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.

 

A Look at Some of Our Recent Office Planning Projects

Every year we continue business in Louisiana is another opportunity to help local companies find office solutions that fit their team’s workflow and bottom line.

As a result, we have a diverse project gallery we’re proud of and want to highlight some of our recent projects.

Bruno and Tervalon

Bruno & Tervalon LLP is a CPA firm based in New Orleans and is the largest minority-owned firm in the state. They’ve been in business for nearly four decades, making them a trusted name in the city.

They came to us wanting to update their headquarters by transforming their open workspace into a mixture of private offices and collaborative work areas.

We took some time to come up with a custom design that considered their desire to create private workspaces while maintaining collaborative common areas.

The result is an office that’s a great example of how a company can create a hybrid workspace with elements of traditional design and open concepts.

AMTRAK

The rail system has always been an important part of our state’s commerce and transportation and that’s why we were proud to work with Amtrak to update their offices.

They came to us with a problem that many big companies face. Their technology was up-to-date, but their office design lagged behind.

Cramped cubicles and drab colors gave off an outdated impression and they wanted to change that. Amtrak wanted new and fresh, not old and worn.

We went in and overhauled their cubicles, management offices and common areas. We chose darker wood tones and black chairs for offices and meeting rooms and light, airy colors for open-area workspaces.

Through our creative use of modular furniture and systems cubicles, we were able to provide Amtrak the modern and efficient workspace they wanted.

 LSU Healthcare Network

Louisiana State University’s healthcare system was looking for a way to add more cabinet space to one of their eye care clinics.

Because they were working with a limited budget, they couldn’t go through with plans to have built-in cabinetry solutions.

Knowing how important it was for them to update their office with additional storage, we proposed a plan that scrapped the built-in option and added more storage space by implementing systems furniture of varying heights.

However, finding a budget-appropriate solution was just part of what would make this job successful.

Because the office was a hub for necessary eye care and medical procedures, it was important to management that there wasn’t any down time or temporary workspaces that made patient care and processing more difficult.

Thankfully, we were able to provide them a comprehensive plan that included a weekend install that didn’t interfere with normal operations.

The dominant color? LSU’s famous purple.

Loyola University School of Music

Another installation we’re proud of took place at Loyola University’s School of Music, home of musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr.

The music department was building a new classroom and had some unique requirements. Each workspace needed to be ultra-functional, a space for a sound board, monitor and other sound equipment.

At the same time, the workspaces needed to be in line with modern music classroom design.

We came up with a solution that provided plenty of functional desktop space and enough room for two chairs.

We Work With You From Beginning to End

We’re proud of the projects we’ve mentioned in this post because they reflect our dedication to work with our clients from beginning to end to come up with a solution that meets their functional needs and their budget.

Our workflow starts with a consultation that includes a free space planning session. During these interactions, we lay the groundwork for a smooth installation process.

From there, we move to a more detailed analysis of how our initial planning sessions meet your needs and what should be modified to create a workspace you’ll love.

With plans finalized and decisions made, we move into the project management phase by working with you to get the best prices on furniture and cubicles, as well as finding reliable vendors who help us get the job done on-time.

If you want to learn more about who we are, head to our About Us page to learn about our team. Our president, Jerry Maxwell, has led our company since 1995 and VP Peggy Maxwell has been with us since 1979.

CEOs Are Reading These Books & So Should You

You can learn a lot about a leader by the books they read.

Many of the country’s top CEOs are voracious readers and occasionally they reveal their favorite reads. The beauty of this type of learning is that there is no secret – you or I can pick up the same books they read.

In this post, we’ll talk about four different books recommended by a well-known business leader or CEO.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business” by Clayton M. Christensen

Whenever a company finds success, it can be hard to switch things up, especially if you’re doing everything right. But, there comes a point where profit, Harvard’s Christensen says, can choke out the innovative sparks that lead to the long-term success you want.

“The best professional managers — doing all the right things and following all the best advice — lead their companies all the way to the top of their markets in that pursuit… only to fall straight off the edge of a cliff after getting there,” the Harvard Business Review wrote.

Steve Jobs loved Christensen’s book. The HBR says some of that adoration stems from the fact that when Jobs was removed as the CEO of Apple, his replacement, John Sculley, focused more on profit than on passion.

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The products, not the profits, were the motivation,” Jobs was quoted as saying in the HBR article. “Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything.”

 “Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales From the World of Wall Street” by John Brooks

Two legendary business leaders say this book is a powerful tome: Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In fact, according to Inc., it was Buffet who recommended the book to Gates.

“Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates read Business Adventures at Buffett’s recommendation and says the 1969 collection of Wall Street tales remains his favorite business book to date,” John Rampton wrote.

But be forewarned, Gates said in a 2016 CNBC article, this book isn’t a bite-sized compilation of bullet points meant to vault your company into massive success.

Quite the opposite, actually. Brooks, a former reporter at The New Yorker, digs into his stories and generates compelling narratives meant to instruct through example.

“Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success,” Gates told CNBC. “You won’t find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters, and show how things went for them.”

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande

This book is a favorite of Jack Dorsey, the man behind Twitter and Square.

According to Business Insider, Dorsey quotes the book often and, at the time, included it in a welcome kit for all new hires at Square.

One of his favorites? A Gawande quote about venture capitalists choosing the right startups, BI says:

“One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”

Gawande, a surgeon, wrote the book because, as Inc. points out, he believes “clearly written guides and checklists are required for completing complex tasks to the best of your ability.”

Feel like you need a solid system to help you get through the day? “The Checklist Manifesto” could be exactly what you need.

Wrapping It Up: A Few Final Thoughts

Reading these books won’t guarantee your business or professional life will magically elevate itself.

While each individual book may provide you practical ways to manage one part of your life, making reading a consistent practice in your life is what will, most likely, create the change you seek.

If you’d like a longer list of CEO’s favorite books, look at this Inc. article called “25 Books Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Other Top CEOs Recommend.”

Are Professional Groups on Their Way Out? Three Reasons Why They’re Still Worth It

Will 2017 be the year of professional groups? If you’re a Millennial, probably not; too old school.

The generation that makes up 24% of the American population has made a decisive move away from traditional professional organizations. Where are they going? To newer websites like FounderSociety, YEC and Levo; all online communities that focus their curation and capital on Millennials.

John Rampton, a businessman and contributor to Entrepreneur, was well aware of the distaste for traditional professional groups two years ago.

“The value millennials put on social capital is fueling the reemergence of younger professional organizations that bring quality to a space diluted by Facebook posts and constant, but distant, connections,” Rampton wrote.

Despite this mass migration away from suited-up conferences, many professionals young and old still swear by the manifold benefits of a good old-fashioned professional association. We’ve put together their top three reasons why these groups remain relevant.

Job Prospects

Finding the right job, as the old saying goes, is more about who you know than what you know. We’ll admit the adage isn’t applicable to remote workers who use freelance sites to win work, but when it comes to the suit-and-tie workplace, it still holds true.

Joining a professional organization, Rampton pointed out, is like signing up for the most effective job alert you can find.

“Your freshly-formed network can connect you with individuals and companies searching for someone with your specific talents or, if you’re hiring, introductions to top candidates when they begin looking for open positions,” Rampton wrote.

Levo, one of the most popular new-era professional groups, points out the websites run by professional organizations often have powerful job-search tools members can use to pinpoint the perfect job.

“Many professional organizations have websites which members can customize with their resume, career interests and location preferences. The site targets certain job openings based on the profile and sends them to members,” Levo’s Madeline Stilly wrote in 2012.

Mentoring

Most experts agree that one of the most valuable facets of a professional organization is the chance to learn from fellow professionals who have plenty of experience to share.

The real power behind these mentor relationships lies in the vast database of members most legitimate organizations have. Because groups tend to have national and even international members, there are thousands of people who are able to connect with you.

While Millennials may not buy into professional organizations, they do understand the value of mentorship.

“Mentors are a crucial aspect to career success, and these national communities build databases and communication tools for early careerists to find an experienced mentor in their area,” Stilley wrote. “Members are able to connect with others who are serious about the profession and want to build a network.”

Learning

The leading associations in your field have a tremendous amount of financial and professional resources, and, as such, they can provide access to information non-members wouldn’t be able to get without paying a considerable amount.

Kelly A. Cherwin, director of editorial strategy for HigherEdJobs, provided a taste of which educational materials are available to members of professional associations.

“Most associations provide an enormous amount of access to resource information such as: case studies, articles, white papers and books written by experts in your field or area of interest,” Cherwin wrote. “Also, major journal, magazine and newsletter access is provided as a part of your membership privileges.”

Along with this onslaught of digital information are in-real-life conferences where thought leaders delve into the industry’s most relevant and current nuances.

“Millennials who join a professional organization gain access to educational resources like industry research, newsletters, seminars, courses and events where leading industry thought-leaders share insight into the latest trends, innovations, technology and best practices,” Rampton wrote. “Members further their careers by staying ahead of their competitors.”

The Verdict: Professional Organizations Are Worth Every Penny

The benefits of professional organizations are undisputed, but they often fall flat when professionals see the cost of joining. Many of the premier professional associations charge members hundreds of dollars per year. The American Institute of CPAs, for example, starts their regular yearly membership dues at $255.

Is it worth the cost for cash-strapped Millennials or industry vets? We think the answer is clear. Yes, the education, networking and job opportunities professional organizations offer are well worth the dues you pay to stay in the group.