The Ultimate Guide to Furnishing an Office
Few of us ever give a second thought to office furniture. Too often, it's drab, functional, utilitarian. Hardly the furniture we'd give another glance. After all, it's there to serve a purpose. To provide us with a place to work.
In reality, however, office furniture is so much more.
We spend much of our lives in the office: planning and discussing projects, reports, and more. Our desks, in particular, are the singular place where we spend most of our time – except our beds, of course.
So, why do we give these key areas such little attention? Why is office furniture treated as an afterthought?
American interior designer Albert Hadley once said, "design is coming to grips with one's real lifestyle, one's real place in the world. Rooms should not be put together for show but to nourish one's well-being."
Why can't that be true for office furniture?
Especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to set up home offices for an affordable price. But with at least 8 hours spent hunched at your desk, isn't it time we aimed for more.
Whether you're an employer thinking about employee wellbeing or a freelancer building your home office, you need office furniture with a difference.
Here at In the Office (ITO) Furniture, we design quality furniture at competitive prices, often manufactured here in South Africa.
But before you dive into our selection of office furniture on sale, here is the ultimate guide for furnishing an office. We've included everything from the basics through to long-term maintenance.
Let's get started.
What is office furniture and furnishing?
The wrong answer: any furniture you put in an office.
The right answer: office furniture is designed to meet employees' ergonomic and functional needs and help them fulfill their jobs.
It could include desks, tables, chairs, bookshelves, filing cabinets, and more. Most common office furniture typically is modular, forming banks of desks with dividers in-between. It can be assembled rapidly or reconfigured to meet the changing needs of a team or department. Often referred to as “Benching or Clusters”.
That's often the hallmark of office furniture: adaptability. Any space, no matter the size, can be remodeled by moving a few desks and tables. Dividers can help demarcate the boundaries between teams. Meanwhile, large desks or prominent positions can indicate managerial positions.
What are office furniture examples?
Probably the most famous example of office furniture is the office chair. There's no better example of ergonomic office design.
Humans aren't built to sit down all day. We're supposed to hunt, roam, and gather before relaxing by a fire. The challenge then is to design a chair that perfectly sculpts the human body.
Indeed, if an employer fails to provide a decent office chair, they may be faced with a breakout of musculoskeletal pain. Sitting down for long periods strains our back ligaments and reduces tone in our muscles.
The result: back pain, and lots of it.
Exact figures on South Africa's back pain remain unknown – but it is still one of the commonest ailments seen by doctors. That can cost businesses thousands in missed work days due to sickness. It also demotivates staff – would you get much work done in chronic pain?
That's where the ergonomic office chair comes in. Sculpted to your back and with ample support, it reduces the incidence of back pain, thereby boosting any business.
And that's just one example of the benefits of office furniture.
What furniture does an office need?
Not every company or person has thousands to spend on office furniture. We're all working within our budgets. So, what are the absolute essential bits of office furniture on sale?
Desk and chair. The building block of the office. Without a desk and chair, no one is getting any work done. But gone are the days of dividers. Today, offices are increasingly less structured. Think: hot desks, standing desks, and open-plan designs.
Meeting room table and chairs. More tables and chairs! This time with a different purpose. Boardroom tables should be big enough to fit everyone around. But not too big – you don't want to be shouting your figures to Sarah in Accounting.
Storage. Even as we transfer to a paperless environment, there are still old documents to file. That means filing cabinets and storage. Ideally, every employee should have a small set of drawers – you can opt for a desk height or mobile pedestal.
Relaxation. We're not machines; we don't work every minute. Sometimes we need a break. Newer companies add couches, coffee tables, bookcases, even gaming areas to help their employees unwind. After all, employers see less employee turnover and can attract the best talent with higher job satisfaction.
Those are the basics: I bet you didn't realize office furniture mattered so much. Indeed, office furniture can make or break a company. Drab, dour offices are depressing places to work. In contrast, vibrant open-plan office furniture can create a collaborative, innovative environment where your employees want to work.
Even working from home, you'll still need the basics listed above.
How do I choose office furniture and equipment?
Ergonomic. Ergonomic. Ergonomic. It's the kind of word used in corporate meetings, where no one ever knows the
Here's the definition:
"The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator
fatigue and discomfort." - the Free Dictionary.
Little wonder it's considered the main factor in office furniture on sale. Therefore, to start selecting office furniture, you
need to begin with a list of employees' responsibilities. Then, identify the office furniture required based on their demands.
For instance, employees who spend only short periods in the office can suffice with a more affordable chair. However, a
software developer sitting down for 8 hours or more per day will need the ultimate ergonomic design.
Design choices can also impact work life. Round tables foster collaboration, for example, where a longer table
establishes a hierarchy.
You'll also want to consider visitors to your office. Purchasing adequate seating is critical. But this also highlights
the need for an attractive and pleasant office environment. Don't merely buy the cheapest office furniture on sale.
Your office is the showroom for your business. If well-furnished, people want to work there, and customers will
want to place an order.
What type of furniture is most desirable for an office?
Once you've got what's needed, you can move on to those desirable pieces.
Number one on the list is a statement reception desk. Here, the design informs on your company's personality and
ethos. Medical businesses are more likely to have a crisp white reception desk. In contrast, more traditional
companies may opt for a darker wood. Think about the size of your space and the positioning of the desk. You
want it to catch the eye. After all, it's a visitor's first port-of-call when they arrive.
Next is soft furnishings to decorate internal spaces. A leather sofa or wingback chair is a fantastic statement
piece of office furniture. While still serving a useful purpose.
How do you maintain office furniture?
Office furniture should be maintained with care and attention. Naturally, over time – and across several employees – things wear out.
That doesn't mean you can't do anything about it.
First, implementing a clean desk policy is critical. It prevents the gradual accumulation of work, papers, dirt, food, and more on office furniture. It also improves productivity. You'll want to encourage employees to report any defects. The sooner a loose screw or desk joint is fixed, the less chance of further breakage.
Leather should also be regularly dusted and kept out of direct sunlight. Only specially designed cleaners should be used to buff it up. The same is true for wooden office furniture. Routinely ensure wood surfaces are wiped down and polished. If possible, encourage the use of coasters for drinks – no more ingrained coffee stains.
Why is furniture important in an office?
If you were going to sit in a chair eight hours a day for several years, wouldn't you want a comfortable one? Wouldn't you want your office environment to be warm and pleasant? These are the questions employers need to ask themselves.
Here at ITO Furniture, we have a simple philosophy: make your workplace a happy space.
That's why we select the most comfortable and affordable office furniture on sale. But also, because we believe that office furniture shapes not just the space, but the business. It determines the culture and values employees will adopt. Cramped, uncomfortable, claustrophobic can no longer be the future of South African office furniture. What's needed is a workspace for the 21st century?
So, whether you're planning a big move to new premises or you just need to build a home office, browse our fabulous selection of office furniture. There's something for everyone.