Tag Archives: desk

Professional Pets

May 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some of the names spoken about at the marketing firm Envoy might seem unorthodox: Adam, Steve, Stella … and Butter? These names don’t belong to people, but to a pair of Devon rex cats, a French bulldog/pug, and a mini goldendoodle. Dentists have kept tropical aquariums in their waiting rooms for generations, but expanding a workplace’s pet-tential is far more common than that.

Penny Hatchell and Kathy Broniecki have owned Envoy for 13 years, producing materials for clients as varied as Hiland Dairy, Boys Town, and Max I. Walker Cleaners. The decision to allow pets in the office came from the desire to create a flexible and welcoming work environment: “We love to come to work, and we want our employees to come to work,” Broniecki explains. The decision seems to be working for them: “There’s a much greater overall wellness to the office—our quality and productivity has improved, and it keeps things light.”

Kathy Broniecki’s French bulldog/pug, Stella, comes to the office daily.

The animals are great for keeping employees happy, or helping employees who have a bad day cheer up.

“This has been studied and we can see that animals have value in emotional therapy, or to be assistant animals in places like nursing homes,” says Teresa T. Freeman, a therapist in Omaha. “They have noticed a positive effect in studies pets have on people in isolated situations to help boost their mood, wellness, and even improve physiology—things like heart rate, blood pressure, and other stress responses.”

The cats were rescued and considered part of Envoy, while the dogs and a hedgehog are others’ personal pets.

Broniecki says the company is reasonable about how having pets around can affect productivity, too: “It’s natural to get distracted at work, and focusing too hard can just make things worse. Getting by distracted by the pets is a much more positive outlet than other options,” Broniecki says.

Perhaps the greatest boon to Envoy has been the camaraderie the animals’ presence has built. “One stormy day,” Broniecki says, “Adam the cat went missing. It became an all-hands-on- deck situation in that moment trying to find him.” Everyone keeps treats on their desks for them, and when the dogs arrive in the morning, they make sure to greet every employee first thing, desk by desk. Hatchell, who takes the cats home with her when the day is over, adds: “even over the holidays, I’ll get texts asking how they’re doing, and even requesting pics.”

That camaraderie is a common bond between employees and furry friends, and can be a way to connect with shyer clients or new staff members.

“It breaks down barriers,” Freeman says. “People may not be comfortable with where they’re at emotionally, or isolated.”

Envoy’s office cat Adam, is a rescue cat.

Envoy is not alone in enjoying the pet perks. At J.A. McCoy CPA (located off 90th and Maple streets) Julie McCoy, in partnership with her rescue dog JoJo, tackles that lightning rod of stressful situations—taxes. McCoy has kept a dog at work since day one of starting her firm. “We work a lot of long hours, and dealing with taxes and estates is often not a fun experience. But with JoJo here, people look forward to coming in,” she says. Like at Envoy, McCoy has seen the same positive influence in her office: “Clients love it–we get a lot of business by word of mouth because of JoJo.” And of course, employees are encouraged to have play time. “We’re doing stuff that requires a lot of concentration, so it’s good to have a break.”

Pam Wiese, V.P. of public relations for the Nebraska Humane Society, also believes that having pets in the office can do wonders to reduce stress. “Focusing on something that isn’t another person, like the nurturing qualities of animals, can help calm people down.” Pets, she says, provide an element of levity that certainly has value in defusing tense work scenarios. She brings her own dog to work every day, but cats, fish, and even critters can all contribute. “We once had a bearded dragon here in the office. He’d sit out on his rock and sunbathe while people came to visit him over their lunches,” Wiese says. Though the NHS has not made any concerted push to get animals into offices, they have had their share of interested parties looking to adopt. “We’re happy to work with people to find an animal for them,” she says, “as long as it’s an appropriate situation.”

There are certainly many factors to weigh before introducing a pet into your own office. “Animals need to be comfortable,” Weise says. If the conditions aren’t safe or comforting for the pet, that opens up the opportunity for additional problems, like becoming loud or aggressive. If you’re going to have a pet, they will need to have their own private space and occasionally training to cope with many active people surrounding them. There’s also the human factor to consider: not everyone is an animal lover. “You’ll need to be considerate of the phobias, allergies, and even prejudices of the people passing through your workplace.”

McCoy, Broniecki, and Hatchell were all able to speak to experiences with clients that turned sour because of their furry compatriots, but also noted that they were few and far between. “Only one client of ours didn’t want to come to the office because we had cats,” Hatchell explains. Similarly, McCoy shared that she did have clients with phobias: “We always try to be upfront and communicate ahead we’re a pet-friendly office. When a client comes in that has trouble with that, we make sure JoJo stays in her ‘office’ [and she does have an office, nameplate and all].”

Regardless, they were each in confident agreement: their pawed pals have been a big plus for their businesses.

Nora belongs to Amy Goldyn.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Dumpster Dive Desk

March 21, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If suddenly ours was a world without trees, 28-year-old Kyle Petersen would still thrive as a woodworker. Credit his keen instincts for finding lost treasure in other people’s junk. As a favor to a friend in need of a bigger desk, Petersen channeled his MacGyver-like creative energies to make her a completely unique piece. He collected scraps of wood, including discarded shipping pallets and bits of Douglas fir he pulled from the walls of his parents’ home. No worries, his parents were remodeling their kitchen.

He has an affinity for the hot trend of repurposing found items to fill a home. Using found and discarded materials, he has also built a headboard out of pallets, and cubbies out of a piece of plywood.  “It’s not so focused on perfection and how beautiful it is,” he says. “What’s beautiful behind it is the purpose of it.” Although he grew up tinkering in the shop with his carpenter father, Petersen dreamed of a career in audio recording after graduating from Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb. But now Petersen is blossoming as a cabinetmaker with a yen for recycling refuse. He works by day at Eurowood Cabinets and finds himself making furniture for friends and family in his spare time. “It’s taking my desire to create and combining it with the knowledge I have in this area and growing it from there,” he says.

First, he collected different species of hardwood material for the desktop. ”They’re not ideal pieces. It is waste essentially,” Petersen says.  He squared and planed each piece, and then assembled the desktop in a butcher-block fashion with clamps and wood glue. He then sanded it down before finishing with an espresso brown stain and a few coats of lacquer. “It’s cool using a bunch of different pieces of wood,” he says. “It will take the stain differently which is kind of a neat effect.”

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For the drawers, he disassembled a pallet, squared and planed the boards to make the front, back, and side panels. He then stained the drawers with the same espresso shade and lacquer.

For the drawer box frame, he used a sheet of maple plywood he bought for $50. He cut a rectangle out of the center of the two sides of the wood to make the box “see through” and mitered the whole box together. For the drawer rails, he used oak. Then he sanded and finished everything.

Finally, he tapered the legs with a band saw. The drawer box and legs both come off the desktop, making it easy to disassemble for transport. The legs are fastened with bolts counter-sunk into the desktop. Total time? About 30 hours. The hardest part? Staying patient.

“I learned when to walk away from it for the day,” he says. He says anyone can do it, especially with found materials. All they need to do is try. “There’s a lot of wood out there. Build something.”

5-Minute Workout: 
Counter Pushups

November 24, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Have a few minutes in the kitchen to tone your chest, triceps, and core? Great! All you need is a counter for this exercise (or, if you’re at your office, you can use the edge of your desk).

Setup & Starting Position

Put hands on a counter shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until your weight can shift to your toes and your shoulders are directly above your hands. You want a straight body line from your heels to your shoulders.

step-1

 Exercise

  1. While keeping your elbows close to your sides, lower your body as far as you can, bringing your chest toward your hands. (Make sure your abs are tight!)
  2. Once you are all the way down, press away from the counter back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat for 3 sets of 15-20 pushups.

step-2

Sarah Egan, BS, CPT, HKC, CES, is the Personal Training Department Head with Nebraska Elite Sports & Fitness Complex. For more information, visit 2b-elite.com.

Five Trends in Office Design

Office environments are ever-changing. From height-adjustable desks to mobile work surfaces to LED lighting options—the possibilities are endless. Today’s best offices are designed to reflect the shifting expectations and needs of their employees. Here are five current trends in office design:

  • Technology is key. Technology is now integrated into office environments. Interactive white boards, electrified surfaces, and “touch down” areas that allow for mobile devices to be used are just a couple examples of how technology is breaking down barriers of the traditional workplace.
  • Open workspaces. The lowering of panels or even the removal of all dividers between people can enhance the teaming of groups and sharing of information without even moving away from their work areas. Open spaces can make people feel more comfortable and not so boxed in, which can create greater productivity and efficiency.
  • Collaboration. Collaborative areas are designed to get people more involved and connected with one another. Meeting spaces are being created to encourage collaboration between staff members. This might include lounge areas, benches and tables, or even café areas. Collaborative areas can take the place of formal reserved conference rooms or even private offices.
  • Decline in available space. The economic recession has led to companies purchasing smaller offices or downsizing current offices, which means individual workspaces are shrinking.
  • Fewer private offices. Having fewer private offices provides useful space for more collaborative areas. Today, furniture that is mobile, adjustable, multifunctional, and adaptable is just as important as private offices.

When companies incorporate modern design into their workplace, they will retain and attract the best talent and increase their overall productivity.

Visit the All Makes showroom at 25th and Farnam streets in Omaha to see the latest office furniture and design trends on display. The All Makes team is trained to help you make design and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style, and your budget.

Office Seating

November 25, 2012 by

When it comes to your office chair, one size does not fit all. Chairs are the most personal piece of office furniture—and the most complex—because they must adapt to all kinds of people and many types of work.

If you sit behind a desk regularly, you know how important it is to have a good chair. Many of us spend more hours in our office chair than all the other chairs and sofas in our life combined. Not having the right chair can cause lower back pain, as well as neck and shoulder pain.

Studies have linked the comfort of a workplace directly to the efficiency levels of employees and employee turnover. In an average day, people spend 5.7 hours sitting in their chair and 7 hours sleeping in their bed. If you’re one of those people who spend hours in a chair, below are some guidelines to healthy seating.

  • Raise or lower your seat so your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are flat on the floor or a footrest.
  • Adjust the depth of your seat pan so you have at least 2” of clearance between the back of your knees and the front of the seat.
  • Adjust the height of your backrest so it fits comfortably on the small of your back.
  • Adjust your chair’s recline tension—if necessary—to support varying degrees of recline. Avoid using recline locks.
  • Lean back and relax in your chair to allow the backrest to provide full support for your upper body.

Remember, a quality chair should always have a lifetime warranty on the frame and mechanical parts and a 5- to 10-year warranty on fabric.

Stop by All Makes Office Equipment Co. at 25th & Farnam streets to see what’s new in the office. The All Makes team is trained to help you make design and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style, and your budget.