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The Little Things Matter

The Little Things Matter

How something as simple as office furniture can influence your business

I had a boss once who collected old desk chairs rather than properly outfit his office. He prided himself on always having an open door. He would try to lob jokes at you as you walked by to draw you into his domain. If you were caught, you chose between a cracked brown faux-leather chair that only rose a few inches off the floor or the hard and oddly curved barstool. I still have no idea how the office ended up with a barstool.

It was bad enough as an employee. We would joke around the office about buying him a couch or a set of chairs for the holidays. He was a good enough person to work for. He shouldn’t have had to try so hard get employees to visit. The real crime though? I would cringe every time I saw it. Important potential clients or a local bigwig would stop by to meet the boss or to learn more about the company, and rather than gather in the conference room, he would insist on hosting folks in his office.

We were in a riverfront building. The office had a wrap around deck and views of the local marina. But our potential customers didn’t get to see much of that. Instead, they were offered a barstool that faced awkwardly away from the boss’ desk.

I have to take some of the blame. As employees, we’re all a little complicite. I could have used a junk removal app like Go Trashy to come in a haul away the the chairs and the dozens of other pieces of old frumpy office furniture around the place. We even had a junk hauling service in our clientele.

Looking back, I can honestly say it hurt our business and impacted our bottom line. It seems silly. It’s just old or outdated office furniture. But we cannot choose what matters to our clients. We can only try our best to accommodate them. I cannot imagine coming into a business as a potential investor or customer and being shown to a frumpy faux leather chair. It has to have an impact, even if it’s just one or two clients a year.

To make matters worse, the problem started to grow. At first, we thought it was just the boss man refusing to throw out old chairs or update sofas. Then the mess began to spread like a virus. After about six months, two members of the team were giving the boss a run for his money as the messiest in the office. One woman set up her new stand-up desk, placed her computer on it, and then slid her old desk against the wall where it quickly became an enormously oversized storage surface for her purse and phone. I bet it is still there to this day.

Not everyone can afford to have the nicest and newest office furnishings. Some nonprofits and lean businesses shouldn’t even try to purchase these pricey items when there are much wiser or more important ways to spend the money. But anyone can keep a place clean. I think it may have been better to have nowhere to sit in the boss’ office, so that everyone would have met in the nicely decorated conference room. Anything beats that stupid stool and that ugly chair.

 

So what do I wish I had done differently, and how can you avoid our office decor dilema?

Go Minimal and Clean

It’s better to have a limited number of spaces than it is to have old chairs and sofas that the trash removal service should have taken long ago. Spend your limited funds on making one meeting place look and function at its best, and let the other spaces be minimal or even sparse.

Invest in the Good Stuff

If you are part of a firm or a mature business that has the cash to go out and buy comfortable, functional, appealing furniture and fixtures, then by all means, do so. You are investing in the appearance and design of your office.

Upcycle and Recycle

Use a reputable junk removal company to get rid of your old stuff. There are plenty of other uses and potential homes for this stuff, so let the pros upcycle or recycle the old conference room table to make room for the new one that will help land new business.

Don’t Go Too Flashy or Trendy

You want your business to be around for a long time, and no one wants to update their office furniture every couple years. Avoid trendy colors or funky designs, because trends inevitably change. Look for timeless, classic pieces in neutral colors.

Office Space

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