recycling, or ethical disposal options when you’re done with a piece of furniture can help you to take care of items responsibly.
- Relationships with manufacturers - You need a partner who has built long-standing relationships with manufacturers, so they can get you the right products, at the right prices, and with the right warranties.
- Testimonials and case studies - Your partner should have proven experience in transforming workplace environments for businesses like yours.
The corporate landscape is in flux and will continue to be for some time. Companies now have difficult decisions to make when it comes to the work experiences they provide for their people. And the office furniture they choose for the workplace will play a huge part in that experience. It will determine the wellbeing and productivity of your employees, and as a consequence, the success of your business.
A good office furniture consultancy will help guide you through the uncertainty and transform your workspace to work better, and to work smarter, for you and your people. They’ll use their knowledge and expertise of the industry to help you navigate this new era of workplace change - and beyond - sticking with you as your needs evolve.