Thursday, November 26, 2009

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then we'll begin. By contemplating whatever it is that's supporting your weight right now.

Seating is an area where small businesses can cut corners - but at what price?

A good quality office chair might set you back a few hundred pounds. I remember buying my first office chair in the late 1980's - it cost £250 and I loved it so much I bought it from the business when it went into administration a few months after I left. It served me well for 20 years.

When times are hard no one wants to spend £250 on a seat. If you're a really small business, such as a home-based one-man-band (well, not literally a band; more likely a web-designer or writer) you might want to make use of a domestic dining chair. That's fine, if your job doesn't involve a lot of time on your behind.

I took the dining chair route for a while and I know of others who've done the same. We all reached the same conclusion very quickly - they're fine for a one or two hour meal but not for a five or six day working week.

Cheap furniture solutions are a short-term fix which may, in the long term, cost you more than you expect. Poor furniture, like poor decor, affects staff morale which in turn affects performance. Poor seating can also have a negative impact on health.

Fortunately there are cost-effective solutions to office furniture. Personally I've invested £65 in an office chair from Ikea. I took the time to try all their entire range and I attempted to replicate my normal working position at a desk. So far I've had no regrets about the decision I made - although it'll be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Another solution is to buy second hand. The chair which cost my employer £250 was sold to me for £20. The UK must be awash with good quality second-hand office furniture at the moment, the sad result of firms going out of business. But it gives you the opportunity for fitting out your office at a fraction of catalogue prices.

A search for second-hand office furniture on Google brings up a list of suppliers. One that caught me eye is Green Works, a registered charity committed to the re-use of office furniture and which works with physically and socially disadvantaged people. I haven't used them so can't comment on the quality of what they do or how their prices compare with commercial operations.

If your business needs some new chairs, or other office furniture, now is the time to invest in good quality, second-hand items. You'll probably be able to find a matching set for your entire office. If you've got some cash to hand it's an investment that will save you money in the long term.


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