An Insider’s Look at the Executive Desks of America’s Business Leaders

Executive furniture says a lot about the leadership of your business.

Big, commanding desks that create space between the executive and the guest or employee indicates a power move, while an office with a normal-sized desk and a sitting area is a little more friendly.

It’s hard, though, to pin down a person or company by the type of desk they have because there could be complete surprises as it relates to the person in power and their workspace.

Being the followers of office trends and executive desks that we are, we looked at an article from Business Insider that highlighted the desks of 39 well-known business execs and entrepreneurs. Some of what we saw surprised us.

In this post, we’re going to highlight some of the more interesting things we noticed in this article.

 

Arianna Huffington, former editor-in-chief, Huffington Post: Small Desk, Lots of Books

The first photo we looked at was of Arianna Huffington’s office. Now, we’d expect the editor-in-chief of a Pulitzer-winning publication would have a somewhat roomy office, but that’s not what we found.

Huffington’s workplace is a cramped alcove with two bookshelves, at least 100 books, a small sitting area and a modest desk you’d expect to find at an antique store.

On top of that, her office has a wall-to-wall window through which everyone can see her. Curtains add some privacy, but they were drawn back in the photo we saw.

“It’s all about transparency,” Huffington told Business Insider. “I can see out, and everyone can see in.”

Michael Moritz, chairman, Sequoia Capital

If Arianna Huffington’s desk is small, then Sequoia Capital’s Michael Mortiz’s workspace is microscopic. Moritz’s desk is sparse. The venture capital guru’s desk is home to a Mac laptop, an iMac desktop, chocolate, a shot bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Pellegrino and a pair of analog clocks.

His desk is one among many desks in one room – a corner office seems to be out of the question.

What surprises us most about this is fact that Moritz’s simple desk belies the billions of dollars the company has made from investments in Apple, Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn.

Here’s an apt description of the company’s offices, via Forbes contributor George Anders.

“Sequoia doesn’t display its heritage with the well-heeled pride you might find at other top-tier venture firms, let alone the likes of JPMorgan or KKR … Sequoia partners don’t enjoy luxurious private offices; instead, they toil at stand-up desks in a big open hall. Conference rooms are adorned with cheap plastic wastebaskets. It’s as if Sequoia’s partners haven’t fully realized that they might be rich.”

 

Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group

Adler’s company has virtual employees all around the country, so he doesn’t like to head to the office because, in his words, “it’s boring and there’s no one to talk with.”

So, Adler works from his home office, which is comprised of a standing desk with a view of his backyard.

Adler told Business Insider he doesn’t get any work done when he’s looking at the ocean from his home, which is why he chooses to work with a backyard view.

Aaron Hurst, founder, Taproot Foundation

Hurst, like Huffington, has his own office separate from other employees.

However, he’s chosen to break down the walls, so to speak, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that allows him to “feel connected to the dynamic and brilliant team at Taproot while providing the sound privacy unfortunately required. My team is amazing and watching them work gives me tremendous energy.”

This is the same type of response that Huffington gave – transparency and a lack of barriers are important to executives.

Hurst’s office also includes a bookshelf, a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a small sitting area along with a metal desk that’s home to a lamp and two monitors.

Variety is the Common Theme for Executive Desks

As you’ve probably gathered, there really is no right or wrong desk for an executive. In these examples, the magnitude of the business and/or the power of the person didn’t really influence the size of their desk.

In fact, there was an inverse effect. Arguably the most valuable person on the list, Michael Moritz, had the simplest work desk: uncluttered, clean and underwhelming.

We’re aware of how executive desks have changed and our inventory reflects that. Stop by our Executive Furniture page to learn more about what we offer.

TOPG Sellers of Used Furniture LA

Here’s the scenario: Your office is growing, your furniture is old and you want to buy or lease new office furniture.

What do you do? Are there buyers of used furniture in Louisiana? The answer to those pair of questions is straightforward.

You should sell your furniture to a used furniture buyer. Yes, there are plenty of ways to sell your used office systems in Louisiana.

In this post, we’re going to detail a few of the ways that you can make some quick cash selling your old furniture before bringing in your new desks, dividers and chairs.

The Time-Consuming Route: Craigslist

Believe it or not, Craigslist is a great site for selling office furniture (and just about anything else). You can browse through listings in nearly any city and find individuals or companies selling off cubicles, chairs and other equipment because of closure or relocation.

The reason we call this the time-consuming method is because you’ll have to devote a significant amount of time to cleaning and repairing your furniture if you want to get a fair price for what you’re selling.

Craigslist and similar websites are notorious for attracting low-ball offers and furniture that’s in disrepair, dirty or otherwise unattractive to the eyes will attract those low-ballers.

If you want to get top dollar, you’ll need to:

  • Give your furniture a thorough cleaning
  • Tighten up loose bolts and other hardware
  • Take professional-level pictures
  • Field phone calls and emails
  • Set-up viewings for potential buyers

The key to this entire process is time: Do you have enough of it to do an effective job of prepping your furniture to get top dollar?

The Charitable Route: Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity

Technically, this isn’t “selling” your office because you aren’t getting paid for what you donate.

However, the benefit of this method of getting rid of your used furniture is ease. All you have to do is call the local Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity and let them know you’re bringing in a formidable collection of office furniture.

There are two main drawbacks here. First, you obviously aren’t getting paid for your furniture, which means this may not be the best move if capital is an issue.

However, what you may not have thought about is how you’ll get your office furniture to the local Goodwill. If you’ve got a big office, then it may take more than one truck to get the equipment where it needs to go.

When you factor in the manpower and rental fees required to move an office full of furniture, the cost is quite high.

Consider that as you make your decision. Though selling your furniture on an online classified site like Craigslist may take a day or two of work to prep your furniture, the fact that you’re getting paid makes it far more worthwhile.

The Easiest Route: Sell to TOPG

We’ve been in the business of buying used furniture for decades and we find it’s a great way for us to augment our used inventory and help offices unload their used furniture as they try to upgrade, downsize or liquidate.

All we require to move forward with the purchase is photos of the equipment you want to sell and an estimate of how many items you want to sell.

As for our purchase radius, we buy office furniture in the New Orleans metro area, Baton Rouge and all of Louisiana.

Here’s a list of what we typically buy:

  • Cubicles
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Filing equipment
  • Conference rooms

Our only caveat is that we don’t usually buy small quantities of furniture.

Wrapping It Up: A Quick Review of Finding Buyers of Used Office Furniture in Louisiana

We’ve presented the three different options you have for selling your used office furniture.

Using a classified site has the advantage of possibly getting a good payout for your equipment, but the man hours it takes to make the sale are a definite negative.

Giving your office furniture to non-profit stores like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity is an altruistic endeavor with high costs for transporting your furniture.

The final option, selling your furniture to the Office Planning Group, doesn’t require much effort on your part and can garner a good payout pretty quickly.

If you want to know more about how we buy used office furniture in Louisiana, stop by our website or give us a call at 504-684-5244.

Three Reasons Why Used Office Furniture Is the Smart Choice for New Orleans Offices

Just because you’re an established company doesn’t mean you can’t bootstrap.

In the traditional sense of the word, bootstrapping has always been associated with startups. You go lean in the beginning until your business gets some consistent income and a critical mass of clients/users, then you start to spend money on things like upgraded office furniture, a swanky office space and more employees.

However, when used the right way and with the right philosophy, bootstrapping can be a great way to increase efficiency and reduce costs. One of the best ways to do that is by choosing used furniture for your office instead of new furniture.

Now, before you retreat amid flashbacks to your college years when you rounded up a combination of free curbside sofas and oddly-colored thrift store recliners, you’ve got to realize that The Office Planning Group’s used office furniture is well cared for. You won’t have to deal with unsightly stains and seat padding emerging through weak spots in worn-out fabric.

That’s just one of the advantages to buying used furniture from our New Orleans office. Here are some other reasons to consider us when buying used furniture.

Used Office Furniture is Cost Effective

This is perhaps the biggest benefit of buying used furniture. By our estimation, used furniture can save you 50% and 90% off the retail price for new items.

According to pricing-data site CostOwl, the average office desk costs anywhere between $200 and $2,000.

That’s a wide range of prices, so here’s a quick breakdown of how much you could expect to save by purchasing used furniture at an average of a 70% discount:

New Desk Price Used Desk Price Money saved
$200 $60 $140
$800 $240 $560
$1,400 $420 $980
$2,000 $600 $1,400

 

The beauty of this example is that you can purchase a used top-flight work desk for about the same price you could buy a new lower-end work desk.

The value here is tremendous. Here’s how we put it on the Used Furniture section of our website:

“If you are a small startup or looking to bootstrap your office furniture needs, buying used (slightly imperfect or even blemished) is a great way to save money and cheaply obtain the items you need to run your office. The used office furniture inventory we offer includes desks, chairs, modular systems, conference tables, file cabinets, and just about everything else imaginable for your office.”

 

Our Used Furniture is Personally Inspected for Quality

If you’re being smart about your used furniture purchase, then you’ll want to get the most quality out of what you’re spending your money on. There’s no sense on putting your on-hand cash toward something that will wear out or fall apart after a year.

We personally inspect every piece of used furniture that comes into our warehouse. Our criteria for our used inventory? We only sell what we’d use ourselves.

Here’s a quick list of some of the types of used furniture we sell:

  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Modular systems
  • File cabinets
  • Conference tables

Used Furniture Can Look Just as Good as New Furniture

We’ve spent decades in the New Orleans office furniture world and we’ve come across hundreds of businesses that purchased used office furniture for their offices.

As we brushed up on the advantages of used furniture, we ran across an excellent example in a back issue of the American Bar Association’s GP Solo newsletter, in which lawyers offer advice and narratives about starting their own practice.

Here’s what they said about buying used furniture for your law office:

“’Used furniture’ may conjure up images of old, scarred wooden desks and threadbare armchairs. In reality, most law office furniture is usually indistinguishable from new. Firms move, reorganize, and merge, leaving behind desks, shelves, and other items that have no place in the design of the new or remodeled offices. So, don’t let negative images get in the way of great deals.”

We think the ABA brings up a good point here. Many times, the used furniture you buy is virtually indistinguishable from new furniture.

Considering that a $100,000 of new furniture could cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 used, the money you save can be put toward another salary for a year, bonuses or other upgrades to your office.

Contact Us with Your Questions About Used Office Furniture

Though we’ve mentioned New Orleans a few times in this post, we offer our used furniture services throughout all of Louisiana.

Two Important Reasons Why You Need Executive Office Furniture

Executive offices have a certain design swagger to them.

The traditional C-level boss tends to have more square footage than the middle managers. He tends to have a cushy chair that emits a sort of relaxed authority. There’s usually an expansive view somewhere in the office – perhaps a series of sky-scraping mountain peaks or a city view teeming with man-made skyscrapers.

We like how Sharí Anderson put it in her 2013 Entrepreneur article titled, “What Your Office Design Says About You as a Leader (And It Isn’t Pretty)”.

“The corner office is a symbol of success and power. It is the modern-day throne room where you rule your realm,” she wrote. “You beckon people to your presence and cast down rulings, hirings, and firings.”

Amid all the impressiveness of this setting is the centerpiece of the executive office: the desk. These bastions of power are typically made from expensive wood, are huge and are the overwhelmingly most obvious expression of the executive’s position of power.

Have you ever taken a moment to think about why executive furniture is still relevant? If you believe movies and shows, then you’ll think big desks exist to intimidate employees who feel like children when they sit on the other side of the massive piece of furniture.

Executive desks and executive furniture in general serve far more important purposes than intimidation. They play an integral role in expressing to clients the prestige of the person with whom they are dealing and the furniture reflects the personal style of the individual who occupies the office.

An Impressive First Impression: Executive Office Furniture Says a Lot About Your Position

Before we dive in here, let’s just set aside the outliers. Yes, there are powerful people who maintain humble offices and don’t exhibit their status through the size of their office or the furniture therein.

However, most clients of important companies want to know they’re in good hands, and when they walk into the room of an exec, well-appointed furniture that expresses a certain level of power and confidence shows, at the very least, that you mean business.

Deals live and die on the dynamic of power; for some, a modest office without much space and drab executive furniture may make a client believe they’re dealing with a lackluster company that isn’t aggressive enough to succeed.

Setting up your C-level execs with office furniture that enhances their reputation as a strong leader and sharp businessperson is crucial to maintaining your company’s image.

A Narrative Expressed in Furniture: What Your Executive Office Says About You

You need to take great care in how you design your office and that begins with the furniture you choose.

Yes, your office needs to display a visual equivalent of your authority. However, that doesn’t mean that you must choose the most intimidating furniture. Your desk doesn’t have to be five feet wide and your chair doesn’t have to sit a foot higher than the guest chair on the other side of your seemingly endless desk top.

Striking a balance between power and warmth is a must in today’s work environment. Younger generations tend to value relationship more highly than past generations.

So, if you’re working with under-40 employees, try to forego the typical wood behemoth and go for a more modern desk that communicates your willingness to adjust to the times.

Also, don’t be afraid to add color to your desk and your other furniture. Your natural inclination may be to go with earth tones like ruby, cherry and various shades of dark brown. If your preference is for lighter wood and pops of color, don’t be afraid to go with your inclination.

Finding the Right Combination for Your Executive Office

The Office Planning Group has been in business for more than four decades and, during that time, we’ve seen plenty of trends in executive furniture.

As such, we offer what we feel is a wide array of furniture that reflects the preferences and tastes of executives across Louisiana and the rest of the country.

Stop by our Executive Furniture page to read about what we offer and how we can help you decide on which furniture is best for your office.

The Open Office Concept May Not Be as Effective as You Think

Large partitioned office, overview (B&W)

For the past few years, business websites have fallen in love with the forward-thinking open-office designs of tech giants like Google and Facebook.

There’s been a very distinct push among progressive companies to transform the office from a cubicle-heavy workplace into what basically amounts to a labor-intensive studio apartment. Fridges, snacks and gourmet coffee machines are mandatory.

Lounge chairs, bean bags and picnic tables are common. Entertainment-break rooms are the new wave.

And if you think the movement is limited to just tech companies, think again. According to the BBC, “70% of US offices are open concept.”

The whole point of this movement, many people would say, is to spur creativity and collaboration. Fewer walls and offices and less separation leads to a collaborative environment where people can interact with different departments in a fluid manner.

Recently, though, the pendulum of office-design history has started to swing back to the middle. Forbes, The New Yorker and BBC have all featured intelligent arguments against open offices, with the BBC’s most recent piece carrying the title “Why Open Offices Are Bad for Us”.

An Anecdote from the BBC

The BBC article we’ve mentioned a few times was written in January 2017 and was based on the experience of a U.S. business owner named Chris Nagele.

Four years ago, the article states, Nagele decided to go with an open-office concept to transition his work-from-home team to a collaborative environment.

“It quickly became clear, though, that Nagele had made a huge mistake,” reporter Bryan Borzykowski wrote. “Everyone was distracted, productivity suffered and the nine employees were unhappy, not to mention Nagele himself.”

The experiment was short-lived – according to the article, Nagele moved his team into a traditional office space where each office had a door on it.

To curb any weakness in providing purely anecdotal evidence, Borzykowski listed the following facts about open-office environments:

  • We are 15% less productive in open spaces
  • We have a hard time focusing
  • We’re twice as likely to get sick
  • Small distractions can make us lose focus for up to 20 minutes

But the stats and facts listed in this article are just the beginning.

The New Yorker: We’re Wired for Privacy

In their January 2014 article about the dangers of open offices, The New Yorker dug into several research papers to understand why the quickly growing trend may not be the best for workers’ productivity.

One of their key points was that our brains need a sense of spatial privacy in order to feel psychologically private enough to think, create and work effectively.

This conclusion was the result of an overview of a March 1980 scholarly article titled, “Privacy at Work: Architectural Correlates of Job Satisfaction and Job Performance.”

The article, which was published in The Academy of Management Journal, reviewed the results of a trio of studies on how privacy both in our workspace and our mind can impact our job satisfaction.

The study concluded there was a definite link between architectural privacy (cubicles) and psychological privacy, which in turn had a positive effect on job satisfaction and performance:

“Results of all three studies showed architectural privacy associated with psychological privacy. Both forms or privacy were associated with satisfaction with workspace and job satisfaction,” concluded the authors of the 1980 article.

Forbes: Sound Privacy is a Big Deal

The final counter-argument to the open office craze comes from a 2016 Forbes article from contributor David Burkus.

In his article, Burkus talks about the results of a 2005 study that recorded 42,764 observation from 303 offices in the United States.

“Unsurprisingly, they found that enclosed private offices had the overall highest satisfaction rate and that open office plans had the lowest,” Burkus wrote. “But it was when they looked at individual dimensions that they found a few surprises.”

The biggest complaint from open-office employees was the level of noise they had to deal with on a daily basis. Another 25% to 30% said they didn’t like the noise levels in their open-office plans.

One final thought from Burkus:

“The desire for more collaboration among employees was shared by all, but those in open office plans may not have found it to be worth all of the stress and distraction from the bombardment of noise.”

Cutting Down on Distractions With Cubicles

If you’re starting to rethink the value of open offices and want to make some changes, contact us. We have a variety of privacy solutions that can drastically cut down on workplace distractions and improve efficiency and focus.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business: Dealing With Growth

You’ve done it. You’re startup. Your brainchild is growing up. You’d love nothing more than to sit back, relax and let nature run its course.

Alas, just as a parent’s work is never finished, so too are the continued responsibilities of a new business owner. Now that the dust has settled and breaking even is behind you, it’s time to start investing in the future of your company.

It’s understandable to want to keep your burgeoning business close to home. You’ve come this far, so it might be difficult to imagine what was once a fledgling idea, has now come into its own and is bursting at the seams to grow and expand.

We’ve gathered up a few tips from experts to help move into this new phase of your business.

One is the Loneliest Number

As we mentioned in Part One of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business,” it’s never been easier to connect with motivated, talented individuals who have the potential to add to your vision.

It’s easy to be over-protective about your project, but loosening up on the reins and enlisting some much-needed help allows you to focus on growth, rather than just keeping things afloat.

“Some of the best advice I learned early on was don’t try to be all things to all people,” wrote Michael A. Olguin, contributing writer for Inc., “because it typically means you are not very good at any one thing.”

As you gain traction, it’s harder and harder to cover all the components that keep the lights on and the revenue coming in.

What worked when you were a one-man or one-woman operation may not necessarily work when you’re juggling a growing demand for your products or service, as well as the day-to-day minutia.

When you tackle it on your own, Olguin said, “you jeopardize your ability to focus and create undue pressures for your team, your budget, and your company as a whole.”

Stay Focused and Set Goals

It’s easy to get tunnel vision after the struggles of your startup, but there are ways to mitigate the rut.

In “5 Tips for keeping your Startup Business Growing,” Forbes contributor Eric Basu highlights the value of continuing to organize your time and expectations right along with your budget.

Goal setting ensures that you are always on track for the next stage of development in your business.

“It’s a common trap to get immersed in the chaos of a startup and find a year later you were phenomenally busy, but never achieved the goals you originally planned,” Basu wrote. “You can revise the goals as need be, but you need to set them first to revise them later.”

If you’re lucky enough to have a team early on, goal-setting also allows people to see eye-to-eye on the direction of your company.

Whether it’s daily for yourself, quarterly for your employees or yearly for the business itself, goals give everyone a common, concrete, and achievable vision.

More Ideas on Managing Expansion: Partnerships and Self Care

Growth often demands that you, at some point, consider scaling your business through partnerships, franchising and other avenues. It also demands that you take care of yourself – your body’s health influences all.

Tips for Expanding

In a 2014 article for Entrepreneur, reporter Karen E. Spaeder offered 10 practical ways to expand your business.

Expansion can happen through licensing, franchising, forming alliances with companies offering complimentary services, diversifying and branching out into other markets. The possibilities are endless.

It’s not as risky as it sounds if you’re careful and well-researched and the benefits to your business’ financial future and longevity are manifold.

“Choosing the proper (method) for your business will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money, time and sweat equity you’re willing to invest all over again. If you’re ready to grow, we’re ready to help,” Spaeder wrote.

Tips for Your Mind

We’ve talked about the health of your company, but one point that has been neglected thus far is your physical and mental health.

It’s easy to say you don’t have time for yoga classes or gym memberships, but when passion is one of the biggest driving forces for entrepreneurs today, can you really afford not to find time? When you’re passionate about your business, it shows and spreads.

There’s a positive correlation between passion for your work and success, and it’s harder to feel enthusiastic when you’re drained physically and mentally.

Take the stairs, park a little farther away from the office, or watch a 15-minute yoga video online before work or during your lunch break.

The health of your company is maintained through healthy habits. Give yourself the same level of care you put into your company as CEO and you’ll ensure vitality for years to come. You’ll decrease the chances of burning out so you can continue to manage and direct your startup.

 

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business: Part One

Whether it’s something you’ve dreamed of since childhood, or it came as a total surprise later in life, good business ideas happen.

They come in all shapes and sizes, with their own unique sets of needs and learning curves. There are a few things we can do to secure a business’ potential to grow and thrive, but they must happen in those pivotal early stages of development.

According to Chris Guillebeau, entrepreneur-turned-author of the best-selling $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, getting a new idea off the ground has never been easier.

Forbes interviewer Dan Schawbel got Guillebeau to elaborate on how today’s technology has presented vast and far-reaching platforms that allow shared ideas, goods and services to coalesce.

Coupled with consumers being more primed to make online purchases, this new landscape creates what Guillebeau refers to as “a perfect storm of economic convergence.”

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

There are many ways your business can fail before it’s standing on its own, and getting hung up on minor details is a sure-fire way to halt progress.

Many agonize over the catchiest name for their business or the cleverest URLs, getting caught in a viscous and unproductive cycle without achieving anything to make the stress worth it.

Set a short, definitive timeline for your startup, and don’t let worry over website layout or logo design keep your project from growing past its infancy.

Your business will change rapidly as you learn, and names or web domains are no exception. Leave room to grow!

Baby Steps

A lot of startups lose steam not out of lack of creativity or capability, but by pushing too hard or too fast at the start.

We want our business to mature by leaps and bounds from the very beginning. But as we have to crawl before we can walk, also must we stumble a bit in the learning process before it’s possible to run and sustain a successful business.

Set small, consistent goals. Pursuing a career of your own creation can be one of the most rewarding journeys, but it takes many small steps to get to there.

Moves like attaining your federal Employee Identification Number to protect your private identity, making sure the relevant permits and licenses are acquired, or setting up a business bank account to avoid unnecessary liability are more important than even a name.

Jeff Haden, contributing Editor for Inc. magazine, goes into more detail about the manifold, yet fairly easy to obtain prerequisites for legitimizing your business. Haden is a big proponent of laying the groundwork and economizing on time in the early stages of development to allow for greater pay off in the long run.

“Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue,” he suggests.

Budgeting

As children, it is difficult to envision the end game of a project when there is an insurmountable obstacle in our way.

One such obstacle facing today’s entrepreneurs in their adult life is the ever-dreaded need for startup capital.

The good news is, you can do your business an overwhelming amount of good if you can budget carefully, be mindful of resources and perfect your pitch.

Here are a few ways to nurture your business that won’t break the bank:

Know where you can consolidate

Starting a business requires certain concessions be made to keep the venture afloat. This can mean cutting back on luxuries like additional employees, office space or an entire service or product until the revenue can support it.

Resources can come from anywhere

While raising capital is never fun, we live in a time where there are multiple ways to acquire funding: angel investors, government grants through the Small Business Administration, bank loans, even friends and family.

Crowdsource

Don’t forget crowdfunding. Social media makes it simple to raise startup cash and connect with like-minded individuals who want to contribute.

But remember, there are plenty of cautionary tales of high-profile startups that have crashed and burned, so be sure you can deliver. Nobody wants to be the next Plastc.

Keep Working Hard

The best part of all this work? You get to invest in your business with the capital you’ve raised.

“Once you start realizing some revenue, you can invest in yourself and build the business you imagined piece by piece rather than all at once,” adds Jayson Demers, a regular contributor for Entrepreneur.

You’re bound to break a sweat, but the journey is a rewarding one and can mean a lifetime of constant improvement and success.

Come back next month for part two of our series on crucial startup mindsets.

Passive Productivity: How Device Lights, Strict Schedules & Multitasking Are Killing Your Output

While there are many workplace worries that can be fixed by a good workout or healthy snack, there are far more insidious forces threatening to vanquish productivity.

Unfortunately, the forces that work against our productivity are often those forces which we love the most: our smartphones and tablets, minute-by-minute planning and an emphasis on multitasking.

However, as we’ll show in the next few sections, those widely accepted entities often are the very things that undercut our productivity and leave us feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Lights Out Means Lights Out

Well into adulthood, some of us find ourselves unable to resist “just five more minutes” of our favorite distraction before bed.

In a world where communications and interactions are increasingly taking place via any number of electronic gadgets, the pre-bedtime winding down process now involves several hours of social media, emailing and voraciously checking new notifications.

While the temporary catharsis of such activities is widely acknowledged, the effect on your rest can be a costly one, both to your health and productivity the next day.

One such byproduct is blue light, according to the research of Forbes Contributor Travis Bradberry.

This is a big one that most people don’t even realize harms their sleep and productivity. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and sleep quality,” Bradberry pointed out.

He goes on to say that blue light decreases the natural production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Afternoon sunshine contains decreasing amounts of blue light, which allows our brains to start producing melatonin. By nightfall — when our brains aren’t expecting any blue light — staring at a screen bombards us with direct exposure to it. This can wreak havoc on our natural sleep cycles, Bradberry explained.

“This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off,” he wrote.

In other words, shut off the gadgets and gizmos after dinner and give your mind a well-deserved break from the glowing spreadsheets and frantic emails.

In-flexibility Training

Too much organization can be a bad thing.

With a mountain of an agenda containing tasks ranging from the mundane to the herculean feats of creativity and ingenuity ahead of you, it’s easy to want to control every moment of the day to maximize productivity.

This tactic, however, usually burns us out before the day ends.

While scheduling your whole day to go according to a master plan, might, in theory, provide a manageable framework for your day, it leaves little room for the inevitable interruptions or emergencies that crop up at a moment’s notice.

“When you’re too tightly scheduled, you can end up undermining your productivity, because if one thing goes wrong, your schedule could be disrupted for the rest of the day,” notes Gwen Moran in her article for Fast Company.

Remember, success is the culmination of preparation and opportunity and part of that preparation is reserving time that may become game-changing later on when plans don’t work out and quick, decisive action is required.

Be flexible and get the hard stuff out of the way early. Dealing with the most difficult tasks when your mind is at its freshest ensures that the rest of the day can be dedicated to less pressing projects that allow you to breathe without burning out.

Singletasking

“It turns out that 98% of the population doesn’t multi-task very well,” entrepreneur Lisa Quast wrote in a Forbes article.

Study after study has revealed no significant productivity benefits from this daunting pseudo practice. In fact, multitasking is little more than rapid task switching, which can be just as detrimental to your brain as it is to your productivity.

In an interview by Entrepreneur’s guest contributor Lisa Evans, Devora Zack, author of “Singletasking: Get more Done – One Thing at a Time” reveals staggering statistics about multitasking: “[It] not only lowers productivity by 40 percent but it also shrinks our brains.”

Wrapping It Up: Be

Habits that curtail productivity can be somewhat elusive to identify when there isn’t any one specific remedy.

Every entrepreneur has their own way of solving problems or managing tasks, but the basics sometimes start outside of the workplace and won’t always be readily apparent.

Be mindful of potential productivity killers. If your sleep is fitful, your mind is muddled and you feel like multitasking effectively is impossible, there are solutions.

Focus on creating a relaxing bedtime routine absent of electronic light, allow for flexibility in your schedule and flip the value metrics on multitasking versus singletasking.

These three simple steps should create a significant change in your work life.

Four of the Top Office Trends for 2017

Open offices, tree houses and video games.

All three have been big office trends in the past, a reflection of the new work world where management tries to use workspaces as a platform for employee freedom and creativity.

While most of the trends we see on a day-in/day-out basis are focused on office organization and planning, it’s much more than that. Philosophies of leadership transform over time, as do concepts of teamwork and idea generation.

So, to get a comprehensive view of what this year’s hottest trends are, we turned to several different reliable sources and built a list of four of this year’s most popular office trends.

HR Will Get a Boost

You’ve probably heard of the term “big data”; it’s the new way to process large chunks of information, then use those findings to create business strategies.

According to Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman, this trend has affected many parts of the workplace, but HR hasn’t been one of them. The purpose of HR is, after all, to make people feel like more than just numbers, right?

“Data scientists, one of the most in-demand positions for the past two years, haven’t been much of a presence in HR-related tasks,” Dishman wrote.

She goes on to say that data can help in three different areas: measuring the onboarding process, tracking morale and testing out different types of workplace management.

Workplace Organization Will Continue to Evolve

Open workspaces are now old news, but the emerging nuances within this arena continue to evolve.

Recruiting.com says we can expect this trend to continue this year.

“Now that employers have substantial insight into how the work environment affects their employees, design thinking is emerging as a new major trend in HR,” the site wrote.

We should see further development of multipurpose work areas, modular desks and “furniture with multimedia capabilities,” the site explained.

Other emerging areas to look for? Enhanced health and wellness programs, more standing workstations and stress management programs.

Caring for Remote Workers

This trend comes courtesy of HR Daily Advisor, and we think it’s an important one.

A recent Forbes article noted that more than 30% of the American workforce are freelancers, earning a 1099 instead of the traditional W-2. Many of these freelancers work from home, and, it’s safe to say they don’t receive the same kind of treatment as someone working in the company’s offices every day.

Employers like Dell are starting to realize this, contributor Al Zink, and are exploring ways to offer their remote workers (“distributed talent”) effective care.

“How do we extend culture and benefits equality to provide an ‘umbrella’ of culture to remote employees or satellite offices while allowing for some local customization of programs and policy,” Zink asked. “When you visit different locations and facilities what exactly are the values and culture and how are they implemented?”

Zink says 2017 is the year that leaders will put a lot more thought in how to effectively manage their remote teams.

A Shift in Performance Management

Companies are starting to see the flaws of the traditional model of yearly performance reviews. In lieu of this standard, they’ve chosen to explore new ways of performance management.

According to Human Resources Today, this is one of the biggest trends in today’s workforce.

“HR professionals encourage managers to move towards a coaching culture that prizes skill development, regular feedback and growth opportunities,” Catherine Spence wrote. “This type of coaching relies on asking open-ended questions, providing hands-on opportunities to develop new skills and allowing teams of workers to self-coach through stretch projects.”

This idea of continuous feedback is something contributor Dan Schwabel discussed in his recent article about 2017 workplace trends.

In his opinion, this type of employee feedback is more appropriate for Millennials and Gen Z workers.

“Professionals today desire instant feedback, a behavior they’ve adopted from the instant gratification they receive on social networks,” Schwabel wrote. “Younger generations are especially impatient and are unwilling to wait a whole year to learn about their strengths and areas of improvement.”

Schwabel referred to a Robert Half study that revealed that a quarter of the workforce believe that “annual performance reviews don’t help improve their performance.”

Change Effects All Parts of the Workplace – Even the Furniture You Choose

If the trends of the past 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that new workplace trends start with ideas and trickle down into how an office is designed and furnished.

Stop by our website to look at what we can offer for your ever-evolving workplace.

The Five Best Startups of the Past Ten Years

It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago most people were wielding flip phones and mass use of the internet was barely passing its 10th birthday.

What’s just as staggering is the number of new technologies that have stormed into our daily lives during that time. VR? Didn’t exist. The iPhone? Barely existed. The Internet of things? Nope.

And think about all the startups that have popped up during that time. It seems like every week a real-life version of the Pied Piper was popping up somewhere in Silicon Valley as baby-faced developers pounded away at their keyboards.

As an ode to the men and women whose creativity and drive built some of the more well-known names in tech, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best businesses borne out of the past 10 years.

#1 – Betterment

CEO Jon Stein started Betterment back in 2008 because he ran into a problem. As a financial advisor, he was great at telling other people what to do with his money, but when it came to his own finances, he nor his colleagues had any idea what they should do with their money.

So, Stein launched Betterment, the original robo-advisor that has grown into a full-service financial institution offering investments, retirement accounts and trusts.

Betterment made this list because they are one of the vanguards of decentralization, right along with Uber and Airbnb. They took the power out of the hands of the big institutions and put it in the hands of the people at a fraction of the cost.

#2 – Uber

Another true disruptor, Uber started in 2008 and launched its first rides in San Francisco in May 2010. Since then, Uber’s services have expanded to more than 500 cities worldwide.

Some have taken to the emergence of DIY cabs with open arms – Uber fares tend to be less painful than what you’d pay for a taxi. Others, not so much – cab unions across the world have put up protests at the first whiff of their city’s Uberization.

Either way, the cab service has now become a household name. Uber has also branched out into a number of ventures, including package delivery, meal delivery and carpool services.

#3 – Fitbit

Another San Francisco company, Fitbit grabbed the Internet of things and sent it for a run around the block.

The wearable fitness device, while it has competition, has become the standard name and product in the Internet of things’ fitness niche.

The company has launched several lines of fitness trackers – the Force was an early favorite, along with the Flex and the sleek Alta.

While heart rate monitors and tracking devices existed as Fitbit grew, the company’s combination of slick-looking wearables and a user-friendly app helped it sprint past the competition.

#4 – Tile

Tile is a great example of a company that took funding and used it well.

The small Bluetooth square can be attached to just about anything. When that “anything” is lost, you activate your Tile and it emits a beeping melody that helps you locate it.

Tile’s owners relied heavily on crowdfunding to start the project back in 2013. Another competitor, Trackr, popped up around that time. However, it was Tile’s reliable performance that led the company to take charge of its niche.

The company sold 2 million Tiles between 2014 and 2015, an impressive feat for a tech startup. The company is already in its second generation of devices.

#5 – WhatsApp/Instagram

Thankfully, the days of SMS texting are pretty much behind us and messenger apps rule the day.

Among the world’s most popular is WhatsApp, a company started in 2009 and acquired by Facebook in 2014 for nearly $20 billion.

Instagram revolutionized photo sharing, gaining 300 million users within four years of launching. Like WhatsApp, Instagram was bought by Facebook, but at a fraction of the price: $1 billion.

We’re Not a Startup, But We Are a Leader

Office Planning Group has been in business since 1969, a time when most of the employees at the companies we mentioned above weren’t even born.

We’re okay with that because we’ve used those nearly 50 years to build a reputation as a reliable office planning company. We built that reputation by listening, planning alongside our clients and handling all phases of our projects.

If you want to learn more about what we do, head to our About Us page.