cubicles

Introducing the FastCubes Spokesperson

I can’t say I blame you. Let me introduce myself, my name is Sebastian A. Squarehead. I’m the spokesperson for FastCubes.com and an expert on all-things-cool-about-cubes (and there’s many). I’m a zealot for cubicles and anything even remotely office related. If you came here to learn and be entertained, you’re in good cyber hands.

“But Mr. Squarehead,” you say, “I’m totally overwhelmed by the world of cubes.” First, call me Sebastian. Second, I understand; I was once overwhelmed myself. But, if you stick with me, cubicles can be fun and exciting. Before you realize, you’ll know oodles too.

Some of you may be hesitant and perhaps your view of cubes is tainted. Cubicles tend to be bad mouthed by those uneducated about how cool they really can be. If that’s the case, I hope to show you another side to these awesome square-shaped-working-stations.

I’m thrilled you stopped by and I look forward to being your guide in the ever so fun world of cubicles!

Cubicle & Office Ergonomics

Although we love sitting in our beautifully decorated cubicles, sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day can take a toll on your body.

First, be conscience of your posture at all times. The OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends that you sit with your feet flat on the floor (use a foot rest if your feet don’t reach the floor), legs and forearms bent at 90 degrees, with straight wrists, and adjust your computer monitor to be at or below eye level.

Next, rest your eyes from staring at the vivid screen by taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes. This will help reduce eye strain and dryness, which will give you a refreshed feeling. Lastly, invest in a good chair, desk, keyboard and mouse. Even though a good office chair may cost you, the money saved in doctors’ bills will be worth every penny. Many people tend to need chiropractic and physical therapy attention from sitting in a bad chair all day.

Read more about ergonomic cubicles.

Cubicle Fatigue – How To Fix It

Recently your favorite cubicle mascot was wondering about that “2:30 feeling” that we hear so much about – and anyone who works in an office for extended periods of time can relate. Maybe you don’t feel it every day, but there are definitely days when mid-afternoon rolls around and you’re hit with an immense wave of fatigue and general lack of motivation. Perhaps it’s biorhythms, perhaps it’s the realization that 5:00 is so far off, or maybe the energy boost from lunch is wearing off. Whatever it is, it’s annoying. And it’s more powerful than the fatigue felt at the end of the work day or at night. I don’t need to understand it; I just need to get rid of it. Turns out, standing up while you work can greatly alleviate the issue.

In my experiences the two minute office lap was the best way to keep me awake and focused on my tasks.

I had used similar methods to alleviate this problem in the past – a brief lap around the office, a quick sketch on my post-it note pad to stimulate the mind, and even a splash of cold water on my face. Certain call centers have employed a system where workers are required to take every other call standing up, which eliminated much of the fatigue and lethargy which was present in the office before this policy was instated. The call center reported fewer sore backs and an increase of blood flow, in turn helping workers’ concentration and focus. This all made sense; in my experiences the two minute office lap was the best way to keep me awake and focused on my tasks. Keep in mind none of this will replace getting a good night’s sleep and it won’t help you from being tired all day running on 4 and a half hours of sleep! But it could be the answer to helping eliminate that awful feeling. I don’t expect “5 Hour Energy” sales to drop any time soon, but maybe this tip can help you spend that $4 elsewhere.

One last thing is the potential issues of turning your home office (if you’re lucky enough to work from home) into a possible standing work area. Consider using double monitors, adjustable height desks, or even some variation of a kneeler. I’m not sure how much of this is feasible for most people, personally I’m in the office for my forty hours, but if you can accomplish some of this then all the more power to you.

Cubicle Dictionary Series: Cubicle Configurations

One of the most important decisions to make when it comes to choosing cubicles for your office isn’t necessarily the cubicle color or accessories. While these are important, they only come after the big decision of cubicle size and configuration. Cubicle size is pretty self explanatory: if you are going for a call center environment you can go with 3’ x 4’ cubicles with lower or higher walls, depending on how much privacy you want, if you want a more managerial setting then obviously the larger cubicles are a better choice for you.

Cubicle configuration not only determines the way your office or workspace will be set up, but has a drastic effect on the price point of cubicles, no matter where you purchase them. The reason for this has to do with how many walls are being shared in a grouping of cubicles (more material being used). The two images in this blog post are just a couple of examples of ways you can have cubicles set up in an office.

In the single row of cubicles, there are actually 13 cubicle walls in total, where as the pod configuration only has 11. While this may not seem like a drastic difference, consider it’s not just the wall but the electric wiring, kickplates, and various other cubicle parts. This is a fairly simple example, but multiplied over a larger office, it can really start to have an effect – 18% more materials for a large purchase like this is definitely something you want to consider before making your final decision. We are not saying it’s wrong necessarily; some offices don’t have the space for a pod configuration and the row of cubicles does look aesthetically pleasing while having a more spacious feel. We simply mean to help you stay informed in your cubicle purchasing process. Check out our informational page on cubicles at
Cubicles Options.

Herman Miller Challenges Students to Rethink the Office

FastCubes’ cubicles are clones of these famous Herman Miller cubicles that changed the world half a century ago. But before you think they’ve been asleep since then, know that this isn’t the case. Most recently, the Michigan furniture manufacturer started a contest among students of Cranbrook Academy of Art, asking them to come up with solutions to some of the problems facing modern office cubicle settings.

Some students were able to recall their brief traipse into the cubicle world, remembering that concentration and comfort were rare commodities in the office workplace. Using this as inspiration, they came up with several new types of office furniture which are designed to help increase comfort and focus while maintaining a chic, modern look. Products ranging from a three sided office chair, to a wool covered rocking chair for sound absorption were created and displayed by these students. Visit Herman Miller Taps Students to Rethink Our Workplaces to view the full slideshow and see the rest of the images of these students’ hard work.

The modern furniture designs these students came up with help to show some of the problems facing the modern office cubicle workplace, and further prove the need to carefully space plan your office before buying cubicles. Make sure high walls and privacy are a priority if your employees will need their concentration to carry out their tasks. Call center cubicles are efficient and inexpensive, but they are designed for just that – call centers.

Cubicle Dictionary Series: Power

In the cubicle world, without a cubicle’s ability to organize and hide power cords, the modern day office would look quite different. Picture wires hanging from the ceiling of your office, power cords running between cubicles, people accidentally kicking out power cords and employees losing their saved work. The point is – cubicles have done more than provide workplace privacy. This latest cubicle dictionary series is centered around providing power to cubicles.

One of the most important pieces of a cubicle is one that personally, I walk by every day I come in here but almost never notice them – the power pole. These are often vertical plastic columns that hide wires and come down from the ceiling, running all the way to the base of the cubicle where the power panels are located. Its main use is for aesthetic purposes so that there aren’t exposed wires hanging down from the ceiling, but it also organizes and separates wires. It is only useful under the assumption that an office’s power supply is being run through the ceiling, otherwise a base feed would be used to run power along the floor. A base feed is similar but is horizontal and often runs along the floor, providing only a minor obstacle on the floor.

Most office cubicles have the option to include power panels, regardless of size or dimension. Power panels are located along the floor of the cubicle, and are protected by kickplates. Most cubicle buyers choose to have at least some of their cubicles with power. Many office managers opt out of having surge protectors and extra wires running everywhere. While including power panels does slightly raise the cost of a cubicle, most people find it outweighs the other options of running cords from the wall.

Each cubicle can vary in terms of how much power or how many outlets it provides. Any cubicle with the power option in one of the floor panels will include at least one outlet. Generally between one and four power outlets are included and each one can be put on its own circuit, with the fourth one having the option of being a dedicated circuit. More than four outlets can be included, usually for an additional charge.

Most cubicle sellers will provide information for the wattage/voltage numbers that need to be taken into account. For the most part, however, a customer does not need to provide anything extra since the power supply is pretty standard in most buildings.

Pretty powerful stuff, right? I would be shocked if this article hasn’t sparked a surge in your interest of providing power to offices. “Pun”til next time!

Why You Should Break the Bank on Office Chairs

Sebastian here, with a serious subject today, one that affects anyone working in an office and those buying office furniture for their office as well. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about office chairs, author Sue Shellenbarger highlights some interesting and shocking facts about the office cubicle’s partner in crime, the office chair. We here at FastCubes knew the importance of office chairs, as we carry a full line of office chairs ourselves. But some of the statistics were surprising even for us.

Office cubicle workers spend a lot of time in their chairs, it’s no surprise. Most of them spend more time in this piece of furniture than any other, save for their bed. Or maybe you’re one of those people that work so hard your office chair IS your bed. But the point is, anything we spend this much time attached to isn’t something to be taken lightly. Millions of dollars of research has gone into “ergonomics,” which deals with how two systems interact with one another – in this case the human body and the chair. This research hopes to find how a cubicle employee can best be suited by his or her office chair, increasing comfort, productivity, and health even. Humantech, an ergonomics consulting firm states

A perfectly fitting chair has your back supported, feet planted with thigh parallel to floor, and knees at 90 degree angle. Chair height should adjust so computer monitor is just below eye level and wrists are straight when extended to the keyboard or mouse.”

Many office chairs currently in use actually have the potential to come close to this perfect fit, but employers are not doing all they can to enlighten their employees about such things. Most office chairs are complicated to the new user, and are never fully utilized to their best potential. Advanced chairs, which many employers are able to purchase for their employees thanks to bulk discounts provided by sellers, offer support for a wide range of body shapes, sizes, and positions, but are often complicated to figure out and are ignored. Companies should theoretically provide brief training on office chairs and how to use them, but many don’t.

If you are uncomfortable in your own chair as you read this, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, 86% of office works said their furniture causes discomfort. It is the most-requested chair feature, coming even before adjustability, and it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Currently, around 10-15% of an employer’s office furniture budget is typically spent on chairs, but I submit that this number might not even be high enough. Improving ergonomics of chairs and other equipment was shown in a study to increase the productivity of a worker by an average of 17%. This means that a one-time cost now could very well pay for itself several times over in the long run.

Some employees have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing and bringing their own office chair to work. This comes with the added risk of having to protect it from would-be chair poachers, but you might find it’s worth it in the long run. Having a good chair has been proven to lower musculo-skeletal problems, and lower the rate of absences from work and errors. If you are unable to buy your own or convince your employers to do so, it’s suggested that you stand up and stretch or walk every 30 to 45 minutes to alleviate some of the effects of sitting for extended periods of time. But hopefully you can throw some of these statistics around your office and spread the word that an office chair just might be the best purchase you can make.

Buying Cubicles [ Infographic ]

Today we have a special edition of our weekly cubicle blog, in which we proudly present our latest infographic for how to buy cubicles. You may think that such a thing doesn’t require a guide or walkthrough, but the fact is that the cubicle buying process isn’t as simple as people think. When buying cubicles, there’s so much to be aware of before, during, and after the purchase. Luckily for you, FastCubes has been around a long time and we know a thing or two about how to buy cubicles online.

Step 1 – Space, The First Frontier

Many online cubicle companies are willing to draw up a floor plan for you, based on dimensions and general layout information you provide. Let them know about size of the area you are working with and possible obstructions such as doorways, pillars, or sleeping employees.

Step 2 – Pick Your Flavor

This is the fun part, but also requires some thought. Varying wall height provides privacy while sitting or standing, while varying cubicle sizes provide room for work surfaces, storage, or computers. Cubicle options can include filing cabinets, shelves, keyboard trays, lights, and more. (Additional steps following the inforgraphic)

Step 3 – Cost Calculating

Cubicles, like most products, will have varying prices based on size, brand, store type, and more. Shipping will add to the cost unless you have your own truck or have invented teleportation. Additional services will also come into play, so make sure you know what you need beforehand.

Step 4 – You’ve Got Mail!

This is where those services we mentioned in the last step come into play. Call-ahead service will ensure you have someone standing by to accept delivery. Lift-gate service will be necessary to lower the heavy boxes off the truck if you don’t have a loading dock or a very strong back.

Step 5 – Installation Station

If you went with an online cubicle store, chances are they have an installation team or can set you up with a reliable one in the area. Cubicle assembly is complicated and you will want to let a professional handle it. Don’t worry though, these guys are fast, helpful, and listen to requests.

Step 6 – The After Party

Cubicle companies know that your purchase is important and will be there for you even after everything is installed. You can always reach out to them with questions, comments, order requests, and life advice.

There you have it. Buying cubicles isn’t as easy as buying a fish tank online, but recent studies show cubicles are better for productivity and privacy than fish tanks. Companies have more than made up for the challenges of selling cubicles by taking every step to ensure the customer has the best experience possible. Here’s to happy cubicle dwelling for years to come!

Office & Cubicle Feng Shui

This time, we’re talking about feng shui. No, it’s not something you’ll find on a menu at your favorite Chinese restaurant. For those of you cubicle dwellers not familiar with the term, it’s pronounced “fung shway” and has everything to do with proper layout of a room or work area. Its history is Chinese in nature and goes back thousands of years, where it was originally designed to orient tombs or buildings in auspicious manners through emphasis on the various elements (earth, wood, fire, etc). I suggest a trip to the Wikipedia feng shui page if you would like to learn more.

By now, you probably have one of two reactions to the concept of feng shui, either: “sounds interesting, tell me more,” or “well that just sounds like a bunch of Hocus Pocus.” If you are in that second group, I applaud you for your skepticism and (possibly) unintentional reference to one of the better movies the 1990s had to offer us, but we like to keep an open mind here when it comes to cubicles and improving office work spaces. Personally, I’m not a superstitious squarehead, but nor do I discard any theory that seems strange before thinking it through. Even if something seems far-fetched, there’s a good chance it might have a logical explanation to it as well. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Proper feng shui dictates that, should you reside in a cubicle, room, or office, being able to see the entrance to your personal area is extremely important. I imagine the original concept came from somewhere in the self-preservation school of thought. As a great philosopher and feng shui master once said: “I would like to be able to see any would-be attackers entering my room or cubicle.” Okay, so maybe I’m the one who said that, but still. You know the would-be attackers I’m talking about; they sneak up on you while you have headphones in and ask for things. Things they can probably get themselves. But most cubicles have their inhabitant situated with their back to the door, and as you are probably well aware, most cubicle owners don’t have the ability to rip their desk apart and sit on the other side. Thankfully, feng shui has an answer for this. Find a small mirror or shiny metallic office-related object and situate it at an angle which will allow you to see what is going on behind your back. Personally, on particularly high cubicle traffic days, I’ve propped my smart phone at an angle which allowed me to see anyone lurking behind me. There’s something to be said for the small peace of mind it gives me to know what is happening behind my back.

Dreary cubicle decor does little to stimulate the imagination and gets boring to look at after a while.

Feng shui is also all about “high energy” items, such as bright or colorful pieces of art, or photographs associated with happy memories. Again, if you’re in the skeptical school of thought when it comes to feng shui, try to look at the more logical benefits of such cubicle decorations. Multiple studies have shown color impacts ability to learn, creativity, and mood. Dreary cubicle decor does little to stimulate the imagination and gets boring to look at after a while. As for the photographs, I personally have pictures or decorations from friends or coworkers past which remind me of the good times and often inspire me in one way or another. I’m fairly certain a wall of gray would do very little to that effect.

One last tip is removing cubicle clutter or unnecessary papers from your work space. I’m all for cubicle organization as a method of improving productivity as is; it’s always better to be able to find what you’re looking for so as to not be distracted from the task at hand. Implementing an organizational strategy for both your physical files and your electronic ones will pay dividends in terms of lowering your office stress and time wasted spent looking for things.

If you were already a feng shui believer, or feel yourself converting into one, feel free to read the full article on office cubicle feng shui. In the meantime, take my word that a few of these tips can actually help reduce your office stress quite a bit.