Fortune 500 execs do not worry about mundane affairs such as furniture and general ambiance. They have staff that will take care of all that. But small company owners do have to make these decisions. Here are some pointers culled from professionals who make it their business to get offices up and running.
- Make a list of exactly what the office needs to be safe and relaxed, as well as functional. Consult employees about their preferences.
- Budget wisely. Decide how much you can afford to spend for office furniture. Keep in mind that buying on the cheap is not the same as sticking to a reasonable budget. If you lease or have delayed payment/no interest programs, do make monthly payments when due.
- Go ergonomic. Since the office can be a second home, you would be wise to invest in an ergonomic desk and chair, which may save you aches, pains and future doctor visits.
- Consider file cabinets, computer stations and storage units, as well as desks, lamps and chairs. Always take into account space limitations as office furniture can be multifunctional, or vertically "build-able."
- Shop for light fixtures that provide moderately bright, uniform illumination. Likewise, consider lamps with focused or "task" lighting, rather than fluorescent bulbs, which can increase stress levels. Once lighting is installed, make sure work areas and computer monitors are well-lit and glare-free.
- Check out estate auctions and university liquidation sales. Businesses that are closing or relocating may be looking for buyers for their used furniture.
- Consult colleagues who have furnished their offices to glean information regarding the vendors they used.
- It's a good idea to research retail and wholesale houses before making a purchase. Go online, or check with the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.
- Comparison shop. Visit discount outlets and department stores, in addition to retail establishments. Furniture refinishers and resale shops also may offer good deals. Online purchases are an option as well, although high shipping costs may negate any savings.
- Negotiate. Ask vendors if they are willing to come down on prices, particularly if the purchase is large. Suggest that a sweet deal may result in repeat business for them.