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Creating Your Office Framework

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Choose the appropriate furniture for your needs
  • Create a scale model to find the best office layout with the least amount of effort
  • Learn the importance of color and lighting, and choose a color scheme that matches your personal and professional style
  • Select the best window and floor treatments for your personal and professional preferences
  • Learn how to accommodate plants and office-appropriate pets
  • Consider which—and how many—personal items you want to keep in your office

When undertaking a large project, it makes sense to first address the largest aspects, get those pieces in place, and then move to the smaller, more detailed aspects of the project. A bit of planning on the front end sets you up for success in any project, whether you are painting a landscape or organizing your office. In an office setting, there are large framework factors to consider before you get down to the nitty-gritty detail work of organizing the drawers, nooks, and crannies in your office.

These large framework factors are the subject of this chapter. Here, you learn how to organize and decorate your office space (based on its size), choose the appropriate furniture for your space and needs, select the flooring style that works best for you, and decide upon the proper color scheme and lighting for your working style and profession. Because you spend so much time in your office, it’s important that you feel comfortable and enjoy your time there. Toward that end, this chapter also helps you learn how to accommodate plants and other personal objects in your office.

  • Choose primary furnishings that match your working style and workflow
  • Consider the type of desk, working surfaces, and desktop storage that fits your office size and needs
  • Find an office chair that fits and supports your body

Choosing Your Primary Furniture

Primary furniture consists of your desk, work surfaces, and your chair. Secondary furniture is anything additional, such as filing cabinets, conference tables, guest chairs, or shelving units; these items are addressed in other chapters throughout the book. Your primary furniture is one of the most important elements in your office. Your desk serves as a place for working, as well as storage of Zone One items, and it is the keystone of your office (you learned about assigning and using Zones in your office in Chapter 2, "Creating Your Office Vision").

Your chair is the tool you use most in conjunction with your desk and it is equally important. If your office has been furnished by your current employer, you might have had no choice about the furniture in your office when you took your job. If it isn’t working for you, however, it is in your best interest—and ultimately the company’s best interest—to replace it with furniture that works for you. If you’re self-employed, it’s even more important because any time you’re nonproductive you’re losing income. When evaluating your present office furniture, examine your options by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have enough flat work surfaces?
  • Do I have plenty of room to use my computer and keyboard comfortably?
  • Is my chair a comfortable height and does it support me on even the longest days?
  • Will my company allow me to change my furniture, even if I purchase it myself?
  • What storage or functional aspects would I want new furniture to have that my present furniture is missing?
  • Are there pieces in my office that are being underutilized or have become stacking spots for paper?
  • Do I have space to hold all my paper files?

Choosing a Desk and Desktop Storage

The way you work and the items and information in your office determines the style of desk you need. If your work is paper-intensive and your projects require a large amount of flat work space, consider using a desk with a return. A return is the second piece of furniture that makes a desk L-shaped, as shown in Figure 3.1. This additional piece is used to add extra work space.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 An L-shaped desk and return combination offers additional work and storage space.

If your work requires you to refer to books, manuals, or other reference materials, consider purchasing a desk with a hutch on top for storing those items close at hand. A hutch is a great way to keep materials nearby without losing any of your work surface. Figure 3.2 shows a desk with a hutch that includes two rows of shelves.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 The hutch above the desk offers extra storage for items used frequently and needed close at hand.

If you work from a cubicle, you might not have the ability to add a hutch to your desk. However, many desks situated in cubes automatically come with closed overhead cabinet space. This additional storage is great for keeping reference materials, books, and binders nearby without losing any work space on your desktop.

There are also desks that fit across the corner of a room, as shown in Figure 3.3. Corner desks give you the option to place a hutch on top in the center. A corner desk is a great way to utilize a small office, while still leaving space for additional furniture in the center or other side of the room.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 A corner desk creates open space in the center of the office for traffic flow.

Selecting the Right Office Chair

The chair you choose is important, especially if you spend most of your time in your office, rather than out in the field. A quality desk chair that fits you well will make a big difference in the way your body feels at the end of each day, which contributes either positively or negatively to your effectiveness and productivity.

Never buy a chair without spending several minutes sitting in it first. Each chair will feel different to you, and before you spend a dime you want to be sure the chair is comfortable and meets your needs. Be sure the chair you choose has several options for adjustment. You should easily be able to change the height of the seat and back, as well as the armrests. Many chairs offer adjustable tension settings on the backrest that enable you to determine how much pressure it takes to recline. Check for adjustable lumbar settings as well, so you can set the chair to support your lower back comfortably.

The bottom line is that if you use an office chair that doesn’t offer you adequate comfort and support, you are needlessly subjecting yourself to pain and stress that could easily be avoided. It’s worth spending extra money on a higher-quality chair that will eliminate the back pain and other physical stresses an inadequate chair could cause.

  • Create a scale drawing of your office
  • Learn to achieve maximum function with minimum furniture
  • Plan for traffic flow and place furniture accordingly
  • Place office equipment and peripherals
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