Tag Archives: Doug Schuring

The “Resi-Mercial” Movement

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The office furniture industry is seeking balance between residential and commercial pieces. Achieving “resi-mercial” style is quickly becoming the norm.

This trend began as workplaces dedicated more room to common spaces. Large corporations used these amenities to attract and retain employees.  Now it’s an industry standard to provide areas for relaxation and collaboration, aligning closer to a hospitality setting with residential comfort.

Contract furniture manufacturers took cues from crafted hospitality and residential furniture. The makers movement influenced clients seeking unique pieces. Conversely, commercial furniture has long been more substantial to satisfy the functional requirements of high use.

Corporate clients seek entry spaces and collaborative zones more like living rooms to encourage a level of comfort largely absent. A decline of the traditional 9-to-5 workday has employers actively seeking ways to make employees more comfortable for longer periods of time.

What should be considered when looking at residential furnishings for commercial use? Integrity and durability. Residential furniture is not made for multiple people sitting on it for long periods of time. It shows wear and tear earlier than its commercial counterparts.

Residential furniture also doesn’t carry the same warranties, weight capacity, flammability testing, or stain and wear resistance as commercial furniture. This results in more costly replacements and repairs, and additional coordination time by facilities teams for warranty issues with manufacturers.

It’s important to understand where and how residential-grade furniture can blend with commercial quality to meet the company’s functional and aesthetic goals. Many manufacturers have done a great job producing furniture that looks more artisanal, while still being functional and durable. The availability of decorative, yet functional, pieces at various price points has allowed designers far more freedom and flexibility in creating interesting spaces than ever before.

When blending residential and commercial aesthetics, soft seating in subdued colors, such as browns and grays, works well. The darker palette then offers the ‘homey’ contrast to the sterile white of many corporate interiors. Table lamps and personal lighting further create that comfortable atmosphere. Low lounge seating using warmer, unexpected materials and finishes all contribute to making the space feel more intimate and less institutional.

Most importantly, with commercial furniture, every piece tends to have a set function in the space. When you introduce rustic materials, such as wood, a conference table can now be used as a casual dining table. Residential furniture offers freedom and flexibility, but those dual purposes must fit with the intent of the space. Employees in all industries want to be comfortable at work, and the “resi-mercial” style offers a workable option.

Doug Schuring is director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Design Starters for New Businesses

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Companies today actively incorporate some of the following trends into their workplace design. Any number of them will help develop a positive work environment that can be promoted to attract and retain workers needed to grow business. Discussion among experts from various furniture and accessory manufacturers, design firms, and other industry professionals have predicted the most useful trends coming in 2018.

Bring the Outside In

Reclaimed wood panel inspirations, exposed concrete flooring, and natural flora patterns in fabrics and artwork are all becoming more prominent, along with plant life itself in the form of living walls. Also, many of today’s pieces are bringing home into the office. It’s the natural, cozy feeling many finishes and details have that continue to make this trend popular.

Disappearing Wires

Anything having a cord, combined with numerous personal items, make open-plan work areas appear unprofessional. Even conference tables can look messy if wiring is not managed properly. Manufacturers offer solutions under, around, and in tables to create a clean, orderly appearance.

Defined Lounge Areas

Spaces are becoming more open with relaxed seating arrangements. Lighter, powerful, wireless technology has untethered the workspace more than ever. These comfortable areas promote relaxed collaboration. Offices with dedicated lounge areas make working more enjoyable.

Multi-use Spaces

One alternative to cubicles–the bench–is being overtaken by non-assigned seating. The executive suite remains. However, multipurpose spaces are used for everything from multimedia presentations to casual breakout areas. There is also a shift toward height-adjustable tables for standing meetings.

Community Tables

This table reflects more interaction at work and other settings, like coffee shops and restaurants, where large, shared tables are popular. The community table has been a meaningful object for centuries, a symbol of kinship or alliance that is now becoming an important part of the work environment. The table in the workspace exhibits the characteristics of a domicile—more relaxed, congenial,
and collaborative.

Offices Organized by Color

Work environments that organize by color help with thinking and inspiration. Several studies find color boosts happiness, productivity, and creativity. Offices that integrate pops of color in unexpected ways strive to be at the forefront and generally lead their competitors in attracting and retaining workers.

No More Permanent Layouts

Over-planned, permanent layouts are evolving into ever-changing work landscapes. Products designed from a “kit of parts” move into place and fit together without rules-based planning, becoming the office of the future. Components are mixed, stacked, and moved around, offering countless combinations for a dynamic and collaborative workplace.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Women in the 21st Century Workforce

November 22, 2017 by

Women represent one of the largest groups in the workplace today. Interestingly, traditional workplace policies and practices are not winning over the most talented women.

New research reveals creating flexible work policies and fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration can improve workplace satisfaction and performance.

Adaptable Work Policies

Flexibility is important to working parents, especially working mothers. Formalized policies, which remove uncertainty around flexible work conditions, are a great benefit. Too often, employers approach flexibility, parental leave, and communication expectations on a case-by-case basis. This results in employees fearing they will be slighted in some way by their managers or peers for choosing this route.

Companies should create procedures for employees to notify their managers and team of their core hours… the time they’re in the office or when they will be available. This system aligns employee and manager expectations of how to best ask for and adopt flexible procedures. Core hours/days are the framework for flexibility options. Ultimately, company cultures should value employees’ work output over time spent in the office.

Honesty and Collaboration

Women are also empowered by organizations that value collaboration and communication. Studies have shown that women, when taking time to listen to others, are often viewed as having a weak leadership style. Alternately, men who make decisions individually are viewed as being more decisive and competent.

Companies are showing that they value collaboration and communication by how they are arranging their workspaces. Panels are shorter, workstations are smaller, and open areas are growing in both size and number in the space. Gone are the maze of tall panels and oversized boardrooms. Workstations now adjust in height, have tables that can be grouped together for large group meetings or separated for small discussions, and training sessions to work on collaboration.

The Desired Workplace

Policies, places, and practices are changing to align with today’s new way of working. The leading companies today are creating improved workspaces and implementing more flexible practices that promote honesty and open communication. The best companies of tomorrow will understand how to empower the largest segment of their workforce, retain their talent, and most importantly—grow their bottom line.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Designing for Women in the Workplace

January 3, 2017 by

It’s a fact—more women are in the workplace than ever before, and this trend seems sure to continue for some time.

These days, many office furniture designers and manufacturers are developing their new products with much greater sensitivity to this evermore prominent audience.

What’s Important to Women as they Work? 

  • Furniture that is light and easy to handle. The majority of training programs are led by women. Female trainers are not only in charge of the training curriculum, they often end up setting up the room by moving heavy tables and awkward chairs into a variety of configurations.
  • A place for belongings. Women place personal bags and briefcases on the floor or hang them from their chairback for lack of a better option. Again, the same holds true at their desks, where purses may get stuffed into a file drawer or behind the CPU under their desk.
  • A chair that really fits. Many women complain of chairs with poor back support, are too big, and/or simply aren’t comfortable to sit in seven-plus hours a day. And women have a right to want a better solution—a recent study reported most women averaged 49 hours per week working, with 10 percent reporting they spent 61 hours per week in the workplace.

What Would Make Their Environment “Work” Better?

Recent new product introductions include:

  • Lightweight, easily reconfigurable training tables and chairs—making it easy and convenient for women to change a training environment on their own. They are simple to fold, move, or rearrange. The controls on the flexible tables must be easy to reach and trigger, making quick work to fold and nest for storage.
  • Storage hooks under training tables—in the “why didn’t they think of this before?” category. Provide a single hook under tables for users to hang purses and other personal items.
  • Height adjustable work surfaces—while “sitting may be the new smoking,” the need to adjust the height of one’s work surface is more important than ever.
  • Properly sized and adjustable office chairs—we all want a chair that fits “just right.” Many chairs today feature technology distributing back pressure and automatically adjusting support to match its occupant’s relative size, weight, and sitting style.

Other Factors in Satisfaction 

Based on my conversations and observations, other non-furniture-related preferences for women’s work environments include:

  • Women are more interested in the overall visual appeal of their office—including softer lighting and color.
  • Women prefer to work in collaboration with other associates. They are less interested in maintaining workplace hierarchy and are more interested in an environment which promotes creativity and collaboration.
  • One of the greatest satisfaction drivers for women—after “meaningful work” and “proper recognition”—is flexibility in the work environment.

While many of these items described are important to women, all workers can benefit from the changes described. Fortunately for us, the manufacturers in the industry today are listening.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

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