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Quality office design: planning pays off.

Whether you are a business owner or manager of corporate real estate, when you are about to embark on a project to renovate, expand, or reconfigure office space, it is essential to consider how furniture impacts all aspects of your business.

Taking into consideration today's belt-tightening economic times, you must look at this project with a long-term eye, as the decisions you make now may prove to be hazardous to your company's health in the future.

It is very important that you evaluate and project what your company's needs and goals will be in the next five years. Will your business experience growth? Will you need to hire additional employees? How will you accommodate computer technology? Will you have sufficient filing space? Will workstations in your office fit your employees' specific tasks and comfort needs? Do your employees mostly work in teams or do they spend most of their time working alone at their workstations?

Your office environment should grow with you as your business grows. But that doesn't necessarily mean renting more expensive workspace. Systems furniture -- a combination of panels and furniture that creates an efficient system of storage and workspace -- may be the perfect choice for furnishings that can adapt to your firm's changing needs.

You can begin with workstations and files. Later, you can add panels, integrated wiring management systems and increased worksurfaces -- all compatibly designed to support your ever-growing automated work environment. Systems furniture maximizes your investment in office workspace, increasing worksurface area capacity and employee density without increasing costly floor space or electrical, heating or air-conditioning demands. It also minimizes the number of fixed walls that will need to be constructed, thus offering an additional cost-saving benefit.

Investing in Your Office

Purchasing furniture should be part of your long-term business strategy. You want your business to perform at a peak level that will bring results to the bottom line.

Think about office design in terms of giving employees the best tools they need to perform their jobs well. People perform best when they have the right equipment to make them comfortable and productive.

Through office furniture, .you can establish a greater visual identity for your company. You can use your offices to make a statement about your organization and the services or products it provides. For example, a manufacturing company that advertises well-made, high-quality products, looks second-rate if its offices have old, scratched desks and chairs with broken arms. And, a healthcare clinic that says it offers a caring environment would be sending the opposite message if its waiting room is filled with uncomfortable folding chairs.

If you do need office furniture in a hurry, some major manufacturers offer quick delivery programs that can speed furniture to your office in a matter of days, therefore keeping down-time to an absolute minimum. And you get a quality, time-tested product backed by a consistent, high level of dealer service. If adjustments or reconfigurations need to be made in the future (for instance, if your company needs to relocate, or take on additional office space), the dealer can help.

Getting Started

Whether you need furniture immediately or have some time to plan your furniture purchase, once the decision has been made your company's facility manager or the person responsible for selecting new furniture should work in concert with a contract furniture dealer and an interior designer.

It is important to take the time to carefully select a dealer, as the relationship you have will be a Iong-term one. Contract furniture dealers can provide up-to-the-minute information on the benefits and features of the furniture they sell and can help you to update your furniture, or reconfigure it if necessary in the future. In addition, some dealers have interior designers they work with on a regular basis, or can recommend one. Interior designers bring their experience in designing offices with similar needs to the project.

When choosing a dealer, there are a number of services they may offer which you should look for:

* Feasibility Studies: determining square footage requirements (including future growth) when looking for new real estate to lease or buy

* Programming: evaluating individual and group furniture needs

* Budget Determination: working with the client and leasing agent to determine budget guidelines

* Furniture management: including asset management, inventory management, warehousing, product refurbishing and product buy-back

* Project Supervision: coordinating schedules with contractors and furniture installers to ensure all work is done on time and to your satisfaction.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Hickey, James M.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 19, 1993
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