Office Furniture Buying Guide

What you need to know before buying office furniture

Open Plan Office FurnitureYou are on the right track by researching how the process for buying new office furniture works.  Below are reasons you may require new furniture for your location:

  • Your current furniture is disorderly, and is problematic for efficient workflow and employee production.
  • Your furniture has become a risk; breaking down, hazardous to employees, and lacking ergonomics.
  • Your furniture layout inhibits collaboration among employees and departments.
  • Your furniture has been outpaced by current technology and its integration required for your business.

Bottom line, you recognize change is required. Now the question most likely is, where do I start? 

You may or may not have had to buy new furniture in the past, and if you had, the experience could have been good or bad.  You may also feel your only solution is to simply go to Office Depot or Staples. 

Regardless the reason, we can assure you acquiring of new office furniture is not as challenging or stressful if you plan accordingly. 

Our hope is this guide proves worthwhile in addressing your most important concerns.

Things to AVOID when buying office furniture

Buying office furniture in Honolulu

Ordering office furniture can be both fun and exciting, it can also be overwhelming.  There are many factors to take into account, whether moving to a new location or renovating your current one.  Selecting the type of furniture to fit into your organization’s space and culture is no easy task.

Let’s list the more notable mistakes commonly made by companies buying office furniture:

Aesthetics vs. Function

Appearance is an important factor, but nothing should undermine comfort and health of your employees and workplace. Wellness and wellbeing for your workforce is top priority. 

Chairs with stylish looks that lack function and comfort mean nothing.  Understand the perspective of the employee sitting in the chair hours on end. 

Contact a local contract furniture dealer, schedule a time for you and a few of your key employees to visit their showroom.  A good furniture dealer will be able educate you on a variety of options and will even deliver a few chairs to your office to have employees test out.   

Employee Needs

Every employee is different.  Get buy-in from your employees.  A short survey, specific for your organization, might be a good  start.  Include in the survey choice and open-ended questions that enables employees to provide specifics on how they envision their ideal workplace and space.

Purchasing Plan

Buying commercial office furniture requires just as much due diligence as if you were to integrate a new software or hardware, it is an investment for your people.  Key considerations should include (2) questions in usage: How often? By whom? Those answers will provide you the broad strokes including to think long term vs short term. Trendy aesthetics or lasting function.

Time to Test

The saying “try before you buy” holds true for office furniture. As stated prior, contract dealers are open to sample units for trial periods. Sit in the seating - see how you like the fit under the desks, in the conference room, or your lounge. Testing out office furniture can save you a lot of time and money, plus it engages productive employee feedback. Plus, it’s fun – right?!?

Things to CONSIDER when buying commercial office furniture in Hawaii

Plan the Process

Planning for Honolulu office furniture deliveryOrdering new contract office furniture may take longer than expected. It isn’t like buying residential furniture at the nearest store, where you can browse and select what you like and have it delivered next day.

Major office furniture manufacturers have a world-wide network of dealers, each located within a specific territory, e.g. Infinium Interiors is the local Kimball Office dealer for Honolulu and the state of Hawaii.  

Majority of these major manufacturers  implement Just-In Time manufacturing, which means the machines turn on only when the order is placed.

The benefit is efficiency in placement, as every space is different and you can customize your furniture to suit the space.  The planning must also be efficient and prioritize manufacturing lead times for Hawaii which is 6-8 weeks, and in some instances longer.

This period may fluctuate based on consumer demand, availability of raw materials, and a myriad of other factors. Thus, start early for a smooth transition.

Planning should begin 6 months prior to your move in date. The earlier you can begin planning, the more time your design team and your local dealer will truly understand your company’s needs and design an office that accurately reflects your brand and culture.

Rule of thumb, if you feel it is too early to start, then it is the perfect time to start!

Kimball Cetra Modular Workstations - Banks, LawyersDefine Your Workplace

Furniture placement can be customized to fit any space. A designer and/or a space planner is desirable, and both play a key role in the experience.

The designer is responsible for looking at the space and the organization’s activities to take place, conceptualizing and devising the most effective layout. Points to reflect about your current space.

  • Is it separated?
  • Do certain people need to be closer to others?
  • Does certain equipment need to be accessible to everyone?
  • Do you need bigger or smaller meeting space(s)?
  • Is collaboration encouraged throughout the organization?
  • Are spaces available for focused work?

The designer’s job is to guide you to solutions (note: in-depth case studies on all points listed are available to you - please reach out to us for more information on this).  

Technology

Rapport Conference Furniture - Media Table

Most furniture you purchase will be with you for the next 15 – 20 years. The technology your organization utilizes, however, will be in a state of perpetual change and never static.  Make sure your furniture can adapt with the changes.

Modular systems such as the Kimball Office Kore, Canopy, Xsite systems, adapt easily to new settings and cultural trends. Computers and their hardware are shrinking and disappearing into the background of the office. We are seeing products such as Nxtwall demountable walls becoming increasingly more important because of their ability to keep up with technology and convenient energy access. 

Whatever your technology – whether graphic interface, video conferencing, or touch screens - make sure your purchased furniture can keep up and meet the basic needs of all technology and access to power! 

Quality

Everyone seeks the line where quality and affordability meet. When it comes to furniture most treat it as a negative instead of positive.  We believe this is because it is an expense and is thought of as commodities. i.e. “just a desk” or “just a chair”.  

Kimball Office Villa - Collaborative Office SeatingThoughts like those will lead to purchasing very low quality furniture that falls apart in a few years, requiring additional purchases for replacement product. Inevitably the repeat mediocre purchasing may define your organization accordingly. Quality purchases contribute and communicate more to your stakeholders.

Warranty

The industry standard is a 10-year warranty which means that the company will replace anything that breaks under normal conditions within 10 years of purchase.  

Lifetime warranties are available, but may be restricted to certain lines or product type. Clinical industry tests and citations provide assurance of warranty and quality. Level certifications, ANSI BIFMA, Greenguard, SCS certifications help consumers know which products are higher quality.

If you find a product with these listed, it will most likely serve you for a long time proving your long-term value of ownership. 

Kimball Office Wish Chair - Ergonomic SeatingErgonomics

An ergonomic chair is important. The whole workstation being ergonomic means more, as the needs to support the user in all of their positions from alert and hyper focused to relaxed and comfortable. Consider adjustable key board trays, monitor arms, foot rests, and height adjustable tables.

Empowering an employee to move positions without sacrificing their work flow is good business sense and sends a message to the employee their well-being is worth the cost.

Budget

Furniture can get expensive fast and it is important to know your working budget when you set out. Since there are literally hundreds of furniture manufacturers in the market, it is inevitable you will find the one(s) to fit your budget. If you don’t have a budget or don’t know where to begin then you can reach out to a furniture dealer like Infinium Interiors who can partner with you to set a budget and design accordingly.

If you are part of a group purchasing organization such as US Communities, Premier, or Novations than typically you can get better pricing. Check within your organization to see if you have access to a purchasing contract that gives significant discounts.

Find the Partner that’s Right for You

All of this is a lot to keep in mind! Don’t let it overwhelm you. If you start early, enable a timeline, and have the right partner the result will be positive for your group. If you anticipate buying office furniture in the next 3 to 12 months then contact us today. We can help you and make your business and your workforce thrive.