Choosing the Right Worksurfaces for Your Office

Are you outfitting a brand new location or revamping an old facility with new furniture? One of the most important decisions you’ll make is the type of worksurfaces you provide for employees. After seating, this is the office furniture that has the greatest influence on their day-to-day work. And it has an even bigger impact on how efficiently you use the available space. Let’s take a look at the four basic options.

Desks – The Bullpen Original

Individual desks are the traditional choice because they can be provisioned in so many different configurations. There’s a simple rectangle, an L-shape, a full U-shape, and more. Employees feel a sense of ownership since each desk can be positioned apart from the adjacent workspaces. Built-in under desk storage completes the self-sufficiency of these workstations. They are a good choice for wireless offices that don’t require much cabling or wiring.

Cubicles – The Mini-Office

Cubes offer the same configuration options as desks, but they include greater visual and acoustic privacy. Workstations can be closely adjoined yet still separated by panels, saving floor space without making employees feel too crowded. Overhead bins and vertical rail systems make cubicles the ideal option for offices that need lots of storage space per worker. Runways can conceal wires and cables to power each workstation.

Benches – The Current Trend

Benching is the ultimate space-saving solution with it’s truly tiny footprint. An office workbench is basically one long worksurface with shared structural components (such as legs) from one station to the next. It’s a good choice for teams that collaborate and communicate on a regular basis, but the setup can be distracting for employees who need to focus for extended periods. The central spine on a benching system makes power and cable distribution simple, often saving the most money in this area compared to other options.

Worktables – The Wave of the Future

Worktables are free-standing like desks, but are usually only available in simple rectangular configurations. Today’s hot trend in worktables is height-adjustability. Storage is usually minimal and separate from the worktable. Rolling pedestals are a popular option to pair with worktables. These smaller surfaces may be a good choice for offices that are going paperless.

Additional Options

Wall-mounted tables and lounge tables that include seating are other worksurfaces that can be distributed throughout the workplace. These make great touch down spots for flexible work spaces and for mobile workers.

A blog post only has space to scratch the surface of such a big topic! With so many choices, it makes sense to seek expert advice before you buy. Contact The Office Planning Group for an on-site consultation.

Office Space Planning: Open vs Cubicles, Part Two

Last week we looked at why companies think open office spaces are better than cubicles and why they might be wrong. How does open office space affect workers who need peace and quiet for their thought process?

The close proximity can really hamper those who are constantly on the phone or deep in complex calculations or coding. If a worker has to leave an open-plan area to go and find a private, quite space to work on another floor, they often just stay and grit their teeth.

There’s simply way too much distraction and too much noise. It’s a blend of poor sight-lines that allow on teams’ rambunctious gesticulation to distract another team 200 feet away. The goal is really to provide acoustical buffered products that can be stationed in strategic areas to provide a quiet workspace for those who need it when they need it.

Creating “zones” or ” neighborhoods” can help – with one area for collaborative teamwork and another for more detailed desktop or phone applications. This could mean a blending of  the open floor plan which basically means sitting everyone at tables in the open, and the cubicle based option that was designed for minimum worker interference.

Hoteling units can particularly benefit from this kind of set up, as workers who need to collaborate can seat themselves together and those who are working solo can find a quiet corner to do their own work.

Don’t forget the need for proper power and internet connections.  Electricity is a higher priority since most computers, laptops, tablets and phones can connect wirelessly, but but you probably want at least a few direct ports.

Consider adjusting your viewpoint from “either-or” when it comes to considering cubicles or an open plan in your office design, and consider the end users instead of the aesthetics.

Finally, remember that the closed office is still the preferred workspace for many – so consider building a few into your floor plan. They can often be used as leverage in salary negotiations – the perk of a private office with a door that closes mist be the incentive needed for a much wanted recruit to jump ship and join your team!


Office Space Planning – Open vs Cubicles Part One

The debate between open office spaces and cubicles is a never ending battle, it seems – but why do companies cling so stubbornly to the idea that cubicle = bad and open = good?

The answer isn’t hard and fast – rather the question is wrong. The type of work being done and the type of people doing it determines whether an open office space or a cubicle based design will work best.

So what’s the most common problem with open plan offices?

The main issue with open plan offices is the feeling of being in a middle school cafeteria. It’s known as benching in the adult world; when rows and rows of tables are set in a vast open space. The idea, of course, is that everyone has access to everyone else and that collaborative and creative processes will benefit – it take a village to complete a project.  The hope is that the team will be more effective.

This approach doesn’t always work.

Sadly, this is often not the case. We live in a world where isolation is more and more common, and social contact is as likely to be virtual as physical. Working in the same manner is a given for many. This kind of work style, however, takes time to be recognized, and in the meantime far to many office analysts are insisting that collaborative efforts in an open space environment will yield higher productivity and better results.

How can you fix it?

The problem isn’t the idea of collaboration – it’s with the rigid thinking about what kind of space encourages it. The solution is often not a full return to closed offices or cubicles, but a blended office that allows those who work better in private the ability to separate from the herd and focus, while those who thrive on real time, physical and verbal stimulation from peers to access the hive mind for better creative flow.

Next week:

Next Saturday we’ll explore some specific tips for blended office space as well as highlight common pitfalls and solutions for keeping creativity at a peak while allowing more laid back employees the room and quiet they need to shine.


New Orleans Office Cubicles don’t have to be Cookie Cutter

cubicles-overheadIf you lease or purchase office space in New Orleans, revamping your square footage with office partitions or dividers may be the best way to utilize space previously designed for any number of other purposes. The goal is to always give employees the work environment they need to operate at maximum productivity. While building new walls is one answer, office partitions can be a little more flexible, letting you create a variety of office spaces based on your needs instead of a cookie cutter approach.

Room Dividers

The first step to breaking up a monotonous large space is to invest in office partitions, which can be prefabricated then delivered/installed as needed. While some partitions go floor to ceiling,  a similar product can be used that only reaches to average head height – with the remaining height filled with glass to let in light.

Office Cubicle Partitions

Smaller office partitions can installed at individual workstations; these include both freestanding cubicle panels and desk mounted privacy panels. The nice thing about removable modules is that you can choose from a variety of heights and change the cubicle dimensions at will, allowing for a more open feeling or a more private cubicle as needed.


By offering a more senior employee the option of a larger workspace you can attract better talent to work in your New Orleans office. Furniture options can be upgraded to suit a more prestigious space, and additional perks may be offered as well – like exclusive use of a station in a situation where many must share with others.


Using partitions to offer specialized areas of the office can also work to your advantage when it comes to maintaining employee satisfaction and morale – consider a sound protected area for important or sensitive phone calls, and designate one area as a break room if needed.

If you really want to make an impact and be known as a terrific small or large business to work for, you can even have a secluded room for private matters such as pumping breast milk or administering insulin shots for employees who might feel uncomfortable or cramped doing it in the less sanitary conditions of the lavatory.

Use your space wisely and watch office space planning for your Louisiana business pay off!

Tiny Cubicles Metairie Businesses Can Squeeze Into a Small Office

Do you know about the case of the “amazing shrinking cubicles?” Metairie and other Louisiana office workers who have been around for a while may remember what workstations looked like back in the 1970s. Back then, the typical cubicle was a spacious 12’ x 12’. Twenty years later, it was diminished to 10’ x 10’. Today, a 6’ x 8’ is considered normal. According to Haworth, a leading office furniture manufacturer, we could be looking at another 20% cut in workstation size in the future. Will these new cubicles be just big enough to stand up in? Will employees feel like clowns stuffed in a phone booth?

Not Necessarily

To understand why cubicle shrinkage isn’t always a bad thing, it’s important to understand why and how it is happening. First, you need to take a look at office technology. The amount of space taken up by a flat screen computer monitor today is a fraction of the space required for a boxy CRT monitor. Plus, there’s a lot less need for paper filing space within individual work areas since so much documentation is stored electronically. This means workers can have a smaller workstation while enjoying the same amount of usable worksurface.

Next, you can consider how space is being redistributed. There’s a growing trend toward providing workers with greater flexibility in the office environment. More collaborative spaces are being added for teamwork and employees can choose to spend less time in their cubicle while still getting work done. Since more and more workers are mobile, many only need a small workspace to touch down when they visit the office. They aren’t going to feel claustrophobic by being cooped up in a tiny space because they don’t spend 8 hours a day there.

Top Picks for Small Workstations

As promised, here are a few of the nicest cubicles that can be configured at a 6’x 8’ size or smaller:

Premise by Haworth – Highlights: modular, open at the bottom for good airflow, lots of transparent and translucent materials, white canopies that reflect light down into the workspace

Avenir by Steelcase – Highlights: freestanding or panel-supported, open pore wood veneers, privacy screens and lateral files, top pick of Fortune 500 companies

Ethospace by Herman Miller – Highlights: 90, 120, and 135 degree planning options, huge selection of tile materials, power and data cabling can be added every 8” mark

Do you need to source space-conscious cubicles? Metairie and New Orleans businesses can rely on The Office Planning Group to assemble all the best choices.

Are Your Metairie Cubicles Safe to Breathe In?

scs-certifiedDid you know that more than 40% of Americans live in areas where simply breathing the air could be hazardous to their health? The American Lung Association released a report last year about the poor air quality in hundreds of areas across the US. Nine parishes in Louisiana received an “F” rating for high ozone levels. Ongoing exposure to high levels of ozone can cause wheezing and coughing, trigger asthma attacks, and even increase the chances of premature death.

Are You Living in a High Ozone Zone?

One of the parishes that received a failing grade was Jefferson – a troubling revelation if you live or work in Metairie. Cubicles shouldn’t be adding to your employee’s lung health woes. You read that right. The office furniture and other furnishings in your office are another potential source of air pollution. You know about the warnings to stay indoors on “ozone alert” days. But sometimes the air inside a building can be more polluted than the air outside. According to Scientific Certification Systems:

“Most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors – at home, work or school. It has been well documented that exposure to poor indoor air can contribute to health problems including headaches, asthma, dizziness and prolonged chemical sensitivities.” One of the sources of indoor air pollution is the emission of large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from surfaces and finishes.

Let Us Help You Breathe Easier

One of the ways The Office Planning Group helps lower your risk of exposing workers to indoor air pollutants is by participating in the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold program. This organization certifies compliance with “rigorous indoor air quality emission requirements for interior building materials, furnishings and finish systems”. We can source products, paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, wall coverings, furnishings, and other items for your office that are all SCS certified to keep your office air healthier to breathe. Even your new Metairie cubicles can be sourced from an SCS certified manufacturing partner to make sure your employees have a safe space to work. Call us today to learn more about how to pick the best office furnishings to promote excellent indoor air quality.

Pros and Cons of Used and Refurbished Office Cubicles

used cubiclesIf your company is ready for some fresh office cubicles, buying new isn’t the only way to go. The Office Planning Group can furnish you with remanufactured and gently used workstations at a fraction of the price. In fact, you can expect to reduce your costs 30 to 60 percent by purchasing second-hand furniture – even for the top name brands. Here are some of the pros and cons that can help you decide if this option is right for you:

Pros of Refurbished Cubes:

  • An environmentally responsible choice since it keeps older office furniture out of landfills
  • Fresh paint, new fabric and refinished worksurfaces mean every item looks just like new
  • Ideal for small to mid-sized businesses that want to redo their offices or expand without overrunning their budget
  • Some refurbished items may be finished with custom colors and textiles for corporate branding
  • Cubicles are refinished in the United States, helping keep jobs here

Pros of Used Cubes

  • The most eco-friendly option since the only energy and materials consumption is for transporting and storing the workstations prior to sale
  • All items inspected for functional defects – TOPG only resells items in excellent condition
  • One year warranty included just in case
  • Ideal for small businesses looking for small batches (a few dozen) or single items
  • Low financial commitment that makes sense for startups
  • No lead time since items are in stock and ready to go

Cons of Refurb and Used Cubes

The most obvious drawback of buying secondhand office cubicles is that you have a narrower selection. However, some customers actually find that to be a plus. Business owners who are looking to equip an office fast don’t necessarily need to look at 100 different options. They just need good quality cubes that can be delivered and installed ASAP.

The other potential issue with buying secondhand is that you may have to compromise on having everything match. However, there are ways around this. For example, OEM parts are still available to expand and reconfigure cubicles for many of the most popular models from leading furniture makers. We know how to identify the exact items you need when it’s time to expand. Or, we can help you decide whether a mix and match approach will work with similar but not identical cubicles.

Why Cluster Office Cubicles? New Orleans Utility Company Knows the Answer

office cubicles New OrleansWhen you have limited room in your office, there are a few things you can do to help conserve space with your office cubicles. New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board is one client we helped with just this issue recently. This utility company deals with waste all the time, but they don’t want to waste space!

The water, drainage and sewerage systems in New Orleans were honored in 1973 as one of the top ten most outstanding engineering achievements in the state. We can’t say the way we engineered the spatial optimization in the offices of the Sewerage and Water Board matches that, but the solution our team came up with is pretty great.

Compressed Workspaces Don’t Have to Feel Crowded

The Office Planning Group got creative with this client’s offices to fit a large number of customer service personnel into a small space. Our goal was to create a work environment that was functional, comfortable, ergonomic and functional – and one that didn’t make workers feel cramped. That’s always the sticking point when you have to fit lots of workers in a limited area. However, we used clustered office cubicles to solve that problem.

  • These cubes aren’t actually square or rectangular. Instead, they feature several workstations connected together around a central hub like petals on a flower. The worksurfaces are narrower in the front and open out to a wider angle on the sides. This gives the sense of working in a more open space instead of a box.
  • Workers have panels in front of them to help dampen sound. This also helps create a little bit of visual privacy. They aren’t staring at their coworkers all day and have more of a sense of personal space. At the same time, the open back of the workstation means they don’t feel too enclosed. They can readily invite in coworkers when advice or collaboration is needed.
  • The wide V shape of the desktop provides space on both sides of the user without taking up nearly as much room as a traditional U shape desk. There’s even enough room for filing at each workstation.

Can Your New Orleans Cubicles Do Mardi Gras?

Are your New Orleans cubicles being prepped for a crazy Carnival season? The round of Mardi Gras parades is already in full swing with full blown celebrations planned for February 12th this year. Of course, not all of your employees will be able to take time off to see all the action. So, why not bring the party atmosphere into work?

Here are some ideas for ways to have a blast decorating office cubicles between now and Fat Tuesday:

  • Cover cubicle walls temporarily with purple, green or gold fabric and trim them with strings of beads.
  • Let each employee create a supersized mask to cover the opening of their cubicle and create a sense of mystery.
  • Post a list of clues in the break room that will help your employees find the king cake you’ve hidden somewhere in the office.
  • Leave coins and other trinkets in desk drawers for employees to find.
  • Have an office-wide treasure hunt that has a hand painted coconut as the reward.
  • Name a king and queen of the office and request that everyone refer to them by a formal title for a day.

Let each department form a krewe. Then, they can pick a theme and turn one cubicle into a (stationary) float. Dolling up just one cubicle per department lets everyone participate but cuts down on the overall mess. Instead of picking a krewe name based on ancient mythology, office workers may wish to select monikers with a more modern feel. Here are some options:

  • The Krewe of Probst (all hail the inventor of the cubicle)
  • The Krewe of Xerox (we hear they really know how to jam)
  • The Krewe of Aeron (they always get the seat of honor)
  • The Krewe of the Red Stapler (watch out, they may start a brawl)

Want some visuals? The folks at Zappos did their office up for Mardi Gras back in 2009 and we think their decorations turned out great. You can see some fantastic examples at their photo stream on Flickr. Of course, these aren’t New Orleans cubicles, but Nevada is well known for its party atmosphere as well…

Delivery of Office Cubicles: New Orleans, Here We Come!

Do you feel overwhelmed at the idea of receiving a huge shipment of office cubicles? New Orleans businesses (and our clients throughout Louisiana) don’t have to worry about all the stress that comes along with ordering large quantities of systems furniture. We actually have a solution that keeps your office from looking like a disaster area. Here are some of the ways we take the load off your shoulders:

Let Us Be Your “Ship To” Address

We receive product from manufacturers at our own facility for your project. If you are outfitting a new or renovated office space, you could be purchasing from half a dozen different manufacturers or more. There might be one shipment coming in for cubicles, another for seating, one for filing and storage furniture, one for lighting, and so forth. Besides being very confusing, managing all these shipments is time consuming and space intensive. The last thing you want is to have to try to find somewhere to stash 50 cubicles that arrive while you are in the middle of carpet or tile installation.

Let Us Manage Exceptions

Then there’s the little matter of damaged or incomplete shipments. If you aren’t on top of every package, you might well miss signs of rough handling or a mismatch between the BOL and the actual shipment contents. If you do notice something amiss, navigating the labyrinthine process of making a freight claim is enough to make you tear your hair out. You need to leave that hassle to the professionals. We don’t put up with being bullied, given the runaround, or otherwise ignored. You will get what you paid for in good condition – we won’t accept anything less on your behalf.

Let Us Prep Your Office Furniture

What about when it is time to put everything together? We transport your office furniture to your location. There, we uncrate and stage it (while removing any packaging). Staging is actually a very important step that often gets overlooked in installation. It takes years of experience handling office furniture projects to understand the most efficient order to follow in putting together modular furniture and accessories. Organization is what makes this a completely smooth operation. If you’ve ever done a home improvement project and ended up going to the hardware store 5 times before the darn thing was over, you know what a difference good pre-planning makes!