Guide to Buying Office Furniture

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What You Need to Know

  1. Office furniture is furtniture that is specifically designed for use in the workplace. Unlike home furniture, it is designed with office technology as well as worker comfort in mind.
  2. It pays to invest in the latest style of office furniture. Prospective clients might be put off from doing business with a firm with an old-fashioned office.
  3. It's also a good idea to upgrade office furniture in order to reflect the changing nature of the modern office, such as the move towards wireless technology and hot-desking.
  4. Style is not something you should dismiss lightly, particularly if you are buying office furniture for a PR or design company.
  5. Back pain is a leading cause of long-term sickness, so it pays to invest in chairs that offer good levels of comfort and back support.
  6. If you are looking to furnish an office on a tight budget, then it may be wiser to invest in some second-hand, good-quality furniture rather than buying the cheapest new furniture you can find.
  7. Most retailers allow you to order office furniture online, but be sure to 'try before you buy'.

What is Office Furniture

As the name suggests, office furniture that is specifically designed for use in an office environment.

Examples of office furniture staples include computer stations, workdesks, filing and storage cabinets, office chairs, lobby and reception furniture and conference room chairs and tables. While styles may vary considerably, all good office furniture should allow workers to do their jobs in safety and comfort, while also accommodating all the latest office equipment.

Just as with home furniture, it pays to keep up with the latest trends. A client who pays a visit to a dated-looking office is unlikely to be as impressed as a visitor to a chic, contemporary office. Additionally, ever-evolving office technology means it's important to upgrade your furniture every once in a while. After all, you don't want to be drilling your own holes in a brand new desk in order to accommodate computer cables.

Choosing the Right Furniture for your Office

Furnishing an office completely is a major undertaking and can often be one of the biggest start-up costs of a small business, particularly those involved in industries such as advertising and PR where chic aesthetics are important. Indeed, even if you only need a few new pieces of office furniture, it's still a good idea to think carefully about what you want and need. Key things to consider include;

  • Style: Again, style is not something you should dismiss lightly; how an office looks can make or break a potential deal and can even affect worker morale. So, decide if you want a warm, wooden look or if you would prefer a more contemporary look, for example with glass and chrome.

    If you aren't sure what look would be best for your business, consider employing the services of an interiors design professional, and don't be afraid to 'borrow' ideas from offices you have visited and liked, or even ones you have seen on TV.

  • Ergonomics: Along with style, ergonomics – that is, support and comfort – should be one of your key priorities when choosing new office furniture, not least since the NHS reports that back pain is the second most common cause of long-term sickness in the UK after stress.

    By law, workstation chairs must be stable, meaning rocking chairs or similarly quirky pieces should be avoided, while workstations such as desks should be at a comfortable height. Additionally, you should make sure that any chairs you do buy are adjustable and offer good back support. It might be a good idea to work with employees and colleagues and take their needs into consideration before buying new chairs, and, if possible, you should 'try before you buy'.

  • Price: As with office technology, the old saying 'you get what you pay for' applies to office furniture. That is, while it may be tempting to spend as little as possible on tables and chairs, poor quality furniture may not last very long at all, while it may not offer good levels of comfort and back support.

    If you are looking to furnish an office on a tight budget, then it may be wiser to invest in some second-hand, good-quality furniture rather than buying the cheapest new furniture you can find. Consider going online and searching for a local used furniture dealer or even check out online auction sites such as eBay.

Where to Buy Office Furniture

Many major home furnishers, including Ikea and Argos, also sell office furniture. If you have a small home office and just need a new chair or small desk, then it may be best to buy from them.

At the same time, however, a number of companies specialise in providing just office furniture, and these usually offer a wider range than general furniture stores, and may be more willing to offer business rates or discounts for bulk-buys.

All of the major specialist retailers allow you to browse for office furniture and shop online. These include Viking, Staples Office Supermarket and Euroffice. If you are in charge of managing a large office, it's often a good idea to set up a corporate account with one, or all of these major retailers, both in order to streamline the purchasing process and to benefit from better prices.

If you do choose to shop online, and particularly if you buy office chairs online, be sure to check you can return your items and get a full refund if they do not offer the comfort and back support you or your colleagues need.

Tax Considerations

If you are self-employed and work from home, you can claim tax deductions for a range of home office expenses. You may then be able to claim tax deductions on the cost of buying new furniture for a home office – and even against the cost of travelling to the shop to buy the new furniture – though this depends on your home working circumstances.

To ensure you don't fall foul of the taxman, it's worth reading up on the rules relating to tax deductions for home-based businesses before you buy any new office furniture. Check out the HM Revenue & Customs website for further information.

Donating Old Office Equipment

Most major retailers will offer to pick up and take away your old office equipment if you are buying new with them. However, you may also want to consider donating your old desks, chairs and filing cabinets. The Salvation Army accepts donations of used office furniture in most cities, so look them up if you want to give a new business a much-needed boost and help charity at the same time.

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