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Zenbooth Blog

Working in an open office has more drawbacks than one might assume. The loss of privacy and partitions results in harmful consequences that make it difficult to complete your work. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to get past these irritating office design laws. 

Some will help you get through the week while others will help you and your coworkers become a more cohesive team (and not drive each other insane). 

So whether you’re an employee or an employer, here's some expert advice on how to work in an open office and some ideas for how to change the layout so that it works for everybody!

First, What’s It Like Working in an Open Office?

Working in an open office gives you more immediate access to all your coworkers, which comes with both benefits and detriments. 

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Office design is constantly changing. Many companies that initially opted for the hot-desking office style are now shifting to a more playful working environment. The main factor behind this shift is the increasing number of millennials. This group now makes up more than 35% of the workforce.

As a result, office designers are now focused on designing spaces that will accommodate "millennial culture."

Factors Influencing Millennial Office Design

The first step towards creating the ideal office space for millennials is to understand their habits and motivations. Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the information age. From a young age, they had access to mobile phones and the Internet. They could easily connect with other people. The ability to acquire information instantly has been a common feature of their daily lives from childhood.

As a generation, they are technologically-savvy, creative, and ambitious. They are ready to ditch their current place of work if they think they are not being treated well. Millennials consider the work-life balance to be more important than a paycheck. 

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Many employers underestimate the effect that the workplace and office layout can have on their employees' mental health. 

Studies show that the average person spends approximately 33 percent of their waking hours at work, so it should come as no surprise that their work environment can profoundly shift their mood and well-being.

The open office layout is a favorite for modern workplaces as open offices are believed to create more space, ease communication, and promote teamwork among employees. Unfortunately, there are several downsides to the layout that can result in an increased rate of both anxiety and depression among workers. 

Given recent findings that a great office layout can improve an employee's mood by 33 percent, employers should make bigger investments in their floor plans. There are ways of altering an open office layout to have it accommodate employees better, but it's important first to understand why the open layout can be so problematic. 

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For many of us, this has been the craziest two weeks in our career.  We’d like to thank our staff, customers, suppliers and partners for their support through this time.  

Zenbooth has been temporarily scaling down its operations and moving remote for the past couple weeks to protect our staff and community. Last week, this included a temporary suspension of manufacturing and shipping operations. We expect to resume operations as normal in April pending the regulatory and social environment. This post is intended to provide a status of Zenbooth’s current operations, cleaning and a glimpse into the future. 

Orders & Shipping

We are still accepting orders but will be prioritizing shipping based on requests received, and when the purchase was made. We are asking our customers to make requests, as by default the majority of our customers are unable to currently receive their orders due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Please complete this form to request a shipment in April. We will prioritize shipping to customers that are essential business and businesses that can receive and have product installed.

Cleaning phone booths 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 we recommend cleaning frequently touched surfaces in your office. Please see our guide for cleaning the hard and soft surfaces of the booth.

The future of work

Zenbooth has always been about making work comfortable for you. We know many of you are working from home, and we’d love your input into our work from home product research and development. If you’re interested in that, please complete this form.

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Office breakout areas are a new workplace trend. They create an invaluable space for employees to focus and get work done, away from all the distractions of a crowded office. 

They can be easily incorporated into every office layout idea, whether it's open, closed, or an agile work environment. 

This simple concept can have a meaningful impact on your employees' productivity, mood, and health. Thankfully, there are many different ways of creating a breakout area that works for you and your team, all within your budget.

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What Is an Office Breakout Area?

An office breakout area is essentially any space that is open to your employees outside of their designated work zone. This space can be laid out in different ways, whether it's an enclosed room, an area that's separated by partitions, or located in an open space away from desks.

Additionally, the breakout area can have various uses depending on the needs of you and your employees. The idea is simply to have a space that is apart from and is physically different than their standard workspace, as it allows employees to refocus and de-stress.

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Is your current office layout not working for you and your employees? Your layout may be reducing productivity for your team, but all is not lost. 

A few changes could have a considerable impact. Depending on your budget and current workspace, it may feel like making meaningful overhaul to your office is unrealistic and too expensive.

What if there was a product that helped you create a more positive, efficient work environment, without the need for disruptive construction or excessive costs?

Modular Meeting Pods are the solution you're looking for. These compact, transportable rooms add privacy and functionality to every workplace without the drain on time or money that comes with construction. 

Their modular design allows them to be easily shipped and brought to your office, even if you're on the top floor. They can be installed in one afternoon in every office layout you can think of. 

Modular Office Pods Improve Every Office Layout By Adding Flexibility

Our Zenbooth product solves a lot of problems faced by employees working in distracting offices. Here are a few of the common design concepts we help mediate:

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Open offices are increasingly found on the list of things workers find most annoying. For many, this doesn't come as a surprise. 

No sense of hierarchy, constant distractions, and a lack of privacy are just a few of the common criticisms made by those who work in open offices.

But what direction can companies go? Closed offices, with their cubicles and dividers, are seen by many as a thing of the past. They discourages collaboration and teamwork. With every office layout, there comes a sleuth of downsides.

Those disadvantages can result in a lower rate of productivity for your entire team. Is there a way to get the best of both worlds in your office layout? Yes! Read on to find out how.

Why Privacy Matters in Open Offices

The ability to work and conduct meetings, phone calls, and interviews in private is hugely important in any office. The biggest drawback of an open office layout is that privacy becomes much harder to achieve.

While making your office more collaborative is frequently the touted goal among those with open layouts, it should be noted that collaboration is important WHEN it's time to work together. When a worker is trying to finish a time-sensitive task, distractions and the input of others may only slow them down.

 

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Have you heard about workplace “wellness rooms?"

These spaces are becoming increasingly common in companies around the country as more folks acknowledge the importance of providing quiet spaces for their employees.

It’s well known that the work environment can have a significant impact on how employees feel about their job, and also how they perform.

A recent insightful article in Forbes quoted the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, which found that 87% of workers said that they wanted their employer to promote health and wellbeing with new initiatives. Among some of these ideas? Including wellness rooms in the workplace. 

What’s more, for 93 percent of people employed in tech, the provision of a healthier workspace – again, including wellness rooms – would motivate them to stay longer with their employer.

And the evidence is there to prove that the better the mental and physical health of an employee, the higher their levels of productivity.

An article on the Entrepreneur website quotes a survey carried out by Employee Benefit News that found that 31 percent of those questioned said that mental health issues were the top reason for a decreased level of productivity in the workplace.

And clearly, poor physical and mental health often results in absenteeism, which is estimated to cost the small employer up to $81 per employee every year with this figure increasing to up to $286 for bigger companies.

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The latest buzzword in the office design world is “breakout zones." These exciting new ways of configuring your office space are a reaction to several decades of busy, noisy, open-plan layouts. 

Their purpose is to provide a separate area in your office for employees to work privately, carry out meetings or just relax.

 In short, its a space that is separate from the rest of your bustling workspace used to recharge or complete a specific task. It’s important to note how relevant the word “separate” is here. A breakout zone provides a demarcation between an employee’s regular desk job, and activity that can or should be carried out elsewhere.

These quiet zones must inspire in the employee a feeling that they can retreat – whether it’s to focus on an important project or to simply get away from the buzz of office life.

Let’s take a closer look at why they have become a hot new trend, how they can contribute to your company’s success, and how you can easily create them no matter what your resources.

Breakout Zones Add Needed Flexibility to Modern Office Layouts

There’s much research out there that tells us that open-plan offices are not compatible with employee health and wellness, and in fact drag productivity down.

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Office relaxation rooms are the talk of companies in every industry. What started as only a few standout brand trying something trendy has grown into a movement with tons of data and research supporting it. 

Having a fun and relaxing office space for employees is incredibly valuable because it helps them decompress. It reduces stress levels, improves mood, lowers sick days, and helps employees bond and socialize.

Relaxation room ideas come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. If you need some help with choosing what kind of design you should implement in your office, you've come to the right place.

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How to Create the Ideal Office Relaxation Room

Relaxation rooms can look very different depending on multiple factors. Once you have some of the details figured out, you can begin planning their correct design. Some of these factors include your:

  • Office Layout (Open or Divided)
  • Industry
  • Budget 

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Among all the up and coming trends in modern office layouts, the concept of a recharge room is one of the most exciting. This innovative idea is yielding higher rates of employee satisfaction and productivity.

But what is a recharge room exactly?

Get The Details Right When Adding Your Office's Recharge Room

An office recharge room is a space where employees can get away from the noise and anxiety of the workplace. While some employers think that a cluster of chairs in the corner of the office is enough, a recharge room really provides employees with a valuable opportunity to relax, stretch, meditate, and conduct conversations with their co-workers in peace.

This requires something more like a modular conference room, only not designated for work activities. There doesn't need to be collaboration style furniture inside it or standing desks - this is solely a zone for wellness.

Companies should understand that rooms like these are a big part of millennial style office design. It's common for people to feel tired and overwhelmed when they're working in the same space 40 hours a week. Simply having a place for them to step away from their desk can have a meaningful impact on their mood and productivity rate.

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Modern businesses are always looking for that little something extra. In a busy world defined by increasing competition and demanding markets, how you work as well as your office environment could be the ultimate X factor. 

Over the last few decades, we have seen dramatic changes in how people complete tasks, with the layout of office environments more reflective of deeper business structures.

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From isolated cubicles and corporate hierarchies to open workspaces and collaboration, the workplace revolution is just getting started.

Office Challenges Eliminated By Activity-Based Working Floor Plans

Open office design plans have taken off, with large tech firms like Google and Apple leading the way. In a concerted effort to engage workers and improve work outcomes, forward-thinking companies have thought outside the box and knocked down walls, sometimes literally.

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Creating an efficient workspace that boosts morale and raises productivity is about more than just style and appearances. Many comfort factors affect how a workplace can impede or promote health, mood, and the overall success of employees. 

Simple changes can make a world of difference. But employers need to know how to identify the problems in their own office. 

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Here are seven common attributes of a poor work environment and easy ways you can fix them.

1.Loud Offices Should Be A Thing of the Past

Excessive noise one of the most unpopular obstructions to maximizing employee productivity. 

Studies have shown that 58 percent of high-performance employees say they need a quieter work environment, 54 percent find their workplace too distracting, and 25 to 30 percent are dissatisfied with the noise level at work.

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The simple, hard truth about open offices is that they aren’t agile or versatile. Nor do they provide an adequate level of privacy to employees. 

As many as 54% of high-performance employees say that an open office environment is “too distracting” and hampers their productivity. 

How can you address these issues without undertaking major renovation or restructuring work within the office? The answer is — add breakout spaces. According to Tina Rich, designer at Homepolish, “It’s just about having spaces to accompany different kinds of people or sizes of groups and also different activities. […] This helps allow you to have a bit of alone time if you need it.” 

And your employees do need alone time every now and again. 

How Huddle Spaces Address Open Office Issues 

 

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Open office spaces became very popular not too long ago, and many considered them to be an innovative solution for employee collaboration. This layout seemed like a great way to facilitate dialogue, lower costs, and maximize workspace. What’s not to love, right?

Well, it turns out that open offices aren’t as great as we once thought they were. Consider some of their disadvantages:

  • Increased expense in the long term
  • Highly distracting, making it harder to focus
  • Little to no privacy
  • Increased rates of sickness and absenteeism in employees
  • Increased stress in the work environment

The result? Workers in an open office environment are not only less productive, they’re also unhappy. Open office spaces don't give employees the privacy they need to do their jobs efficiently, and that can wreak havoc on your business

If you’re realizing you need to change your floor plan to an agile workspace or activity based office, you may be wondering how to get the best results for a price that you can afford. 

Luckily, Zenbooth has been thinking about just that for a long time!

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The open-plan office was once the dream for employers looking to introduce flexibility and collaboration to the workplace. Unfortunately, as with many dreams, the reality didn't quite match up to the vision.

Open-plan offices were just too noisy and too distracting. They were too fraught with interruptions. Research from the Humboldt University in Berlin found that it could take as long as 23 minutes for workers to restore their focus after such an interruption, dramatically impacting productivity. 

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Health and well-being also suffered, with workers in open-plan offices found to be taking 62 percent more sick days than their counterparts in standard offices.

But, despite these setbacks, collaboration is still a key factor for businesses. Communication and a strong ethic of teamwork are still things all businesses target.

This is why the Zenbooth team has spent time developing pieces of modern collaborative workspace furniture and infrastructure. We're able to achieve these aims while avoiding the pitfalls of the open-plan model.

So let's get into it. Here are seven key benefits of deploying collaborative furniture in your own workplace.

 

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Open office setups look cool and modern, but they do not bolster productivity. According to research carried out by the University of Sydney, most employees working find open offices expose them to too much co-worker chatter, small talk, constant noise, etc.

Though open offices have their minor perks, the noise and distractions can hinder productivity, and burn out even the most sociable or extroverted employees.

Focusing on important tasks in the office requires a calm and private space. A private booth offers just that. These booths insulate employees from casual banter, lunch invites, quick questions, etc. so that they can spend more time working. Keep reading to learn how office phone booths work and why every office should have them.

What is an Office Phone Booth? And How Does It Work?

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There are several reasons to opt for an open office layout. It allows for better communication, more flexibility, and an overall more attractive aesthetic. The primary reason not to go for an open office layout? The lack of privacy. 

Workers in open offices across the country are suffering from the distractions, the disruptions, and the lack of confidentiality that come with taking down the walls and partitions in the workspace. 

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The good news is that you don't have to choose between privacy and flexibility.

Open Office Conference Rooms

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In the quest for greater productivity, companies are adopting breakout spaces and privacy booths in their existing open office layouts. The idea is to satisfy employees’ needs for quiet, support effective collaboration and improve work performance. 

As senior workplace consultant Emma Mitchell rightly points out, “Today’s workplace is more open than ever.” The lack of barriers in modern office design can lead to an employee's right to solitude being overlooked. 

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Not to mention that open floor plans are filled with noise and distractions, affecting employee concentration, anxiety and engagement with their work.

Add Private Enclaves to Your Office 

Enclaves are short-term retreat spaces that can give workers a change of pace and posture, which in turn can stimulate new ideas and generate more conversations in the office. 

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Change. It’s something that most people readily admit they don’t like. Yet ambitious managers and business owners are driven to look for “new and improved” ways to accomplish more with less.

This is one of the reasons so many businesses turned to open office layouts. They wanted to change the ideal feel of the modern office into something less “stuffy” and transform it into an open environment.

The hope was that employees could share ideas and brainstorm solutions without being incumbered by walls or feeling siloed.

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For many businesses, the reality of open offices turned out to be much less effective than they had planned. 

The setting facilitated noise and distraction that interfered with everyone’s ability to concentrate. In most office environments, employees work in smaller groups, not a large one.

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Nowadays, employers are recognizing that the traditional open-plan or “agile” office – seen as revolutionary 20 or so years ago – is not all it was first thought to be.

Still the favored office design up and down the country, it’s a familiar site when we tune in to news channels and see the frantic atmosphere of an open-plan newsroom. In fact a whole 70 percent of U.S. offices are open office layouts.

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While the initial concept behind the open plan was to inspire a sense of belonging and enable co-operation between workers, this hasn’t proven to be the case. Increasingly employers are finding that the design is hampering rather than boosting productivity, and employees are reporting on the drawbacks of this setup.

Of note is the absence of collaborative workspace furniture.

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Open offices — whereby employees are seated in an open floor setting with no barriers to separate them from their colleagues — have been extensively studied in the last decade. 

Because of their inherent openness, there is a seemingly intuitive logic that is continuing to damage employees’ ability to work and their long-term health. 

The assumption was that open offices were ideally suited to promote an active exchange of ideas. 

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What many companies don’t realize is that, because of this openness and lack of barriers, open offices don't offer privacy and hamper productivity. Filled with noises and distractions, they take away from employees the ability to concentrate on their tasks and do their work effectively. 

Research indicates that employees lose an average of 86 minutes a day due to distractions in the office, and they take 23 minutes on average to return to their tasks. 

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Workers in virtually all industries have experienced the pros and cons of open office layouts. This type of work environment surged in popularity over the last few decades, but businesses are realizing they need a change. 

Here’s a look at why open offices are so prevalent today, why workers struggle with them, and how you can fix issues like lack of confidentiality by using meeting pods. 

The Upside of Open Office Floor Plans 

Open office layouts sit at the nexus of business efficiency, modern design, and budgetary concerns. 

The absence of walls and formal offices means employees can collaborate more easily. Managers can see what employees are doing at all times. 

In industries like technology, where creativity is king, letting employees brainstorm freely leads to innovation and therefore financial success. Interior design got in on the act by capitalizing on this trend, eliminating conventional furnishings. 

Sofas replaced desks, and break spaces merged with workspaces so employees could gab about projects over coffee or pinball. 

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Over the past decade, open office layouts have been regarded by owners as excellent collaborative environments that foster transparency, creativity and innovation. 

They are considered a less stuffy alternative to the almighty cubicle — with fewer walls and doors separating employees, information flows more freely and cooperation abounds. 

At the same time, companies have also embraced the open office concept for a less utopian reason: affordability. 

Open layouts maximize existing space and minimize costs, both essential when you have dozens or even hundreds of employees to manage. 

The International Facility Management Association reports that over 70 percent of offices in the US use some sort of open office plan. 

Unfortunately, employees working in open offices aren’t embracing the trend. According to an article published in Fortune magazine, open office plans are, in fact, detrimental to productivity and employee well-being; furthermore, they increase the number of sick days employees take. 

In another study, nearly half of open-office workers surveyed were dissatisfied with sound privacy, and 40 percent disliked the lack of visual privacy. 

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It’s no secret that one of the biggest trends driving the huddle room revolution is the open office floor plan. As more businesses opt for fewer stand-alone offices and more shared workspaces, the need for employee privacy is becoming evident. 

Today, the conferencing trend has shifted towards the creation of multiple huddle rooms — in fact, some research predicts that huddle rooms will replace almost 70 percent of all conference rooms by 2022. 

In this article we’ll discuss what huddle rooms are and how they can benefit your company.

What Are Huddle Rooms? 

You’re no doubt aware of football players’ habit to huddle-up to plan their next moves and take down the competition. That's where the term "huddle room" comes from. 

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The ideal office promotes both privacy and communication. With today’s emphasis on workplace collaboration and teamwork, the open office concept can be alluring. But it needs the right open space furniture. 

Workstation design has evolved from the static cubicle to an assortment of movable and versatile furniture pieces. Employees can now organize meetings whenever they are needed, and can consult with coworkers who are just feet away.

This flexibility helps prevent the downside of the open office plan. Researchers have found that the constant accessibility can be distracting and tiring for employees. 

A Harvard University study of Fortune 500 companies found that the open office concept appeared to be backfiring. Face-to-face communication among employees had decreased by 73 percent and e-mail usage increased by 67 percent.

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An open office layout encourages flexibility and tends to be more affordable. 

However, the downsides to having an open layout can have a profound effect on your team's efficiency and mood. The distractions, noise, and lack of privacy, in particular, can easily take away from the overall performance of the office.

These findings have been supported by reliable statistics time and time again. A public opinion survey conducted by YouGov found privacy to be a higher priority among employees than many assumed. 

Their survey revealed that, if it meant having access to a private work area, 13% of respondents would give up their end-of-year bonuses, 17% would give up access to a window, and probably the most condemning statistic of all, 27% would give up access to the office coffee machine. 

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Many organizations have long held the belief that the open office space plays a key role in motivating employee collaboration, which in the process breeds new ideas and innovations.

For this reason, many workplaces have sacrificed employees’ privacy in a bid to boost productivity and lower operating costs. 

However, a recent Harvard study has put these claims to rest by proving that the open office design actually reduces employee collaboration, which in turn slows output. According to the study, face-to-face interactions between employees in an open office setting went down by about 70%.

The traditional workplace setting, where an employee slaves all day in a designated office workstation, is quickly giving way to more versatile and favorable arrangements. The modern employee wants flexibility and privacy above all else.

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As the style of the American workplace changes, portable meeting pods take on more significance. Two common buzzwords for modern office design are 'open office' and 'activity-based workspace  (ABW).'

The second trend can be used to maximize the effectiveness of the first. That's because an open office lacks the flexibility necessary to complete all the steps in single a project. This is where a small or medium size portable meeting pod comes into play.

Privacy is non-existent, concentration suffers and it's hard to avoid noise and distractions in a large open workplace.

 

Collaboration, transparency and ease of sharing are indeed easier without walls that divide people. An activity-based plan includes a variety of settings suited to the tasks that people need to complete. Besides desks and computers, employees need spaces to rest, relax, concentrate and collaborate. 

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Even though collaboration is a vital ingredient for productive brainstorming, quiet spaces are at a premium in today’s office. As productivity guru Barnaby Lashbrooke points out, “In sociable, bustling workspaces, the quiet corners are always in use.”

To boost productivity, modern office furniture ideas in 2020 and beyond should include both collaborative and peaceful work areas. Indeed, we concur with Lashbrooke’s view of the future.

Variety in office furnishings is a must for businesses that want to outpace their competitors.

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