Home and Office Furniture sourcing your office furniture
Don’t forget to take the time to consider exactly what your business needs as rushing into this may mean you underestimate the needs of your home or office and it could be that you waste money and purchase items that are either not fit for purpose or are completely unnecessary. This office furniture buying guide aims to help you consider every aspect of your office and understand exactly what you need your furniture to do.
So please do take some time to read through our details before you make your investment decisions.
In summary the three key basic furniture items that every business requires are:
Purchasing decisions are made by either an employer or an individual and both need to consider the needs of the workplace and if you are an employer, you have a responsibility to your staff to furnish the workplace in a certain way. While it might seem beneficial to purchase the budget items, particularly if you have a large office to fill, in the long run it could end up costing you more due to use and replacement requirements. While your employees will almost certainly appreciate the extra money spent on their work environment, the real benefit to them comes from a comfortable seating area that reduces the aches and pains that can occur after sitting in the same position for a long period of time. Wellness in the office is currently focussed on the level of comfort and ambience in an office, colour choices and the right equipment for different people is important and most large offices can write down the cost of furniture of a period of time. An individual start up and worker requires similar solutions to larger offices and at ebonium we have solutions for all workplaces.
As part of any health and safety assessment, the ergonomic capabilities of an office should be verified. If employees are made to sit in chairs that are unsuitable, they can end up with backaches, headaches, spinal compression or ligament strain, not to mention that they will feel uncomfortable, which will reduce their motivation and productivity. Not only could this cause them to take more sick days, it is often good practice to purchase practical, reliable furniture from the beginning, and it doesn’t always have to cost a fortune – it just has to meet a certain number of requirements. Furniture is one of the most important things to consider when setting up office, and this guide aims to make the decision-making process methodical, informed and easy.
The first questions are to think about why you need furniture:
- Is it replacement furniture for existing items?
- Refurbishing during an office relocation?
This means you need to assess exactly what you will need.
- How many people will you have working?
- How many of them will need a private working area?
- How many can share or hot desk?
- How much space is required for storage?
- Laptop or Desktop PC’s
- Monitor arms and laptop stands
- Charging points
- Personal storage
- Power requirements and cable management
- Does staff require Height Adjustable desks for disabled, wheelchair access, different size people have different needs and one size fits all is not true.
- Draw a rough plan and take some measurements so that you can then review the requirements when sourcing solutions.
Remember if the business is replacing furniture rather than starting from scratch, it is worth assessing the items you have:
- PC’s have been replaced with laptops and Mobile devises so deep corner desks may be redundant
- Check what is good and works well for the current office and what your staff like/dislike about the current solution
- What would make work more productive and
- What they think they need to better do their job.
- Some solutions may be obsolete such as fax stands, obsolete power points without charging USB solutions
- Review the different requirements of your staff as we all come in different shapes and sizes so different chairs and desk heights may be optimum
- The work environment is changing with less meeting rooms and more break-put area’s these offer casual discussion area’s and can lead to better productivity and communication in offices
- Think about the future, more staff work from satellite and home offices, what space is required and how can this be optimised?
- Most offices we refurbish have vast amounts of historical filing and it is worth carrying out an audit of paperwork and reviewing personal storage and flexible working environments.
Many furniture retailers now provide CAD Office planning,
At ebonium we can assist with larger office layouts. We require all the measurements and a rough guide to your needs and storage, this should include number of employees, storage, desks, chairs and break out areas. The computer-based plans and 3D models will help you to accurately see how certain pieces of furniture will fit into your office, giving you the confidence to purchase the items you want without having to worry.
A CAD drawing provides an overview of the office layout and includes desks, chairs storage so that:
- Doors can be opened
- Chairs can be pushed back
- Filing can be accessed
- Break areas fit
A CAD drawing cannot verify that furniture can fit via hallways and access area’s so a site survey may well be required, while a lot of furniture can be delivered in a flat-pack, some items, particularly those made of solid wood, will come in an inflexible unit, and if it can’t fit through your doors, it will be a wasted purchase. So, contact us and for larger orders we will ask to carry out a survey to assist the process.
There are numerous online planning tool’s, and these are generally accurate and a great assistance If you want to do your own plans before making any decisions, we suggest ensuring measurements of the space is accurate and noted.
Consider access for large and heavy solid furniture such as executive desks, larger metal cupboards and fire safe’s
- Are there lifts to take large items to higher floors
- Are these available during the day
- Are stair wells wide with good height clearance.
- Please note that a 1.9m cupboard will require 2.7m of clearance if tilted whilst moving through stair wells and access points
Look for Practical and functional items
This is particularly important when procuring and identifying desks for the office or home. Whether your requirement is for 2 or 2000 desks you may not want to buy multiple desks that all look exactly the same, unless you have an extremely large company, because it is unlikely that you or all your employees will use their desks in exactly the same way. You will usually need a desk that is able to accommodate at least a laptop or tablet computer, with all of its cables, and probably a phone and small storage. Mobile workers and employees will bring in their own laptop, and so will need less space than those working on a desktop machine. A communal printer, fax and scanner is usually sufficient for a small office, but where is this going to sit? And does each employee need their own set of drawers and shelves, or will some people be able to manage with just personal storage?
As our working environments change the migration from pure filing and storage to powered charging points, personal storage areas has increased with combination units now common in the workplace.
Do employees often work late, or overnight? If so, they may also need space for additional storage and proper lighting.
Which Desks are available or suitable?
There are numerous desk styles available and we have highlighted the most popular types below;
Desk usually come in the following widths:
Bench desks can be in runs of up to 240cm
And usually in the following colours
Desk can be delivered flat packed or assembled depending upon your requirements
Ideal for open environments and space saving
Ideal for call centres and high density working
Legs are “C” shaped rather than straight
Desks are wider at one side than the other
Can be left or right-handed and used to be popular when desk top PC were very deep
Budget level desk usually 18mm top
Usually seen in Schools and have a desk with a fitted storage drawer
Left- or Right-Hand Return Desk
Height Adjustable Desk
These can be manual or electronic height adjustable and ideal of desk sharing and providing a variety of working positions in an office
You will most likely want to look for desks with plenty of space underneath them, such as the to ensure employees have room to move their legs without kicking furniture or files.
Before you decide on the look of your office, take time to review or audit your current requirements. Do you use suspension hanging files and are these foolscaps or A4, do you use Lever arch folders or boxes?
The main types of storage are:
- Filing cabinets usually lockable with 2, 3 4 or 5 drawers
- Under desk pedestals with filing and storage drawers
- Personal storage space, (lockers for offices which can be locked)
- Two door cupboards with solid doors
- Tambour cupboards which are cupboards with shutters
- Bookcases which are open cupboards
- Specialist storage such as Card filing solutions, Plan files, Desk tower pedestals, or multidrawers for small storage
Office filing cabinets are often the ‘go to’ storage solution for most workplace environments. They are a useful space for storing files in an office, however, when it comes to finding the right filing cabinet for your office there are a few different types you need to consider.
Firstly, the sizes of files they can store, either A4 or Foolscap are standard files in UK offices. Some filing cabinets carrying documents in hanging suspensions files have space for one, or both, so it’s important to check before making your purchase. You can usually find filing cabinets ranging in size from 2 drawers through to tall 4 drawers – make sure they have anti-tilt mechanisms for added safety.
Side filing cabinets are similar to standard filing cabinets but are much wider and can usually take multiple types of file sizes. These cabinets are often bought when floor space is less limited as they are wider than a standard filing cabinet, but with greater capacity.
Filing cabinets have lockable metal drawers and often available in either steel finishes or in woodgrains to compliment desk ranges.
Pedestal drawers are a modern storage option for the office and usually found in a range of sizes. Often coming in numerous different styles and colours with 2 or 3 drawer options so you’ll find one to suit your office in no time. They are supplied in steel or numerous woodgrain materials.
One key thing to note when purchasing pedestal drawers is to the depth. Most stockists will offer depths to match their desks depths and heights, so check yours match if you plan on sitting them next to desks.
Various options are available with pedestals which may include seat pads to assist space utilisation, high desk storage (Towers) caddy storage
Pedestals are mobile (with wheels) or desk supporting (with fixed feet)
Tambour storage units are a popular office product, with shutters instead of doors they allow for filing with minimal space.
With 4 widths available 90cm 80cm 100cm or 120cm space can be maximised with over 40 carcase colours and 7 tambour finishes we offer a vast range to suit every of home and commercial enterprise.
With 7 height options and even top boxes they allow for storage where space is at a premium and fully lockable for security.
With budget, essential and premium ranges there are configurable options to allow for:
Lateral (hanging file) filing
Drawer options with anti tilt
Hanging suspension file with anti tilt
Roll out shelves
Credenza storage units are often larger storage units, or sideboards. In the office they are ideal for space saving as they usually offer sliding doors for easy access. They are can found in full woodgrain finishes but can also be a display unit when glass doors are used.
This style of office furniture has seen a resurgence with multimedia solutions and breakout areas changing the office dynamics
The main style of open storage used in the office; bookcases are a great way of mixing storage with display. Whether its racks of A4 filers, or a shelf for reference books, bookcases offer practical and affordable storage for the workplace.
With the option of wooden or steel storage in various widths and height,
Storage cupboards are popular in offices wanting to make the most out of vertical space. 2 Door cupboards are ideal for keeping things tidy, organised and out of sight, making them an office essential for most workspaces.
Storage cupboards are available in 3 widths of 80cm 91cm and 100cm with secure locking points.
With optional colours and basic, essential and premium models, the better models have adjustable feet for floor levelling. A long run of cupboards in various colours can create a feature of an office
If you require a mixture of drawers’ suspension filing and cupboard space, then combination units could be an ideal solution
With the following options there is a solution for most workplaces:
- Drawers and Flippers (flippers are front opening small cubby storage)
- Drawers and Doors
- Drawers and Tambours
- Doors and lockers
- Drawers and lockers
With two widths (80cm and 100cm) some cabinets can be colour co-ordinated as above
Seating is a serious decision
Your employees’ opinions are vital; after all, they are the ones who will be using the furniture, and their comfort is essential for motivation and productivity. However, you should be careful to ensure it is comfort that is motivating their interest, rather than a desire for a more fashionable style. You want to buy good quality furniture that will stand the test of time, and for that reason you should absolutely avoid furniture trends or quirky fashion items. Designing an office is functional and practical – and even if you are designing a fashion showroom, you will still want to purchase items that can be used for years to come and not detract from your work. By sticking to simple, classic pieces, you will get the best long-term value for money, even if these are the pieces that cost the most.
Key Chair terms
- 24 Hour Chairs: These are specified by the manufacturer to have the ability to be used during multiple work shifts throughout the day. This is typically achieved by extra durable frames, thickly padded seat and back cushions and ergonomic adjustments.
- Heavy Duty Chairs: These meet manufacturer specifications on supporting people weighing 120kg or more. Although most are computer chairs, they may also be guest chairs or any other type of seating.
- Operator Chairs: Chairs that have a five-star base, usually with casters. These chairs may have fixed arms, adjustable arms, or no arms, and they are designed to be used at office desks. These are general use chairs and also go by the name “office chairs” or “task chairs”.
- Mesh Chairs: Chairs that have a five-star and mesh back. These chairs may have fixed arms, adjustable arms, or no arms, and they are designed to be used at office desks.
- Conference Chairs: Chairs designed to be put around a conference table, typically have fixed arms and minimal adjustments so that users are not distracted by their chairs during conferences.
- Drafting Chairs and Stools: Drafting chairs and stools are designed with a higher seat range to reach counter and bar height work surfaces. They typically include a foot ring around the cylinder which provides the user with a place to rest his or her feet while seated.
- Ergonomic Chairs:These are designed to have a variety of adjustments to allow for an ergonomic fit, these chairs may have some or all of the following combinations:
- Knee tilt
- Adjustable seat depth
- Adjustable seat height
- Adjustable seat angle
- Adjustable seat tension
- Adjustable back height
- Adjustable back angle
- Adjustable lumbar support
- Adjustable headrest
- Flip arms
- Adjustable arm height
- Adjustable arm width
- Adjustable arm depth
- Adjustable arm pivot
- Adjustable arm pad depth
- Adjustable arm pad pivot
- Adjustable foot ring height
- Adjustable tilt tension
- Adjustable synchro-tilt
- Tilt lock
- Executive Chairs: Typically feature a higher back and additional cushioning in comparison to a simpler and more practical chair. Executive chairs may involve a higher degree of style, including tufting or wood accents.
- Kneel Chairs: Chairs that position the user’s thighs at a 60 to 70-degree angle rather than the normal 90-degree angle of a standard office chair. Kneel chairs are designed to reduce lower back strain by dividing the weight between the seat and knee cushions.
Reception and Waiting Room Seating
- Beam Seating: One or multiple chairs that are attached to a horizontal metal bar beneath the seat.
- Ottomans: Low seat or footstools without a back or arms. Storage ottomans feature a removable top that reveals a storage compartment within.
- Reception Area Chairs: Single person chairs that are typically stationary. Also called guest chairs or side chairs, these seating options can have a four-leg base, sled base or cantilever base.
- Sofas: Long, upholstered seating designed for two or more people to sit in at a time. Sofas are also known as couches.
- Tablet Armchairs: Any variety of chairs that have a writing surface attached to one or both of the arms. The tablet may be fixed or may have a swivel feature.
Other Chair Types
- Armless Chairs: Any type of chair that has a back but rests.
- Benches: Bench seating with a continuous seat that has low profile arms or no arms.
- Folding Chairs: Chairs designed to be able to fold flat. These chairs are normally used for events that require temporary, portable seating.
- Stacking Chairs: Stackable chairs designed to stack on top of one another to provide space-saving storage solutions.
Don’t forget that budget items do not necessarily last as long as more expensive purchases!
The colour of the working environment is important and for many the key decision the colour of furniture can have a profound influence on the mood of a room.
The use of dark mahogany and heavy furniture can be imposing
Light bright colours can be conducive to a more modern aesthetic feel.
Vibrant colours can be fun and provide a sense of creativity and energy
We provide a range of standard vibrant and pastel colours and have over 50 different colours of metal storage, 7 desk colours and 5 Wood finishes
Generally, it is the saturation of the colour that is more important than the actual shade. Choose brighter, bolder colours to help stimulate the minds of your employees, or muted, soft shades to soothe them. It might be an idea to keep the bright colour in the heart of the office and keep the pastel colours for the reception and canteen, so that employees always have somewhere they can go and wind-down.
The most popular colour is white or neutral finishes
Finance and Costs
The budget is always important, however key considerations are:
- Be realistic on products,
- Budget products are cheaper but usually have a low guarantee
- Mid-range product has better guarantees and generally last longer
- Premium products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing and well-engineered
- Finance options are available, and we have a partner who specialises in leasing furniture to spread the cost
- Payment methods include numerous solutions from BAC’s to credit card, PayPal and it is usual for payment on order or a 50% confirmation fee
- Manage the budget and remember that your staff will spend up to 8 hours a day sitting on a chair so is this an area to spend less?
- Where is the product manufactured and what is the backup service?
- When comparing prices are:
- Items delivered to place of use
- Are items self assembly
- Is packaging removed
- Is assembly of products included
- Has the company had reviews and if so when things go wrong (as they may) are the issues resolved?
How to maintain your office furniture
The better you look after each piece of furniture, the longer you can expect to use it. Every material has a slightly different way that it should be cleaned, and it is worth taking note of this, so you don’t cause unnecessary damage.
- Glass furniture should be cleaned regularly, and manufacturers recommend purchasing a glass cleaning solution to prevent leaving streaks and water marks.
- Metal legged furniture including those with a chrome finish, should be polished regularly with a duster, since they are prone to collecting dust. If a deeper clean is required, a damp cloth and a touch of mild detergent will remove any marks. Wiping dry with a paper towel will create a beautifully shiny surface.
- Metal filing cbainets tend to be light texture finish so wiping with a damp cloth and very light detergent may be necessary
- Leather and other fabrics should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent them from fading. Leather should be deep cleaned using specialist leather products, but a slightly damp cloth will do for minor spills.
- Fabric should always be treated as soon as a mark appears using a mild soap and damp cloth, but the area should never be saturated.
- Keep wood furniture away from sources of intense heat or cold, such as heaters and air conditioners, since the extreme temperatures will cause the wood to warp. Also keep out of direct sunlight in order to keep the colour at its best. Wood should be polished with a dusting cloth.
Office Furniture Glossary
This can be found on filing cabinets and is a mechanism that prevents you opening more than one drawer at a time, so that the unit doesn’t fall forward.
Standard size of paper used in the UK, A4 size is smaller than Foolscap
A bench desk is one that is designed to be extended. This type of office desk helps to reduce costs and save space.
This term usually relates to furniture that is designed for a canteen environment. Usually plastic or metal materials are used for chairs, benches and tables, as they are easy to clean and maintain. While the chairs are not ergonomically designed like office chairs, they are sturdy and lightweight.
Informal area’s for collaboration or breaks, furniture includes meeting pods, high desks with stools and soft seating
CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, and it works as a way to design the layout of your room before making any purchases.
Standard wheels go backwards and forwards, while caster wheels are able to move in any direction.
A standard two door wood or metal storage cabinet usually supplied with shelves
A cabinet designed for different types of storage usually drawers and doors or drawers and tambours
This is to do with the way the furniture suits the individual to create a safe, comfortable working environment. While it is primarily linked to office chairs, other furniture plays a part in ensuring the health of the employees.
FIRA stands for the Furniture Industry Research Association which awards its certification to pieces of furniture that they consider to be high-quality.
In the case of furniture, this means that the material has been treated with a substance that reduces its ability to catch fire. Most furniture fabrics are tested to British standard BS5852.
This refers to furniture that requires self-assembly when it arrives.
The next size up from A4 size paper. Most storage cabinets are designed for A4 or Foolscap size
A gas-lift function allows a user to easily adjust the height of a chair
Desks that are adjustable in height either by a motor or by a manual lever. Desks can adjust from 65cm to over 1.2m high
This is a lightweight, slim design table that is usually lower than an ordinary desk.
A filing cabinet that is wider than is deep to allow for side to side filing, typically come in widths of 30”, 36” and 42”.
While real leather furniture can be extremely expensive, furniture finished with a leather effect can give the same executive impression at a fraction of the price. Leather effect is usually made from synthetic materials.
Furniture made with a leather-faced finish, has a thin layer of leather over the top of other, cheaper materials.
items supplied with locking solutions
A standard available option on a good quality task chair that provides support for the lower back.
On a desk, the modesty panel is a thin section of wood placed underneath the main working area that is intended to shield the lower body from view.
The cabinet that sits below a desk, these can be fixed to the desk or mobile (on castors)
see Height adjustable desks.
This material is considered the best quality and is the most expensive Crafted completely of wood, each piece of furniture is unique, thanks to the various grains and markings from the tree.
A cupboard with sliding doors
The type of an office or desk chair. It is generally comfortable and adjustable and can swivel 360 degrees.
- Wood effect:
Furniture that has been labelled has having a wood effect finish is usually manufactured completely of recycled board with a veneer finish.
Thin layer finish on products in various colours.
- Vertical File:
A filing cabinet that is deeper than it is wide, in which records can only be stored front to back.
- Wall Mount:
Refers to the installation of systems furniture pieces that are mounted directly to a drywall partition, rather than hung from a furniture panel.
- Wardrobe Cabinet:
A personal storage unit in a workspace designed to hold a coat, jacket, or other hanging items.
- Wire Management:
Characteristics of a piece of furniture that conceal wires and power chords from view.
A table or desk with three-sided partition around it, usually made for individual work.
- Wave (or radial) desk:
An ordinary desk that has an extra wide section on one side. This gives extra workspace if required.