All posts by BE Furniture

In Every Pandemic, There’s an Opportunity

If you were considering an office-buildout before the pandemic hit, having lived through it can only be considered a blessing. At BE Builds, we’ve seen our clients designing workspaces that are dramatically different than the ones they would’ve designed just 12 months ago. Of course, there are enhanced safety considerations, but the reality is that the pandemic has created a design aesthetic – and opportunity – that doesn’t show any signs of going away soon. 

Health and Wellness Tech

Re-opening in a post-COVID world means making health and wellness a focus of office design rather than a productivity-enhancing perk, and the tech industry has really risen to the occasion. From touchless control systems and sensors to air purification systems, contactless access control and germ-killing UV lights, these systems work behind-the-scenes to support the health requirements of a post-COVID workplace. And these enhancements are not just a temporary investment due to the pandemic – they’re designed to deliver what every office needs for the long-term; healthier workers, reduced absenteeism due to illness and a workplace culture focused on physical and mental wellbeing.

Inventing the Wheel

Office design is constantly evolving in order for businesses to best fit the needs of workers, the environment they operate in, and goals for productivity and growth. In response to the pandemic, one innovative design has become a significant industry trend – the hub-and-spoke. In this office layout, a central hub workspace is designed for common use – meetings, collaborative engagement, brainstorming sessions, and team tasks – while smaller satellite workspaces or spokes are set out closer to employee’s homes. This meshes well with the need for socially-distanced office space in which to focus on productive tasks while still allowing employees flexibility and the ability to maintain a better work-life balance. 

This design is a great compromise on the either-or debate between working remotely or working in an office. Working from home simply doesn’t suit most businesses or employees – it makes collaboration difficult, work is constantly disrupted, and it lacks the stimulation and inherent productivity focus of an office environment. Using a hub-and-spoke design allows employees freedom to govern their time and independence better while providing them with quiet, well-equipped spaces in which to get things done, while still providing a space to collaborate, build relationships and develop a strong company culture.

Material Culture

Office cleaning has always been an important focus, from ensuring good indoor air quality and a pleasant-smelling environment to creating a neat, hygienic and professional space. Of course, this has moved to a considerably higher level of importance over the pandemic, and the trend of sanitized, germ-free workspaces will be a part of office design trends for years to come. This doesn’t mean just filtering air more carefully or cleaning more regularly, it means a change-up at every level of the office design itself. One way that this is being expressed is in the need for furniture and materials that can be quickly and easily cleaned. Gone are the velvets, leathers and upholsteries that trap dirt and germs and require special cleaning – instead, office designers are focusing on germ-resistant materials and furnishings that can stand up to regular sanitization and still look great.

Access to the Outdoors

Experts agree that one of the best ways of combating the spread of germs and viruses is as simple as plenty of fresh air. This is a challenge for most office buildings where, for decades, the emphasis has been on sealing buildings against natural air flow to support safety and indoor climate control. Today’s post-COVID office designs are looking for innovative ways to let the outside in, from creating outdoor meeting and cafeteria spaces to ensuring that windows can be opened to allow natural air flow through the space. Of course, this isn’t possible for many office buildings and is going to be a hard sell in the depths of winter or the height of summer, but for those spaces there are other solutions – high-efficiency air conditioning systems with the latest air filtration and purification tech. 

Build a Workspace for a Post-COVID World with BE Builds

BE Builds is an office design and buildout specialist focused on taking the stress and frustration of office construction. Knowledgeable about the needs of modern offices and the post-pandemic challenges businesses face, our experienced team will work with you to deliver a space that is safe, productive and as unique as your business. Visit us at https://bebuilds.com/

5 Reasons Why You Hate Working From Home

If you’re like us, you’ve probably always thought of working from home as a bit of a luxury, filled with visions of staying in your pajamas all day, enjoying the peace and quiet, and skipping all the frustration of a daily commute. But COVID-19 has shown many of us that working from home isn’t the dream we thought it would be! In 2021 companies are reimagining the return to work for sure, but they and their teams are actually more anxious than ever to get back together.  Here’s just a few reasons why.

#1 – It’s Lonely

Who would’ve thought that we’d miss casual meetings by the water cooler, small talk with clients and chatting about our lives over our lunch hour? But we do. The reality is, working from home is lonely stuff, even with all the Skype, Zoom and Teams meetings we’re constantly having. There’s a lot to be said for in-person conversations and catch-ups, not just in terms of the easy way we can all communicate in the office, but the way we bond, build relationships and create a working community. Chatting to the dog just doesn’t cut it!

#2 – Your Work-From-Home Office is a Mess

We’re sure there are people out there with quiet designated office spaces in their homes where everything is organized, professional and color coordinated – it’s just that we’ve never met one. Ever. Work-from-home office spaces are usually temporary, piecemeal and crammed into a spot that’s chaotic and difficult to use – your kitchen’s breakfast bar, your living room coffee table, or a corner of a bedroom. Wherever it is, chances are that it doesn’t come close to what you have in your actual office, and spending 8 hours or more there per day is not doing your focus, productivity or pleasure in your work any good at all.

#3 – It’s Chaotic

If you thought you were juggling it all before the events of 2020, you’re certainly finding out differently now. Working from home just isn’t the haven we all thought it would be – there’s not enough space for your computers, diary and files, you’re being overrun by dirty mugs and dishes, there’s never any coffee ready when you need it, and the noise from your neighbor seems to be perfectly timed for when you’re in a meeting. And if you have children or a partner living with you, then life at home is even busier. Let’s face it – if you want peace and quiet in which to work, the office is the best place to be. 

#4 – Distractions, Distractions, Distractions

Home is full of distractions, that’s just common sense. In fact, most of us spend a lot of time just filling our home with the most wonderful distractions we can think of. Whether it’s a new series on Netflix, a fridge full of goodies, a vegetable garden to tend, videogames or a chance to play with the kids, there’s a lot to do at home that isn’t work. And that’s not to mention the less enjoyable distractions like cleaning, laundry, and supervising remote home schooling. Before you know it, the day is half gone and you haven’t even gotten started.

#5 – It Gets Boring – Fast

For most of us, the first few days of working from home are pretty fun – but it gets dull quickly after the novelty wears off. Staying home, usually for the entire day, isn’t good for our mental or physical health because there simply isn’t enough variety in terms of what’s going on. Sure, your usual day at the office is probably not a rollercoaster ride of thrilling events, but there’s so much happening and so much to do that the hours go by much faster. There are more opportunities to challenge yourself, to meet new people and work together to create meaningful solutions. Every day is different when you are part of a bustling team and working in a vibrant, driven environment.

BE Builds – Delivering Everything You’ve Ever Wanted in an Office

BE Builds is a team of office design and construction specialists in New Jersey who are dedicated to delivering exceptional office fit-outs on time and on budget in a post-covid world. We’re ready to solve your office design challenges, handling all the mess and hassle of construction and creating COVID-safe, productive spaces that help your organization thrive. Visit us at https://bebuilds.com/ 

Will Open Office Furniture and Layouts Change Due to COVID-19?

The so called “Open Office Plan” has been a go-to strategy for the development of business environments for literally decades. Its most basic advantages have to do with the lack of barriers allowing easy lines of communication (some might say too easy..), and the layouts typically utilize tighter more intimate desking or short cubicle configurations in an open room, that use less square footage per person. That’s good in big cities and other places where office space is at a premium. Open office when done right, allowed a working environment that was intimate, team oriented and economically efficient.

While many in our industry are loudly heralding the death of open office in a post pandemic world, the team here at BE has a different take. While companies in a post pandemic world may be looking for more hygienic office design and furniture solutions, and looking to redefine the role and size of their offices, the answer is more complicated and nuanced than simply throwing open office into the junk heap of design strategies and putting everyone into a private office.

Part of the reason open office gets blamed by so many companies is that frankly, so many companies did it so badly. Before you throw your open-office concept into the dumpster, we’re here to tell you that a thoughtful, more considered approach can help you retain the best of open-office, increase privacy and reduce germ transmission, and reinvent the goals of your office space. Whether you’re planning to downsize your office space, re-task your teaming areas, create workplace hubs, your problem isn’t open office. It’s a problem of office intelligence that can be solved with the right alignment of design with your company culture, health best practices, and a rich understanding of what is out there in the world in terms of furniture and office construction techniques that bring it all together.

Here’s a few thoughts on how you can extend your open office strategy to meet the goals of the new world in office design, furniture and construction.

Incorporate a Sense of Wellness into your Open Office Strategy

In the past, most businesses chose the open office route to maximize the usage of limited floorspace and cut the cost of developing private offices for everyone. With COVID-19 still in play, the first reason has changed because a new mindset has developed. Businesses are now wondering how many people can I get in here safely? We’ve also noticed a shift in location. A lot of cramped NYC offices are now looking to relocate to equivalent or even larger office space in the NJ suburbs. This has a lot to do with current CDC social distancing guidelines but also a desire to expand while keeping costs down. To ensure everyone stays at least 6ft apart from one another while working, there has to be enough square footage per person.

Understanding the ultimate goals behind implementing this reinvented layout will help designers focus their efforts on the most important elements of their design. Including the logistics of a functional layout to promote the motivation, health and safety of employees at all times. This doesn’t require one to completely abandon open office, but with increased distancing, better workflow routing, and hygienic partitions and furniture, your existing open office concept can often be leveraged.

Choosing the Right Products to Promote Health and Safety

Commercial office furniture is an important tool to support the activities occurring within the different workspaces, and needs to be carefully considered in order to promote the most efficient workflow.

This means conducting an in-depth survey into each department to consider what they need to return safely to office. Taking this into account will help determine the right furniture and space to ensure employees thrive and feel safe in their work environment. Your workplace should consider solutions that ensure proper social distancing within each workspace, and the hygienic safety of your employees and the office environment. Luckily, there are many COVID-compliant products available that can easily be incorporated into an existing open office layout, such as acrylic barriers, air purifiers, sneeze guards, and more. Or if you’d like a more permanent solution, our construction division, BE Builds can help you design and install an architectural wall solution that is cost effective.

Stay Open, to Open Office

Open office design plans will continue to have its detractors, however we are here to tell you that the concept is not wholly incompatible with the new office normal. We might suggest however that help from our experts at BE can show you what is possible, saving you money and bringing you the office of your dreams at the same time.

To find out more about the office design and construction services we offer, please contact us today at: https://www.befurniture.com/contact/

5 Ways You Can Boost Productivity With The Right Workplace Arrangement

For most employees, just like most businesses, success and growth are priorities. The productivity of employees feeds directly into big-picture business goals, creating a cycle that drives businesses to achieve more. Unfortunately, only 13% of the global workforce is actively engaged and satisfied with their workplace arrangement. Taking the time to invest in a workplace arrangement that supports this cycle is essential, improving job satisfaction, reducing turnover and burnout, boosting productivity and most importantly, to encourage a safe return to work during COVID-19. Of course, developing your workplace environment is not a quick or inexpensive solution – but it is a critical one if you want to achieve these goals. Here are 5 ways to ensure this investment accomplishes real returns, from specialists in the design and fitment of contemporary office interiors.

#1 – Make the Design Phase a Priority

Many businesses upgrade to contemporary office furniture or swap out office cubicles in an as-needed fashion, throwing out worn furniture and adding new items as needed without looking at the office as a whole. This creates a haphazard space with no consistency, no flow, and no unifying design. It also leads to poor space utilization, an issue that leads to as much as 40% of office space being vacant at any given time.

An office design is much more than furniture in a space. It is a planned concept that unites your business culture, employee needs, and work tasks to create a space that is as functional, productive and tailored to your business as possible. A space that actively supports workflow and collaboration, makes daily tasks simpler and easier to perform. It will also refresh the mind and actively drive productivity, while reducing unnecessary frustration and stress. 

The right design creates a space where people want to work. 

#2 – Incentivize Organization

It is a challenge to work in a disorganized space where the environment is a breeding ground for frustration, even when working on the most minor tasks. Space organization helps employees to complete their duties faster, while making fewer mistakes. It can also reduce confusion and miscommunication, and make every minute of their working hours more productive without increasing workload.

A surprising amount of office design goes into creating an organized space (and not just an attractive one!). From improving lighting to support wellness and visibility, to offering workstations with features that support adequate organization for a specific employee. Of course, the most significant impact of office design is creating a workplace arrangement between connected spaces that encourages proper task management with minimal inconvenience or interruption.

#3 – Go Ergonomic

Ergonomic contemporary office furniture aims to improve the conditions under which employees work. Focusing specifically on eliminating the issues that lead to strain, fatigue and more serious health risks, since we spend approximately 1/3 of the day at our desks. 

Adjustable height desks, ergonomic chairs, multiple screens, as well as foot and keyboard rests are critical to ensure that people of all heights and builds are physically supported while working.

Ergonomic furniture supports employee productivity by reducing the need for sick days, and avoiding back, neck and joint pain caused by non-ergonomic furniture choices. Generally, ergonomic furniture has a big part to play in creating a space where every employee feels comfortable to work.

#4 – Prioritize Wellness and Environmental Design

Because we spend so much time in the office, it makes sense that this space can have a significant impact on health and wellness that goes beyond ergonomics. Poor ventilation, heating and cooling means discomfort, respiratory irritations and viral infections that could lead to something more serious, like COVID-19 . Poor lighting leads to headaches, disruption of the natural circadian rhythms of the body, and poor concentration overall. Noisy environments make concentrating on tasks difficult and increase the likelihood of more interruptions. Even the sedentary action of sitting for 8-9 hours a day increases risks of heart disease, obesity, circulation problems, and more.

Designing an office to address these concerns means looking beyond ergonomic furniture to solutions and programs that help employees be less sedentary, more comfortable, and healthier. This can include sneeze guards for protection, architectural glass walls that maximize natural light, air purifiers for increased sanitization, outdoor spaces that bring natural elements into the workspace, sound dampening solutions and more.

#5 – Add Variety

Your employees are incredibly diverse in terms of their roles, working preferences, and  physical appearances, so your office space should reflect that in order to give each person the best opportunity to work in a way that is most productive to them. This doesn’t mean making a unique space for each person, but rather creating different zones and opportunities for different work.

This includes private spaces for focused work or private meetings, social spaces where people can work in a relaxed environment, collaborative spaces where groups can work without disrupting colleagues, and more. It’s important that the intentions of each workspace are reflected within company policies as well, in order to make these spaces accessible, as well as productive for every employee.

Make Productivity Your Priority Through Workplace Design

Do you feel that your workplace could do more to support the productivity of your employees? BE Furniture has the right solution for you.

As specialists in contemporary office furniture, we can assist you with every phase of your project, from design concept through to remodeling and furnishing your space. Whether you are looking for a new office layout or products such as sneeze guards, acrylic barriers, and copper mesh seating to make your space compliant with current COVID-19 regulations, we can assist you.

To find out more about the products and services we offer, or to view contemporary office interiors we have designed, please contact us today at befurniture.com.

Okay, You Designed Your New Office Space… Now What?

You designed your ideal office space, now you need someone to build it. But how do you go about hiring a contractor for a complex office building? What are the key things to look for before hiring someone to take on the specifics of your buildout project? Who you decide on will make a world of difference in how the final product turns out (no pressure). So it’s important to make sure the future of your office space is in the right hands. With that said, here is our guide of key components to consider before hiring a commercial contractor. 

  • Costs Involved – Do you already have office furniture that can be reused or repurposed? Is there a complex construction element in your architectural plan that can be simplified to reduce building costs? The right commercial contractor will have this type of mindset and will avoid constant upcharges. At BE, our first mindset is to repurpose, reuse and recycle. We perform an analysis of your company and see what preexisting construction and furniture will work with the new vision for your space. At BE, we value the relationships we cultivate with each client and really appreciate helping clients achieve their goals on time and under budget.
  • The New Meaning of a Safe Office Workspace – The world has changed, which means businesses have also changed. It’s safe to say most employees will feel a sense of apprehension to return to office after being quarantined for several months. As an ethical employer, it’s your job to make them feel safe, secure and welcomed back into the office. Whoever you decide to hire for your office buildout should have a strong grasp on legitimate employee concerns and COVID-compliant installations. You really need to have people who understand how to do this right, especially if you want to maintain your workflow, your culture and overall employee retention. BE thoroughly understands the complications COVID-19 brings into the workplace, and has advised past and present clients with their Return to Office plans. For more information on our Return to Office strategies, click here.
  • Contractor Experience: What Sets Them Apart from Competition? – Building out your office space typically involves a lot of moving parts. What if any of your old office furniture will you keep? Who is performing the demo work? What will you do with employees and the furniture you’re planning to keep while your space is being demolished? Our partner, BE Builds will deal with all of this – every single problem that comes your way. With over 40 years of experience on both union and non-union construction sites, we have seen every issue that comes with office buildout and we have learned how to solve each one successfully.
  • Interior Furnishing Plan – Obviously after your new space is built, you will need to install your furniture. Partnerships with office furniture companies range from those who want to just drop-ship all the furniture and leave the installation up to you, to others who operate at a higher level, which involves an analysis of your environment, your workflow, your company’s culture – and everything in between. At BE, we are the latter. We pride ourselves on the client-centric approach we take with each customer. Tell us about who you are and what you plan to achieve – the more you tell us, the better. We truly want to be part of the journey to your dream business environment.

BE Addresses All Office Buildout Concerns in New Jersey

It’s simple: whatever problem arises during your project, you want to work with someone who will face it head-on. Our sister company, BE Builds is well equipped to handle all the challenges that come with office build outs. The experienced project managers at BE Builds will take care of  the architectural drawings, design mockups, obtaining proper municipality permits, demolition, garbage removal, and more. 

At BE, we solve problems. We solve problems, so you don’t have to. To get started on your office buildout, contact BE Builds for a free consultation at: https://bebuilds.com/contact/

 

5 Key Products Every Office Needs During COVID-19

While every office is different, there are important guidelines every workplace should follow when it comes to furnishing options for COVID-19 safety, and beyond. Rearranging the layout of the space to fit a new workflow is a challenging but necessary bit of redesign for your company environment if you really care about your employees during these challenges. It’s more than just segmenting departments, or having Cohort working groups on alternate days, these strategies just make it easier to trace an outbreak but do little to keep it from spreading in your office in the first place. Nor do they achieve your goal of really being able to function with your whole team efficiently, together in the same physical space. Key concepts such as collaborative furniture and teaming areas’ must be rethought to balance your need for face-to-face interaction, with everyone’s need for safety. This can be achieved with a good understanding of how to use hygienically enhancing, virus resistant products that make returning to the office easier, more efficient and most of all, safe. It’s important not only to implement the right products but to install and use them correctly in the new workflow design of your office. With that said, we’ve put together a guide to the 5 key office products that we believe will promote the safest return to office during COVID-19.

  1. Body Temperature and Facial Recognition Scanner
    When you are ready to return back to the office with your employees, the first thing you must do is ensure that everyone entering the building is in good health, not showing any signs of COVID-19, and wearing a mask. But how do you accurately keep track of every single person that enters the building? And how can you quickly and easily identify if they are healthy enough to work among others? This is where the OneScreen GoSafe comes in.
    OneScreen GoSafe is a body temperature and facial recognition scanner available in three different models: Wall Mount, Table Top and Vertical Stand to suit every preference. Using AI technology, this device can scan your temperature in less than a second and has an accuracy of +/- 0.9 degrees! This product also has the storage capacity to recognize up to 30,000 faces, with or without a mask. If the scanner fails to recognize someone or gives a high temperature reading, you will be alerted immediately and can communicate through the device with the person in question.
  2.  Copper Mesh Chairs are Anti-Viral, Anti-Fungal and Anti-Odor
    Whether your office design is unstructured, open and free-flowing, traditional, or anything in between, you’re going to need plenty of chairs. The right chairs have an immediate and substantial impact on employee comfort and wellness – and therefore productivity. These days, ergonomic chairs offer the best solution, providing proper back and neck support through long workdays. In general, you should opt for office chairs that are well-made, easy to clean, match the design aesthetic, and made with durable material.
    Speaking of durable material, BE Furniture now has Copper Mesh Seating available. The copper-infused material used in this seating collection has self-sanitizing properties, kills harmful microorganisms linked to viruses and is bleach washable for easy cleanup.
  3.  Safety Screens for Collaborative Furniture
    Today’s organizations thrive on collaboration, especially if you are in a creative sector. Collaborative spaces can be any size or shape and can be combined use areas – for example, employees can hold informal meetings, brainstorming sessions, formal client meetings, or use the space as a lunch area – it’s all up to you. Although the Coronavirus has made the original idea of collaborating a bit trickier, it’s still possible to use collaborative furniture in your space with a few safety adjustments.
    Altitude A8 by Allsteel is a safety screen made of durable, easy-to-clean fabric intended to give you privacy, while still allowing efficient collaboration with colleagues. This screen can be mounted to the existing work surface and come in wrap around, straight or 90 degree turns, depending on personal preference.
    Counter Shields by Loftwall are clear, acrylic screens that come especially useful in high traffic areas where collaboration is common. These shields are ideal for spaces that require less privacy in the office.
  4. HEPA Filtered Dyson Air Purifiers for Communal Workspaces
    If you host more formal meetings, board meetings or presentations, or the number of staff in your office fluctuates with flexible work hours, then you most likely have a communal workspace. Despite how diversely beneficial communal workspaces are, these high-traffic areas could be a breeding ground for harmful viruses like COVID-19. An easy solution to this is air sanitization. Air purifiers with HEPA filters are very efficient in sanitizing the air in large, open spaces.
    Dyson Pure Hot + Cool automatically captures airborne particles and pollutants, while providing fresh air to a large space (up to 400 sq ft). This unit has the option to be used as a heater or a cooling solution and offers 360 oscillation, night-time mode, and easy remote activation.
  5.  Architectural Walls for Non-Permanent Separation
    With COVID-19 still among us, it’s important to maintain an appropriate distance from others when possible in order to avoid potential exposure. In a communal workplace with collaborative furniture, maintaining distance could be difficult without completely changing the layout of the office. However, it is possible to create appropriate distancing by adding non-permanent structures to the current layout.
    Architectural Walls are modular glass walls that can be used in place of typical panel stations. More flexible to use than traditional drywall, architectural products are reconfigurable and non-destructive to your pre-existing floor plan. Easily cleanable, they can be used to create private offices, conference rooms and individual work areas.

Have our Team Review Your Office For Safety and Workflow
As specialists in contemporary office furniture, BE Furniture can assist you with every phase of your project, from design concept through to remodeling and furnishing your space. Whether you are looking for an ergonomic solution to support your staff or protective furnishings to make your space compliant with COVID-19 safety, we can assist you.
To find out more about the COVID-compliant office products listed, or to view more contemporary office interiors, please contact BE Furniture today.