Five Tips for Improving Teamwork in the Workplace

There are few things more frustrating for employees than being in a workplace devoid of collaboration and connection.

This past year, Financial Times reporter Emma Jacobs noted the importance of identifying loneliness in the workplace.

Her article referenced a joint study by California State University and the Wharton School of Business that noted, “management should not treat loneliness as a private problem but rather one that affects the business.”

With that in mind, we reached out to various experts to get their advice on how individuals and management teams can foster an environment of teamwork.

Be Intentional About Building Friends

Many of us have become accustomed to keeping our work life separate from our private lives. But, according to Shawn D. Madden, CEO of corporate events company FunCorp, building those connections improves your frame of mind and strengthens the workplace.

“Friends will do more for another friend in a week than they will do for a co-worker in a month, so your teamwork and productivity will improve as you build social connections,” Madden said.

See Yourself as Bigger Than Your Job Description

Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert and a regular contributor to Fast Company, said part of building a team is having employees who look beyond themselves when they walk into the office every day.

They see their role as helping in any manner they are able to and are always willing to give of their time and knowledge. They view their role as larger than their job description and look for ways they can contribute to the organization,” Deutschendorf told us. “When they see something that needs to be done, they step up and help out.”

An employee who sees themselves as larger than their role should be handled with a genuine, positive spirit, though. Someone who becomes obsessed with overachieving for overachieving’s sake will most likely alienate their team instead of bringing them together.

Do Whatever It Takes to Arrive with a Positive Attitude

As we mentioned in the previous section, overachievers who push themselves for the wrong reasons will be a detriment to their team, not a benefit.

One of the best ways to avoid that is to come into work with a genuinely positive attitude; not a façade, but a genuine spirit of optimism, says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of

“Do whatever you need to before arriving — whether it’s exercise, grabbing a coffee, or meditating — so that when you arrive you’re in good spirits and ready to work with your team,” Sweeney said.

See Your Coworkers as Individuals, Not Roles

One of the quickest ways to turn your workplace into a purposeless void is to treat coworkers as roles and not as real people, workplace engagement strategist and coach Lisa Barrington told us.

“Employees should work to see their colleagues as individuals, with unique needs, not just as the person who does ‘xyz’ task,” Barrington said. “By humanizing their colleagues, they will be inclined to step up to help them, support them, find ways to enhance the team’s success over their own, individual needs/goals”

Know When You Need Help … and Ask for It

We often view success as something that happens when you accomplish your goals on your own. Asking for help is seen as a weakness.

However, says Dan Stones, a team dynamics and workplace culture specialist, asking for help is a crucial element to building a strong sense of teamwork among employees. Exactly why is asking for help so powerful?

Stones said it’s a matter of trust.

“The largest benefit that asking for help brings is actually tied to trust. As soon as the employee asks for help, they immediately put themselves in a position of vulnerability,” he said. “This sort of openness is what’s required for a higher level of trust to develop among team members.”

A Reminder What Can Happen When Teamwork is Devalued

There’s a lot of good sense in what the experts told us about teamwork. Some of it may seem idealistic and nearly impossible considering the environment in your workplace.

But, as Tephra Miriam, a communications expert and author, reminded us, the price of a fragmented workplace is dangerously high.

“Without true cohesion and unity, the system falls apart,” Miriam said. “This can literally kill an organization.”

Three Principles for Effective Office Planning

One of the things that made McDonald’s such a revolutionary business is the concept of planning the work area. The original owners of the business were meticulous with the way they organized locations for the grill, fryer, shake makers and pass-thru.

They realized an important principle: Design influences productivity. That principle is one of the main reasons we emphasize planning as part of our business process. We work with companies to determine which layouts function best for their productivity and workflow objectives.

Knowing which type of design will work for you is much easier when there’s a basic understanding of how your office plan influences your daily life at work.

Good Planning Creates Convenience

If you’ve ever moved into a new home, figuring out how to configure your furniture and electronics can be tough. The goal is to organize everything in a way that makes movement and communication easy.

Offices aren’t that different; your planning needs to consider movement, communication and several other work-related factors like desk size, collaboration space and break rooms.

Business reporter Jill Leviticus highlighted additional considerations in a Houston Chronicle article about office planning:

“If you plan to redesign your office layout, make a list of key tasks employees perform, such as speaking to customers on the telephone, handling the mail or producing invoices. The list will serve as a convenient reference when you begin planning the new layout.”

Good Planning Considers Personalities

The days when all workers were considered drones with unilateral personalities are gone. Companies are devoting more time to understanding how their team members think and how each personality influences performance.

As a result, office planning has, in some circles, trended toward providing a workspace that meets the needs of extroverts and introvert.

In an interesting read from Fast Company, reporter Anjali Mullany talks about designing an office space that provides personality-soothing spaces for social butterflies and those who like to keep to themselves.

“Noise, interruptions, and lack of privacy are definitely a problem in open workspaces, and not everyone in an office works the same way or does the same work–which is why giving workers many options in a space is key to open office success,” Mullany wrote.


Good Planning Prioritizes Your Company Over Trends

The history of office workstations is an interesting one, to say the least. Cubicles have been around since the ‘60s and, while they have a poor reputation in popular culture, their emergence was actually pretty revolutionary.

They were first intended to provide the worker with a comfortable workstation that afforded them enough privacy to focus on their work and increase productivity without feeling trapped.

With the emergence of tech startups in the ‘90s and ‘00s, traditional “cubicle farms” were shunned for open-office concepts that, according to some, improved creativity and collaboration.

In recent years, though, research has been coming out proving that open offices may not be as effective in promoting creativity and productivity as once thought.

Another article from Fast Company illustrates this point well, if not with a little snark:

“Every workspace should contain nothing but offices. Offices for everyone. Offices for the junior associate and the assistant editor, and offices for the vice president and the editor-in-chief. Take those long tables, the ones currently lined with laptops at startups, and give them to an elementary school so children can eat lunch on them. We’ll have to do away with all those adorable communal spaces, but they were always a little demeaning, a little not-quite-Starbucks. We won’t need them now that we all have our own meeting place.”

The bottom line is that office planning should focus on who your company is and not trendy office design philosophy. Trends change faster than your company’s personality. Find the right fit for you; don’t fit your organization to cubicles or an open-office layout just because that’s what everyone’s pushing.

The Bottom Line: Office Planning Should Be Tailored to Your Team

One of the things we’ve learned as we’ve worked with hundreds of companies in Louisiana is that office planning isn’t a canned process where the planner pushes an agenda that’s divorced from the needs and nuances of the client.

Stop by our Space Planning page to learn more about what goes into our planning process and why, in the end, what we install in your workplace is appropriate for your expectations and needs.

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.

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. 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.

An Insider’s Look at the Executive Desks of America’s Business Leaders

Executive furniture says a lot about the leadership of your business.

Big, commanding desks that create space between the executive and the guest or employee indicates a power move, while an office with a normal-sized desk and a sitting area is a little more friendly.

It’s hard, though, to pin down a person or company by the type of desk they have because there could be complete surprises as it relates to the person in power and their workspace.

Being the followers of office trends and executive desks that we are, we looked at an article from Business Insider that highlighted the desks of 39 well-known business execs and entrepreneurs. Some of what we saw surprised us.

In this post, we’re going to highlight some of the more interesting things we noticed in this article.


Arianna Huffington, former editor-in-chief, Huffington Post: Small Desk, Lots of Books

The first photo we looked at was of Arianna Huffington’s office. Now, we’d expect the editor-in-chief of a Pulitzer-winning publication would have a somewhat roomy office, but that’s not what we found.

Huffington’s workplace is a cramped alcove with two bookshelves, at least 100 books, a small sitting area and a modest desk you’d expect to find at an antique store.

On top of that, her office has a wall-to-wall window through which everyone can see her. Curtains add some privacy, but they were drawn back in the photo we saw.

“It’s all about transparency,” Huffington told Business Insider. “I can see out, and everyone can see in.”

Michael Moritz, chairman, Sequoia Capital

If Arianna Huffington’s desk is small, then Sequoia Capital’s Michael Mortiz’s workspace is microscopic. Moritz’s desk is sparse. The venture capital guru’s desk is home to a Mac laptop, an iMac desktop, chocolate, a shot bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Pellegrino and a pair of analog clocks.

His desk is one among many desks in one room – a corner office seems to be out of the question.

What surprises us most about this is fact that Moritz’s simple desk belies the billions of dollars the company has made from investments in Apple, Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn.

Here’s an apt description of the company’s offices, via Forbes contributor George Anders.

“Sequoia doesn’t display its heritage with the well-heeled pride you might find at other top-tier venture firms, let alone the likes of JPMorgan or KKR … Sequoia partners don’t enjoy luxurious private offices; instead, they toil at stand-up desks in a big open hall. Conference rooms are adorned with cheap plastic wastebaskets. It’s as if Sequoia’s partners haven’t fully realized that they might be rich.”


Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group

Adler’s company has virtual employees all around the country, so he doesn’t like to head to the office because, in his words, “it’s boring and there’s no one to talk with.”

So, Adler works from his home office, which is comprised of a standing desk with a view of his backyard.

Adler told Business Insider he doesn’t get any work done when he’s looking at the ocean from his home, which is why he chooses to work with a backyard view.

Aaron Hurst, founder, Taproot Foundation

Hurst, like Huffington, has his own office separate from other employees.

However, he’s chosen to break down the walls, so to speak, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that allows him to “feel connected to the dynamic and brilliant team at Taproot while providing the sound privacy unfortunately required. My team is amazing and watching them work gives me tremendous energy.”

This is the same type of response that Huffington gave – transparency and a lack of barriers are important to executives.

Hurst’s office also includes a bookshelf, a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a small sitting area along with a metal desk that’s home to a lamp and two monitors.

Variety is the Common Theme for Executive Desks

As you’ve probably gathered, there really is no right or wrong desk for an executive. In these examples, the magnitude of the business and/or the power of the person didn’t really influence the size of their desk.

In fact, there was an inverse effect. Arguably the most valuable person on the list, Michael Moritz, had the simplest work desk: uncluttered, clean and underwhelming.

We’re aware of how executive desks have changed and our inventory reflects that. Stop by our Executive Furniture page to learn more about what we offer.

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.

The Open Office Concept May Not Be as Effective as You Think

For the past few years, business websites have fallen in love with the forward-thinking open-office designs of tech giants like Google and Facebook.

There’s been a very distinct push among progressive companies to transform the office from a cubicle-heavy workplace into what basically amounts to a labor-intensive studio apartment. Fridges, snacks and gourmet coffee machines are mandatory.

Lounge chairs, bean bags and picnic tables are common. Entertainment-break rooms are the new wave.

And if you think the movement is limited to just tech companies, think again. According to the BBC, “70% of US offices are open concept.”

The whole point of this movement, many people would say, is to spur creativity and collaboration. Fewer walls and offices and less separation leads to a collaborative environment where people can interact with different departments in a fluid manner.

Recently, though, the pendulum of office-design history has started to swing back to the middle. Forbes, The New Yorker and BBC have all featured intelligent arguments against open offices, with the BBC’s most recent piece carrying the title “Why Open Offices Are Bad for Us”.

An Anecdote from the BBC

The BBC article we’ve mentioned a few times was written in January 2017 and was based on the experience of a U.S. business owner named Chris Nagele.

Four years ago, the article states, Nagele decided to go with an open-office concept to transition his work-from-home team to a collaborative environment.

“It quickly became clear, though, that Nagele had made a huge mistake,” reporter Bryan Borzykowski wrote. “Everyone was distracted, productivity suffered and the nine employees were unhappy, not to mention Nagele himself.”

The experiment was short-lived – according to the article, Nagele moved his team into a traditional office space where each office had a door on it.

To curb any weakness in providing purely anecdotal evidence, Borzykowski listed the following facts about open-office environments:

  • We are 15% less productive in open spaces
  • We have a hard time focusing
  • We’re twice as likely to get sick
  • Small distractions can make us lose focus for up to 20 minutes

But the stats and facts listed in this article are just the beginning.

The New Yorker: We’re Wired for Privacy

In their January 2014 article about the dangers of open offices, The New Yorker dug into several research papers to understand why the quickly growing trend may not be the best for workers’ productivity.

One of their key points was that our brains need a sense of spatial privacy in order to feel psychologically private enough to think, create and work effectively.

This conclusion was the result of an overview of a March 1980 scholarly article titled, “Privacy at Work: Architectural Correlates of Job Satisfaction and Job Performance.”

The article, which was published in The Academy of Management Journal, reviewed the results of a trio of studies on how privacy both in our workspace and our mind can impact our job satisfaction.

The study concluded there was a definite link between architectural privacy (cubicles) and psychological privacy, which in turn had a positive effect on job satisfaction and performance:

“Results of all three studies showed architectural privacy associated with psychological privacy. Both forms or privacy were associated with satisfaction with workspace and job satisfaction,” concluded the authors of the 1980 article.

Forbes: Sound Privacy is a Big Deal

The final counter-argument to the open office craze comes from a 2016 Forbes article from contributor David Burkus.

In his article, Burkus talks about the results of a 2005 study that recorded 42,764 observation from 303 offices in the United States.

“Unsurprisingly, they found that enclosed private offices had the overall highest satisfaction rate and that open office plans had the lowest,” Burkus wrote. “But it was when they looked at individual dimensions that they found a few surprises.”

The biggest complaint from open-office employees was the level of noise they had to deal with on a daily basis. Another 25% to 30% said they didn’t like the noise levels in their open-office plans.

One final thought from Burkus:

“The desire for more collaboration among employees was shared by all, but those in open office plans may not have found it to be worth all of the stress and distraction from the bombardment of noise.”

Cutting Down on Distractions With Cubicles

If you’re starting to rethink the value of open offices and want to make some changes, contact us. We have a variety of privacy solutions that can drastically cut down on workplace distractions and improve efficiency and focus.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business: Dealing With Growth

You’ve done it. You’re startup. Your brainchild is growing up. You’d love nothing more than to sit back, relax and let nature run its course.

Alas, just as a parent’s work is never finished, so too are the continued responsibilities of a new business owner. Now that the dust has settled and breaking even is behind you, it’s time to start investing in the future of your company.

It’s understandable to want to keep your burgeoning business close to home. You’ve come this far, so it might be difficult to imagine what was once a fledgling idea, has now come into its own and is bursting at the seams to grow and expand.

We’ve gathered up a few tips from experts to help move into this new phase of your business.

One is the Loneliest Number

As we mentioned in Part One of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business,” it’s never been easier to connect with motivated, talented individuals who have the potential to add to your vision.

It’s easy to be over-protective about your project, but loosening up on the reins and enlisting some much-needed help allows you to focus on growth, rather than just keeping things afloat.

“Some of the best advice I learned early on was don’t try to be all things to all people,” wrote Michael A. Olguin, contributing writer for Inc., “because it typically means you are not very good at any one thing.”

As you gain traction, it’s harder and harder to cover all the components that keep the lights on and the revenue coming in.

What worked when you were a one-man or one-woman operation may not necessarily work when you’re juggling a growing demand for your products or service, as well as the day-to-day minutia.

When you tackle it on your own, Olguin said, “you jeopardize your ability to focus and create undue pressures for your team, your budget, and your company as a whole.”

Stay Focused and Set Goals

It’s easy to get tunnel vision after the struggles of your startup, but there are ways to mitigate the rut.

In “5 Tips for keeping your Startup Business Growing,” Forbes contributor Eric Basu highlights the value of continuing to organize your time and expectations right along with your budget.

Goal setting ensures that you are always on track for the next stage of development in your business.

“It’s a common trap to get immersed in the chaos of a startup and find a year later you were phenomenally busy, but never achieved the goals you originally planned,” Basu wrote. “You can revise the goals as need be, but you need to set them first to revise them later.”

If you’re lucky enough to have a team early on, goal-setting also allows people to see eye-to-eye on the direction of your company.

Whether it’s daily for yourself, quarterly for your employees or yearly for the business itself, goals give everyone a common, concrete, and achievable vision.

More Ideas on Managing Expansion: Partnerships and Self Care

Growth often demands that you, at some point, consider scaling your business through partnerships, franchising and other avenues. It also demands that you take care of yourself – your body’s health influences all.

Tips for Expanding

In a 2014 article for Entrepreneur, reporter Karen E. Spaeder offered 10 practical ways to expand your business.

Expansion can happen through licensing, franchising, forming alliances with companies offering complimentary services, diversifying and branching out into other markets. The possibilities are endless.

It’s not as risky as it sounds if you’re careful and well-researched and the benefits to your business’ financial future and longevity are manifold.

“Choosing the proper (method) for your business will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money, time and sweat equity you’re willing to invest all over again. If you’re ready to grow, we’re ready to help,” Spaeder wrote.

Tips for Your Mind

We’ve talked about the health of your company, but one point that has been neglected thus far is your physical and mental health.

It’s easy to say you don’t have time for yoga classes or gym memberships, but when passion is one of the biggest driving forces for entrepreneurs today, can you really afford not to find time? When you’re passionate about your business, it shows and spreads.

There’s a positive correlation between passion for your work and success, and it’s harder to feel enthusiastic when you’re drained physically and mentally.

Take the stairs, park a little farther away from the office, or watch a 15-minute yoga video online before work or during your lunch break.

The health of your company is maintained through healthy habits. Give yourself the same level of care you put into your company as CEO and you’ll ensure vitality for years to come. You’ll decrease the chances of burning out so you can continue to manage and direct your startup.