An office can be a large officious space with partitioned rooms that are filled with furniture - tables, chairs, desks and other pieces placed randomly, sometimes out of place. Before the age of computerization, most offices held large tables or desks which were the pivot of the working area. Those days, most likely these tables and desks held large amounts of paperwork, files and records in addition to stationery and other equipment. However in today's modern business environment, where computers, laptops, fax machines, mobile phones etc. are very visible, it most often refers to the area where white collar employees function in smaller environments like open cubicles spread around a room. These are less officious and more informal with architecturally designed space-saving furniture items that are meant to facilitate an easy to move around working environment.
What defines an office environment most is the use of furniture and equipment strategically provided to employees to carry out their professional duties.
Office furniture is an extremely important and integral part of a working environment; it contributes to making the office a healthy and happy place for an employee to be in. While different work environments dictate the use of different office features such as equipment, furniture, space etc. the entire environment must come together to help staff work efficiently and productively.
One of the defining aspects of office furniture in today's work atmosphere and space is 'Ergonomics'. Applying Ergonomics in the work space helps to provide the appropriate office layout in respect of how people in the office sit and work in relation to doors or partitions, windows, equipment placement and so on. Equipment and furniture placed in an office must relate to the kind of work being done in terms of suitability and appropriateness. Ergonomics also assesses lighting, office decor, ventilation and temperature to ensure that the emphasis in the work place is solely on comfort and health.
The functionality of office furniture depends a great deal on the kind of work being done in the office, the equipment used, storage requirements, movement of people and equipment within the office and many others; hence, the office layout is an aspect that needs careful thought and planning. Here too, the kind of office furniture used helps in situations where things need to be moved around in case of emergency meetings, extra work load which needs additional people to be brought in to meet deadlines, accessibility to equipment and accessories etc.
Choosing office furniture
Chairs and desks in an office should be comfortable to use in relation to accessing equipment like computers, laptops, telephones, fax machines etc. Heavy wooden chairs are not the right kind to use in a staff layout where almost everyone is perched at a workstation; computer chairs with castors and comfortable backrests and armrests are the most appropriate for comfort, movement and stability.
Desks should be of average height in relation to the computer or laptop placement, neither too high nor too low as to cause discomfort while working. In addition to sufficient space to hold essential accessories to handle paperwork and making phone calls, the desk should provide sufficient space underneath for free leg movement without cramping or discomfort.
A productive work environment can be created by facilitating agile working that ensures that staff in an office has flexibility and freedom to accomplish their tasks. Such an agile working environment spurs creativity, improves productivity, enhances communications and creates an overall healthy and secure work atmosphere.