Creative & budget-friendly tips to getting the most out of your standardized office furniture program.
The purpose of establishing a standardized office furniture program is to create a reference guide for managers and purchasing agents to follow when deciding on what furniture to acquire for their work environment. This can include desks, chairs, conference tables, reception area furniture, filing/storage cabinets, benching systems, cubicles, and may even include some decorative accessories such as wall art.
Why have a standardized office furniture program?
The goal of standardized office furniture guidelines is to empower individual departments or employee groups to be able to plan their workspace in a creative and cost-effective way while still meeting the needs of the organization; such as compliance with various regulations (i.e. health & safety), workplace efficiencies, ergonomics, quality levels, environmental standards, and brand identity.
Typically the office furniture standard guide is created in partnership with the Interior Designer and the Office Manager/Owner of an organization following a workspace remodelling or move. The Interior Designer will work with office furniture companies and other manufacturers/distributors to provide the information they need to develop the plan and create a product reference guide for the office manager/purchasing agent.
It is usual for larger companies, who have a global presence or multiple locations, to use a standardized office furniture program. Even though small-medium sized organizations with a single location do not have a full program, there is some value in adopting elements of the guide for office planning and design guidance as they scale and build their business.
Challenges of having a standard for office furniture at the workplace
Even though there are some benefits of creating a standard to follow when buying office furniture, there are some challenges. The standard is meant as a reference guide, stating that there are flexibilities built in, in some areas. It is understandable that certain sections of the program where mandatory requirements must be adhered to because of safety or building code regulations have zero tolerance for discrepancies. However, buying from a single-sourced supplier, in a particular colour, and in an exact size, may not be the best solution for every situation. There could be opportunities where a dealer, not listed on the vendor list, can offer the same, comparable, or possibly better product. There might be added value including cost savings, faster delivery, and more environmentally-friendly (i.e. purchased locally, more recycled materials used, re-purposed product has a lower carbon footprint, etc.).
Be Creative! Get the most out of your Standardized Office Furniture Guide!
Know your Program!
Be familiar with what you can and cannot do. What items are mandatory to meet specific requirements such as building codes or government regulations? Where can you build the case to offer another option other than the one outlined in the guide? Are there guidelines referencing how and what you can buy that are generally stated, allowing you to think outside the box? Is the reference guide you have the most recent version; is there any updates that are being considered in the near future?
Online research is helpful
There is so much information online now that finding information about product options, specifications, and availability are at your fingertips. Most office furniture manufacturers have white papers or articles offering information on what to consider when looking for office furniture, as well as documents showing sizes and material specifications for their products. Some office furniture companies, Interior Designers, Architects, and Real Estate firms also offer insights on their blogs to assist in helping understand how to plan and optimize a workspace. Envirotech Office Furniture offers insights on topics such as ergonomics, office design, wellness, and sustainability.
Talk to the Experts
If you are new to the program, talk to other department managers who have experience working with the guide. Talk with procurement to gain added tips on how to best use the reference guide. If you can’t find a solution within the guide, or if after doing your online research you find there are other options available, collect more information by contacting the organization where you found a solution. Envirotech workspace planners often work with companies that have standardized office furniture programs to help them find office furniture solutions delivered faster and within, or below, budget.
Being creative within standardized office furniture guidelines
Case Study: The head office of an organization was standardized to buy new Steelcase product. With their business growing, they were ready to open a few new locations. They needed office chairs and workstations. The company wanted to still buy Steelcase office chairs, but they learned that the specified new chairs were also available to purchase as pre-owned at Envirotech. The pre-owned Steelcase chairs would be significant cost savings and the product could be delivered faster. The only challenge was the colour wasn’t exactly the same as what was in head office. Since the furniture was for different locations, they found out that having a different colour for the other locations wouldn’t be a problem. For workstations, the company was able to purchase remanufactured Haworth premise workstations that were sized very close to the Steelcase product and the difference wasn’t a problem for the space.
The company saved money, saved time, and still worked within the mandatory specifications of the standardized office furniture program.