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Office Furniture Blog

Standing or sitting at your desk – which is healthier?

Thursday, April 12, 2018


While standing desks – popular among Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill – have been around for ages, they have only recently shot back into popularity. All of a sudden, office workers across New Zealand seemed to be chucking out the chair and standing while they work. 

 

This rise to popularity of the standing desk, seen most in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, has its proponents, but it also has a fair share of critics. Let’s examine the pros and cons on both sides of this hotly contested office furniture debate to determine which is the healthiest way to work.

 

Arguments for standing

 

  • Burn calories: when you’re standing as opposed to sitting, your heart beats faster and you burn more calories. It’s only a little bit higher but over 8 plus hours, it adds up.

 

  • Chronic disease: the biggest reason for office furniture that fosters standing is that sitting down for long periods of time is associated with increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

 

  • Good posture: stand up desks promote good posture, which is great for warding off back aches, pains and injuries.

 

Arguments for sitting

 

  • Varicose veins: studies show that sitting at your office desk results in fewer varicose veins than people who are constantly on their feet.

 

  • Back pain: remember when we said that stand up desks promote good posture? Well, that’s only true if you’re standing properly with a straight back and even pressure. Many people continually lean onto one leg which has the opposite effect, causing sciatica and lower back trouble.

 

  • Balance, comfort, efficiency: Many New Zealand office workers feel that they have active lifestyles outside of work; they don’t need office furniture to get them to stand. Plus, they feel more comfortable and efficient working while seated. 

 

Is the sit-stand desk the answer?

 

There are clearly reasons to both sit and stand while working. If you aren’t a die-hard fan of one or the other, there is a middle ground: the sit-stand desks. Popular among workers of all varieties across Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, these desks give you the best of both worlds and are likely the healthiest option of all. 

 

The evolution of the office chair

Monday, March 26, 2018
Charles Darwin is usually credited with the theory of evolution – the concept that all life on Earth came from the same ancestor. His theory can keep people in New Zealand debating until they’re blue in the face, but what’s undeniable is how the humble office chair has evolved over the years! Let’s take a look…

The Early Office Chair
As the Industrial Revolution ramped up in the early 19th century, business became the backbone of many economies. The office chair was created to accommodate workers spending long hours in the office as opposed to hours spent in the field, factory or farm.

The First Modern Office Chair
The mid-1800s saw the creation of the railways in America and along with them came a surge in clerical and management jobs. These roles needed better office chairs, so the Centripetal Spring Armchair was created. Though it was made of cast iron and velvet – far more regal than today’s office chair – it was revolutionary with many of the features that we look for today, like a swivel seat, ease of movement, suspension and a supportive headrest.

Twentieth Century Chairs
There wasn’t any rapid office chair innovation in the 19th and early 20th centuries, where chairs improved in aesthetics (giving us awesome retro chairs!) but still had many of the same features.

Ergonomics
It all happened in the ‘70s! Office workers in New Zealand and abroad wanted more out of their office chair and began to prioritise their health, noticing that back problems were rife amongst office workers. Ergonomics developed and along came comfy, healthy, supportive chairs – woohoo!

Today’s Office Chairs
Today, the culture of office worker wellbeing has improved dramatically and the modern office chair reflects that. Modern New Zealand offices appreciate that different workers have different needs based on height, lumbar support and ergonomics. There are highbacks, midbacks and kneelers. There’s fabric and leather; wide seats and long seats. What really defines today’s modern chair is choice.

The benefits of having healthy living plants in office spaces

Thursday, March 15, 2018

We caught up with Victoria Allwood, Director of Living Decor, to find out about the benefits of plants in the office, latest indoor greenery trends and ideas on how to easily incorporate greenery into office spaces.

What are the benefits of having healthy living plants in office spaces?

For many people, plants are simply an attractive decoration. However they are doing a whole lot more to make people's environment not only healthier to work in, but a more calming, pleasant place to be. Research shows that plants clean the air of toxins, reduce sickness in the work place and boost productivity.
 
What trends are you seeing at the moment in terms of office greenery?
 
Current trends are open plan offices with tambour plant units and some free-standing plants. This set-up allows for more storage but also makes full use of vertical space where floor space can often be limited.
 
We are definitely seeing a strong trend towards having living plants in offices as people begin to understand the benefits. A few years ago, designers and architects were keen to show off the features of their buildings without additional decoration, such as plants, to take the eye away. Today the opposite is true. Living plants are becoming an integral part of their office design right from the outset.
 
Interestingly, the swing back to 'retro' look plants is notable and we are often asked for plants that were popular in the 70's and 80's such as monstera deliciosa, ficus lyrata, rubber plants and climbing plants such as philodendron cordatums. Plants that we had in our home when I was growing up. Requests for macrame hangers is also fairly common and I asked my 95 year old father if he still had some of mums in our garage at home!
 
Green and leafy is the look people are after, rather than the more structural plants of the 90's such as yuccas and succulents. The growers have been scrambling to source and grow these retro plants again after moving right away from them when the demand disappeared.
 
Similarly we have installed and maintained a variety of living walls, ranging from 3 story high living structures through to living pictures which feature plants instead of a painting and look incredible.
 
What easy ideas would you suggest to incorporate greenery into office spaces?
 
The simplest way would be to include either table top or counter top plants and free-standing plants into the office spaces.
 
A beautiful free-standing plant in a stylish planter costs less per week to hire than a bottle of milk. These can be moved to where they are needed and provide a splash of greenery for people to appreciate.
 
Tambour planters are also very effective as they double as office storage.
 
Once plants are in place all people have to do is enjoy them, as all the hard work is done by us. We come in and look after them and replace and refresh them regularly. Couldn't be easier!
 
An important point to note is that plants have to be strong, healthy and pest-free in order to do their job well. Hiring a plant ensures this is guaranteed, whereas purchasing a plant and expecting it to perform without regular care and sustenance is not going to be a long-term solution. Living Decor offer affordable indoor plant solutions to fit all budgets throughout New Zealand. Find out more
 
*An example of an organisation leading by example when it comes to office plants is City of Melbourne (Council). Their building Council House 2 (built in 2006) has a key focus on the indoor environment quality with indoor plants playing a vital part in this. The most impressive thing to note is they have a policy of at least one indoor plant per person.
 
Read more about this fascinating building here

Office design from around the globe

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Scandinavian
Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway are the undisputed leader in minimalist design. Their crisp lines, neutral colours, and practicality all epitomise their world-renowned design style, which has been around since the early 1900s. While Scandinavian design is popular in New Zealand when it comes to home décor, it hasn’t been picked up quite as quickly in the corporate world.

The American Tech Scene
You can’t put a spotlight on interesting offices without mentioning the Tech Scene of America’s Silicon Valley. Known for powerhouse companies like Google and Facebook, San Francisco has long been the leader in ‘campus culture’ companies where going to work looks more like a fun day in university than a day at the office. Not often shown in these predominantly tech-based companies with squash courts and Olympic pools is the high expectation that workers will spend the large majority of their days on campus.
 
Innovative African Design
Increased white-collar jobs flooding into many African capital cities and the need to support young entrepreneurs full of ideas but lacking capital has led to the creation of some pretty impressive and innovative offices in Africa. Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria, Accra in Ghana and Nairobi in Kenya are just a few of the many cities with innovative offices putting San Francisco’s tech hub to shame. Among these offices are multilateral development banks, co-work spaces and innovation incubators.
 
Sustainability in Berlin
Germany’s capital city Berlin is known for being a trendy, bustling metropolis with a population of around 3.5 million people. Not as well-known is the city’s commitment to nature and preserving the environment. Nearly half of the city is made up of water or greenery, and areas that were dilapidated after the fall of the Berlin Wall have been transformed into green spaces.
 
This sustainability seeps into workspaces as well. There are few high-rise office buildings in Berlin, especially in the city centre. Instead, offices are usually in low or medium-rise buildings that better co-exist with Mother Nature and the few skyscrapers that do exist have to include rooftop greenspaces. As a result, German office workers benefit from proximity to nature and increased access to sunshine and outdoor views.

Staying safe at your desk

Monday, February 19, 2018

Working at a desk is far from the most dangerous job you can have, but there are risks associated with sitting in front of a computer for forty hours a week. Here are some of the most common health and safety concerns for office workers and how to stay safe at your desk.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
The limited and repetitive movements related to sitting and typing on your computer all day long can lead to RSI. RSI is actually a general collection of symptoms rather than a specific diagnosis; it refers to pain in the muscles, nerves and tendons that results from repetitive overuse. Carpel tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by a compressed nerve in the wrist, is the best-known type of RSI.

An ergonomically set up desk is a great way to reduce the risk of RSI, as they have been scientifically designed to prevent strains, promote health and increase productivity. Taking a short break once an hour to stretch your arms and move your wrists also keeps RSI at bay.
 
Back Aches and Pains
Sitting down in one position all day can lead to back aches, neck pains and sciatica. Today’s office furniture industry has made huge strides in the area, offering a wide array of office furniture that helps support a healthy office worker. Sit-stand desks, desk chairs with lumbar support and modern activity-based seating options are all ways that your office furniture can promote better posture and healthier bodies among staff members.
 
Eye Strain
Did your parents ever tell you that sitting too close to the television screen would damage your eyes? This scare tactic was employed by parents everywhere, but the reality is that staring at a computer screen at close distance all day long can cause eye strain, which includes sore or dry eyes, headaches and blurry vision.
 
Adjustable computer screens help limit eye strain, but the best thing you can do is make sure to look away from the computer screen once an hour, giving your eyes brief but regular breaks from the glare of the screen. And make sure to wear glasses if needed so you aren’t squinting, which will worsen strain.
 
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Office workers are often inside most of the day, which in winter can mean that they rarely see the sun. Arriving and leaving in the dark can be hard on morale, leading to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Everyone is at risk of the winter blues, but there are ways to keep office workers smiling through the colder months. Fun social club activities and lunchtime walking groups help, as promoting a positive and healthy office culture.

5 ways to beat the back to work blues

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


1. Remember – the evenings are still your time so get back into holiday mode after work.

Make the most of the long, warm summer evenings and pretend you are still on holiday as soon as 5pm hits. Get outside with a walk on the beach followed by a swim, catch up with friends for a meal out or have a BBQ at home out on the deck.


2. Use your lunch breaks to get some fresh air.

Being stuck in the office all day after so much time outside can be pretty difficult. Make sure you get outside in your lunch break and don’t eat lunch at your desk. A short walk outside can do wonders for your afternoon productivity and state of mind. Or, organise a lunch or coffee date with friends to nicely break up the work day.


3. Get organised and prepare amazing lunches.

How much better is your morning at work when you have a delicious lunch to look forward to? A bit of preparation the night before can go a long way. Check out these light lunch ideas which are healthy, tasty and won’t leave you feeling sluggish.


4. Organise your desk and files to prepare for the year ahead.

Getting your desk and files in order and reducing clutter on your desk will clear your head and can help reduce feelings of stress or overwhelm. If you find you are in need of more office storage, consider an office mobile, credenza, cupboard or tambour. Now is a good time to clear your inbox and electronic files as well.


5. Plan to take a trip away the next weekend.

Getting away on the first or second weekend back can help ease the transition back and give you something to look forward to. Head to a nearby beach or lake and get back to that blissful and relaxing feeling of being on holiday.


Teachers and principals: time to modernise the classroom?

Friday, January 05, 2018


It may only be January, but as any veteran teacher knows, the kids will be back in their seats before we know it and the summer school holiday will quickly become a distant memory.


So, while we enjoy the rest of the summer heat, it’s time for teachers and principals to bring their minds back to the classroom. If you feel the classroom needs some modernising, here are some ways to get started.


Group tables

Individual desks are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In their place, a variety of group tables and seating options have emerged and these are becoming the norm in many schools across New Zealand.


Group tables come in various shapes, sizes and colours, bringing creativity and fun into the classroom, while giving students the opportunity to collaborate and develop their group and interpersonal skills. Introducing new group classroom tables is one of the best ways to start the classroom modernisation process.


New seating

If the chairs in classrooms, libraries and even cafeterias are looking a little worn and sad, there are plenty of new, ingenious seating options to bring new life into these spaces. There are floor discs – a fun and contemporary versions of the beanbag chair – or colourful nesting stools, which are great for encouraging group work. There are also comfy ready-link chairs, great for assemblies, and funky classroom stools.


Teaching aides

Introducing a new teaching aide workstation into the classroom is a great way to reach visual learners. Contemporary teaching aides make use of both whiteboards and pinboards to help relay your lessons to students with ease.


Art rooms and libraries

Aside from the standard classrooms, other rooms in your school, like the art room or library, might also be in need of an upgrade. Consider modern additions like a new art supply station and attractive book display units to bring these rooms into the new age of education.


New year, new office trends

Friday, January 05, 2018


As we enter 2018, we expect to see some changes to the modern office. Increased greenery, a homely feel and a boost of colour are among this year’s new office trends.


Greenery

You may have noticed potted plants, creepers and even plant walls start to pop up in cafés, retail shops and houses over the past couple years. This year, we expect to see this trend extended to the modern office, with workplaces embracing nature and incorporating greenery where possible.


This goes beyond simply adding a potted plant to the break room table: designers and architects will be weaving plants into the very essence of your work space through the use of living plants and nature-inspired lighting options.


The infusion of greenery into the office allows for a connection to nature, which is often challenging to find when you are stuck indoors for most of the week. There are also plants that counteract the effects of all the technology we are exposed to, so this trend may very well have a positive effect on your health.


Bringing home to work

The last couple years were all about bringing work home, so you might be surprised that this trend is being flipped on its head. While there will still be remote and agile workers, a lot of offices have discovered that working from home isn’t always possible; on the contrary, bringing some elements of the comfort of home into the workspace can be very beneficial.


Expect to see offices that feel more homely, complete with comfortable office chairs, pool or ping pong tables, fridges for after work beers and even showers or rest areas. Making employees comfortable and relaxed increases productivity and boosts morale, so we’re happy to see this trend taking off in 2018.


Colour and texture

Minimalist offices are tidy and efficient, but they are often predominantly white and can be lacking in excitement. Expect to see minimalism blended with bold colours and interesting textures. Wood and cement are becoming increasingly popular, while unexpected and brightly coloured office chairs, artwork and office doors will add some distinctiveness to the office. Retro orange, muted purple and turquoise are some of the most popular colours to grace offices this year – though not all at once!


Which office board is best?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Whiteboard, pin board, cork board, blackboards. There’s so many board options that choosing one can be tricky. Here we’re giving you the low down on each board type so you can figure out what best suits you and your workspace.

Blackboard

Blackboards may have a long past, but that doesn’t mean they are passé. Office blackboards are great for visual and tactile learners, are easy to use, encourage creativity and will always be there for you – even in a power outage! They’re affordable and fun, and can benefit a wide range of office types, from creatives to mathematicians. 


Whiteboard

Whiteboards, the more modern version of the blackboard, are incredibly useful in today’s offices. They work wonders for design-thinking innovators, group brainstorming sessions, presentations and in-office communications. There are a range of whiteboard options, including mobile whiteboards, flipcharts and double-sided boards. 

Laser Etched Whiteboard

Whiteboards with etched designs are a great planning tool for busy offices or individuals. With options like year planners, management boards and gridded boards, as well as custom designs, these more specific office whiteboards are extremely useful for scheduling and planning in modern offices.


Pin Boards and Cork Boards
Pinterest didn’t get its name out of thin air – the original pin board works wonders for organising an office, allowing you to easily leave brief messages and memos for co-workers as well as reminders and to-do lists for yourself. Whether you choose a pin board or a cork board is a matter of personal preference and style. 

How to choose an ergonomic office chair

Monday, December 04, 2017

Given the huge number of hours we spend sitting at our office desks during the working week, ensuring you have the right task chair is hugely important to your health, well-being and productivity. 

A supportive desk chair helps with efficiency and productivity at work, as well as comfort and physical health. A problematic office chair - which could mean a good chair for the wrong person - could lead to aches and pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches and more.

Whether you’re fitting out an office for fifty or setting up a home-based office for one, with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming when it comes time to choose. So we've put together this guide so you know what to look for when making your decision.

The right ergonomic chairs will offer the following features:


Adjustment

Height adjustment, arm width and seat angle are just some of the adjustment options that a good office chair will offer. Our sit stand desks all come in different heights, shapes and sizes, so a chair that tailors to your unique needs is crucial.


Office chairs should be easy to adjust in height. Feet should be flat on the floor (or a footrest) with thighs parallel to the ground.


An adjustable seat depth/seat slide function allows you to slide the seat forward and backwards to suit your leg length. 


Armrests should be adjustable so they can provide additional support while working or resting. Adjustable armrests allow you to get closer to work, provide correct arm height and can also pivot.


Lumbar Support

A good office chair needs to support your lower back. Lower back pain, leg pain and sciatica are all common complaints among office workers, so it’s in your best interest to support yourself or your staff with a supportive chair. Having proper support can make a world of difference to your comfort levels. Your lower back should fit comfortably against the lumbar support.


Recline

Having the ability to recline limits the pressure placed on your spine and seat bones. Reclining while you work or rest improves comfort during long periods of sitting.


Base

Make sure your office chair is on appropriate wheels (there are different requirements for carpet than for hard surfaces or mats) and moves around and swivels easily. You want your movements to be free, easy and unimpeded to get the most out of your time at your desk.


Material

Choose a quality office chair that is made out of comfortable and breathable material. You’ll likely be sitting in this chair for eight hours a day, so you need comfort over style. Look for chairs with breathable material and quality seat cushioning for ultimate comfort.


Choosing a chair with visual appeal can certainly add enjoyment to your office set-up, however comfort is crucial so make sure your chosen chair will ensure you are comfortable as your work, and will help to prevent pain and discomfort.


We have a wide range of ergonomic task chairs available to suit different requirements. View our collection here or contact us if you would like more information.