Cubicles: How They Started and How They’ve Evolved Over the Past Six Decades

In just a few months the cubicle will hit its 54th birthday, a rather innocuous milestone for what’s turned out to be a hotly contested aspect of office life.

Your perception of the cubicle can take many forms. You may be part of the Office Space crowd; cubicles, as far as you’re concerned, are death.

Or, you might be a student of history and say that the cubicle, in its original form was a beautiful design concept intended to make your work life accessible, comfortable and private.

Wherever you stand on the cubicle-opinion spectrum, there’s no denying that these walled office workspaces have a clear beginning proceeded by a colorful history.

Cubicles Have Roots in Design History

If you’re a fan of high-end office chairs then you’ve probably heard of the name Herman Miller, the company responsible for the Aero, arguably the single most important piece of office furniture ever invented. The Aero brought a new level of comfort and support to the office-chair world, revolutionizing the relationship between workplace form and function.

Herman Miller designer Robert Propst had hoped to bring that same design revolution to the workspace. He worked on something called the “Action Office”, which was meant to be a way for workers to see their workflow with new eyes.

Here’s how Fortune described Propst’s creation:

“After years of prototyping and studying how people work, and vowing to improve on the open-bullpen office that dominated much of the 20th century, Propst designed a system he thought would increase productivity (hence the name Action Office). The young designer, who also worked on projects as varied as heart pumps and tree harvesters, theorized that productivity would rise if people could see more of their work spread out in front of them, not just stacked in an in-box.”

Cubicles Were the Good Idea That Went Bad

Despite Propst’s elegant concept for an individual workspace, companies weren’t interested in buying the Action Office. In fact, pointed out that the Action Office was more popular with individuals who worked at home than actual companies.

After the disappointing debut of the Action Office, Propst introduced the Action Office II, a cubicle that featured the acoustical panels you often see today in modern office environments. Pretty soon, knockoffs started to appear; knockoffs built with lower quality materials than what Propst envisioned.

“In the 1960s, it became easier to write off assets like furniture whose value depreciated over time,” wrote. “Office furniture no longer needed to last a lifetime to be worth buying, and companies quickly saw that it was cheaper to buy an Action Office II or a knockoff cubicle than to invest in sturdier equipment.”

What happened after that was the basis for the negative perception for cubicles. Companies started to cram their employees into cramped cubicles to maximize space.

Add to this mix the fact that energy efficiency regulations created more airtight office spaces, pointed out, and workplaces became boxed-in work farms chugging along with uninspiring designs and recycled air.

Cubicles: Where We Are Now

Those years of stuffy offices and cubicle farms are, for the most part, behind us. Companies large and small have adopted the open-office spaces that were popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s – remember those huge open floorplans in Mad Men?

Workplace designers have taken a holistic approach to office concepts, asking themselves how they can provide open spaces, quiet corners and community areas where employees can connect with one another, be creative and focus on their work all at the same time.

The idea is pretty incredible but the science says that it’s virtually impossible to remove office privacy and increase productivity and creativity. The brain has a basic need for privacy. When it has privacy – spatial and auditory, specifically – it’s able to think clearly and work more productively.

For that reason, we offer a wide variety of office solutions for companies that are looking for a straightforward solution for maximizing employee productivity.

Contact us today to discuss what you need. We are one of Louisiana’s longest-standing office furniture companies. Our lineup of products includes new and used pieces that can, with a little planning and expertise, revolutionize the way your office works.

TOPG Sellers of Used Furniture LA

Here’s the scenario: Your office is growing, your furniture is old and you want to buy or lease new office furniture.

What do you do? Are there buyers of used furniture in Louisiana? The answer to those pair of questions is straightforward.

You should sell your furniture to a used furniture buyer. Yes, there are plenty of ways to sell your used office systems in Louisiana.

In this post, we’re going to detail a few of the ways that you can make some quick cash selling your old furniture before bringing in your new desks, dividers and chairs.

The Time-Consuming Route: Craigslist

Believe it or not, Craigslist is a great site for selling office furniture (and just about anything else). You can browse through listings in nearly any city and find individuals or companies selling off cubicles, chairs and other equipment because of closure or relocation.

The reason we call this the time-consuming method is because you’ll have to devote a significant amount of time to cleaning and repairing your furniture if you want to get a fair price for what you’re selling.

Craigslist and similar websites are notorious for attracting low-ball offers and furniture that’s in disrepair, dirty or otherwise unattractive to the eyes will attract those low-ballers.

If you want to get top dollar, you’ll need to:

  • Give your furniture a thorough cleaning
  • Tighten up loose bolts and other hardware
  • Take professional-level pictures
  • Field phone calls and emails
  • Set-up viewings for potential buyers

The key to this entire process is time: Do you have enough of it to do an effective job of prepping your furniture to get top dollar?

The Charitable Route: Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity

Technically, this isn’t “selling” your office because you aren’t getting paid for what you donate.

However, the benefit of this method of getting rid of your used furniture is ease. All you have to do is call the local Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity and let them know you’re bringing in a formidable collection of office furniture.

There are two main drawbacks here. First, you obviously aren’t getting paid for your furniture, which means this may not be the best move if capital is an issue.

However, what you may not have thought about is how you’ll get your office furniture to the local Goodwill. If you’ve got a big office, then it may take more than one truck to get the equipment where it needs to go.

When you factor in the manpower and rental fees required to move an office full of furniture, the cost is quite high.

Consider that as you make your decision. Though selling your furniture on an online classified site like Craigslist may take a day or two of work to prep your furniture, the fact that you’re getting paid makes it far more worthwhile.

The Easiest Route: Sell to TOPG

We’ve been in the business of buying used furniture for decades and we find it’s a great way for us to augment our used inventory and help offices unload their used furniture as they try to upgrade, downsize or liquidate.

All we require to move forward with the purchase is photos of the equipment you want to sell and an estimate of how many items you want to sell.

As for our purchase radius, we buy office furniture in the New Orleans metro area, Baton Rouge and all of Louisiana.

Here’s a list of what we typically buy:

  • Cubicles
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Filing equipment
  • Conference rooms

Our only caveat is that we don’t usually buy small quantities of furniture.

Wrapping It Up: A Quick Review of Finding Buyers of Used Office Furniture in Louisiana

We’ve presented the three different options you have for selling your used office furniture.

Using a classified site has the advantage of possibly getting a good payout for your equipment, but the man hours it takes to make the sale are a definite negative.

Giving your office furniture to non-profit stores like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity is an altruistic endeavor with high costs for transporting your furniture.

The final option, selling your furniture to the Office Planning Group, doesn’t require much effort on your part and can garner a good payout pretty quickly.

If you want to know more about how we buy used office furniture in Louisiana, stop by our website or give us a call at 504-684-5244.

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.

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. 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.

A Look at Some of Our Recent Office Planning Projects

Every year we continue business in Louisiana is another opportunity to help local companies find office solutions that fit their team’s workflow and bottom line.

As a result, we have a diverse project gallery we’re proud of and want to highlight some of our recent projects.

Bruno and Tervalon

Bruno & Tervalon LLP is a CPA firm based in New Orleans and is the largest minority-owned firm in the state. They’ve been in business for nearly four decades, making them a trusted name in the city.

They came to us wanting to update their headquarters by transforming their open workspace into a mixture of private offices and collaborative work areas.

We took some time to come up with a custom design that considered their desire to create private workspaces while maintaining collaborative common areas.

The result is an office that’s a great example of how a company can create a hybrid workspace with elements of traditional design and open concepts.


The rail system has always been an important part of our state’s commerce and transportation and that’s why we were proud to work with Amtrak to update their offices.

They came to us with a problem that many big companies face. Their technology was up-to-date, but their office design lagged behind.

Cramped cubicles and drab colors gave off an outdated impression and they wanted to change that. Amtrak wanted new and fresh, not old and worn.

We went in and overhauled their cubicles, management offices and common areas. We chose darker wood tones and black chairs for offices and meeting rooms and light, airy colors for open-area workspaces.

Through our creative use of modular furniture and systems cubicles, we were able to provide Amtrak the modern and efficient workspace they wanted.

 LSU Healthcare Network

Louisiana State University’s healthcare system was looking for a way to add more cabinet space to one of their eye care clinics.

Because they were working with a limited budget, they couldn’t go through with plans to have built-in cabinetry solutions.

Knowing how important it was for them to update their office with additional storage, we proposed a plan that scrapped the built-in option and added more storage space by implementing systems furniture of varying heights.

However, finding a budget-appropriate solution was just part of what would make this job successful.

Because the office was a hub for necessary eye care and medical procedures, it was important to management that there wasn’t any down time or temporary workspaces that made patient care and processing more difficult.

Thankfully, we were able to provide them a comprehensive plan that included a weekend install that didn’t interfere with normal operations.

The dominant color? LSU’s famous purple.

Loyola University School of Music

Another installation we’re proud of took place at Loyola University’s School of Music, home of musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr.

The music department was building a new classroom and had some unique requirements. Each workspace needed to be ultra-functional, a space for a sound board, monitor and other sound equipment.

At the same time, the workspaces needed to be in line with modern music classroom design.

We came up with a solution that provided plenty of functional desktop space and enough room for two chairs.

We Work With You From Beginning to End

We’re proud of the projects we’ve mentioned in this post because they reflect our dedication to work with our clients from beginning to end to come up with a solution that meets their functional needs and their budget.

Our workflow starts with a consultation that includes a free space planning session. During these interactions, we lay the groundwork for a smooth installation process.

From there, we move to a more detailed analysis of how our initial planning sessions meet your needs and what should be modified to create a workspace you’ll love.

With plans finalized and decisions made, we move into the project management phase by working with you to get the best prices on furniture and cubicles, as well as finding reliable vendors who help us get the job done on-time.

If you want to learn more about who we are, head to our About Us page to learn about our team. Our president, Jerry Maxwell, has led our company since 1995 and VP Peggy Maxwell has been with us since 1979.

Office Chairs: A Two-Part Series on What Makes Them Tick

office chair 3Office chairs are a curious thing, aren’t they?

We rely on them every day, but you rarely think about how they’re constructed until something goes wrong.

That annoying pneumatic lift breaks and you sit about a foot lower than you should. Or maybe there’s an endless string of squeaks and creaks every time you lean back or move from side to side. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” is definitely appropriate here.

Serving as an office chair in the workplace is a thankless job, and perhaps it’s in the name of these faithful pieces of furniture that we decided to learn more about how they’re built, how they work and which ones are best suited for your specific work situation.

The Pneumatic Lift: How It Keeps You Propped Up From 8-5

You can thank compressed air for the way your chair rises and falls when you reach down and adjust your seat height.

Just like drills and nail guns hooked up to an air compressor, your chair relies on highly pressurized air to alter the height of your seat.

The cylinder that connects your chair’s star-shaped wheel structure and the bottom of your seat is where most of the compressed-air magic takes place.

That cylinder is filled with the compressed air, and the lever you use to raise and lower yourself activates a piston that moves up and down in the cylinder. When you want to move your seat up and you push the lever a few times, you increase the pressure in the chamber. As that pressure increases, it forces your seat upward.

If you’re up a little too high and you want to low the chair, you move the lever in the opposite direction. In this situation, you’re easing off the piston in the cylinder, which means the air inside is less pressurized and the seat falls. Simple stuff, right?

How an Office Chair Supports Your Back

We’ve all felt the ache of sitting in our office chair after a long, 10-12-hour day at work. When you stand up, there’s that familiar tight feeling near the base of your spine and it takes about 20 or 30 seconds of walking for things to warm up and loosen. says if your goal is to keep your back comfortable, your office chair should have two important features: lumbar support and a solid backrest.

Lumbar Support

Don’t get your backrest and lumbar support confused. The backrest is the main structure you lean back on when you sit, and the lumbar support is that bump at the bottom of the backrest that supports the base of your spine when you sit down.

“An ergonomic chair should have a lumbar adjustment (both height and depth) so each user can get the proper fit to support the inward curve of the lower back,” chiropractor Rodney K. Lefler wrote for Spine Health.

If you don’t find a chair with good lumbar support, your tendency to slouch in your chair will put stress on your lower spine and flatten out structures in your back that should be curved.

Back Rest

There are two important factors here: seat width and adjustability. Your backrest should be between 12 and 19 inches in width, Spine Health says. In other words, the seat’s backrest should span the width of your back so it can provide a full support profile.

Second, the chair needs to have a way for you to adjust the angle and height of the backrest. Having this ability means you can customize your back rest to the unique angles and structures of your back. This is usually a feature you’ll find in chairs that have a separate seat and back rest.

If the seat and backrest are connected, Spine Health says, “the backrest should be adjustable in forward and back angles, with a locking mechanism to secure it from going too far backward once the user has determined the appropriate angle.”


Looking Ahead: How to Decipher Office Chair Levers and Ratings


While most of us have a pretty good sense of what our office chair needs in the way of back support, all those little levers as well as ratings given by office-supply stores can be confusing.


In our second post of this series, we’ve examined some of the popular levers and what they do, as well as unpacked chair ratings and what they mean for your particular situation.


Creating a Better Professional You, Part 1: Dealing With a Dirty Desk

Will 2017 be your year?

If you’ve committed yourself to personal development and excellence, you’re already on track to accomplish things in your professional life that you’ve always wanted to. However, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you think simply saying or writing a resolution will make it happen. You need a plan to go with your proclamation.

office desk 2

We’ve devoted a series of four blog posts to unearthing the practical principles you can use in the workplace to get ahead, build relationships and stand out as opposed to sticking out. We want you to break the self-imposed ceiling you have and ask for the raise you deserve and do the excellent work you know you can do.

Meeting those expectations is a matter of the practical and the mental. If you want to impress your boss, start with your workspace. Is it clean and organized, or is it regularly mistaken for a natural-disaster site? Do you dress with intentionality, or is your office outfit the leftovers of a beleaguered closet?

From a mental standpoint, what do you do when you face adversity at work? Crumble, or rise up? What goes on in your mind has a lot to do with how these pressure-packed scenarios play out. Do you take time every day to process the day ahead, or are you purely reacting to the unexpected?

As you can see, the path to personal and professional development takes on several difference aspects at multiple levels.

Your Desk Says Everything About Who You Are

Let’s be honest – messy desks used to be frowned upon, and even though they still carry an air of poor taste, creative types have convinced us that a messy desk is part of the creative process.

office desk 1

Creative or not, if you’re looking to get ahead in your job this year, you need to change what your desk says about you. Clutter equals disorganize and irresponsible. Clean equals reliable and trustworthy.

Plan Out Your Cleaning Schedule

Your first step is to cleanliness is to create a plan for cleaning your desk every week. Just like your resolution to get ahead, a resolution to have a clean desk doesn’t happen on its own. You need a plan.

The simplest solution is to spend five minutes after work doing a quick clean Monday through Thursday, then do a deeper clean on Friday before you head home for the weekend.

Clorox and 3M Are Your Best Friends

Keep a tube of Clorox cleaning wipes handy to tidy up any spills or stains that befall your desk during working hours, and for the deep clean on Friday. 3M has a great desk cleaner that works on a variety of surfaces. The quicker you clean up stains, the better.

The longer any liquid or sauce stays on your desk, the more time it has to collect dust and other embarrassing matter that tells passing co-workers you’re sloppy and absent-minded. In other words, your reputation suffers.

You Trash Can is a Mess Savior

Also, make sure your trash can is within reach of where you sit. There aren’t any stats out there on how much of the stuff on your desk is trash, but we’re guessing it would be around 50%. A trash can within arm’s length means you can throw something away as soon as your done with it.

This little trick will cut down on the clutter and give your arms and hands some room to breathe. Not only that, less clutter on your desk means there’s less of a chance you’ll knock over a cup or bottle and spill liquid on your keyboard.

What Will Your Desk Say About You?

You may not be at work 24 hours a day, but your desk is. If you cut out early to pick up the kids from school, your desk will still be at work perpetuating a narrative about your attention to detail and your reliability.

You have the ability to change this narrative, but it will take planning. Pick out specific daily times for light cleaning, and then designate a day (preferably Friday) when you can do a deep clean. It’s not fun staying a few minutes after work to tidy up, but you get a two-fold reward out of it.

First, you get to return from work on Monday with a sparkling clean desk, which can do wonders for you as you start the week anew. Second, your desk is promoting your best qualities while you’re at home with your family or friends.

When your boss passes by and happens to take a look at your workspace, she’ll most certainly be pleased, and that never hurts.

Common Workplace Fixes: How to Remedy a Squeaky Office Chair

Nobody wants to be that coworker.

You know, the one whose chair creates an ear-shattering squeal every time you lean back to down those last few Doritos crumbs. Yes, that coworker … the one with the squeaky office chair.

Fortunately, the squeaks and creaks you hear every day aren’t symptoms of a chronic condition. While no one treatment for your office chair is guaranteed to fix all its ailments, there are some basic principles we’ve found that can cure most of your problems.


Fixing Your Squeaky Office Chair: The Basics

Every office chair is made up of a collection of individual pieces that are screwed together. Most of those pieces, especially those underneath the chair, go through a ton of movement and weight-bearing over the course of the chair’s lifetime.

As you lean forward, back and swivel from side to side, parts wear down, screws and bolts loosen and your chair gives off some pretty annoying sounds.

In most cases, those annoying sounds are the result of moving parts rubbing against each other because the screws that hold them are loose, or because factory lubrication in certain joints has worn off.

Loose Screws and Bolts

There’s a good chance you didn’t put your office chair together, which may be a good thing if you’re not mechanically inclined. However, the fact that you didn’t put your chair together means you weren’t around to make sure everything was screwed together nice and tight.

When you examine your chair for loose screws and bolts, it’s best to do it with the chair flipped upside down. The easiest way to do this is stack catalogs or books up to the height of your seat when it’s turned upside down. Turn over your chair and place the seat on the stack. Make sure it’s secure; you don’t want it wobbling or tipping over.


From there, use your fingers to wiggle each screw or bolt. Hand-tightening is acceptable, but isn’t a good solution if you want a long-term fix.

Once you identify the loose parts, use a crescent wrench or a screwdriver (flathead or Phillips, depending on the screw) to tighten up each screw or bolt.

After tightening everything, flip your chair over and go through your normal motions. Still squeaking? Flip the chair back over and double-check that you tightened every screw or bolt – sometimes you’ll find them in weird places you didn’t see the first time you looked over the chair.

If you’ve still got a squeak, the problem is most likely found inside of a joint or moving part.

Squeaky Joints or Moving Parts

Once you’ve given the screws and bolts a good tightening, there’s still a chance you’re going to get a squeak or two.

At this point, you need to identify where the squeak is coming from. So, have a colleague sit in your chair and move around while you look underneath and listen for specific sound points.

If you can identify where the sound is coming from, use a can of WD-40 to give the area a good spray. Keep a few paper towels around and place them on the floor to catch any excess lubricant that falls to the ground.

One of the main culprits of a squeaky chair is the springs which cushion your chair as you lean back. These springs are known as seat-tension springs.

Fixing these springs is fairly easy. There’s usually a knob you turn to ease up or tighten the tension.  Here’s a quick rundown from Wikihow on how to lubricate this spring:

“To fix this, apply oil to the seat tension spring located inside the turn-knob housing. Simply loosen the seat tension turn-knob and remove the turn-knob to spray oil inside the housing.”

A Quick Wheel Check

You’re going to come across a variety of wheels, but standard wheels are inserted into the body of the chair via a metal post fixed to the top of the wheel. Over time, those metal posts can wear down and become loose and the wheel axles can suffer from squeak-inducing friction.

So, flip your chair over and try to remove the wheels. If you can, lay them down on paper towels and squirt them with some silicone spray. Give the metal posts a good squirt, too, making sure to spray inside the post housing.

Chairs, Keyboards and More…

The tips we’ve given here are designed to be simple and time-friendly. You’ll need a screwdriver, a few wrenches and a can of WD-40. If you’re looking for a more in-depth tutorial on how to fix your office chair, we recommend a YouTube tutorial we found by handyman Todd Harrison.  It’s a great video if you’re too impatient to wait for a company handyman to fix your chair.

In the meantime, look at our post on how to fix a sticky keyboard. We give you some quick, easy tips for what to use to remove your keys, what you need to clean them and more.

Common Workplace Fixes: A Series on How to Correct Those Annoying Sticky Keys, Squeaks and More

Office life has a way of luring us into a daily rhythm.


We come in, set our things down at our desk, head to the coffee pot, swirl around chunks of powdered creamer and then head back to start our day.

You sit down at your chair and it gives its customary ear-splitting creak. You start typing out your first email of the day and your shift key keeps sticking. A few minutes later, the fluorescent light above your desk begins its hourly flickering session.



You open your desk to find your stapler, only to be mired in a sea of staples, sticky notes and spare change.



Little Things Become Big Problems Under the Right Circumstances

Here’s the funny thing – you don’t really notice any of those quirks. Like we said, office life has a way of luring us into a daily rhythm.

Over time though, it only takes a few bad days or a developing sense of frustration to turn those once unnoticed annoyances into full-blown  daily harassments.

We’re going to use the next couple of posts on our blog to talk about some of these workplace quirks, identify what could be wrong and then give you some simple ways to fix the problem.

Our First Tip: Unsticking the Sticky Keyboard

You’ve most likely suffered from this annoyance. One day you spill a few drops of Starbucks on your keyboard and, a week later, your “a” key seems to be quite precocious. Halfway through a memo you realize that valuable vowels seem to have disappeared.


In this scenario, a mix of espresso, milk and sugar have most likely built up under that key and cause it to stick when you press down on the key.

However, if you haven’t spilled any coffee on your keyboard in a while, there plenty of other explanations. In most cases, the culprit will be a mix of crumbs, hair and random fuzz that collects under your key and dulls the impact of your key pressing down on the sensor beneath.


Whatever the cause, you’re going to need the right tools and about 15 minutes. Here’s what recommends for your go-to keyboard tool kit:fix-it

  • A cup
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towels
  • A flathead screwdriver

Before you start pulling off colons and arrows, make sure you take a photo of your keyboard so you can remember the layout.

To remove your keys, lift one corner of the key slowly. As Instructables writes, “Your keys were basically snapped onto your keyboard at the factory … therefore they can be unsnapped.”

This is probably the most important part of the process because this is where you can break things if you rush it. Though your keys can be snapped off without breaking anything, they are made of plastic and breaking off the anchors on your keys is a real (and frustrating) possibility.

If a key is giving you trouble, slide a flathead screwdriver under it and gently wiggle it back and forth.

Once you have the key off, the real work begins. Take your Q-Tip and dip it in the rubbing alcohol. Then, wipe around the base of the key carrier until your Q-Tip comes out clean.

Meanwhile, fill your cup up with water and swirl around some of your dish soap. Drop the key into the solution and let it soak for a few seconds. Pull it out and give it a thorough wipe-down with your paper towels.

Once everything is cleaned and dried, snap your key back on and everything should work as well as it did the first day you used your keyboard.

Looking Ahead: The Squeaky Office Chair

We’d say that the sticky keyboard – or at least the dirty keyboard – is the most common office-equipment quirk we’ve seen.

A good way to avoid this is to buy a can of pressurized air and spray out your keys every Friday before you go home. Also, this Lifehacker thread suggests wiping down your keys every week with baby wipes.

But keyboards aren’t the only things that can break down over time. Office chairs can become agonizingly loud given enough hours of use. Most people ask for a new chair or just write off the squeak as impossible to fix – you don’t have to make excuses and we’ll show you why in our next post.