Equipping your employees with the right equipment can do wonders to improve communication, productivity and morale. The same applies to their work environment. Systems furniture can help you deliver the appropriate space to meet your staff's needs.
Systems furniture consist of multiple parts that can be configured to the desired workspace. Also known as "cubicles" or "workstations," the latest models are no longer cube-shaped or gray, for that matter. Now, you will find rounded worksurfaces that augment the right angles of the past and a wide range of colors and fabrics. In addition, it is possible to tack items onto walls and even add doors.
In terms of cost, a fully furnished cubicle can cost between $3500 and $6000 per workstation. This would include a system with one to two pedestals, which are sets of drawers, an overhead storage unit, shelf lighting, panels, and electrification. Installation generally costs about 10 percent of the furniture costs. You can expect a quality workstation to last 10 to 15 years.
One way you can seek to pay even less is by purchasing used workstations. Used furniture has flooded the market as a result of the numerous corporate layoffs in recent years. By comparison, your cost for pre-owned furniture can range from $1000 to $3000 per system.
If you want pre-owned furniture, you should know that there are different types of furniture available. The least costly furniture can be classified "as is," with savings on the order of 70 to 75 percent less than the cost of new furniture. You can refurbish workstations if you want them to look less worn or want them to match your office décor better. Refurbishing can include painting all the edges, replacing work surfaces and reupholstering the fabric.
The primary con to buying pre-owned furniture is that you are limited to the available inventory when buying. This can make buying additional matching workstations in the future difficult. You can also forget about trying to get workstations that feature the latest designs since most pre-owned systems are at least a few years old. Finally, getting parts to reconfigure existing workstations can be difficult if you do not purchase brand name furnishings.
Systems furniture, new or pre-owned, is sold through a network of dealers, with each dealer typically represent several lines of manufacturers. Choosing which one you work with should not be based on price alone. If you are looking to configure a large open space, working with a dealer who has extensive experience planning office space. To ensure the process runs smoothly, it can also be helpful to work with a dealer who will handle the process directly from ordering to installation.
Systems furniture can help transform your office space into the private yet interactive workspace you need. And who knows--with the latest designs, your workstation dwellers may even find that they are the envy of regular office dwellers.
Mie-Yun Lee, BuyerZone.com'sfounder and vice president of strategic services, oversees the marketing, content development and customer care initiatives for the company. She's widely recognized as the trusted expert on purchasing for small and midsized businesses and has served as an authoritative source for articles and TV shows including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Smart Money, and CNBC.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. The content is intended to be general in nature and should be relied on only after consulting an appropriate expert.