Clean Desks and the Workplace: A Guarantee of Productivity and Value?

Your work desk is a platform for judgment.

There’s no way of avoiding it. When people walk by your space and you’re not there, they scan your work area. They see what’s on your desk and what’s not on your desk. And they may, either consciously or unconsciously, form an opinion about you.

In this sense, your desk is like an advertisement for you, a billboard that’s marketing who you are and how you work.

However, you might be surprised to know that professionals across different industries agree that your desk says something about you, but they don’t agree on what it is your desk is saying.

We talked with a trio of professionals to get their opinion on what your work desk says about you:

Is a Spotless Desk a Sign of an Organized Mind?

Our experts were decisive about this one. For the most part, a clean desk indicates some level of order and structure.

“A neat and tidy desk … tells that you are good at organizing work and visual clutter impacts your levels of productivity at work,” Kapoor said. “Attention to detail is one quality that reflects when you keep your work desk tidy than messing it up altogether. Generally, the more you tidy up your work desk; the better is your focus and clarity to your work.”

You don’t want to go overboard on the organization though because an overly minimalistic workspace might seem a little too sterile, Shawe said.

“An empty, spotless desk can demonstrate that you are not committed to a long stay or aren’t that confident you will be accepted or kept,” he said. “That has a lonely, solitary feel and it isn’t good for a congenial, collaborative experience.”

Should You have Photos of Family, Friends and/or Significant Others on Your Desk?

Some of us love showing off our spouses, kids, friends or partners via photos on our desk. It’s a way to share our lives with those around us in a passive way.

But is it a good idea to bring your personal life into your workspace? Shaw says it’s a simple method for making our space – and ourselves – better.

“When your desk is neat but has pictures of family and friends, a few mementos, pens, paper and accessible work needs, it can be indicative of a strong work ethic and strong ties to the workplace,” he said.

Kapoor agrees. He noted that displaying photos of your family, for example, lets you and your coworkers know that your life is more than what happens at work.

“As far as family photos are concerned, it’s quite heartwarming to have them in front of you at your workplace,” he said. “Many people call it an emotional distraction; however, it can actually serve a reminder that your work life has a broader purpose and keeping a balance between work and family is a prerequisite to holistic living.”

Does a Spotless Desk Mean That You’re a Good Employee?

This might be the most interesting question. Many of us see a clean desk as a sign of an organized mind and, it stands to reason, organized employees are better for the company than those with messy desks.

However, Shawe pointed out that your overall demeanor and work ethic has far more to say about you than your desk. Don’t make the mistake of believing a clean desk makes up for a poor attitude.

“Conduct is always king, and cleanliness does not necessarily mean you are a good employee. You need to be pleasant, intuitive, savvy and talented in your field,” he said. “If you are the latter three but unpleasant to be around, cleanliness or not, your conduct defines you.”

Lowe said that, in her experience, a clean desk isn’t a guarantee that its owner is a productive employee.

“The truth is, while a clean desk might be an indication of how you keep your home or preferred spaces there is no real proof that there is a connection between a neat desk and productivity,” she said. “In fact, I’d argue over the years of coaching senior level leaders, and as an HR practitioner the some of the most brilliant business leaders didn’t always have the neatest desk or offices.”

A Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Charity Event for Your Company

The holidays are the season for giving.

At workplaces across the country, employees start charity drives and/or events to raise money and gifts for those who are in need. While the concept is simple, planning an effective charity event is actually pretty complex. To help you ease the stress and ensure a successful event, we talked with several experts, including Jerome Tennille, a Navy veteran and manager of volunteerism at Marriott International.

Start Your Planning by Recognizing the Basics

Tennille said there are three principles you need to understand before you start: Meet the needs of the community you want to serve, have a compelling call-to-action for your fellow employees and make it easy to participate.

Meeting the Needs of the Community

This is the first step in the process. Stephanie Jones, founder of Giving Gal, suggests taking a quick poll during work to find out what’s compelling.

“Ask input from your employees regarding which causes they’d like to support,” she said. “People are more likely to get involved if they feel their voices have been heard.”

Once you’ve identified the cause, then take some time to figure out how you can best meet the needs of those in your community you want to help. Tennille said this step is crucial to running a charity event or drive that is truly effective.

“When I say it must meet the needs of the community, what I’m referring to is the necessity to do research to identify the issue in society, and then connecting with an organization you can work with to set up the collection drive or fundraiser,” he said.

You may find that the organization or cause you want to work with would be much better off if you helped them in, say, July, than during the holiday season.

“Often times we seek to serve over the holidays, when in fact many organizations most often need the support outside of the holiday months,” he said. “So, understanding the needs of an organization or community is key.”

Use Smart Planning to Make a Compelling Call to Action

Fundraisers, whether done over the course of a few weeks or at a one-time event, aren’t going to be successful unless you’re able to get the word out to your co-workers.

You’ll want to do this at least a month before the drive or event happens so that everyone knows who they’re donating to and what they can donate.

“You should plan these events at least a month in advance. This will allow you to set up collection bins and source any materials you need for promoting the event,” Tennille said. “In the instance that this is a collection drive, this gives you time to communicate what you need while also providing time for people to collect those items.”

Work with your team to plan when/if you can make announcements about the charity effort during a meeting. Place flyers in the break room and, when appropriate, send out details via email.

Make Sure the Charity Initiative Integrates into the Workday

The last thing you want is a charity drive or event that interrupts the workday or impedes the focus and workflow of your office.

If you’re running a toy drive, be smart about where you place your donation boxes. You don’t want them to be a distraction but, at the same time, you want them to be visible enough to remind people they have a chance to be kind.

“Depending on the policy at your office you’ll want to ensure that what you plan doesn’t disrupt the business operations, so it must be easy to give, donate and collect items,” Tennille said. “If this is a collection drive you might want to set out collection bins at exits and entrances, so people can
donate as they come into the office.”

If you’re doing a one-time fundraising event, he said, then make sure you plan it during a lunch break rather than another time when everyone usually works. The disruption discourages people from participating and could cause your event to be viewed as an annoyance rather than an opportunity.

A Real-Life Example of a Charity Success

Matt Dodgson, director of U.K.-based Market Recruitment, said his team came up with a gift-wrapping fundraiser that ended up being a positive, helpful experience for his team.

His office was full of creative people who happened to be good at gift wrapping. So, the company decided to run a gift-wrapping drive in which they reached out to family, friends, clients and the community around them, he said.

The event was a success because Dodgson and his colleagues started their planning early, made a concerted effort publicize the drive and they ran a well-organized campaign in which they had a pair of gift drop-off spots. His company used Google forms to allow people to choose a date and time to drop off their presents to be wrapped.

Also, he said they used a tiered pricing model in which smaller presents were cheaper to wrap and bigger presents were more expensive. People were happy to pay for gift wrapping when they knew the funds were going to a charity.

“Overall this was a fun way for us to feel engaged with our community. Sometimes it meant us spending an extra hour at the office at night wrapping presents in order to meet deadlines, but we made a party out of it. We would play holiday music and dance as we wrapped,” Dodgson said. “In the end, we raised about £1.000 for charity, which was great for our small team.”

Transitioning to a New Workplace: Insights from a Workplace Consultant

New jobs are thrilling. Having to incorporate yourself into a new community of colleagues? Not so much, especially for those who tend to be introverts.

The transition to a new workplace takes a certain level of intention and purposeful action to make that transition as smooth as possible. And, according to talent consulting firm Visier, the advice can’t come soon enough. Turnover is highest in January, they say.

We’ve created a series of three articles to help you transition effectively. In this post, we’re featuring the advice of Becky Prideaux, a workplace consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the industry.

#1: Write Down the Reasons You’re Getting Your New Job

We’ve all experienced the honeymoon phase of getting a new job but, if we’re honest with ourselves, there are clear moments when we might second-guess our decision to take a new position. It can be tough to leave the stability and security of your current job for the unknown of a new job.

The best way to manage those moments of doubt is to write down the reasons why you took the new job – what excites you? – and keep that list with you for those moments of doubt, Prideaux said.

“After you have been in a new role a little while most people experience a moment when you feel really unsettled and wonder why on earth they changed jobs,” she said. “If and when you do have that moment, this list will help you stay focused and doing a great job.”

#2: Plan Ahead for Your First Day

You want your first day of work to be perfect. That goal may be unattainable, though, if you aren’t clear on some basic logistics like where to park, how bad traffic is and other factors that could cause you to be late.

Talk with your HR department to find out exactly where you need to park, how early you should leave to get to work on time and which types of paperwork or identification you’ll need to complete the onboarding process.

“Knowing you have these details handled will take the pressure off you and allow you to focus on making a great impression rather than turning up late and stressed because you couldn’t find somewhere to park,” she said.

#3: Hire a Success Coach

Prideaux said this tip is a crucial one for those moving into a senior management position, where demands and expectations are high and the margin for error is minuscule.

“Research has shown that having a specialist coach to work with you in your first three months can double the chances of being rated as successful in your new role after your first year,” she said.

Your coach can also help you handle your new relationships by strengthening your view of yourself and helping you navigate the various personalities in your new workplace.

#4: Set Boundaries on Your Work Hours

During the first month of a new job, you’ll be motivated to show your new co-workers and bosses that you are reliable and educated. This mindset may lead to you working more hours than you normally would.

However, Prideaux said, this can backfire on you because it may give your new employer the impression that you always want to work late and are willing to sacrifice your work-life balance for the company.

Therefore, you should consider hard boundaries in your first month that define your priorities. Once those boundaries are set, you can deviate when needed.

“Especially in management and leadership roles there is often a pressure to be at work or available for very long hours,” she noted. “Important though it is, work is only part of your life and it needs to work for you in conjunction with everything else,” she noted. “For example, being clear about how late you are willing to stay and sticking to it from the start is much easier than trying to pull back from long hours later.”

Looking Ahead: More Tips for Transitioning to a New Workplace

Getting a new job is exhilarating and taxing at the same time. As we mentioned in the introduction to this post, it helps to set clear goals for your first month in the workplace.

We’ll help you meet those goals in two subsequent posts in which we provide insight from a multitude of experts and workplace consultants.

Expert Tips for Productivity You Can Use Today: Part One

Productivity is that elusive quality that few seem to master.

The Golden Age of technology hasn’t helped. Our tablets, phones, and smartwatches constantly beg for our attention. We try to ignore them, but it can be an effort that requires just as much energy as your work.

Reaching a high level of productivity can be a tough task but it’s not an impossible one. We talked with workplace consultants and coaches to find out what you can do this week to strengthen your productivity.

1) Learn how to say “no”

Workspaces should have a certain level of privacy to them but, even if they do, your colleagues may have a knack of popping in right when you’re finding your groove on a project.

Alison Haselden, a marketing consultant at www.canirank.com, says a well-intentioned tendency to be too accommodating can crush your productivity.

“Getting distracted from the task at hand is a sure-fire way to ruin efficiency and productivity. It can be difficult especially in a busy office setting with co-workers constantly dropping by your desk for advice or assistance on a different project,” Haselden said. “As wonderful as it is to support your teammates, it’s necessary to learn to say ‘no’ and set boundaries to enable you to complete your own work first.”

2) Take Mini-Breaks

Your mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially at work. However, that’s exactly what can happen if you lock yourself in the office for hours on end and don’t get some fresh air.

To help your mind stay fresh and focused, make a habit of getting away from your workstation, said Zana Amin, co-founder of Canadian lifestyle company Continual Growth.

“Every 50 minutes, get up and go for a short walk, perhaps to the kitchen or around the office or to the other side of the office. Just make sure you get up and move around; you’ll come back to your work refreshed,” he said.

3) Don’t Over-Schedule Your Day

One of the age-old bits of advice for productivity is scheduling. Write out your day and there’s a good chance you’ll be more productive than you would be without a list.

However, there can be drawbacks to getting so intense about your scheduling that every quarter-hour is mapped out, says Harrison Doan, director of analytics at mattress company Loom & Leaf.

“Don’t try to go overboard with your scheduling. Mapping out every 15 minutes of your day may seem productive in theory, but things rarely work out as we plan,” Doan said. “I’ve found success by writing out weekly and daily to-do lists without specific time constraints. That way, I’m able to prioritize my tasks and get them done in an order that makes sense for that day.”

4) Cut Back on Your Email Time

Imagine what your day would be like if you answered every email the moment it arrived in your inbox. Nothing would get done outside of clicking the “send” button dozens of times.

That’s why Mark Lavercombe, founder of The Productive Physician, calls email “the destroyer of modern workplace productivity.”

“Close your email app/browser for as much of your day as possible. Email is the destroyer of modern workplace productivity, and by taking back control of your time and attention you will become far more effective,” Lavercombe said. “Set an autoresponder that explains that you process email between certain times each day and provide a phone number if you need to be reached in an emergency. Then work on the tasks that truly matter.”

5) Clean Up Your Desk

If you’ve got planners and calendars on your desk amid a sea of staplers, papers and all sorts of other office-related knick-knacks, it’s time to clean up a bit.

Doing so can clear your mind and it will also help you to focus on one task at a time, said Nicky Peachment, a business coach in the U.K.

“Tidy your desk so you can easily reach what you need to. Keep the project you’re working on out, and put everything else away,” Peachment said. “This helps you to focus on what you need to do next, rather than allow other tasks to distract you. Multi-tasking is a myth. You can only do one thing at a time, so do it and move on.”

Looking Ahead: Part Two of Our Series

We received an overwhelming response when we reached out to experts about things you can do to increase productivity. In our next post, we’ll review what was shared here and provide 10 more tips we think you’ll enjoy.

How to Improve Office Communication: Part 1

We’ve all had that Michael Scott moment, haven’t we?

You’re sitting in a meeting that seems to be going on forever and whoever is leading the discussion seems to be rambling on without an end in sight. It’s reminiscent of one particular scene in The Office in which the hapless Scott says, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.”

Lack of a clear goal is one of the quickest ways to undercut office communication but, as experts have pointed out to us, bad communication habits aren’t permanent.

There are dozens of ways you can improve the way that you transmit information in your workplace, whether it be an important meeting, a brainstorming session or an intra-office email with details about a company picnic.

This post and the upcoming one for next month will offer some excellent reminders on how you can rehabilitate and strengthen the communication in your workplace.

Invest in a Strong Intranet

Intranets are a classic double-edged sword situation. Having one is a great way to ensure clear communication about events and benchmarks but it can be the bane of your team if it’s not properly designed and optimized for fluid communication.

Darya Afonava, a marketing specialist with software development firm ScienceSoft, says it’s time you make your company intranet the fulcrum of correspondence.

“They offer solutions that optimize connecting employees with their teams, managers, HR, etc. For example, personal pages can be helpful for task distribution and progress assessment,” Afonava said.

Another advantage with intranets is that they can be a platform for team projects, accessible from the office and at home.

“They can also facilitate joining working groups, sharing professional experience or discussing business issues,” Afonava said. “It is especially important for newcomers, since they need to navigate in a large flow of new people and information.”

When You Need Clarity, Don’t Be Afraid to Call

We’ve gotten so used to sending emails back and forth to our colleagues that phone calls seem almost antiquated.

However, many an issue can be resolved with a three-minute phone call instead of a carefully crafted email that takes up at least 10 minutes of your time.

Email was intended to be a quick way to communicate, but it’s not always the best solution for getting clarity, says Ayesha Gallion, senior communications editor at Inteplast Group.

“Sometimes a phone call is more convenient for one party, or even all parties involved – but if one person shies away from this kind of fluid communication, completing projects or collectively finding solutions may take longer than needed,” she said.

Gather Data About Personalities and Use It

The golden age of personality tests is slowly fading but there are still uses for tests like the Meyers-Briggs and Enneagram.

For career coach and TEDx speaker Tracy Timm, a test called the Predictive Index is her go-to assessment tool when she consults with businesses about how to improve workplace communication.

The test highlights various aspects of each employee’s personality and helps everyone understand that while one person may need to talk out solutions to a problem, another might need to think it out first.

In fact, she encourages those who take the test to leave the results on their desk or in common areas where their co-workers can see it.

“I find that because these profiles are readily available they can be used in the moment to remind someone of the similarities and differences between herself and her coworker,” Timm said. “This allows for real-time change in behavior and analysis of self. But it all comes down to a person’s willingness to modify their behavior and communication for someone else.”

Employees who aren’t willing to communicate undermine the process, so it’s important to bring in talented people who are coachable, Timm said.

Looking Ahead to Part Two of Our Series

In our next post, we’ll go over four more expert insights into how to improve office communication.

While many of the tips we provide are related to communication methods and theories, remember that office communication also includes the choices you make about workstations.

We specialize in providing solutions for your office, many of which improve productivity and communication through simple choices about desks, cubicles and furniture.

Three Things You Might Be Doing That Undercut Workplace Morale

Office morale is a tricky subject to talk about.

There are so many different factors involved in keeping the office happy that it’s nearly impossible to say one factor is more important than the rest.

Pay, corporate culture, incentives, benefits, economic downturns, buyouts and mass layoffs are all things that can rip an unsightly gash into your team’s spirits.

However, workplace experts know it’s not always the big things that result in low morale. Specific habits from management and employees can slowly erode employee satisfaction until all that’s left is an unstable cliff ready to crumble.

Inconsistency is a Killer

One of the rules you learn early on as a parent is that you must be consistent with your kids. When your children know what to expect – whether it be the daily routine, rewards or punishment –they have a sense of security and confidence about what’s ahead.

On the other hand, a lack of consistency can create anxiety, fear and a general sense of instability. It’s no different in the workplace.

Inc.com contributor Anna Johansson gave some insight into how your inconsistencies can wear down the positivity of your colleagues.

“Inconsistency in almost any area is grounds for a morale decrease,” Johansson wrote. “Consistency is important because it gives people a sense of what to expect; even if your employees don’t like or agree with one of your behaviors, as long as you’re consistent with it, they’ll learn how to work around it.”

Johansson brings up a good point. Your employees can deal with consistent behaviors even if they don’t like them. What’s hard for them to do is handle inconsistency, especially when it comes to actions influenced by your moods.

“For example, holding a morning recap meeting every day — even if your employees aren’t overly fond of it — isn’t as bad as holding a morning recap meeting every once in a while, or only when you feel like it,” Johansson wrote. “This doesn’t mean you have to be robotic, but it does mean you should set consistent expectations.”

Constant Complaining

At its root, complaining is voicing your dissatisfaction with a certain issue … over and over again. Chronic complainers are like a volcanic eruption that never stops, blotting out the sun and covering your coworkers in an ash of negativity.

Your eruption, unfortunately, not only affects your reputation with others, it also diminishes your workplace’s collective morale.

“Complaining — even if it’s over something little, or is in a fleeting context — can have a significant impact on your team’s morale,” Johansson wrote. “You don’t have to eliminate complaining altogether, but you do have to take measures to prevent complaining from being a habitual or expected feature of your workplace.”

And remember, your reputation takes a hit every time you complain. Selena Rezvani, a contributor at Forbes, points out several different ways your complaining reflects poorly on you.

Here’s one of her gems:

“Often, when you complain to a group, the implicit message is that you’re trying to rally support for your way of thinking. Not only is it bad for others’ health and welfare to listen to you, but you’ll find that colleagues will think twice before being linked to you. Whether on a client project, a new assignment or an internal committee, they know they don’t have a lot to gain from being partnered with a glass-half-empty kind of thinker.”

You Don’t Stop Working at Work

This may sound counter-intuitive, right? We go to work to work.

However, as workplaces and workers themselves become more concerned about a holistic approach to work, breaks are a go-to for a quick restoration of energy and focus. Managers and employees who consistently work through breaks, Johansson says, can be morale killers.

“Breaks exist for a good reason; they’re important opportunities to de-stress and decompress, and taking a few minutes to relax can actually boost your productivity for the rest of the day (not to mention prevent the onset of burnout),” she wrote. “Encourage your employees to take more breaks–and take breaks yourself to set the example.”

That last part may be the toughest of all – set the example. If you’re used to working through your breaks, take a moment to think about how those missed breaks affect your team. If they see you pushing through, they’ll feel pressure to push through as well.

Three Reasons Why Used Office Furniture Is the Smart Choice for New Orleans Offices

Just because you’re an established company doesn’t mean you can’t bootstrap.

In the traditional sense of the word, bootstrapping has always been associated with startups. You go lean in the beginning until your business gets some consistent income and a critical mass of clients/users, then you start to spend money on things like upgraded office furniture, a swanky office space and more employees.

However, when used the right way and with the right philosophy, bootstrapping can be a great way to increase efficiency and reduce costs. One of the best ways to do that is by choosing used furniture for your office instead of new furniture.

Now, before you retreat amid flashbacks to your college years when you rounded up a combination of free curbside sofas and oddly-colored thrift store recliners, you’ve got to realize that The Office Planning Group’s used office furniture is well cared for. You won’t have to deal with unsightly stains and seat padding emerging through weak spots in worn-out fabric.

That’s just one of the advantages to buying used furniture from our New Orleans office. Here are some other reasons to consider us when buying used furniture.

Used Office Furniture is Cost Effective

This is perhaps the biggest benefit of buying used furniture. By our estimation, used furniture can save you 50% and 90% off the retail price for new items.

According to pricing-data site CostOwl, the average office desk costs anywhere between $200 and $2,000.

That’s a wide range of prices, so here’s a quick breakdown of how much you could expect to save by purchasing used furniture at an average of a 70% discount:

New Desk Price Used Desk Price Money saved
$200 $60 $140
$800 $240 $560
$1,400 $420 $980
$2,000 $600 $1,400

 

The beauty of this example is that you can purchase a used top-flight work desk for about the same price you could buy a new lower-end work desk.

The value here is tremendous. Here’s how we put it on the Used Furniture section of our website:

“If you are a small startup or looking to bootstrap your office furniture needs, buying used (slightly imperfect or even blemished) is a great way to save money and cheaply obtain the items you need to run your office. The used office furniture inventory we offer includes desks, chairs, modular systems, conference tables, file cabinets, and just about everything else imaginable for your office.”

 

Our Used Furniture is Personally Inspected for Quality

If you’re being smart about your used furniture purchase, then you’ll want to get the most quality out of what you’re spending your money on. There’s no sense on putting your on-hand cash toward something that will wear out or fall apart after a year.

We personally inspect every piece of used furniture that comes into our warehouse. Our criteria for our used inventory? We only sell what we’d use ourselves.

Here’s a quick list of some of the types of used furniture we sell:

  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Modular systems
  • File cabinets
  • Conference tables

Used Furniture Can Look Just as Good as New Furniture

We’ve spent decades in the New Orleans office furniture world and we’ve come across hundreds of businesses that purchased used office furniture for their offices.

As we brushed up on the advantages of used furniture, we ran across an excellent example in a back issue of the American Bar Association’s GP Solo newsletter, in which lawyers offer advice and narratives about starting their own practice.

Here’s what they said about buying used furniture for your law office:

“’Used furniture’ may conjure up images of old, scarred wooden desks and threadbare armchairs. In reality, most law office furniture is usually indistinguishable from new. Firms move, reorganize, and merge, leaving behind desks, shelves, and other items that have no place in the design of the new or remodeled offices. So, don’t let negative images get in the way of great deals.”

We think the ABA brings up a good point here. Many times, the used furniture you buy is virtually indistinguishable from new furniture.

Considering that a $100,000 of new furniture could cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 used, the money you save can be put toward another salary for a year, bonuses or other upgrades to your office.

Contact Us with Your Questions About Used Office Furniture

Though we’ve mentioned New Orleans a few times in this post, we offer our used furniture services throughout all of Louisiana.

Two Important Reasons Why You Need Executive Office Furniture

Executive offices have a certain design swagger to them.

The traditional C-level boss tends to have more square footage than the middle managers. He tends to have a cushy chair that emits a sort of relaxed authority. There’s usually an expansive view somewhere in the office – perhaps a series of sky-scraping mountain peaks or a city view teeming with man-made skyscrapers.

We like how Sharí Anderson put it in her 2013 Entrepreneur article titled, “What Your Office Design Says About You as a Leader (And It Isn’t Pretty)”.

“The corner office is a symbol of success and power. It is the modern-day throne room where you rule your realm,” she wrote. “You beckon people to your presence and cast down rulings, hirings, and firings.”

Amid all the impressiveness of this setting is the centerpiece of the executive office: the desk. These bastions of power are typically made from expensive wood, are huge and are the overwhelmingly most obvious expression of the executive’s position of power.

Have you ever taken a moment to think about why executive furniture is still relevant? If you believe movies and shows, then you’ll think big desks exist to intimidate employees who feel like children when they sit on the other side of the massive piece of furniture.

Executive desks and executive furniture in general serve far more important purposes than intimidation. They play an integral role in expressing to clients the prestige of the person with whom they are dealing and the furniture reflects the personal style of the individual who occupies the office.

An Impressive First Impression: Executive Office Furniture Says a Lot About Your Position

Before we dive in here, let’s just set aside the outliers. Yes, there are powerful people who maintain humble offices and don’t exhibit their status through the size of their office or the furniture therein.

However, most clients of important companies want to know they’re in good hands, and when they walk into the room of an exec, well-appointed furniture that expresses a certain level of power and confidence shows, at the very least, that you mean business.

Deals live and die on the dynamic of power; for some, a modest office without much space and drab executive furniture may make a client believe they’re dealing with a lackluster company that isn’t aggressive enough to succeed.

Setting up your C-level execs with office furniture that enhances their reputation as a strong leader and sharp businessperson is crucial to maintaining your company’s image.

A Narrative Expressed in Furniture: What Your Executive Office Says About You

You need to take great care in how you design your office and that begins with the furniture you choose.

Yes, your office needs to display a visual equivalent of your authority. However, that doesn’t mean that you must choose the most intimidating furniture. Your desk doesn’t have to be five feet wide and your chair doesn’t have to sit a foot higher than the guest chair on the other side of your seemingly endless desk top.

Striking a balance between power and warmth is a must in today’s work environment. Younger generations tend to value relationship more highly than past generations.

So, if you’re working with under-40 employees, try to forego the typical wood behemoth and go for a more modern desk that communicates your willingness to adjust to the times.

Also, don’t be afraid to add color to your desk and your other furniture. Your natural inclination may be to go with earth tones like ruby, cherry and various shades of dark brown. If your preference is for lighter wood and pops of color, don’t be afraid to go with your inclination.

Finding the Right Combination for Your Executive Office

The Office Planning Group has been in business for more than four decades and, during that time, we’ve seen plenty of trends in executive furniture.

As such, we offer what we feel is a wide array of furniture that reflects the preferences and tastes of executives across Louisiana and the rest of the country.

Stop by our Executive Furniture page to read about what we offer and how we can help you decide on which furniture is best for your office.

Passive Productivity: How Device Lights, Strict Schedules & Multitasking Are Killing Your Output

While there are many workplace worries that can be fixed by a good workout or healthy snack, there are far more insidious forces threatening to vanquish productivity.

Unfortunately, the forces that work against our productivity are often those forces which we love the most: our smartphones and tablets, minute-by-minute planning and an emphasis on multitasking.

However, as we’ll show in the next few sections, those widely accepted entities often are the very things that undercut our productivity and leave us feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Lights Out Means Lights Out

Well into adulthood, some of us find ourselves unable to resist “just five more minutes” of our favorite distraction before bed.

In a world where communications and interactions are increasingly taking place via any number of electronic gadgets, the pre-bedtime winding down process now involves several hours of social media, emailing and voraciously checking new notifications.

While the temporary catharsis of such activities is widely acknowledged, the effect on your rest can be a costly one, both to your health and productivity the next day.

One such byproduct is blue light, according to the research of Forbes Contributor Travis Bradberry.

This is a big one that most people don’t even realize harms their sleep and productivity. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and sleep quality,” Bradberry pointed out.

He goes on to say that blue light decreases the natural production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Afternoon sunshine contains decreasing amounts of blue light, which allows our brains to start producing melatonin. By nightfall — when our brains aren’t expecting any blue light — staring at a screen bombards us with direct exposure to it. This can wreak havoc on our natural sleep cycles, Bradberry explained.

“This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off,” he wrote.

In other words, shut off the gadgets and gizmos after dinner and give your mind a well-deserved break from the glowing spreadsheets and frantic emails.

In-flexibility Training

Too much organization can be a bad thing.

With a mountain of an agenda containing tasks ranging from the mundane to the herculean feats of creativity and ingenuity ahead of you, it’s easy to want to control every moment of the day to maximize productivity.

This tactic, however, usually burns us out before the day ends.

While scheduling your whole day to go according to a master plan, might, in theory, provide a manageable framework for your day, it leaves little room for the inevitable interruptions or emergencies that crop up at a moment’s notice.

“When you’re too tightly scheduled, you can end up undermining your productivity, because if one thing goes wrong, your schedule could be disrupted for the rest of the day,” notes Gwen Moran in her article for Fast Company.

Remember, success is the culmination of preparation and opportunity and part of that preparation is reserving time that may become game-changing later on when plans don’t work out and quick, decisive action is required.

Be flexible and get the hard stuff out of the way early. Dealing with the most difficult tasks when your mind is at its freshest ensures that the rest of the day can be dedicated to less pressing projects that allow you to breathe without burning out.

Singletasking

“It turns out that 98% of the population doesn’t multi-task very well,” entrepreneur Lisa Quast wrote in a Forbes article.

Study after study has revealed no significant productivity benefits from this daunting pseudo practice. In fact, multitasking is little more than rapid task switching, which can be just as detrimental to your brain as it is to your productivity.

In an interview by Entrepreneur’s guest contributor Lisa Evans, Devora Zack, author of “Singletasking: Get more Done – One Thing at a Time” reveals staggering statistics about multitasking: “[It] not only lowers productivity by 40 percent but it also shrinks our brains.”

Wrapping It Up: Be

Habits that curtail productivity can be somewhat elusive to identify when there isn’t any one specific remedy.

Every entrepreneur has their own way of solving problems or managing tasks, but the basics sometimes start outside of the workplace and won’t always be readily apparent.

Be mindful of potential productivity killers. If your sleep is fitful, your mind is muddled and you feel like multitasking effectively is impossible, there are solutions.

Focus on creating a relaxing bedtime routine absent of electronic light, allow for flexibility in your schedule and flip the value metrics on multitasking versus singletasking.

These three simple steps should create a significant change in your work life.

Four of the Top Office Trends for 2017

Open offices, tree houses and video games.

All three have been big office trends in the past, a reflection of the new work world where management tries to use workspaces as a platform for employee freedom and creativity.

While most of the trends we see on a day-in/day-out basis are focused on office organization and planning, it’s much more than that. Philosophies of leadership transform over time, as do concepts of teamwork and idea generation.

So, to get a comprehensive view of what this year’s hottest trends are, we turned to several different reliable sources and built a list of four of this year’s most popular office trends.

HR Will Get a Boost

You’ve probably heard of the term “big data”; it’s the new way to process large chunks of information, then use those findings to create business strategies.

According to Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman, this trend has affected many parts of the workplace, but HR hasn’t been one of them. The purpose of HR is, after all, to make people feel like more than just numbers, right?

“Data scientists, one of the most in-demand positions for the past two years, haven’t been much of a presence in HR-related tasks,” Dishman wrote.

She goes on to say that data can help in three different areas: measuring the onboarding process, tracking morale and testing out different types of workplace management.

Workplace Organization Will Continue to Evolve

Open workspaces are now old news, but the emerging nuances within this arena continue to evolve.

Recruiting.com says we can expect this trend to continue this year.

“Now that employers have substantial insight into how the work environment affects their employees, design thinking is emerging as a new major trend in HR,” the site wrote.

We should see further development of multipurpose work areas, modular desks and “furniture with multimedia capabilities,” the site explained.

Other emerging areas to look for? Enhanced health and wellness programs, more standing workstations and stress management programs.

Caring for Remote Workers

This trend comes courtesy of HR Daily Advisor, and we think it’s an important one.

A recent Forbes article noted that more than 30% of the American workforce are freelancers, earning a 1099 instead of the traditional W-2. Many of these freelancers work from home, and, it’s safe to say they don’t receive the same kind of treatment as someone working in the company’s offices every day.

Employers like Dell are starting to realize this, contributor Al Zink, and are exploring ways to offer their remote workers (“distributed talent”) effective care.

“How do we extend culture and benefits equality to provide an ‘umbrella’ of culture to remote employees or satellite offices while allowing for some local customization of programs and policy,” Zink asked. “When you visit different locations and facilities what exactly are the values and culture and how are they implemented?”

Zink says 2017 is the year that leaders will put a lot more thought in how to effectively manage their remote teams.

A Shift in Performance Management

Companies are starting to see the flaws of the traditional model of yearly performance reviews. In lieu of this standard, they’ve chosen to explore new ways of performance management.

According to Human Resources Today, this is one of the biggest trends in today’s workforce.

“HR professionals encourage managers to move towards a coaching culture that prizes skill development, regular feedback and growth opportunities,” Catherine Spence wrote. “This type of coaching relies on asking open-ended questions, providing hands-on opportunities to develop new skills and allowing teams of workers to self-coach through stretch projects.”

This idea of continuous feedback is something contributor Dan Schwabel discussed in his recent article about 2017 workplace trends.

In his opinion, this type of employee feedback is more appropriate for Millennials and Gen Z workers.

“Professionals today desire instant feedback, a behavior they’ve adopted from the instant gratification they receive on social networks,” Schwabel wrote. “Younger generations are especially impatient and are unwilling to wait a whole year to learn about their strengths and areas of improvement.”

Schwabel referred to a Robert Half study that revealed that a quarter of the workforce believe that “annual performance reviews don’t help improve their performance.”

Change Effects All Parts of the Workplace – Even the Furniture You Choose

If the trends of the past 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that new workplace trends start with ideas and trickle down into how an office is designed and furnished.

Stop by our website to look at what we can offer for your ever-evolving workplace.