As you'll know from whenever you've tried to implement anything which affects everyone in your office at once, changing things at work can be tricky to manage. This can become an issue for something as simple as altering the air conditioning or switching coffee supplier, so buying new office furniture could be fraught with danger if you don't involve your employees.
Even if you know it will help in the long run, it's still best practice to involve employees in buying new office furniture so that they don't feel imposed upon. Having a say in the furniture the company ends up purchasing will encourage a level of ownership and responsibility for the new items, which in turn breeds improvements in morale and productivity.
Following these tips will ensure that your staff feel involved and included and you choose furniture which has the seal of approval from the whole office.
1. Survey Staff
You'll need to find out what staff like and dislike about the current furniture items in your office. Canvassing their opinion via something like a Survey Monkey service or old-fashioned paper exercise will help you work out what to keep, what to replace with like-for-like and what needs improvement.
Ask the following questions as a minimum and add in your own which are specific to your own office:
- Is your current desk and chair combination comfortable? Yes/No (explain)
- Can you adjust your chair and desk arrangement to alleviate stresses and aches? Yes/No (explain)
- Do you have enough room to work comfortably and free from clutter? Yes/No (explain)
- Can you work collaboratively, within the current furniture setup, easily? Yes/No (explain)
- Do you need more or less storage space? More (explain)/Less (explain)
If you have a large workforce, collect answers in teams or banks of desks, with each group submitting answers as a group. This will help to speed up the analysis process.
2. Set A Budget And Ask Staff To Choose
Once you have analysed the answers and identified any recurring trends and ignored any erroneous or spoof answers (there'll always be at least one), you will have an idea of which areas you need to focus on and allocate your budget accordingly.
If a number of staff complained of a lack of adjustability in their chairs and are uncomfortable, chairs may need a larger budget than if everyone is happy to keep their current desk chair. Set a budget for each workstation or item, depending on what needs replacing.
You can then canvas staff/teams/banks of desks (whichever method you used to survey employees) to choose their own desired or favourite furniture items which fall within your prescribed budget.
This can be repeated for shared furniture too - in breakout and meeting areas or collaborative work spaces. It's vital that these spaces in your office have the most desirable, productivity inspiring furniture items, because these are the hidden gold mines of productivity within the modern office.
Using the right furniture in your breakout space, for example, can turn it into a loved and desirable space in your office which is used throughout the day for both working and relaxation. Relaxed, recharged workers who have had a proper lunch break are a lot more productive in the afternoon. Read more about breakout furniture here and involve staff in the process of designing the space and furnishing it. You will then see maximum benefit from installing a proper breakout area.
3. Hold A Vote
Once you have some agreed options, hold an employee wide vote. You could even turn this into a light-hearted, morale boosting election process if you so wish. With campaign pitches and a humorous debate.
Or you could keep it simple and email the product information to all employees, ask them to look at both and then put their choice on a post-it note and place it in a box by the door on their way out of the office.
Counting up the votes and announcing the winner next day, along with setting the budget, is the only work involved for you. But your staff feel like they have had a major say in shaping their work environment and will appreciate the business listening to them and putting their ideas into action.
Start With Choosing Chairs
If you want to start improving your office furniture by improving the office chairs, make sure you choose the right chair for the right job role and the right amount of use. Seniority shouldn't dictate how many ergonomic features a chair has, if that person is hardly ever at their desk. Alternatively, somebody who never has to leave their desk probably needs more adjustable features than anyone else, but they might not have the room to house a large chair.
And the list of possible features can be quite confusing to the uninitiated.
All of this is why we put together a free, quick and easy guide to choosing the right office chair. Take a look and open your free copy here: