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bookshelvesThe digital revolution has caused a lot of changes within our lifetime. Most people no longer have landline telephones in their houses. A majority of shoppers buy at least some of their products using their phones, tablets or other wireless devices. And physical paper and cardboard books are becoming a relic of the past.

So will there still be a need for bookshelves in the future?

Practical Uses for Bookcases

In the home, probably not. Many people no longer read physical books, preferring instead the convenience and affordability of digital readers such as Kindles, iPads, or even their smartphones. Audiobooks — which can be listened to while on the go, working out, or during your morning commute — are also becoming more popular.

But in a business or industrial setting, there is a need for some types of books, especially repair manuals, owner’s manuals, and reference materials such as dictionaries or technical volumes sitting on bookshelves.

The kind of hands-on people who work in warehouses, docks, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial settings often prefer the “old school” approach of opening up a repair manual or dragging a heavy volume out to the job site for easy reference. While these heavy volumes may eventually disappear, they probably will last longer than other kinds of books.

Psychological Uses for Bookcases

But books have always been more about simply reading. The walls of attorney’s offices, for example, are frequently filled with legal volumes that rarely, if ever, get opened.

Executives, journalists, university professors, and other people whose job is to appear smart will often fill their workspace with bookcases filled with books on a wide variety of subjects.

Having a lot of books can project an image of intelligence and curiosity, which are essential qualities in many different professions.

For the Love of Books

Then there are the people who simply love the look, the feel, and even the smell of physical, printed books. Reading a book on the commuter train or subway, carrying a book in your backpack, or keeping a book on your bedstand to help you relax at the end of a long day are simple pleasures that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

While books themselves may eventually go the way of vinyl LP records — of interest mostly for collectors and curiosity seekers — the transition to digital will likely take longer than other technological innovations. Too many people just aren’t willing to give up their books, at least not yet.

Photo by Luis Argerich via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Luis Argerich via Wikimedia Commons

In some businesses, the conference room table is one of the most important pieces of furniture in the entire office.

That’s because the conference room is where many businesses meet with prospective new clients. It’s where new vendors are interviewed. It’s where contracts are negotiated.

You could say it’s where many of the most important decisions are made. So when you are designing and furnishing your business’s conference room, the conference room table shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be the centerpiece.

Size of Your Conference Room Table

There are several considerations when choosing a new conference room table. The first is size.

First of all, the conference room table needs to be the proper size for the conference room. If it is too small, it could make your business look weak to outsiders.

If it takes up too much room, it won’t be practical. Oversized conference room tables also can inhibit the free flow of conversation, stifle creativity, and suppress great ideas.

Conference Room Table Shapes

Most conference rooms are rectangular by design. This limits what kind of shapes you can consider for your new conference room. For example, a circular table in a rectangular room will leave a lot of empty, wasteful space.

So even though you probably will be limited to longer conference room tables, there still are choices to be made. Rectangular tables with sharp 90 degree corners create a more formal setting for your meetings. The create clear demarcations between bosses and employees.

Conference room tables that are oval-shaped can instill a more democratic tone to your meetings.  They imply that while there are distinctions between executives and subordinates, there also is room for compromise.

Surface Types

A third consideration is the type of surface your conference room table should have. Sturdy wood table tops s create a more traditional tone for your conference room, while clear or tinted glass tables offer a more futuristic, forward-looking look.

Dark colors imply a more conservative tone while lighter colors can promote an openness to new ideas.

If you have an interior designer planning your conference room, don’t be surprised if they ask you a lot of questions about the tone of your company, your management style, and the kind of message you want to wordlessly imply to your employees, vendors, and clients.

A business can say a lot with the type of conference room table they install in their meeting space.


Photo by Hash Milhan (via Wikimedia Commons)

Photo by Hash Milhan (via Wikimedia Commons)

Adding a suggestion box to your workplace offers a number of immediate advantages. For one, it allows ownership and management to get recommendations from line level employees that can actually streamline operations and improve processes.

But a simple suggestion box also offers workers the chance to have their voice heard, reinforcing the idea that they are a valued part of the business. Workers who feel as if management cares about them work harder, stay longer, and produce better results.

Boosting Employee Morale and Motivation

An employee who feels as if their company doesn’t care about them, doesn’t know who they are, and has no interest in what they have to say isn’t going to be a motivated worker.

These employees aren’t going to be loyal to the company, are more likely to bad mouth the business to others outside of work, and are more likely to quit sooner, leaving the business with another job to fill.

Yet something as simple as a suggestion box can help workers feel as if their opinions matter and that management is actively interested in what they have to say, improving employee morale and overall job satisfaction.

Revenue Builder

Line level workers have a perspective of the operation that management often doesn’t. They can see ways to save money, reduce expenses, and improve efficiency that may not be obvious to executives and other bosses.

When they share these ideas in the workplace suggestion box, it can open up new improvements to operations, potentially increasing revenues and growing the company’s market share.

Case in point: The Minnesota-based company 3M Corporation posted a suggestion box in their employee break room and a worked dropped a slip of paper into it with the idea for Post-It Notes, a product line which has helped grow the company’s market share to more than $34.7 billion in annual revenues.

Cost Cutter

Suggestion boxes can also help companies save money. Every dollar businesses save thanks to employee suggestions goes right to the bottom line.

Some businesses encourage employees to come up with money-making or cost-saving ideas, rewarding them with bonuses for suggestions that actually result in increased profits. In the early 2000s, Nevada-based Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s “Big Idea” program paid out thousands of dollars to line level workers whose ideas helped add millions of dollars to the casino company’s bottom line.

Suggestion boxes are a little thing that can result in big ideas that can result in dramatic improvements to employee relations, operations, product offerings, and cost savings.




clutterIf you want to get more done during your workday, it’s important that you keep less clutter in and around your workstation.

Clutter kills productivity. Not only does it make it more difficult to find the important documents that you need, but it also serves as a constant distraction that keeps you from staying focused on the most important tasks.

Work Hoarders

One of the most popular cable television programs right now features people who fill their homes with old newspapers, magazines, and other items to the point where they can’t even walk around. These hoarders are fascinating because they often can’t even see how cluttered their homes are.

Some people’s workstations are the same way. Because they keep every document, report, file folder, and other items, in a very short amount of time their desk starts to disappear under all the paperwork. And like their counterparts on TV, these work hoarders often aren’t even aware that they are doing it.

Clearing Space

With today’s digital technology, there’s little reason to hold onto paper copies of just about anything. Nearly every document you could ever need is likely backed up somewhere either online or in your business’s digital files.

So keeping reams and reams of paperwork not only doesn’t help you be more productive, it’s also completely unnecessary. The first step to organizing a cluttered workstation is to throw everything out that you possibly can … or at least recycle it. Those documents that you aren’t sure are duplicated digitally can be quickly scanned and stored in an electronic file.

Boosting Productivity

Once you get used to working with digital files rather than paper files, your desk will be a lot clearer. You probably will also be much more efficient in your work because you won’t have to dig through piles of paperwork to find what you need and you also won’t be constantly distracted by all the clutter.

Digital files are much easier to keep organized. Plus, they don’t take up a lot of physical space. You literally can store enough paperwork to cover a dozen desks on a single jump drive.

Start with a Clean Slate

If you aren’t sure where to begin when clearing away the clutter on your desk, how about starting with a new workstation?

A brand new desk with nothing on it will help keep you focused. And if you strive to keep your new desk clear of paperwork and other clutter, you can enjoy a more productive workday.



4504292121_da15085745_zIf you haven’t had to buy new office furniture in a while, you might want to prepare yourself for a case of sticker shock.

The expense of top quality desks, ergonomic chairs, prefabricated workstations, and other office furniture can add up very quickly, especially if you are furnishing a large office.

And that’s before you even take into account the computers, smartphones, WiFi, and all the other technical gear most employers are expected to provide their office workers.

Some employers balk at writing the check for office equipment and other overhead. But they shouldn’t. Providing high-quality office furniture is a good investment in your employees and will likely pay huge dividends later.

Worker Satisfaction

One immediate benefit from providing your employees with a comfortable, productive office workspace is improved employee retention. While few employees are likely to quit on the spot unless you provide them a good desk,

While few employees are likely to quit on the spot unless you provide them a good desk and comfortable chair, they may be more open to offers from competitors if it seems like you don’t care about their comfort and security.

And with employee turnover on the rise in almost every industry, it benefits employers to do anything they can to hold onto their best workers. When people leave your organization, all the money you invested in training and seasoning them goes with them — not to mention the added expense of training a new person to replace them.

Productivity and Attitude

Outdated, inefficient, and uncomfortable office furniture will invariably negatively impact worker morale. It also can lead to discontented workers poisoning your business’s reputation with co-workers and outsiders alike.

Investing in top-quality office furniture that is engineered to minimize distraction and maximize productivity can have the opposite effect. It shows that 1.) You genuinely care about your employee’s comfort and happiness, and 2.) You are willing to spend money on the people who actually interact with clients, vendors, and others rather than exclusively on manufacturing processes or line items that don’t directly touch your human workers.

The long-term benefits of investing in high-quality office furniture generally far outweigh the short-term costs.

Like all overhead, office furniture can be amortized. You may even be able to claim a tax credit.

But the immediate benefits of improved employee morale, increased productivity, and lower turnover of experienced workers often make investing in new office furniture a no-brainer.


folding chairYou need to hold an all-staff meeting to explain new policies being rolled out for the new year. Or your Human Resources needs to brief your employees on your new benefits package. Or you want to reward your workers for doing a great job this year by hosting a social event in the workplace.

Where is everybody going to sit?

The fact is that most small business owners want to communicate better with their employees. But their lack of physical equipment — such as a large enough space to meet or something as simple as chairs and tables — stands in their way.

When reviewing your capital improvements project list of the coming year, one item that probably isn’t on there is a couple dozen folding chairs. But maybe they should be.

Here’s why:

Employee Comfort Boosts Productivity

If you require your employees to attend mandatory meetings, you are pretty much obligated to make them comfortable. You can’t expect your workers to stand up during an hour-long presentation. Even a shorter meeting will ruffle a few feathers if there is no place to sit.

But when you provide clean, comfortable folding chairs, your workers will be much more receptive to what you have to say. Plus, their job satisfaction will improve … or at least not be negatively impacted.

Folding Chairs Last a Long Time

Folding chairs are generally a one-time purchase for most companies. That’s because they are durable enough to last many years without having to be replaced, especially if you only use them occasionally and take care to store them properly.

Which leads to …

Easy, Out of the Way Storage

Folding chairs can be stacked, stored on rolling racks, or otherwise kept neatly and securely out of the way until you need them next.

Store folding chairs in an out of the way corner of your dock or warehouse, in a storage closet, or even outdoors under a tarp if you are pressed for space.

Ready to Use

Another benefit of folding chairs is that they are simple to use, require no assembly, and are always ready for use. Simply unfold them, arrange them into neat rows with plenty of leg room, and you can host all-staff meetings, in-house social events, or gatherings of any size.

Folding chairs are one of those things that you don’t realize you use so often until you have them. The affordable, convenient, and versatile folding chairs available at make it easier to  meet with your people to improve your operation.



bookcasesOne of the unexpected victims of digitization is the common bookcase. Only a few years ago, bookcases in most offices were stuffed with manuals, reference books, and other materials that needed to be frequently accessed.

Today, however, practically every bit of information you need can be accessed faster, more efficiently, and from anywhere using your mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet.

In other words, “Books are so 20th Century!” Why not give yourself a little more office space by getting rid of the bookcases that probably no longer hold any books — or at least far fewer than they used to hold.

While you’re at it, you also might consider getting rid of the rows and rows of filing cabinets and storage space. Most businesses no longer  have a need for holding onto piles of paper files when everything can be stored on electronic files that are cheaper, more accessible, and take up far less physical space.

Redesigning Office Space

The turn of the 21st Century has caused a sea change in office design. For many businesses, bookcases and file cabinets aren’t the only casualties of the switch to mostly web-based, digitized information storage.

Traditional office desks and chairs are far less common than they used to be. Many workers are realizing the benefits of being untethered from their workstations, using their mobile devices to do the same amount of work more efficiently from anywhere they like.

Offices themselves are also on the outs for many businesses. Why pay for overhead like rent, utilities, cleaning services, and employee benefits like break rooms when you can hire remote workers to provide the same or more productivity from home, or anywhere they choose to work.

Changing Attitudes toward the Traditional Workplace

file cabinetsIn fact, many businesses are questioning whether to hire office workers at all when many of the tasks they traditionally perform — such as filing, compiling reports, and providing customer service — can be outsourced to contract workers who often work for less and don’t require any benefits.

These are just the beginning of many changes coming to the way US businesses work. The trend toward automation likely will continue in the coming decades.

Robots already are making a huge dent in the number of manufacturing jobs held by humans. It’s only a matter of time before their built-in efficiencies are realized among the white collar set as well.

But all of this isn’t necessarily a pessimistic view of the future. Increased efficiencies that result in more productivity ultimately result in more profitability, a stronger economy, and a better overall standard of living.



office chairsOffice furniture is something many businesses take for granted. From a financial perspective, investing in things like ergonomically correct chairs or updating desks and shelving wouldn’t seem to pay long-term dividends.

But if you look a little more closely at it, you can see that buying new office equipment can actually benefit your business in more ways that may at first seem evident.

Here are five reasons why.

Reducing Absenteeism

Office workers are at low risk of being injured at work by falls or lifting heavy equipment. The most common injury among white collar workers is repetitive strain. In fact, even including factory and warehouse workers, repetitive strains and sprains account for about 40% of all workplace injuries.

These types of low-impact injuries can cost your company a great deal of money in the form of workmen’s compensation claims. But they also can reduce productivity by increasing absenteeism.

Improved Good Will

Buying new office furniture has a psychological benefit among workers. They are more likely to feel appreciated and to feel better about working for your business if you provide them with ergonomically beneficial office furniture and workstations.

Many of the companies with the highest employee morale — such as Google and Apple — are famous for providing their workers with ergonomic workplaces that encourage collaboration and creative thinking.

Increased Work Capacity

Employees who are physically comfortable can spend more time focused on their work.

For example, people using ergonomic keyboards that include wrist rests can type longer, faster, and with fewer breaks. Cleaning equipment that features ergonomic design allows cleaning personnel to clean a larger area faster because they don’t have to bend as frequently.

Fewer Mistakes

The increased focus that ergonomically correct office furniture and workstations can provide often means fewer mistakes. That translates to less wasted time trying to find and correct mistakes, resulting in boosted productivity and output.

work stationNobody likes making mistakes. So workers who are physically stronger, more comfortable, and more relaxed are more likely to feel better about their contribution to your organization because they won’t make as many errors.

Better Work Atmosphere

Have you ever worked at a job where you were physically uncomfortable all the time? Try to remember how it felt when you got up every morning and had to go to work. Probably not very pleasant.

Contrast that with a workplace where employees feel valued by management that provides them with ergonomically beneficial office furniture and workstations.

Spending money on upgraded office furniture is a short-term investment that can pay huge long-term dividends for your business.


office chairsMost people who work in offices spend a lot of time sitting behind a desk looking at a computer. While that may sound low-stress, maintaining the same position for hours at a time actually can put a lot of strain on the body, especially the lower back.

Some new technologies, including stand-up desks, can help improve back health and reduce the “white collar spread” many office workers experience. But having the right office seating can also dramatically reduce the risk of becoming injured while sitting down on the job.

Having a comfortable office chair not only can prevent injury and stress but can also help you work longer and more efficiently. Office workers with comfortable seating tend to get more done, make fewer mistakes, and feel more satisfaction in their job.

When shopping for a new office chair, there are six essential things that you should look for in order to maximize comfort and reduce the risk of strain or injury.

Protecting the Posterior

The most weight while sitting down is put on the backside. So choosing an office chair with comfortable seat padding is essential.

Sitting on a hard plastic chair or office seating with thin padding can get uncomfortable after even a short period of time. Instead, look for an office chair with comfortable padding and breathable fabric. If possible, take the chair for a “test sit” before buying.

Arm Rests

Your shoulders will be more relaxed and your arm muscles less stressed when your office chair comes with arm rests.

For maximum comfort, choose an office chair with arm rests that keep your elbows and arms at a 90-degree angle.

Height Adjustment

To work comfortably, your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor. Make sure you choose a chair with an adjustable height option that lets you keep your feet flat and your arms at desk height.

Tiltable Seating

Being able to go up and down isn’t the only concern with an office chair. You also should be able to rock forwards and backward.

This will help reduce slouching and provide more support to both your upper and lower back.

Lumbar Support

Look for office chairs with lumbar support, which means a curved back padding that supports the natural curve of the human back.

If the chair you use doesn’t provide lumbar support, consider adding an optional lumbar cushion that attaches to practically any office chair.


Chairs with wheels not only give you more mobility but also let you swivel, spin and roll around wherever you want to go. Reaching for items on your desk, shelves, or other places on a stationary chair can put additional strain on your back.


4504292121_da15085745_zDesks, chairs, cubicles, lighting and other office environmental details are something most workers take for granted. But office furnishings can often have a profound effect on both business productivity and workplace morale.

Existing employees are less likely to call off as frequently and more likely to work harder and longer if you provide them with modern, comfortable and ergonomically correct office furniture. And your organization is more likely to attract the best candidates when they see an updated, technologically advanced office environment when they come in to interview for a job.

Having the right office furniture matters. Your company can be more successful if you don’t take your business’s physical environment for granted.

Here are five ways choosing the best office furnishings, lighting and other environmental factors from can help boost the productivity and profitability of your business:

Motivates Employees

Furnishings may be something you take for granted. But you can be sure you’re employees will notice when you fail to update your office furniture and instead force them to work with uncomfortable, outdated desks, chairs, and other equipment.

Office furniture that promotes ergonomics can improve overall performance by 10% to 15%. And comfortable workstations have been shown to increase job satisfaction by 24%.

Fewer Breaks

Uncomfortable office furniture makes workers take more frequent work breaks to rest their aching backs and sore bottoms. Inefficient offices also encourage workers to take more unnecessary steps to perform routine tasks such as filing or

Inefficient offices also encourage workers to take more unnecessary steps to perform routine tasks such as filing or disposing of trash.

Improved Comfort 

An estimated 86% of office workers report that the chairs their employers provide are uncomfortable.

Newer office furniture with improved ergonomic design can reduce the incidents of carpal tunnel, repetitive strain injury, and other common office worker aches and pains that can result in lost work time and increased sick time.

Less Sick Time Pay

When your workers call off sick, you are paying them to stay home rather than contribute to the success of your business. Improving your office furniture can have a direct effect on worker productivity.

Promote Creativity and Collaboration

Modern office furniture and workplace design can stimulate employee creativity, encouraging your workers to come up with the “big ideas” that can set your business apart from your competitors.

Office furniture from also can promote collaboration so that your staff can work together to spark innovation and inspire each other to excellence.