Dams Articles



Office Design for Well-Being: ‘Prospect and Refuge’

September 2018

Theories about how we respond to our environment have influenced architectural design since the early 1950s and the work of a geographer-poet, Jay Appleton, has generally become accepted as being important enough to influence the way architects have designed our living spaces, both at home and at work.

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Well being

In his 1975 book, ‘The Experience of Landscape’, Appleton argued that most people have an “inborn desire” for environments that provide the capacity to observe (prospect) without being seen (refuge). He attributed this urge to early human development especially in the Savannah lands of Africa, where hunter-gatherers had a wide field of view across the grasslands as well as places to hide from danger.

It puts forward the idea that human aesthetic experience is based on perceptions that are evolved for survival – places with a clear view provide ‘prospect’ while safe places to hide provide ‘refuge’. Architects (who have taken this on board) design with our well-being in mind. Numerous studies have shown that psychological and emotional well-being is important in our day-to-day management of stress. It is now becoming a universal truth that this affects our performance both at home and at work.

Why do we need to have the right environment to work in?

The evidence that our environment affects our mental health and performance is irrefutable. Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND, has said, “Dilbert-type cubicles won’t cut it in the information economy. To maximise productivity and creativity, it’s crucial that staff have inspiring, flexible working environments. Everyone thinks of health and safety as a physical thing – we mustn’t forget health and safety for our minds.”

It is true to say that due to the way in which we now work, in a fast-paced, highly pressurised and constantly changing world, the need for a ‘refuge’ which still provides ‘prospect’ is increasingly important. With the new Hushhubs acoustic hubs in the Social Spaces portfolio, we’re not just about providing a product that is aesthetically pleasing or acoustically superior, we’re also about creating a space which helps to diminish stress.

The laminated, glazed panels of the acoustic hub provide the ‘prospect’, the view over the entire workspace, while the fabric covered acoustic panels inside provide the ‘refuge’, a place to work or meet in peace and quiet. Further ‘refuge’ can be created by the use of blinds or curtains if more privacy is required.

The Changing Nature of the Workplace

Biophilia – the relationship between humans and nature – is the new buzzword. Coined in the 1980s by Edward O. Wilson, it concerns the need that we have to be continually connected to nature. There are plenty of studies to back up this concept, but probably, even without the science behind it, most people would concur that connecting with the natural world around us is restorative and calming.

Natural light, natural colours and natural products all work together to create the optimum environment for productivity and creativity. Contact with nature and our response to it continues to exercise significant effects on people’s physical and mental health, performance and well-being. Natural products are also more tactile, more versatile, and when it comes to good acoustics, measurably more effective.

Acoustic Pods - The Next Generation

Hushhubs acoustic hubs meets all these requirements and more. They are designed with the biophilic idea of a return to the natural world as its basis: using high quality wood, glass, fabrics, laminates and paints to create a multi-purpose space where people can gather and communicate, teach and learn, think and concentrate. They highlight a return to basics, providing light, space and privacy.

Hushhubs are a range of timber framed acoustic meeting rooms or hubs, plus ancillary acoustic products, for use in open plan offices and other places which need private space within a larger area. The beauty of the Hushhub and the different hub sizes available is that they can be adapted and customised to fit your any office requirements, creating multiple working zones in one place. Improved acoustics in the workplace environment also leads to improved productivity and employee well-being.

Understanding Sound and Acoustics

Sound can affect our ability to concentrate and a noisy working environment can have an adverse effect on our ability to work effectively. While many people are aware of the problems created by poor acoustics, often there is confusion about what solutions are most effective at solving these problems. To understand how the solutions work, first you need to understand how sound travels.

Vibrations in the air (caused by vibrations of objects) travel to our ears, and the ear is specially tuned to receive these vibrations. Imagine dropping a stone into still water. What happens? Ripples spread out in ever-widening circles. When the ripples reach the side they are reflected back. Sound travels in the same way. When sound energy comes into contact with a surface, it is reflected back. The harder and denser the surface, the more sound is reflected back, so a room with a hard floor and walls creates more noise. When a surface is soft (and therefore more sound absorbent) some sound energy is lost.

How has this affected workplace design?

In the workplace environment, speech privacy is essential, but in many open plan offices, speech is often the loudest source of sound. Working in an office environment typically involves tasks which require concentration, communication, confidentiality, and collaboration. There is also a need for communal areas where employees can relax and chat.

The ability to create a mix of diverse workspaces means that an organisation can create balance for its workers, thereby optimising their potential productivity and output. It is increasingly important for employers to be able to create different zones for different types of work and each has a different acoustic requirement. From creating the perfect acoustic space for that impromptu phone call or a quiet study room, to inviting spaces to work, meet, dine and collaborate, Hushhubs tick all those boxes!

Furthermore, companies that invest in biophilic design in the workplace recognise the importance of health and well-being in attracting and maintaining the best employees. Hushhubs stand out from the crowd because they are inspired by the natural world around us. More than just an acoustic pod, Hushhubs take office design and noise reduction within offices to the next level. Acoustic office meeting rooms don’t get better any than this!

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Choosing the Right Boardroom Table

August 2018

The boardroom is an integral part of any office and it’s the room where it all happens. It’s the key place for strategic planning, where crucial business decisions are made and where important deals are struck. As such, the boardroom design needs to create the right impression for customers, employees, important business contacts, interviewees, and showcase the business in the best possible way.

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The Eternal boardroom table

The dominating focal point and centrepiece of any boardroom is the table. Boardroom tables provide attendees with the distinctive impression of quality, precision & strength that makes a bold, visual statement in any conference room. Selecting the right boardroom table can be a challenge and needs careful consideration, so in this article we’ve put together a few key points to ensure you choose the right boardroom table.

Consider your space

A basic selection criteria is the table size. The boardroom table should be large enough to accommodate the expected number of people who will use the room. Working out how much space you’ll need for the new boardroom table should be the top priority. A table which is too big or too small in relation to the size of the meeting room can contribute to a negative first impression, and hinder the practicality of the space.

You’ll need to consider how much space you have to work with, ensuring you leave enough room for chairs to be comfortably pushed away from the table, and so people can move around the table when joining and leaving a meeting. You should also remember that boardrooms need space for whiteboards, screens or projectors for presentations, allowing all users to be able to view the screen and sufficient circulation space around the presentation area – all without making the room appear too cluttered!

All shapes and sizes

If you have a large room then you may want to opt for a more impressive, larger boardroom table, but if you’re only using it for small team meetings or video conferencing, then you may want to look at other options for more appropriate use of the space. Some meeting room table designs are modular in nature and are equipped with folding mechanisms or interlocking pieces which allow different configurations in size and shape to meet varying needs.

The style of table for your boardroom says a lot about a company and how they do things. Different shaped tables can enhance the functionality of the boardroom space and equally impact the look and feel of the room. The shape of the table dictates seating placement which can set the mood and how people collaborate in a room, which in turn has an impact on the behaviour of employees.

Rectangular tables are a popular, classic choice for the boardroom. They convey hierarchy and power positions because those at the head of the table can see everyone and more easily assert their authority, visually creating a sense of order. Circular or oval shaped tables encourage collaboration, and not hierarchy. There is no obvious head position so nobody has more power than anyone else, which encourages participants to voice their opinion freely.

Reconfigurable tables offer the choice of conventional static boardroom tables or table groups using free-standing tables that can be reconfigured or moved as required. These highly adaptable meeting tables can also be used in a U-shape which is ideal for presentations, video conferencing and training where the presenter can maintain face-to-face contact with a large group of people, easily move around and hand out materials to both sides.

A modern high-tech boardroom

Apart from suitable furniture with ergonomic chairs and a central meeting table, a conference room should also be tech-friendly. Using the latest technology with power and data units, boardrooms can be transformed into interactive and inspiring workspaces, where employees can take their laptops, tablets and phones with them and reap the benefits of a more connected, advanced working environment.

Furniture and equipment that allows quick set-up and connections is a high priority so people can pick up where they left off in another working area, so manufacturers such as Dams are now offering adaptable, flexible furniture for boardrooms and meeting areas with integrated power units. Cable management trays can also be attached under a table, or run vertically alongside it to prevent possible accidents.

Dams boardroom tables

In response to these more active meetings, Dams Furniture have created a wealth of highly functional conference tables that empower employees to enjoy more flexibility in how they meet. Boardroom tables come complete with a selection of table top shapes, sizes and leg styles to meet a spectrum of planning possibilities, providing a great platform for all styles of meetings, from boardroom brainstorms, to team get-togethers and high level board meetings.

Beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing, the Adapt and Fuze boardroom tables comprise a sturdy steel subframe and table tops which take on a floating appearance. Arrow Head and Trumpet Base tables are simply designed to ensure core functionality, with clean cut lines and balanced proportions to raise the standard in executive workspaces, whether the need calls for impromptu meetings or creative collaboration.

New for August 2018 is Eternal - a sophisticated boardroom table collection with robust customisable options for all your meeting room needs. Many sizes, shapes, and details let you tailor the look for formal or casual settings, with stylish flat circular bases and cylindrical columns, tops available in five finishes, and integrated power options which makes Eternal a practical choice for supporting technology.

What else to keep in mind

Selecting the right meeting chairs for your boardroom is just as important as the table. Avoid the easy mistake of matching the boardroom table with ill-fitting, disproportionate chairs that are impractical and look out of place. Comfortable seating can be used for longer negotiations or presentations but if you would like to keep meetings short then having more rigid seating can keep people from getting too cosy.

Boardrooms should be clutter-free and tidy at all times to aid concentration for all parties involved in meetings. An effective boardroom will provide a cohesive design that expresses what you want your business to represent. From internal meetings to long and difficult negotiations, you want to ensure that your boardroom leaves the right impression on attendees. You may not think that a table’s shape and size can have so much impact, but as highlighted in this article, the table can indeed completely change a group’s dynamics.

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Making the workspace more inspiring

June 2018

The majority of people know what they don’t want to see at work - lackluster, uniform spaces where ideas go to die! Employees are seeking spaces that evoke a sense of belonging and personal connection, where they are inspired to come into work each day with bespoke furniture solutions and progressive office layouts which help them to do their best work.

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Crew inspiring office environment

In fact, a recent study of global office workers found that although 77% of people have their own assigned workstations, the vast majority of employees (87%) spend between 2-4 hours every day working elsewhere. People want access to a range of settings that support different needs throughout the day — collaborative meeting spaces, private places where they can concentrate and focus, or just an escape from working in the same place during their day, whether they’re alone or with others.

Younger and older generations are both in agreement. Everyone likes informal spaces in the modern office environment and uses them regularly, but for different reasons. Informal breakout spaces tend to be used by millennials as a place for privacy where they can plug in their laptop or tablet to do focused work, while older generations use these spaces for collaboration and socialising.

The cost of office distractions

Every 3 minutes —that’s how often it is estimated that we are distracted at work. People are bombarded with distractions – phone calls, emails, social media notifications, noisy co-workers to name a few. Recent research from the University of California has found that once somebody’s attention has been breached, it can take as long as 23 minutes for the mind to return to what it was focused on.

The rise in popularity of the open plan office has contributed to these constant work disruptions and people are becoming so accustomed to these interruptions that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Gallup’s State of the Workplace study found that disengaged workers cost the UK economy between £45-63 billion every year!

What can also happen in the open plan environment is that workers may feel the need to be painstakingly quite if nobody else is making noise. This can be a distraction in itself and this ‘library effect’ negates all of the benefits of the open plan office which is designed to encourage collaboration and teamwork with accessibility to other working groups.

There is no single type of optimal work setting to suit all employees. Instead, it’s about balance. Achieving the right balance between working together and working in private is critical for any successful business. Companies that don’t provide workers with the types of spaces they need to manage the demands and intensity of work will find that this can have a negative impact on employee wellbeing.

Finding the right balance

With people working longer hours and getting pulled in so many different directions, it’s imperative that employers find the right balance to reap the benefits of highly engaged and highly satisfied workforce, whilst at the same time protecting people’s wellbeing and helping them feel at home in the workplace. Nearly 50% of workers report that they’ve missed time at work because of job related stress and 61% say they’ve become physically ill, which is having an impact on engagement, turnover and job performance.

People in leadership roles contend with tremendous stress in their high intensity jobs which takes a high toll mentally and physically. They’re required to manage and consume large amounts of information, man-manage their teams and make critical business decisions, quickly re-setting their minds for each new circumstance. And it’s not just managers – everyone is experiencing greater intensity in different aspects of their work.

As a leading office furniture manufacturer, Dams are constantly developing new concepts and products, incorporating intelligent design and innovative thinking to create distinctive, high-performance furniture solutions to transform the workplace so people can be healthier and happier as their work intensifies.

This is why Dams have developed the Crew table and bench solution which allows employees to quickly shift between different tasks – to gather, dine and work – all in a compact footprint that works in any breakout space, meeting room, dining area or open plan office environment.

For collaboration, work, or break times

Available in a number of sizes, shapes and wood finishes, the Crew table and bench combination provides the perfect answer for a less corporate modern office and promotes a more social aspect to the working day. The solid wood frames can be stained black, white or oak, with table tops available in a choice of laminate colour finishes for a personalised touch in any workplace. Colour has a major impact on people’s emotions and how they act, so it can certainly be used to deliver an inspiring office.

Add the stylish finishing touches to any office, canteen, meeting room or breakout area with the fabulously chic Crew chair, stool and bench. This universal and timeless upholstered seating range features an integrated seat pad for added comfort and is set on slanted solid wood legs to deliver a combination of form, function, comfort, detail and aesthetics. Coordinate the look with the matching Crew table or have a bit of fun and mix it up a little.

With its simplicity of form, combined with modern connectivity points, Crew tables provide a more modern, intelligent approach to table solutions that provide teams with the tools they need to work together without disconnecting them from their environment, while at the same time having a space for those impromptu, informal meetings, and a place for dining and socialising.

Create a better experience

The working day is becoming less predictable and the demands for more creative furniture solutions have increased. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that businesses which offer more casual, inspiring, and more inviting workspaces, both to employees and to any visitors, are perceived as being significantly more progressive than those businesses who don’t.

We’re all spending more time connecting, collaborating and socialising with others, but we also desperately need some time alone. Companies that invest in furniture solutions to make the workspace more inviting and implement this balance will increase employee wellbeing and encourage individuals to work and interact in a manner best suited for their tasks and moods – even taking into account our short attention spans!

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Versatile Chairs for a Versatile Office

March 2018

Office work is rapidly changing as new developments in computer technology come along which can make our jobs easier, but which also can present new problems for both management and employees. We have all heard about how sitting for long periods of time on a regular basis is not good for you, and the sedentary lifestyles of many of today’s workers are posing serious health challenges and costs to people and businesses across the country.

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Reed chairs

Working in an office typically involves spending a great deal of time sitting in an office chair which is a position that adds stress to the structures in the spine. Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and the cause of many employee sick days. If office workers are distracted by poor design in their seating options, then they’re not getting what they need from their office furniture and could be developing or compounding back problems.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, office furniture manufacturers, such as Dams, are meeting these challenges head on with a proactive approach. With time at your desk working on computers, meetings, and those pull-up-a-chair collaborations, office seating needs to be as flexible and comfortable as possible. It's important to have an office chair that's ergonomic, supports the lower back and promotes good posture.

The science of office ergonomics

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OHSA) defines ergonomics as ‘the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.’ While ergonomic improvements to the working environment are primarily used to create a safer and healthier office, a business that recognises the importance of office ergonomics can experience other benefits such as increased motivation and productivity, and a reduction in absenteeism and staff turnover.

For any office worker that spends a significant part of their day at their desk, comfort is essential. And from an office furniture perspective, the largest individual factor here is the office chair. Below we will discuss chair ergonomics, why seating is so important, and other factors that should be considered when selecting chairs for the office or workplace.

Why workplace seating is important

The most important thing to remember when selecting an office chair is that people come in all shapes and sizes, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ office chair that will suit everybody. An employee who is cramped, or who is in pain due to a poorly designed chair is not an employee who will enjoy their work and perform to the best of their abilities. A good office chair will allow the user to adjust the chair to fit their body, their desk, and their activities.

The most productive employees are those who feel at home in the workplace. These employees are free to focus on the tasks at hand, rather than some small part of their mind remaining occupied on basic comfort considerations. If people don’t move around a lot throughout the course of the working day, they will require an office chair which is well matched to their body.

An ill-fitting chair will quickly cause pain. Employees should be able to adjust the seat so when their feet are firmly on the floor their legs are bent to 90 degrees, which assists the pressure applied to the lower back. The user’s arms should also be bent to 90 degrees whilst their hands are flat on the desk, assisting the upper back and shoulders which will prevent slouching and bad posture.

Comfort, posture and versatility

Adjustability and versatility are vital in modern office chairs. Many chairs now also allow for side-to-side movement, which helps users from twisting into unnatural positions to grab something that is just out of reach. But what Dams have done with their new office chair offerings is combine all these features with proper support and comfort considerations, whilst at the same time creating task and operator chairs that are durable enough to last for years.

At Dams, we understand that people are an essential part of every business process and critical to delivering quality products and services. Employees don’t just perform just one task in an average working day, so why should their office chairs? The new Jovi and Reed chairs from Dams offer users the movement and positioning capabilities that enable them to sit comfortably, combining the right ergonomic design with exceptional customised support.

Jovi is a next generation office chair with a free floating back that provides the exact amount of back support customised for each individual user and with no manual controls to adjust. The Jovi operators chair has a sleek design, multiple features and allows the user to enjoy the modern design without compromising on good ergonomic support.

The visually stunning Reed chair provides new levels of comfort and support that suits the ergonomic needs of each individual user. The foundation of the Reed chair is the stylish frame available in black or white with matching lumbar lines and a free-floating mesh back with an effortless recline which makes it a smart choice for any corporate environment.

The right office chair

Choosing an office chair isn’t just about finding something that’s going to be comfortable when you sit on it. It’s about your body posture, your blood circulation and most importantly keeping you and your body healthy. Desk jobs can make it difficult to find the right balance at work, so having a chair that appropriately supports you when you are sitting can make a huge difference and is paramount to productivity and overall satisfaction in the workplace.

Well-designed office layouts do more for a business than visual beauty alone, and the variety of chairs and their functions go a long way toward fulfilling all the needs of the workforce. By providing functional, comfortable, and visually pleasing options for employees to use throughout the working day, you’re enabling them to enjoy the space while doing the best job they can for the business. And in that way, everybody wins.

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Become more active at work

February 2018

Are you sitting comfortably? You might not be by the time you finish reading this, because spending too much time perched on your posterior could be seriously damaging your health. We are sitting way too much in our offices with desk jobs and medical experts are now declaring that ‘sitting is the new smoking’.

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Elev82 desks

Do you know that after one hour of sitting, our fat-burning enzymes slow down by 90%? Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese. Inactivity also increases the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, some types of cancer, and even early death. The World Health Organisation has already identified physical inactivity as the fourth biggest killer for adults on the planet, ahead of obesity.

On average office workers spend 40 hours a week at work, with the majority of that time spent working at a desk. In fact, the average office worker spends over 5 and half hours every single day sitting down at work. It now costs the UK economy more than £1billion every year in sick days due to back, neck and muscle problems and that figure is still rising.

To reduce our risk of ill health from inactivity, we are advised to exercise regularly. The World Health Organisation recommends an adult should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 30 minutes on at least 5 days. That is enough to gain the main benefits of regular exercise. However, it won’t protect you from the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle if you spend too much time sitting.

So in order to be more proactive and productive at work, there are some simple steps that office workers and employers can follow to combat inactivity and achieve good health. In this article we will discuss a few ‘quick wins’ to get people moving and become more active throughout the working day - with little or no extra effort.

Get moving

Let’s start before the working day has begun. If people can cycle or even walk to work then this is a great way to start the day getting fit and adding more activity to your day. Of course not everyone lives close to their workplace so this isn’t always possible. But when you arrive at the office building, ignore the lift and head for the stairs – no matter how much the lift tempts you. Taking the stairs will raise energy levels, lower body fat and build muscle tone.

When at work, use every opportunity you have to get up from the desk and walk around. Workers who take a 5 minute stroll every hour exhibit increased energy levels, an elevated mood, less fatigue, and fewer food cravings. If you have something to discuss with a colleague in a different office, why not get up from your desk to chat with them face to face instead of using the phone or email. This will also give you the additional benefit of social interaction.

We all have mobile phones now, so when we receive a call at work it would be advantageous to get out of the office chair, away from the desk and take a quick stroll around the office instead. This will help you cut down your laziness at work and your body will be thankful to you.

The right ergonomic chair

When people need to sit down and work, it’s vital that employees have a chair that can easily adapt to suit their physical requirements. This will help people to be more comfortable when sitting at their desks, so they can focus more easily on their work which is essential for creating a productive working environment. Employees who aren’t comfortable are more likely to move around a lot in their chair and attention will be focused on their discomfort, rather than on their work.

Furniture designers are creating ever more comfortable, ergonomic chairs, which provide excellent lower back support, and can be adjusted so that each individual can maintain correct posture while sitting down. However, one of the side-effects of having a very comfortable chair is that you can easily spend many hours sitting in them, without feeling any of the discomfort that prompts you to move.

The rise of the sit-stand desks

Many employers are now providing workers with height adjustable desks, allowing workers to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Having the option to stand, as well as sit during the work day has been proven not only to benefit the health of the user but also of the business, dramatically improving health, well-being and energy levels of employees.

The next generation of Elev8² sit-stand desks from Dams are available as single desks, back-to-back desks and as a bench desk system, to upgrade and cater for all types of office layouts. Elev8² sit-stand desks are now available in twin motor (Elev8² Touch) and single motor (Elev8² Mono) variants, providing affordable features and durable design to transform the workplace with healthy flexibility and mass appeal.

The Elev8² desking range provides the ideal solution to address the issue of employees who have a sedentary desk job who do not spend enough time standing during the working day. In addition to the numerous health benefits provided by periodic standing, studies show that height adjustable desks promote creativity, team interaction, collaboration, and the willingness to share ideas.

A new optional extra for the Elev8² Touch desks is a digital control box which lets the user position their desktop exactly where they want it, allowing them to raise or lower their desks to saved, personal preferences depending on the style of work being undertaken. The sophisticated track and guidance system allows for four different height settings to be stored, delivering easy-to-use adjustability with a clean design and consistent profile.

The impact on health and productivity

These nudges toward additional movement may sound trivial, but they can have a huge impact on health and productivity. Employers can't force their workers to exercise and become more active, but by subtly integrating more physical activity into the working day and ensuring people move around more can provide a hefty boost to the health and productivity of employees.

Put simply, a healthier workforce is a happier, more motivated and more productive workforce. Many people would like to make their health a priority and businesses can help take care of that goal for them by adopting the principles of active, smart office design. With a few changes to the office setup, employers will be introducing a general sense of wellbeing within the office environment and helping to boost employee productivity levels.

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How office design can increase productivity

January 2018

Life for employees around the office is evolving faster than ever before. The modern workplace is a dynamic space, and one which has experienced great change over recent years. It’s no longer somewhere people have to go, clock in, do a job, and then clock out. Nowadays, companies are asking their employees to constantly innovate, be creative, embrace modern technology and drive change.

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Fuze desks

We spend around a third of our time at work, but work can become massively overwhelming for some people from time to time, especially if we are expected to work in a dull, uninspiring office. Engaging, stimulating surroundings can help encourage employees to work smarter and produce more creative ideas than those stuck in a boring, old office space. This might sound perfectly reasonable to you, but despite this a whopping 87% of employees are still not feeling engaged at work, according to a recent study by Gallup.

Research also shows that a well-designed office can increase a worker’s productivity by up to 20%. Office furnishings and layout can play an important part in boosting productivity, as well as potential, so is it time to switch up your office design?

Here we have put together some top tips to do just that:

Create an area that inspires

Even the smallest changes can positively impact the way we handle work. Using vibrant colour is a simple way to enhance the mood and allow employees to stay fresh all day. The introduction of colour can inject life into the workplace and impact greatly on the psychology of the office, so freshening up the office with colour is a good way to alleviate stress, as well as increase productivity.

Bring nature into the mix. Plants are another unique way to add inspiration to your office space and relieve stress. Pot plants also provide oxygen which makes it easier to breathe so are well worth the inconvenience of looking after them. Bad or dark lighting can lead to eyestrain, fatigue and even headaches so natural light is also important to help employees feel brighter, more refreshed and less lethargic.

People work in many different ways but it has been proven that keeping the workspace clean and tidy can significantly improve productivity. A disorganised office is going to deprive workers of the enthusiasm and zeal to properly work, and the most important component of the office interior is the office furniture. With the inclusion of great furniture, you'll have the ability to take your productivity to an entirely new level.

Boring furniture can make you lazy

All too often, companies underestimate the importance of office furniture and select ordinary, uncomfortable and unimaginative furnishings. Individuals can often lose interest in work when surrounded by boring furniture which not only affects productivity to a large extent, but can also make people irritated and lose focus due to the mountain of work on their desks.

The fundamental aspect of contemporary office furniture is to expertly combine comfort with functionality. Selecting the right office furniture, which reflects a company’s brand values and embraces smart working practices, can only contribute to a more effective and efficient workplace, increasing employee wellbeing, productivity and positive change. And it’s no secret that contemporary office furniture looks absolutely stunning!

A range of office furniture which falls into the ‘absolutely stunning’ category is the stylish, new Fuze bench desking range from Dams. Fuze desks are the perfect answer for a less corporate modern office, blending the best of European design with the highest workmanship standards to span a wide range of applications and support the most creative of workspaces.

Increasingly, businesses are moving away from dedicated single employee workspaces, towards more flexible working environments, and bench desk systems are the ideal solution for high density open plan workplaces. The sleek, curved lines of the solid oak legs, together with co-ordinated desktop finish options give Fuze a contemporary look and deliver a combination of form, function and sophistication in any office environment.

Fuze is also available as a range of stylish modular meeting tables so it is perfect for matching boardroom tables with desking for the totally coordinated look. The Fuze office furniture collection has been designed to present your company in the best possible way, making a bold visual statement in any office landscape and offering everything employees need to be inspired and productive.

Well-designed office layouts do more for a business than visual beauty alone, and the variety of office chairs and their functions can also go a long way towards fulfilling the needs of employees. Providing functional, comfortable and stylish seating in the office is not only good for the health and wellbeing of employees, but it will also allow them to enjoy the space while doing the best job they can for the business.

Build an inspiring and successful business

The idea of people sitting in a drab office for 20-30 years, content with a regular wage and a good retirement package is a rapidly disappearing concept. Millennials, people in their 20’s and 30’s, will soon become the largest generation in the workplace and they are more likely to job-hop, searching for the perfect working environment. So providing the best environment in which to work will go a long way in ensuring greater employee satisfaction and retaining this creative talent.

Even if a business isn’t considered to be creative, don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need creative people. Creativity isn’t just about blue sky thinking, having advanced design skills or being an entrepreneur. Creativity can be somebody who is an independent thinker who is capable of solving problems and developing ideas and concepts to suit any business objectives. Businesses can offer employees the tools to help them accomplish these objectives, but if the office’s furnishings and layout don’t help to inspire creativity and collaboration, the business could be as stuck in the past as the furniture.

An engaged workforce is one of the keys to success, and every piece of furniture is going to play an important part in boosting the productivity of employees, as well as maximising their potential. Implementing some of these ideas can create an office space that people are excited to work in each day, inspiring creativity and a deeper level of engagement, and businesses will enjoy the benefits of a creatively enthused workforce.

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The Need for Personal Space

December 2017

The modern office serves significantly more people per square feet than ever before. With the current trend of open plan offices, the walls have come down and the barriers to communication have been dispensed with. The amount of personal space allocated to each employee has fallen in the last few years and while there some people who thrive in this atmosphere of openness, there are others that grumble about the increased noise and the loss of private space.

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Personal space

The working environment has also evolved as new technology has changed working habits for the better. It is not just personal offices that are fast disappearing, but personal desks are also becoming a thing of the past as many businesses are now more flexible with intelligent office layouts and multiple workers using a single physical desk space during different office hours.

This means that companies can create different work zones within the open plan office for greater collaboration between teams. But what about when employees need a quiet space to concentrate on individual tasks or take an important phone call?

Find your own space

In any open plan office there are times when you need to find your own space. According to a recent worldwide IPSOS survey of over 10,000 office workers, 95% of people questioned said working privately was important to them, but only 41% said they were able to do so, and 31% had to leave the office regularly to complete their work. This confirms that insufficient privacy and personal space is a big issue in the modern office.

Of course there are a number of factors which can influence the size of personal space, including the quality of the relationship between co-workers, desk types and office layouts. When workstations are small and close together in desk clusters or bench desks, some people can feel uncomfortable which doesn’t exactly encourage motivation and productivity.

Collaborative working environments based on throwing everybody together are not always conducive for particular tasks, but favour certain types of workers more than others. Some employees thrive on the energy of the open office and the close proximity of colleagues, whereas more introverted people tend to be the ones that will suffer. More and more companies are now becoming more conscious of the needs of different employees and are searching for a professional solution to the issue of too little private space in open plan offices.

The best of both worlds

The challenge that businesses face is working out how to facilitate both the space needed to collaborate and the privacy needed to concentrate. But what about when both are needed at the same time?

Sometimes a team of colleagues working together need their individual space, so flexible offices need a certain amount of room free to create zones prioritising different kinds of work. Desks are important, but so are more casual seating areas where small groups can collaborate, as well as more private work areas in a busy and hectic office where people can get some peace and quiet to finish their work or go to make some phone calls.

This office setup means that employees can focus on their individual work when required, but it’s easier to turn to their colleagues when the need arises. It’s the perfect working environment for maximising the true potential of employees with areas for teams to work individually, spend time away from the madness of the desk, without neglecting the need to collaborate and communicate with the team when it is necessary to do so.

Private working booths

Highly relevant in today's modern open plan offices, Soli Workspaces from Dams are designed for those moments where personal space is required to focus on tasks with minimal noise and distraction. The solo booths are a great place for individuals to seek refuge away the busy, hectic office environment by creating a compact, secluded working area which is sometimes needed for a period of intensive work or concentration to finish off the job in hand.

Soli’s booth design creates an area of personal space within a larger space. The high-sided booths create a secluded space with enclosed acoustic and visual privacy to block out external distractions. With integrated power modules and USB charging points, Soli Workspaces allow users to plug in various devices and work for as long as they need. The modular design can also be easily extended with numerous configurations to suit any office layout.

Soli Squares are square working booths which allow individuals to concentrate and complete focussed tasks in privacy. Soli Triangles can be configured to specific needs and support individual work zones with a rich repertoire of geometric zigzag shapes that can be positioned to suit defined spaces. And Soli Hubs bring a new level of flexibility to the office with versatile, individual cubicles to suit all working styles.

Soli’s unique connection joints allow for multiple workstations and copious arrangements, using shared components which saves space and costs compared to stand alone units. Desktops can be positioned to suit different working styles with adjustable worktop height options for desk high or poseur table levels. Screens are 36mm thick and can be finished in a wide variety of acoustic fabric colour options to suit any office design, making Soli Workspaces the perfect retreat offering visual privacy in open plan office environments.

Don’t underestimate the importance of work privacy

Most companies now believe that collaboration is the key to progression and performance. However too much interaction and not enough privacy has become a real concern for employees who need to concentrate or just take a break. The layout of any office is an important, although often overlooked, factor that affects the way employees perform their jobs.

Before an office redesign, we always recommend spending the right amount of time to think about the types of tasks employees perform in the space. A good open plan office design is not only functional, but also provides comfortable and practical work areas for people. If employees perform the type of work that requires intense concentration or privacy, adding booths or Soli Workspaces could be an inspired option.

This understanding starts from the basic premise that while there may be a good business argument for the open plan office and an admission that some privacy must be sacrificed in the interests of collaboration, the need for personal space and privacy cannot be completely neglected. The challenge is to make informed decisions based on the needs of employees and business requirements, so companies can now start to get the balance right.

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Absorbing unwanted noise with acoustic furniture

August 2017

It’s well documented that open plan offices now make up a large percentage of offices layouts, however a lack of walls and barriers in these spaces has invariably led to an increase in noise levels. There has been considerable research conducted regarding the best way to control sound and disturbances in the workplace and in particular, how this influences employee wellbeing and satisfaction. These studies have shown measured physical symptoms of stress and quantifiable loss of productivity when people are exposed to an uncomfortable acoustic working environment.

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Acoustics

Previously when it came to solving sound problems and improving the working environment, the focus for businesses has been on trying to lower noise levels, however it was soon discovered that this alone was ineffective, reducing collaboration between employees and in many cases making the situation worse.

Acoustic furniture is now key to controlling acoustic levels within businesses & especially open plan spaces. Acoustics are essential in making surroundings enjoyable by minimising noise, controlling reverberations and general improving the quality of the acoustic environment in office, education and commercial interiors.

The technical bit!

Before discussing the different types of acoustic furniture that is available, let’s first understand the technicalities of noise and how sounds can travel in open spaces. Any conversation taking place in an area produces sound waves, and these sound waves spread out towards walls, ceilings, floors or any other items in the space. All materials have some sound absorbing qualities, but in spaces where all surfaces are hard and reflective, sound waves bounce around and reverberate, taking longer to dissipate.

Softer materials will absorb some of these soundwaves, preventing the transmission of sound from one space to another and this is sometimes referred to as 'Sound Attenuation'. Acoustic furniture and panels have a high sound attenuation and are solutions for the control of reverberation, reduction of speech level, and can even be used as a method of introducing ‘good’ sound into a space to reduce distractions.

The sound reduction of acoustic furniture depends on the thickness and density of the panels, protecting against the transmission of sound waves. The thicker the panel is, the lower the sound transmitted through it and the better the sound reduction ability. In buildings, the sound absorbing characteristic of a material is rated as the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) and this is measured at voice frequency.

Acoustic screens

Floor standing screens have been around for many years now and are generally regarded as a simple and cost effective method of separating parts of the office into teams and groups or creating semi-private workspaces. For even more privacy, the next generation of acoustic screens can help to create an ‘office within an office’ and be used as handy dividers for private meetings or quiet work.

Piano Screens, manufactured in the UK by Dams, are a simple way of creating quiet zones in open plan offices for different activities with excellent sound absorption. The folding screens panels are finished in high quality acoustic fabrics available in various colours. They are joined together with zips which allows for an unlimited number of screen additions, with designer feet to be placed at either end of the screen run for stability.

Wall panels

Walls are an ideal surface on which to apply acoustic products. Acoustic wall panels are designed to offer functionality as well as aesthetics, providing a sound buffer that looks good and enhances the interior. The unique and high tech innovative design of the acoustic wall tiles makes them ideal for designers with creative flair, whilst at the same time resolving any number of acoustic issues in any type of room, especially where ceiling space cannot be utilised.

Piano Wall Tiles are modular, acoustic panels and are the decorative solution to sound control needs in any office, education or retail environment. Available in square, triangular and rectangular shapes in a choice of colours and thicknesses, Piano tiles for walls can turn an empty wall space into a creative work of art which not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also provides excellent acoustic performance.

Suspended ceiling acoustics

Ceiling tiles with balanced acoustics provide the necessary combination of sound absorption and attenuation to control noise in interior environments, offering complete noise control and design flexibility for every space. These acoustic features provide open plan offices, call centres or breakout spaces with multiple levels of acoustic absorption, pertinent to the task at hand in each area. They can be positioned above the noisiest areas to help dissipate and absorb the sound, whilst providing a colourful and modern addition to the working environment.

Piano ceiling tiles can be suspended from the ceiling and hung at various heights to offer multiple levels of more focussed acoustic control, creating a unique feature that enhances spaces visually and acoustically with an unobtrusive addition to the working area. Good acoustics are also an essential element of productivity and creativity in workplaces with suspended ceilings and Dams also offer ceiling tiles which fit directly into 595mm x 595mm standard ceiling grid systems to dissipate sound.

The importance of good acoustics

The way we perceive sound depends on the physical nature of our surroundings and the acoustics are an aspect of interior design that often is neglected. Without acoustic furniture and panels, the lack of barriers between workers can lead to high noise levels and poor speech privacy which results in disgruntled employees. Acoustics are an essential element in making our surroundings enjoyable and minimising noise in the interior environment.

The best acoustic design approach is to create a good balance between the performances of the floor, the walls and the ceiling. Choosing the correct acoustic solution requires expertise however; it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’ and it’s important to consider each environment with appropriate acoustics to their function. Companies need to understand that all offices, educational settings and commercial interiors are different and require unique solutions to provide the optimum level of noise reduction.

The different working styles of individuals must also be taken into account, as well as the tasks they are carrying out. The Dams Piano Acoustics range of screens, wall tiles, ceiling tiles, suspended panels and patterned dividers are a modern, decorative addition to enrich any space, designed with functionality in mind to reduce reverberated noise and minimise factors which drive employees to distraction.

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Modern Technology and Workplace Design

July 2017

Today the world is fast-paced and ever-changing, and the modern office is now a home to some of the most advanced technology you’ll see anywhere. Go back 10 years and the iPad didn’t even exist; 20 years ago, mobile phones were in briefcases executives had to keep in their cars, but now offices are smarter, more flexible and, ultimately, more user-friendly than ever before.

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Breakout area

In any company that embraces new technology and innovation you’re likely to see items such as laptops, MacBooks or tablets, smartphones, wireless keyboards and mice, flat screen dual monitor setups, to name a few. And it doesn’t stop there, with wireless technology and digital working, furniture companies are working overtime, constantly developing new products to make sure they are ahead of the curve.

Yes, technology is here to stay — and in addition to being a kind of design trend on its own, it’s also heavily influencing the areas in which we perform our work duties. In this article we have put together some examples of trending technology in the world of office furniture:

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and the development of gadgets such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive allow people to step into a virtual view to truly envisage the full space and show how a finished office furniture project will look. Renders and floor plans provide an idea of how the space will look, but they are often difficult to fully visualise and truly appreciate the finished plan. Virtual reality walk-through floor plans provide a more realistic all-round viewpoint.

At Dams we are embracing this new technology and using it as a tool for customers to visualise their new space before construction begins – whether it be an office refurbishment or student accommodation project. The natural next step will be augmented reality, which superimposes a computer-generated image over a view of the real world to show how a product or design will look in an existing workspace.

Tele-Conferencing

Every business is likely to have conference rooms or a boardroom available for corporate meetings and staff briefings. Apart from suitable furniture with ergonomic chairs and a central table, a conference room should also be tech-friendly. Using the latest technology, meeting rooms can be transformed into interactive and inspiring workspaces using conferencing software like Skype and GoToMeeting on a regular basis, while employees can keep the software handy on their laptops for smaller interactions.

People are having meetings anywhere and everywhere now, and they often take technology with them when they go. Imagine having a conference call in a room that incorporates table top tablets, tech-charging furniture pieces or interactive touch screens to create a more efficient and productive workplace. These are just a few ideas that can turn a simple meeting room design into a technologically advanced working environment perfect for doing business.

Smart Furniture

It's no secret that technology is changing the way we work, but it's also changing the furniture we use in the office every day. Whether it’s a bench desk set-up that encourages interaction across a multitude of devices, or modular seating and meeting pods with access to charging ports, manufacturers are designing adaptable, smart furniture to help create workspaces with flexibility built in and where new technologies can be integrated with ease.

Employees expect the same mobile and seamless connectivity at work as they have in their everyday lives. Furniture and equipment that allows quick set-up and connections is a high priority so people can pick up where they left off in another working area, whether that’s in the same office or a different location. We'll also see a growing number of multi-use furniture solutions that offer connections to shared displays which enable people to collaborate on projects in real-time, helping to improve workplace productivity.

Wireless charging will become even more popular now due to Apple unveiling their new smartphone line up in September, all of which support wireless charging. In the second edition of the Social Spaces portfolio, Dams are now offering the option to have furniture with integrated wireless charging built in for situations where employees struggle to access power to charge their devices. And we can definitely expect to see more furniture with integrated wireless charging from Dams.

Height-adjustable furniture has been around for a few years now, but the next generation of Dams best-selling Elev8 sit stand desks will allow employees to set preferences for sitting and standing and move comfortably between the two throughout the day. When used in combination with apps and wearables that remind people when it is time to change postures, users can adjust the Elev8 desk height with the touch of a button, achieving activity goals and helping to create a healthier and more productive working environment.

Data-Driven Workplace Design

Wearable devices and big data have made it possible for companies to know how employees work and interact, and this is already being used to influence workplace design. Sensors fitted to work surfaces, furniture and light fittings within an office space can monitor employee movements and in turn control the lighting and heating to make workspaces operate more efficiently.

This information on occupancy and space utilisation of workers can also allow a business to understand how the workplace is used. These new technologies mean data can be used to create an office design that encourages work methods and collaboration in the most positive way specifically for the company, but it also raises questions about employee privacy and what happens to the data being collected.

Technology to Improve Workplace Productivity

In conclusion, all these products and solutions have earned our technological nod of approval. But it’s not just about splashing out on the latest kit all the time, the main focus for businesses has got to be which products will improve performance and increase productivity. The growth of wearables and the development of tablets as useful tools will be embraced as future workplace solutions, and using data to influence design will also help to future-proof the office layout.

However it is the influence of technology on furniture designs which have seen some of the biggest and exciting advancements in recent times. Productivity and employee engagement are paramount to a company’s success, and by taking these products into consideration when designing an office space, any business and their employees will reap the benefits of these technology trends and become a more connected, personalised workplace.

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The millennials influence on the modern office

June 2017

As more baby boomers retire, millennials, those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, will soon become the largest generation in the workplace and they’re coming in hot with new ideas and high expectations of an office environment.

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Breakout area

We all know the very idea of work is undergoing some fundamental changes right now and this has been further driven by this generation’s experience of higher education and an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. Considering this, it's no wonder that millennial’s priorities are influencing the modern workplace. This not only applies to daily operations and company culture, but also how an office layout is designed in the first place.

Millennials want to feel deeply invested in their work, more so than their generational counterparts. This tech-savvy generation of workers is bound to influence more innovation and change in the working environment and here are five workplace trends inspired by millennials:

Open plan offices

Many of the millennial-inspired trends in office space have their roots in the open office. Long gone are the days of separate offices for each department as employers are now enjoying the benefits of adopting a culture where people can work closely and collaborate with others. However recent studies have also concluded that workers in an open plan office wish they had more privacy, are less focused and experience higher levels of stress.

Because of this, most businesses with open offices are now setting aside private areas where employees can have more quiet time. An office needs a variety of spaces for people to perform a multitude of tasks, even if they aren’t permanently assigned rooms. And each area needs to be designed to promote its specified use, from acoustics to the layout of the furniture.

Furniture for Social Spaces

Designers and manufacturers are developing greater flexibility and adaptability in their office furniture, with a push towards ergonomically sensible and aesthetically attractive office design with furniture suitable for a variety of spaces.

Modular bench desks are becoming increasing popular, allowing businesses to create spaces that are flexible and can be reconfigured depending on their use at any given time. Furniture for breakout areas incorporating power units, such as Dams Social Spaces range, create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk, meet and collaborate or bring their laptop with them to work away from the distractions of phones and colleagues.

The popularity of sit-stand desks, such as Dams Elev8 range, has grown massively in recent years, yet only a small percentage of employees have access to height adjustable desks. There are many studies showing the health effects long periods of sitting can have, and how standing as well as sitting during the working day can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, in addition to relieving stress and increasing productivity.

Office furniture design that embraces technology and enables people to collaborate on projects in real-time will continue to become more popular, as this all aids productivity and helps to create a seamless, integrated working environment.

Up to date technology

Technology is here to stay. Millennials have grown up using the latest technology and they don’t know a life without it. In order to attract millennials to any office, companies need to make sure they have the most up to date technology. As technology has shrunk and grown more mobile, it’s also shrunk our workplaces. The modern office is less likely to have large computer towers and sprawling phone systems and more likely to have furniture and equipment with integrated power that allows quick set-up and connectivity.

Embracing new technology and innovation shows millennials that the company is constantly growing and improving and will create a more efficient and productive workplace. Technology trends, such as the growth of wearables and the development of tablets as useful work tools, will continue to influence office layouts. Wireless charging will also become even more popular in as more devices are released that support the feature. Businesses that create an office with cutting-edge technology will not only interest millennials but can be beneficial to all employees.

Flexibility

One thing that the millennial generation thrives on in an office is flexibility. They want to be able to make their own hours with flexi-time or even work remotely wherever possible, which has led some people to suggest that the modern workplace has expanded beyond the office. Flexibility comes with its own challenges, but it does offer employees the ability to be more mobile and work in ways that specifically suit their needs.

Continuous changes in technology and these expected shifts in working culture means that many companies are now creating workspaces with flexibility built in. With wireless technology and video conferencing facilities, offices are now smarter and more user friendly than ever before which is enticing people back to the office as bosses realise that good communication, collaboration and making the workplace a more enjoyable place to be have a greater impact on productivity.

Work-life balance

Modern workplaces should provide a sense of work-life balance for their employees. Millennials tend to be hard workers who spend a lot of time at work, and once they have finished for the evening, they are still accessible by text, calls and email. Forward thinking businesses have been trying to find a work-life balance to ensure people can have fun at work and millennials are changing the office space to make it happen.

Millennials want creative spaces, an office to feel like a home away from home, with amenities such as a canteen area, vending machines, a games room and stimulating colour schemes around the office for a more enjoyable workplace. Some companies even have gym facilities for employees to use at their leisure. These trends may seem out of the ordinary from past generations but these are examples of what will help to eliminate millennial turnover.

So why is this all so important?

Simply put, the office has become a selling point for businesses. More companies are placing workplace design and office furniture high on their list of priorities and using this as one way to attract and retain the best people. Taking care of employees’ wants and needs means a healthier, happier workplace and, in turn, increased productivity which can only be positive for businesses.

Open plan offices are in many ways the trademark of the millennial impact on the office environment, but it doesn’t start and end there. Generally millennials are looking for flexibility, collaboration, work-life balance and modern technology where they choose to work, with facilities and surroundings that will benefit employees of all ages, not just millennials.

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The benefits of a workplace breakout area

April 2017

The concept of the breakout area has evolved to become much more than merely soft seating in the corner of an office or a small, dated canteen. It is now a modern solution for offices that utilises comfortable furniture to give employees a break from their working day. But what are the tangible benefits for employers when deciding whether to create a breakout area in the office?

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Breakout area

While the public-facing areas of a company are important, the areas within an office that are hidden away are just as important to employees. The modern way of working often means that people are spending much more time at their desks, glued to their computer screens, so the idea of a breakout area is becoming increasingly attractive to employees. Integrating a breakout area in your office gives employees an area that removes them from their working environment, to ultimately boost productivity.

A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that employee happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.” Some companies are taking note, and are already seeing the payoff!

Many of us have insider knowledge of the employee facilities at companies like Google and Facebook and the investments these companies are making in employee support to generate happier workers and promote their brand. At Google, employee satisfaction rose 37% as a result of such initiatives. They say that the kitchen is the heart of any home, and the workplace breakout area is fast becoming the office equivalent.


A well-designed breakout zone

A well-designed employee breakout area is a common zone that can serve many purposes. It provides a space for informal catch ups and meetings, a space for grabbing a bite to eat at lunch, somewhere to meet and greet visitors, and importantly, an area where employees can relax away from their work space and to relieve stress.

Giving employees a break from a computer screen also complies with health and safety laws which require employees to take frequent breaks from their workstations when computers are being used. Breakout zones also encourage impromptu conversations that will help build strong bonds amongst workers and can play a key role in creating a working environment that your employees will thrive in. Overall, the aim is to provide employees with a change of scenery, as well as an alternative area for both work and down time.

Making good use of breakout spaces makes sound business sense. A room that is only used for a couple of hours a day can be turned into an efficient multi-use space, used throughout the day, combating rising space costs. Breakout areas can also double as informal meeting areas so it is important to consider noise pollution in busy or loud areas.

Designing a breakout space with collaboration in mind means making sure the space is welcoming enough to do all these things in. It is also important to provide your employees or visitors with somewhere to make their drinks so they can relax in the breakout area. Providing comfortable and adaptable furniture is also important to provide an attractive, colourful and fun area, which will help to ensure that employees keep using the space.


Furniture for Social Spaces

Social Spaces, designed and manufactured in the UK by Dams, is a range of innovative, contemporary design-led products for corporate breakout spaces, reception areas, meeting rooms and dining areas. Social Spaces furniture can transform the office environment into a modern, multi-functional work space with different types of seating solutions that encourage agile working and modern work practices.

Upholstered soft seating, such as the Alban and Lyric, helps to create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk. Nera is a multi-functional, modular seating solution that can easily be arranged in a variety of dynamic configurations to suit any office space, so employees feel relaxed and comfortable when having a break.

The Slab table and bench combination makes a real visual impact, offering a creative, practical solution which will enhance any breakout space, office canteen or café area. Bistro style chairs, such as Fundamental and Gecko, provide the ultimate combination of sleekness and sophistication around a central table which provides somewhere meetings can be held or lunch can be eaten.

Every upholstered item in the Dams Social Spaces range is made-to-order using the customer’s choice of fabrics for a fully co-ordinated look. Inspiring surroundings can also have a direct effect on an employee’s creativity and carrying out informal brainstorms in a brighter and more stimulating working environment, such as a dedicated workplace breakout area, is likely to be more of a success than in a dull office space.

Even having a table tennis table or a pool table can be beneficial to work, giving employees an opportunity to take a break and de-stress, as well as building stronger relationships with colleagues in the process. Office breakout spaces support interaction with co-workers socially and encourage ideas to be generated and shared in a more relaxed space.

In Conclusion

During the busy working day, it’s easy to forget that employees need to take some time out to be at their most alert and productive. Whether this is just for a few minutes every hour, or even for 30 minutes at lunchtime, it will help to ultimately increase employee productivity and to improve their overall performance day to day as people will feel more refreshed and relaxed.

Wellbeing is also a very important factor as nobody can produce their best work if they are stressed or haven’t had time to rest and recharge. Sitting for long periods of time at a desk is not only bad for a person’s health, it can be mentally exhausting. Studies have shown that moving around during the working day reduces mental blocks, boosts concentration, causes the heart to beat faster (burning more calories) and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Creating a variety of spaces for employees to work and relax within the office could result in you not only keeping hold of your best workers, but also encourage new talent from elsewhere. People choose to work for companies not just because of the salary they offer, or the opportunities for career progression, but also because of company culture. An office space says a lot about a company, and it should make people feel excited at the prospect of coming to work for that business.

Small to medium companies can sometimes see an office breakout area as an unnecessary luxury that the company cannot afford, but employers should consider the benefits and how this will impact on the company’s performance before ruling out a breakout zone. As has been outlined above, having an office breakout space carries a number of important benefits with it. Over recent years, employers have become more knowledgeable about the importance of having them, which has contributed towards positive results for thousands of businesses around the world.

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Don’t underestimate the importance of your reception area!

April 2017

The phrase ‘You only get one chance to make a good first impression’ cannot be understated. Just as a face represents a person, the reception area represents an office or a business, and many failures and successes can depend on that split second when a first impression is formed.

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Welcome reception

Every customer, visitor and potential employee who walks through the office doors will get an immediate first impression about the company from the layout, style and presentation of the reception area. As the initial point of contact, it’s important that a good first impression creates a great lasting impression, which is why investing in a quality and professional reception area is a sound business decision.

A reception area that is thoughtfully designed with company values and aesthetics in mind will help set the tone for what visitors can expect from the company. Whether you value innovation and creativity, tradition and elegance, or agility and minimalism, the right reception area creates a lasting visual message.


Understand your target market

The general rule of thumb for businesses when planning a new entrance space is to understand your target audience. Conveying the best possible representation in the reception area is dependent on the type of business being run. Worldwide brands such as Google and Red Bull are renowned for their impressive reception areas, furnishing these spaces with quirky designs and innovative furniture. They reflect the core concept of these companies, which has been a contributory factor in their success and is one of the reasons why everyone is talking about them as forward thinking, dynamic businesses.

Good reception furniture gives an impression that the business has the financial means to support their good taste. But the importance of receptions goes beyond just beautifying the area. In addition to being stylish and communicating the company’s brand values, practical considerations must also be taken into account.

The vital ingredient …. the desk

Perhaps the most important item in a reception area is the reception desk. The first point of call for any workplace should feature eye-catching furnishings and accessories with a reception desk that will reinvigorate an entrance area and reflect the vision and personality of the business. This is why we always recommend to people that they prioritise the reception area with a smart, stylish reception desk when the time is right for an office upgrade.

A good reception desk will cost more than a standard office desk, but the investment is worth it if it helps to develop an image that is aligned to the company’s values. However reception desks can come in many forms, with different shapes, sizes and materials, ranging from wood, glass and even in steel, as well as rectangular, square and even curved variations. Modular reception desks designed for bespoke projects are also becoming increasingly popular as more and more companies realise the significance of the reception area.

Reception desks need to be multi-functional workspaces because this is where many important tasks carried out such as answering phone calls, receiving and sending letters, and of course welcoming visitors. Working with a good reception desk will also give the receptionist a sense of pride and consequently, would do his or her job well. The other employees would also be proud that they are part of an impressive, vibrant company.

A receptionist is essentially the face of the company. They should be comfortable and happy in their working environment so they can represent the company in the best possible manner. The reception desk should also come with adequate storage so the area appears uncluttered and important documents can be kept safe, with technology integration and cable management so wires are not exposed to visitors.

Dams modern reception desk solutions really bring home the wow factor. Welcome is a stunning, angular design in white which shrouds an existing desk or can be bought with an ‘Adapt’ or ‘Maestro 25’ white frame desk. An optional D-end extension adds to the reception unit to give greater access and additional desk workspace. Welcome also allows for a company name and graphics to be added and remote control lighting through the colour spectrum to match your corporate identity.

Denver, by Dams, is a flexible modular unit that can be arranged in a variety of configurations with the desk and hutch units to create a commanding reception feature that will make a good first impression with clients and visitors. Available in a beech finish, cables are managed from the hutch to the desktops with classic design pieces that will inspire people and reassure them that you mean business.

To compliment the reception desk, soft seating or tub chairs can be added to the reception area which will not only enhance the overall appearance but also offer comfortable seating for visitors. Social Spaces is a range of innovative, contemporary, design-led products ideal for receptions, manufactured in the UK by Dams. Investing in soft seating and tables that have an integrated power supply built in can also act as a charging station for guests while they wait.

First impressions count

The reception area is of critical importance for any business. It needs to be a welcoming space for all visitors, from valued customers to prospective new starters arriving for an interview. But the reception area is also where every office day begins for all employees and it should inspire them to be proud about where they work.

Striking the right balance of interior design and furniture solutions can make all the difference in developing new business relationships. The right reception desk, together with some comfortable soft seating and tables for visitors to rest in comfort can set the standard for hospitality and extend outward to the rest of the workplace.

No matter how great the company is, or how interested customers are, if the front of house looks scruffy and dated, then it is bound to put potential customers off, even if the rest of the office is a proverbial wonderland of design and technology.

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Take Care of your Office Furniture

March 2017

At Dams, we understand that office furniture is an important, sizeable investment for any business. Office furniture and fixtures are an integral part of any workplace and they should be well taken care of and maintained regularly so there is no need to replace them for years to come. Below we have listed some helpful tips and advice on how to maintain and take care of your office furniture.

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furniture care

DESKS & STORAGE CARE & MAINTENANCE

Melamine finished surfaces
Dams melamine desking ranges and storage products are manufactured in the UK and available in 5 wood finishes – beech, maple, oak, walnut and white – to suit all styles and personal preferences.

All Dams melamine (MFC) products are very durable and resilient to staining and abrasion from dirt associated with light industrial or normal office environments. Melamine finished surfaces are heat and stain resistant, but care should still be taken when placing hot drinks on the work tops.

Regular dusting should help keep work surfaces in perfect condition. When necessary, surfaces can easily be cleaned with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and a mild soap or detergent, before immediately buffing dry with a different clean, non-abrasive cloth.

Do not use abrasive cleaning fluids, furniture polish or scouring pads to clean stubborn marks as these may affect the colour and finish of the melamine surface. In extreme circumstances a mild alcohol product can be used, however this must be followed by a cleaning cloth soaked in water to ensure no alcohol residue is present afterwards.

Real wood surfaces
Wood is a naturally occurring product and part of its unique characteristic and beauty is that no two pieces can be the same. The depth and shade of colours and grain pattern vary from item to item. Protect real wood products from prolonged exposure to sunlight, and as with all furniture, never place directly up against radiators or heaters.

Day to day care of real wood surfaces can be achieved from gently dusting the furniture and polish with a soft, lint free buffing cloth to maintain its appearance. In extreme cases, surfaces can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild soap or detergent, but must be followed by a thorough drying of the unit, again with a lint free buffing cloth. We would always recommend using coasters to avoid tea and coffee stains as these can be difficult to remove later.

Steel storage
Dams steel storage products are protected with powder coated paint which helps protect the steel from damage, and although very durable, every effort should be made to protect this layer.

Regular dusting should keep the powder coating free from dirt and help stop scratching. However, liquids can discolour and stain the paint if left untreated. We recommend regular cleaning with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and warm soapy water, and then ensure the metalwork is dry afterwards by buffing with a dry, non-abrasive cloth.

SEATING CARE & MAINTENANCE

Leather products
Leather managers and visitors chairs come top of the list as they require careful maintenance. It is perfectly normal for certain areas of leather to show signs of creasing and stretching, however leather chairs should not be exposed to direct sunlight or placed against a heating source as this will accelerate the natural ongoing discolouration process.

Dust should be removed by vacuuming and wiping with a slightly damp cloth, using a solution of warm water and mild soap. Don’t use an abrasive cloth or an alcohol-based cleaning product. You must only clean with products which are specifically designed for cleaning leather surfaces.

Fabric products
In 2016, Dams upholstery department produced over 66,000 upholstered seating and screen products with an extensive choice of fabric styles and colours available for a fully co-ordinated look in any office environment.

However upholstered furniture can get dusty and dirty and should be viewed in a similar way to clothing, i.e. it needs regular cleaning. If snags appear, carefully cut off the loose ends with scissors or tuck them back in, and never pull them under any circumstances.

Upholstery can be lightly vacuumed or gently brushed to remove dirt and dust, but do not use detergents. If you spill something on the upholstery, act quickly and mop up the excess liquid with a clean white cloth. With stubborn stains, use a specialist fabric cleaning product (in accordance with the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions) before soiling becomes ingrained.

HINTS &TIPS
Employees should practice a clean desk policy in the office. A clean desk is important as it avoids accumulation of dust, and the use of a desk pad and a mouse mat will prevent scratches and abrasions on the surface of an office desk. Employees should also avoid eating on their desks as food stains can be difficult to remove.
Providing employees with wooden or steel storage units such as filing cabinets, bookcases or cupboards will make the workplace look clean if there is no clutter, however avoid over loading cupboard shelves with heavy items.

When moving furniture, always lift the unit as opposed to dragging or pushing. Dragging the furniture will cause legs to separate from the tops of desks and can cause bookcases and cupboards to become unstable. Always seek assistance when moving furniture as it can be extremely heavy.

Finally, employees must report a defect. If employees hear any strange sounds coming from the chair while sitting, or any loose screws or a movement in the joints of desks then this should be reported to the maintenance team for fixing. Defects must be reported for safety as not only does this help prolong the furniture life, it also prevents accidents from happening.

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Advantages of an open plan office layout

February 2017

Some 20 years ago, it was the norm for businesses to separate their offices into different departments, with smaller office spaces and dedicated working areas separated by long corridors. Fast forward two decades and this has changed completely. Gone are the days of old fashioned offices with endless corridors and cramped work spaces. In 2017 more and more companies are tearing down the partition walls and are opting for bright open plan spaces.

It is widely reported that some 70% of all offices now have an open floor plan, as companies begin to understand the benefits in terms of the collaborative and creative nature of the space, and its ability to boost productivity and staff harmony.

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connex

A lack of walls, doors or other physical barriers in open plan office spaces makes it easier for employees to interact with each other on a regular basis, promoting the flow of communication among employees. Friendships amongst colleagues will also be strengthened, which will make them more inclined to work effectively together.

Open plan allows businesses to create a collaborative working environment where new ideas can be generated and shared. Having an open space also makes it easier for both employees and management. Proximity of other staff members allows for minor issues or queries to be dealt with efficiently, without the need for a formal meeting. There is no need for people to search around individual offices in the hopes of trying to track anybody down and things are easier for managers as everyone is in a centralised area.

Overall, open plan is a highly flexible solution that caters to the ever-changing working environment. However, just as businesses are changing to accommodate new working practices, the world of office desks is changing faster than ever before.

Whereas elaborate executive desks and sizeable corner desks were once needed to accommodate a large monitor, a chunky desktop computer, possibly a printer and to store folders, paperwork, stationery, and the rest – things have now changed significantly.

Today people are working with laptops, flat screen monitors, MacBooks or tablets, with wireless technology and digital working. The general shift towards a paper-less office has also led to a reduction in the amount of paper used by offices and the amount of storage needed by employees. Improved accessibility also allows different departments to share resources such as printers, copiers, communal office supplies and more.

Bench desks suit the modern working environment
Increasingly, businesses are moving away from dedicated single employee workspaces, towards more flexible working environments, and bench desk solutions are the ideal solution for high density open plan work places.

Using bench desks enables businesses to accommodate more office workers in the same amount of space. Enabling people to work side by side and facing each other with bench desks it is possible to fit an extra 30-35% extra employees in the same space compared to using ergonomic or wave desks. And by fitting more people in their existing offices, businesses don’t have to invest in additional space when they grow and take on new employees.

Connex modular bench desk solution
As bench solutions are becoming more popular and mainstream in open plan offices, Dams have developed the Connex bench desking range, which is the ideal modular system for high density, open plan work spaces.

Connex bench desking is based on one principle – simplicity. The design of bench desks means that they are modular, so businesses can easily expand working space to accommodate expansion and new employees. With its clean lines and elegant form, Connex offers a choice of classic tried and tested configurations from a single desk to hundreds of workstations in a wide variety of sizes to fit any office space.

Connex offers a clean and minimal look to the workplace. The legs are shared between bench clusters, which not only look aesthetically pleasing, but save space and effectively reduce the overall cost. The simple design of bench desking also allows for other shared components such as screens and cable trays, reducing the quantity of all items required and resulting in significant cost savings.

With the option of adding colourful divider screens to personalise work areas, bench desks can refresh and liven up even the more traditional workspaces. And although they have an open appearance, bench desks don’t need to mean a mass of cables or wires on show. Bench desks in general incorporate very effective shared cable management, ensuring a clean look to the office and making it much easier to clean and vacuum under desks.

With Connex, horizontal and vertical cable management allows cables to rise up from the floor via single leg and mass cable risers, which improves office aesthetics and safety. Each desktop has two cable access ports in the 25mm tops allowing wires to pass directly through to the cable tray and risers to ensure complete cable control.

Assembly per cluster is quick and easy through its highly engineered parts which further increase the system’s functionality and flexibility. Bench desks are designed so that devices can be moved on and off in a few seconds. This makes hot desking where employees can simply plug in their laptops and start work, or changing seating rearrangements in the office comparatively simple and hassle free.

In conclusion, mention open plan to office workers and usually you will get a few grumblings in return, typically about general noise or distractions around the office. However there is no doubt open plan offices are here to stay, so the question should be how do we make them more productive for employees and businesses?

Bench desking isn’t just about saving businesses money, it keeps the environment of the office consistent allowing managers and colleagues to sit together which leads to improved communication and employees performing better. Connex bench desking from Dams is robust enough to cope with the rigours of a busy office and is the ideal modular system for high density office spaces.

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Why Buy British?

January 2017

The world is becoming a smaller place. Have a close look at many of the products in any retail or wholesale environment and the chances are that you’ll find many of them with a ‘made in China’ stamp on the bottom. Products from all over the planet are readily available in our retail outlets.

We are also inundated with Brexit news and rhetoric at the moment which isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The UK’s vote to leave the EU was a shock across the continent and beyond, however the UK economy has shown more resilience than expected since the EU referendum in June. There is no wholesale panic (which many predicted) however the downside of the weaker currency is becoming increasingly evident.

Read more.

The weak pound and consequent increase in the price of imported goods has led to one of the steepest rises in purchasing costs in recent history. So during this time of national and international business insecurity, does it make sense to buy British?

Offshoring has been one of the most prominent trends in British manufacturing for years, with UK companies looking to the Far East or Eastern Europe for reduced production costs. But things are changing. Invariably, companies that import goods have found that it’s harder to control product quality when they are manufactured remotely, even with a trusted supply base overseas.

A manufacturing operation thousands of miles away is also much less flexible than a factory in the UK where changes in production schedules can adapt in response to seasonal variations, market trends and spikes in demand.

Manufacturing overseas also requires longer product development lead times, in addition to lead times on stock deliveries. These factors, coupled with the destabilisation of exchange rates due to Brexit and increase in prices for imported products, demonstrates that there is not just strong demand among UK customers for British-made products, but also an excellent business case for manufacturing in Britain.

All these considerations for the manufacturer translate into tangible benefits of buying British for both the office furniture trade and end users. Selecting a product that has been manufactured in the UK is about much more than warm, fuzzy feelings of patriotism. It’s about confidence of quality, speed of delivery, continuity of supply and accountability from a manufacturer that is managing the various elements of the supply process on the ground.

As a manufacturer who manages their own production plant in the UK, Dams can adapt production levels to reflect sales trends, ensuring that all standard items are consistently available from stock. That’s why Dams have invested significantly in expanding their upholstery plant and recycling facilities over the past year. The more processes Dams can bring in house, the more the company can control overheads as well as the quality.

Over 80% of products in the Dams 2017 furniture guide are manufactured within the UK using the latest manufacturing technology, ensuring the highest level of quality. The most stringent environmental and health and safety standards are also in place, which will provide significant peace of mind for those customers who are ethically and morally aware.

Years and decades of tradition and know-how go into the production of furniture in this great nation of ours. Manufacturing in the UK also means that we are protecting and developing the skills needed for the office furniture industry of the future, ensuring that we create a legacy of quality British-made products that are built to last and fully traceable.

After sales service is also more reliable and more efficient when dealing with a British manufacturer, who put their reputation on the line to not only provide the best furniture but also the best service to their customers.

There is no doubt that the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote and the weak pound has contributed to British made products now being more competitively priced compared to imported goods. The bottom line is however, choosing products that have been made in the UK simply makes more commercial and financial sense now than at any time in recent history. And when it comes to furniture, British is best!

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Create a Healthier Work Environment

December 2016

The days when the only choices a customer needed to make when selecting a desk were which colour and whether to opt for straight or curved are long gone.

These days, desk choice is not only about aesthetics, it’s also about working practices, productivity and wellbeing, which is why Dams are constantly innovating to develop new desking solutions that suit all requirements.

Read more.

Dams launched a range of sit-stand height adjustable desks in January 2016 and the Elev8 desks have proven to be extremely popular, allowing the individual user to electronically adjust the desk height from a sitting to a standing position with the touch of a button. Dams are now launching a new wave desktop version of its best-selling Elev8 sit-stand desks for users who want a little more desk space and who want to add a bit of style to their workspace.

Incorporating height adjustment technology used in the healthcare sector, the desks have been designed with a three part leg assembly to enable the end user to set their desk at any height within a range of 635mm to 1285mm, or change the height to suit the task at any time. The electronic Linak motor is supplied with a five year warranty and provides reliably smooth height transition powered by a standard three pin plug.

So, why are height adjustable desks so popular now?

Firstly, they address and anticipate changing working practices.  Increasingly, companies are designing collaborative spaces into their office environments and a sit-stand desk layout enables a permanent or temporary collaborative space where colleagues can meet informally without having to move chairs or retreat to the more formal setting of a meeting room.

Secondly and most important, there is also a wellbeing element to the practice of standing meetings or even working while standing. Sitting in an office chair behind a desk for prolonged periods of time can definitely cause lower back pain or worsen an existing back problem. The main reason behind this is that sitting, in an office chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

Prolonged periods of sitting have also been linked to increased risk of morbidity and life threatening conditions, including type two diabetes and cancer. Now a study co-commissioned by Public Health England has advised that office workers should spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

The report specifically advises the use of sit-stand desks to help employers encourage their employees to spend less time sitting at their desks and more time standing while they work.

And the health benefits don’t end there. Even when an employee is sitting at their sit-stand desk, the easy adjustability of the Elev8 range can help them to improve their posture by enabling them to position their desk at the optimum height for their needs.  That not only means an end to sitting hunched over a keyboard but also enables greater flexibility for offices that operate a hot desking policy.

Explains Managing Director, Chris Scott: “Research suggests that a sedentary desk job can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing over time and office workers should be encouraged to spend more time standing during the working day.

“The Elev8 range provides the ideal solution to address this issue and creates an environment where colleagues can collaborate at standing meetings before adjusting their desk back to a seated height to continue with their routine tasks.

Having the option to stand, as well as sit during the work day has been proven not only to benefit the health of the user by helping to burn calories, improving posture and promoting mental well-being, but also benefits the business.

Put simply, a healthier workforce is a happier, more motivated and more productive workforce; not to mention the reduced risk of sickness days due to back problems and other symptoms of sedentary work habits. Studies also show that height adjustable desks promote creativity, team interaction, collaboration, and the willingness to share ideas.

So, when it comes to sit-stand desk ranges like the Elev8 range from Dams, a desk is much more than a place to work; it’s a working culture that benefits both the employee and the company.

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Making Seating Choices Stand Out

October 2016

The average office worker spends more than 75,000 minutes in a seated position every year, or the equivalent of 65% to 75% of their working hours sitting down, half of which is in prolonged periods of sustained sitting. A recent study also suggested that prolonged sitting for more than seven hours a day contributes to negative health consequences. However, sitting at a desk is an essential part of the office working day, so selecting the right office chair is a very important decision.

Recently, articles with sensational headlines such as “Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk” and “Office workers spend five years of their lives sitting at a desk - no wonder a third are overweight” have appeared in the UK media, warning of the dangers of sitting at a desk for hours on end every day.
And although these articles were only intended to raise awareness of the negative health implications due to prolonged seating, they fail to take into account the impact that a good ergonomic office chair can have on the comfort, productivity and long term well-being of each and every office-based employee.

Read more.

People need to be mindful of the amount of time they do sit down, but sitting does have its advantages. Sitting allows people to rest, transfer weight off their feet and reduce the pressure on the circulation system of the lower legs. One disadvantage to sitting in an office chair for long periods is that most people have a natural tendency to slouch over the desk or slouch down in the chair, which can contribute to or worsen back pain.

When people sit to work, they need to be well-supported in postures that promote health and productivity and that counter slouching. A decent office chair can be adjusted to the proportions of the individual's body to improve comfort and reduce aggravation to the spine. Reclining and changing postures while sitting can also reduce pressures on the body and improve circulation.

As with most things in life, moderation is important. No matter how comfortable people are sat in an office chair, there is no doubt that prolonged static posture is not good for the back and can lead to health issues, so the importance of being active and moving around  throughout the working day cannot be underestimated. But for when people need to sit, the ergonomic office chair still has a critical part to play in the workplace.

Over the last year Dams have conducted an extensive review of their seating range with the aim to deliver a more innovative, diverse and high-quality selection of products that offer the ultimate in functionality, comfort and durability.

Explains Managing Director, Chris Scott: “At Dams, we believe that everybody deserves a good office chair which has the movement and positioning capabilities to enable people to sit comfortably, whilst at the same time encouraging productivity by seamlessly supporting the body during work activities. That means combining the right ergonomic design, advanced functionality and chair fabric for optimum style, flexibility and comfort.

“We’ve made a significant investment in our product portfolio and now offer one of the largest seating ranges in the UK, with the launch of an additional 55 new products to complement our existing best-selling products.”

Dams has also invested significantly in expanding its existing manufacturing and upholstery facilities with new equipment and additional skilled personnel. This ensures Dams can offer customers an even faster turnaround across the seating range and tailor seating choices to customer’s individual specifications with an extensive choice of fabric styles and colours for a fully co-ordinated look that can unite a workplace.

“Modern solutions such as sit/stand desking and soft seating in breakout areas are becoming increasing popular in the workplace” Chris adds “However an ergonomic office chair is a tool that, when used properly, can help employee’s maximise back support and maintain good posture while sitting, in addition to offering all the good looks and aesthetic choices that you would expect from a market leader in office furniture.”

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At your service

August 2016

Whether you’re ordering dinner, getting a haircut or buying a new car, service matters.  If it’s bad, no matter how good the product may be your customer service is ruined and you’re unlikely to return.  If it’s good, you’ll want to go back for more of the same.

That simple ‘good service = repeat business’ equation is just as true for commercial transactions as it is on the high street. For dealers, who depend on their suppliers’ service in order to fulfil their own service commitment to customers, it is absolutely critical.

The challenge for businesses, however, is keeping up with increasingly high expectations of what good service entails. Improvements in technology have meant faster order processing, and customer experiences of online retail mean they expect the same standards of fast and efficient delivery for commercial transactions, along with a range of delivery options so that they can select the one that suits them best.

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And why shouldn’t they? If the retail sector can offer speed, efficiency and flexibility on delivery, the wholesale and trade sectors ought to be able to offer it too. That’s certainly the philosophy that Dams has be working to when developing our new ‘Premium’ range of delivery options. Keen to find ways to help dealers add value to their own customer relationships, we’ve developed a number of delivery options, designed to enable customers to receive the furniture they need when and where they need it.

Amongst these is our groundbreaking 48-hour delivery and installation service, enabling dealers to offer their customers a fully-installed office furniture solution within 48 hours of placing their order, or delivery and installation at a specified date that suits them.

This service is a game changer for the office furniture sector, slashing industry standard lead times from the standard 7-14 days and providing a fully accountable and traceable fulfilment service, with orders delivered and installed by our expert two-man teams.

Other delivery options offered within the Premium portfolio are next day or ‘day of choice’ delivery on all 3,500 products within the Dams range. Dealers can calculate delivery costs for their preferred option quickly and easily by using the specially designed calculator on our website and this can also be used on our mobile site for instant calculations when dealers are out and about using any mobile phone or portable device.

Where it’s more convenient or cost effective for dealers to collect the product instead, they can now do this free of charge from collection centres in Glasgow, Northampton and Watford, as well as from our central warehouse at our headquarters on Merseyside. There’s no minimum order value for this service and dealers can collect their orders from 8am the day after placing the order. It’s an option that we expect to be increasingly popular and we’re planning to expand our network of collection points over the coming months to address that demand.

All of these new additions to our delivery services have been designed to meet the needs of dealers and end users and build on our existing focus on customer service, flexibility and choice. Furthermore, if dealers want to upgrade to the premium service, as well as the lead time improving, they will also get our enhanced communication both to themselves and to the end-user, including order status updates by text or email and a unique tracking reference.

High quality products are vital, and customers will only return with repeat business or refer you to their peers if the product is right. A good customer experience depends on great service, however, so selecting supply chain partners that will offer the choice and reliability you need is also an important part of growing your business.

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Social Spaces in a Changing Workplace

July 2016

Experts often predict the future of the workplace, with many speculating on the changes that will be prompted by advancing technology and some even predicting an end to office environments all together.

In reality, however, while home working and flexible working may now be more popular - and more possible - than ever before, they are solutions that only suit some employers and some employees, some of the time.  Face to face communication and effective collaboration are pivotal to the success of most businesses and, for that, people need to come together in an office environment. The question is, what will that environment look like in years to come?

Read more.

It’s also worth remembering that, both as colleagues and as human beings, we are social creatures. Most of the reason for being in the office five days a week may be to get a job done and pay the mortgage but at least some of the reason that more than 10 million people in the UK work in an office is that the environment provides social interaction on a daily basis. And that social interaction is just as valuable to employers as it is to employees, lifting the mood and productivity of personnel, as well as giving them an opportunity to problem solve together, discuss tasks and develop as a team.

So rather than considering whether we need offices, most of the smart research and investment in office environments is being ploughed into enhancing that social interaction in the workplace; building on collaborative work spaces to make the whole environment more engaging and communal. There’s also an emphasis on making it more fun, working on the philosophy that an employee that likes their work environment and enjoys being there will be more productive.

While not every company is ready for slides and swings in the office or dedicated games zones, designing a workplace with social spaces that employees can use as informal work areas, meeting places, chill out areas and break out zones is fundamental to creating a forward-focused and people friendly office.

It’s for all those reasons that Dams has now launched a Social Spaces range, specifically designed to bring a more varied approach to social areas and informal workspaces within the contemporary office.  Combining upholstered seating with bistro style tables, chairs and benches, the range has everything a modern office needs to create collaborative work spaces, break out areas and dining facilities.

Explains managing director, Chris Scott: “Not all companies have formal canteens but all companies need to get people away from their desks, so bistro style furniture provides the ideal solution for both informal dining areas within an open plan office and dedicated cafeteria style facilities.

“Meanwhile, upholstered seating helps to create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk, meet and collaborate or bring their laptop with them to work away from the distractions of phones and colleagues. The modular solutions and fabrics available from Dams mean we can offer a huge choice of colours and styles that can be used to bring the corporate palette into the office interior, create a cohesive look or even zone different areas.”

Dams has invested significantly in expanding its in-house upholstery plant as part of the Social Spaces launch, with extended premises, new equipment and additional skilled staff.  All upholstered items are made to order and, thanks to Dams’ in-house manufacturing and fulfilment, every item can be tracked from order through to delivery for complete traceability and peace of mind.

The company can even offer a project management service using its in-house CAD design team to help customers space plan their office and manage the whole process from specification through to delivery and installation on site.

“The office isn’t going anywhere, but it is changing,” Chris adds.  “As always at Dams, we’re changing too by adding to our core range with Social Spaces furniture that reflects the way companies work today.”

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Why Dams is at Home with Student Living

June 2016

According to a survey by the Guardian, almost half of English Universities plan to increase their student intake by 2020, with some setting ambitious targets of up to 50% more students.

New rules introduced last year to lift limits on the number of UK and EU students that universities are allowed to accept has prompted many to invest in plans for growth. That investment brings with it a need to provide sufficient purpose-built accommodation to offer students a comfortable and secure place to live, which also means a need to specify durable, value for money furniture that will offer the high living standards for contemporary students.

Read more.

The growth in student accommodation projects, both as part of universities own estates and as private developments, has prompted Dams to launch a range of products and services specifically tailored to meet this dynamic market.

It’s a sector specific portfolio that builds on Dams resources as a UK manufacturer of both solid and upholstered furniture along with our track record of value for money products that meet market demand for both style and durability. As a result, while student accommodation is a relatively new departure for Dams, it delivers all the excellent quality and reliable service that dealers trust Dams to provide.

The launch of our student accommodation furniture solution is detailed in our new student accommodation brochure. It follows considerable investment in new product design and development, tailored to the specific requirements of the student accommodation sector. These are not products from our core range that we think could fit into a student accommodation setting, far from it. These are new, bespoke items that draw on our experience of the finishes that will last in a demanding commercial environment and translate that expertise into a student living context.

The portfolio includes furniture for student study bedrooms, including desks, chairs, beds, upholstered furniture and storage, along with solutions for bedroom studios, kitchens, kitchen/lounges and communal areas.

Explains Managing Director of Dams, Chris Scott: “At Dams we understand the challenges of a student accommodation project. Our approach has been to create a one-stop shop for dealers and specifiers on student accommodation furniture, offering a professional service with product design, manufacturing, delivery and installation designed to work within development budgets.

“Our student accommodation services are also designed to support specification requirements and business critical construction deadlines. Our UK manufacturing base and in-house upholstery capabilities mean that we manufacture project-specific requirements to order, with the client’s choice of fabrics, and that we can hold it in stock until the required delivery date.”

Dams’ in-house expertise even means that we can work with dealers or their clients to design the furniture scheme for a student accommodation project, with room by room 3D images of furnished layouts to demonstrate different options.  Dams can offer the complete project management service, including just-in-time delivery and installation on site, with full accountability for every step of the ordering, manufacturing and delivery process thanks to the traceability of every item through our factory and warehouse.

Just as modern university courses are much more aligned to working environments, student living developments are now much closer to residential apartments than they have ever been in the past. The furniture they require reflects that shift and Dams has created a specialist range of products and services specifically developed to address the sector’s needs.

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The ABC of Education Sector Sales

May 2016

The UK education sector is changing at an unprecedented rate. A crisis in primary school provision has been driving school extension programmes and, with the population boom now reaching high school age, a similar boost in secondary school places is needed, with many local authorities predicting a rise in ‘super schools’ of more than 3000 students.

The drive to convert schools to academies has also become a game changer in the way that young people learn, alongside the significant changes in GCSE and ‘A’ level syllabuses that are already underway.  As a result, the way students learn at secondary and tertiary level is evolving. Schools and colleges are developing closer links with business, increasing their focus on the use of technology and pioneering more vocational approaches to teaching, all of which is affecting the furniture they need.

Read more.

Meanwhile, the university sector is seeing massive levels of investment as institutions compete for fee-paying UK students and the lucrative overseas market by enhancing their campuses and facilities, along with their courses.

So what does all this mean for dealers?  It can be summarised in one word: opportunity.

The education sector needs to cater for more pupils and students in a varied array of education environments that support different approaches to learning. As a result, the need for quality solutions tailored to meet the needs of education environments is growing, as is the potential to capture a piece of that market.

It’s an opportunity that Dams has already integrated into our product development programme. Our new Ergos and Lotus seating ranges have been specifically designed for schools and colleges and we are launching new ranges of break out and student accommodation furniture in June which have been designed specifically for academy, UTC (University Technical College) and university environments.

Timing is everything, so not only have we developed the range of products needed to supply increased demand in the education sector, we have also aligned our manufacturing schedules and stockholding to accommodate spikes in demand in June and July as schools and colleges procure new furniture for installation during the summer recess. What that means for dealers is complete confidence in efficient supply of high quality, fit for purpose education sector products.

We’re also committed to helping customers maximise the opportunity by supporting dealers with customisable materials that you can tailor with your own logo and net prices to support sales into the education sector. Easy to access through the online marketing portal on our website, www.dams.com, new materials will be uploaded weekly every Monday throughout May and June, the biggest sales period for the education sector.

We’ve designed our suite of education sector marketing support to offer maximum impact and flexibility. There will be a new four-page mailer and an A4 product flyer available for personalisation every Monday during the campaign period, making selling into the education sector easier than ever before.

As managing director of Dams, Chris Scott puts it: “Successful sales is all about selling the right product to the right people at the right time.  When it comes to the education sector, that time is now and Dams has a range of products tailored to the end user’s needs, supported by marketing collateral that communicates a compelling reason to buy.”

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Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

April 2016

Whether you’re ordering dinner, getting a haircut or buying a new car, service matters.  If it’s bad, no matter how good the product may be your customer service is ruined and you’re unlikely to return.  If it’s good, you’ll want to go back for more of the same.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to desking, an item of office furniture that comes in for plenty of wear and tear and will often be the workstation of multiple users over the course of its lifetime.

And yet, customers will often opt for the cheaper alternative to a proven UK brand simply to save a few pounds on the unit price.  With no accountable quality management system in place and poor traceability in terms of design, materials and manufacture, that decision to save some money could come at a high price.

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The reality is that most end users are looking for value rather than cheap goods and part of the dealer’s role is to highlight where the value lies in the product they are selling.  Take the Dams Maestro 25 desking range, for example; it may be an entry level desking solution but it has a robust 25mm thick desk surface and is available in a range of colours and design options with full FIRA testing and a standalone catalogue.

Maestro 25 is just one example of a Dams product range that has added value built into a competitive price. So, where does that value lie?

Firstly, let’s consider the materials.  Is the wood used from sustainable sources and can this be traced and verified across the supply chain? For many corporate customers, particularly those that measure their embedded carbon and report on CSR (corporate and social responsibility) matters, purchasing goods made from materials that have been sourced responsibly is important.

Next, there is the question of supply chain considerations. If the desking is being manufactured overseas, what are the lead times? Will it be available from stock? Will co-ordinating items be available and, if the customer decides to buy more items to match in the future will they be a true match or will there be variations in colour and quality due to lack of traceability.?

Conversely, by buying from a UK manufacturer like Dams, the customer can be confident of excellent product availability.  Our operations have been designed to adapt to spikes in demand and around a third of our portfolio is available for next day or day of choice, ‘Blue Box’ delivery.

And of course, every item is traceable - from raw materials through to dispatch from the warehouse - with consistent processing to ensure accurate product matching for future orders and consistent wood finishes used across complementary ranges to aid specification of a co-ordinated office.

Our UK manufacturing capabilities also mean that quality management is consistent and accountable throughout the product design, manufacture and delivery process. Our work flows have been designed to include quality checks throughout production, ensuring consistently high standards.

Those standards are now independently verified by FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association), with strict UKAS-accredited testing carried out across the Dams product range to provide additional peace of mind for customers that their furniture will not only offer a robust solution following purchase, but will also stand the test of time.

Finally, Dams delivers across the UK and offers both the dealer and the end user complete flexibility. Urgent orders can be collected from the Dams warehouse on the day of order and ‘Blue Box’ items include delivery within the price with next day or preferred day options. Any item can be delivered to a choice of either the dealer’s address or the end user’s preferred location, with options including assembly at site and installation or even space planning and project management for larger orders.

Replacing office furniture is a costly and inconvenient process; end users do not want to do it often, especially if they have to invest in new items because they sacrificed quality or traceability for cost first time around.

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Everybody deserves a good office chair

March 2016

The biggest problem that dealers encounter when selling chairs is that many end users view them as a commodity item. This is particularly true of task seating; while end users view boardroom and directors’ chairs as a prestige item worthy of some significant investment, task seating is often seen as a generic piece of equipment, in the same way that a paper clip or a stapler might be.

The challenge for the dealer, therefore, is to convince the customer of two things:

  1. Not all chairs are the same
  2. Investing in better chair design is of benefit to their employees and their business
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Not all chairs are the same
In the Dams range there are over 200 chairs, 60 of which fall under the task seating category and 30 of these are designated ergonomic seating.  For the end user that can be a mind-boggling array of options…and that’s before we get into any discussion of fabric choices and colours!

The first task for the dealer, therefore is to talk to the end user about their basic needs. For example, how many hours a day does each worker spend seated at their desk? Does each worker have their own chair or does the office have a hot-desking arrangement that necessitates chairs to be adjusted and set to different requirements? And what’s the worker profile…is there a history of sick leave taken due to back ache, RSI or posture related aches and pains?

Armed with this information, the dealer is in a much better position to narrow down his recommendations of the most appropriate seating choices for the customer and to extol the benefits of key features such as flexible back supports, adjustable seating heights and ergonomic design.

For example, the Jota Ergo fabric task chair from Dams is a sturdy high back chair available with and without arms. Arms can be fixed, height adjustable and also fold back giving the option of both in one arm.  In addition to gas lift adjustment, it offers weight tension control and lumbar support via an inflatable lumbar pump built into the upholstered back. The seat and back position can be moved and set independently to each other. The seat depth can be altered as to can the back height. These wide-ranging personalisation options ensure that it can provide the end user with a one-size fits all solution to his task seating needs and futureproofs his investment because chairs can adjust to meet the changing needs of his workforce.

If office aesthetics is the end user’s main priority, they may prefer something like the Pocco mesh task chair from Dams which is available with a fabric seat and mesh back. For a bespoke solution, Dams also offers a number of ranges, including ergonomic seating, that can be custom-made with the customer’s individual choice of fabric from Camira’s extensive range.

Seating Benefits
For any office worker that spends a significant part of their day at their desk, comfort is essential. For the dealer, it’s important to convey to the buyer that employee comfort is directly linked to motivation and productivity. As a result, an investment in good chairs is an investment in the company’s future.

Back pain is the leading cause of long-term sickness in the UK and is responsible for around 15 million lost work days each year. Those are sobering facts for any employer and a compelling reason to invest in seating that offers proven lumber support and adjustable features to enable individual workers to alter the chair’s settings to meet their own needs.

For even more robust support, end users might want to choose a chair that has been designed to offer increased ergonomic posture and lumbar benefits, such as the Jota Ergo or Senza Ergo from Dams’ ergonomic range.

It’s important to remember too, that aesthetics play a major role in chair choice and this should also form a significant part of a benefits-led approach to selling. Chair colour can be used to demarcate different areas of the office, co-ordinate with the interior design style or reflect corporate branding, so remember to leverage the wide range of options available to highlight this key benefit of selecting the right chairs.

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Why Bigger Choice is Better for Business

February 2016

Every office environment is different. Selection of office furniture not only has to take into account the available floorspace and layout, including considerations such as access, lighting, power and ingress/egress; it must also factor in the business function, culture and corporate style of the occupier, not to mention the influence of budgets.

With so many factors involved, it’s not surprising that end users are looking for suppliers that can offer them increased choice, enabling them to specify their office to suit their requirements. And genuine choice not only means having a variety of products, including desking, seating, storage and screens available but also demands a variety of ranges and multiple options for finishes, upholstery and configuration to deliver a truly tailored approach.

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And then, of course, there is the question of whether the end user already knows what he wants…or if he will just know it when he sees it!  By providing a greater choice from a single source supplier, it’s much easier to answer unknown requirements, meet the brief within budget or upsell to a more premium offering.

The problem for some suppliers is that import costs, exchange rates and overseas production lead times can make it difficult to manage a broad portfolio of office furniture products.  As a result, some are reducing the number of SKU (stock keeping units) on their product list in an effort to concentrate on the most popular and profitable lines so that service and prices don’t suffer as a result of supply issues.

The question is, does reducing the number of office furniture products available really improve service levels or does it simply limit choice?

Dams firmly believes that maximising choice and quality is an essential part of delivering excellent service.  That’s why the company has invested significantly in enhancing its manufacturing facilities, increasing its stock holding capacity and improving its data management capabilities to ensure it can now list 3500 SKUs.

By manufacturing at its headquarters on Merseyside, Dams can manage production schedules in real time, responding quickly to spikes in demand to ensure that the most popular items are always available from stock.  Indeed, around half of the company’s catalogue is always available for next day, blue box delivery.

By investing in its own upholstery workshop, Dams can also offer fast lead times on custom orders of upholstered items with the customer’s choice of fabric.  And in-house manufacturing ensures that each item is quality-assured and completely traceable, providing the end user with total peace of mind.

The company is also uniquely placed in the office furniture sector by combining its manufacturing capabilities with an established reputation as a wholesaler, increasing the level of choice from a single source supplier still further.

Explains managing director, Chris Scott: “While many office supplies companies cover an extremely broad product range, for most of these generalists office furniture is a relatively small part of what they do.

“Dams has always been an office furniture specialist and our focus is on providing the level of choice and quality that the market wants at an attractive price point, enabling our customers to sell successfully and build in attractive margins.”

Investment in data-based IT systems over the past year has been critical to Dams’ ability to maintain excellent service levels as its product range has grown. A new warehouse management system has ensured that stock holding capacity is always fully utilised, increasing the available space by 25%.

The company’s focus on quality data feeds also means that ordering of Dams products can be fast and efficient. Data is available through Atomic, for use on Horizon, Vision and Progress systems, through Open Range for use on a wide range of systems including Oasis, Office Power, Heart and Red and through Prima for use on all Prima software systems. Dams data is also now integrated into FusionPLUS systems, including Evolution web stores and the new AMevo e-commerce platform launching mid-2016.

Chris adds: “For those with supply chain challenges, reducing the number of office products available is a short cut to reducing lead time issues. For us, a UK-based and adaptable business, enhancing choice goes hand in hand with providing better customer service and sales opportunity.”

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