Office furniture in the office can be classified on the basis of its physical appearance thus we have:
In many government and other offices, tables still serve as clerical desks and thus they may be fitted with one or two drawers. Tables are ordinary needed for sorting of mail dispatch, temporary housing of files and file trays, holding meetings of committees, etc. Most of the tables follow the conventional dimensions for their sizes, but there can be special-purpose tables, for example, if sorting is to be done while standing, the height of the sorting table should be raised suitably.
Chairs are perhaps the most important item of furniture from the point of view of the worker since he/she sits in them all through the day in office. A chair greatly influences his correct posture while at work and consequently influences his health. Chairs, therefore, must be built on scientific lines to avoid fatigue and ill-health, which are the direct result of badly designed chairs. Proper chairs increase work output and reduce absenteeism.
There are special purpose chairs for typists and machine operators and chairs for other special purposes.
The desk is the workbench of the office employee influencing much of his efficiency. The main object of a desk is to provide a suitable space for writing and for processing information. The desk is also used for stationing a machine for use and to provide storage place for supplies needed by the person. For all these purposes, a suitable desk should be provided. Provision of a proper working desk is important in more than one respect. Since it is the base of operations of a worker, he identifies himself psychologically.
TYPES OF DESKS
On the basis of their use, desks can be classified as:
- Executive desks whose purpose is to impress visitors with the prestige and importance of persons using them.
- Clerical desks used by clerical workers. Each clerk is provided with a desk based on the nature of the work to be performed. For example, a clerk who works on the ledgers needs a big desk.
- Secretarial desks are designed to provide comfortability to a secretary who spends most of the time typing. The desk should be of the required height to prevent any strain fatigue which could lead to errors in her work.
- Machine desks are specially designed to meet the needs of different machines like the adding, calculating, billing machines, etc. The desks are lower than the standard desk height.
- Special desks are designed to meet special needs of other office work, for example, copying machines and reproduction supplies, desks for card punch operators, etc.
These desks should be so designed that they are an aid to the performance of specific tasks.
Furniture can also be classified on the basis of purpose. Thus we have
- Executive furniture – The furniture is designed to suite individual tastes and their purpose is to impress visitors with the prestige and importance of persons using them. An executive desk should have an adequate working space.
- Special purpose furniture – Special furniture is required for special jobs, for example, a typist’s desk and chair should be of the required height in order to sit and work comfortably.
- Built-in furniture/space saving furniture – Cupboards are commonly built-in the walls of the rooms thus saving on expenditure and floor space.
- Modular or System furniture – This is the type of furniture which uses the minimum floor space. However, it has one great limitation, namely, it may encourage talking among the clerks where many works units are combined. But this problem can be solved to some extent by providing screens.
- General furniture – It is designed to facilitate the work of clerks. The size of a desk depends upon the nature of the work to be performed. Different clerks may be doing different types of work. The clerk who works on the ledgers, needs a big table/desk. Each clerk will be provided with a table/desk and chair according to his requirement.
NB: Storage and filing equipment like filing racks and cabinets, cupboards, lockers, safes, etc., are also referred to as office furniture.
- Fittings and Accessories – Generally of the fittings include desk lamps, telephone stand, coat stand, waste basket etc., when choosing or selecting such items, their colour may be considered because the colour of these must not ruin the pleasing atmosphere of the office. Clerks should be provided with certain accessories. In order to perform their work efficiently, such items may be pen holders, sorting trays, boxes, cabinets, special lamb etc.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING FURNITURE
- Cost – Ensure the office furniture is kept within the financial limit.
- Suitability – The office furniture should be functional. It is suitable for the work one is doing. For example, a typist, choose desk which isn’t too high, Managing Director, desk should be big enough since there are several things like trays, telephones in his desk.
- Comfort – The seat of the workers, shape of the chairs and tables must be so designed that the workers should not feel any fatigue while doing their jobs.
- Design – Prior to purchase, one must have an idea of size, height, design and number of drawers of the table on the basis of work to be done on it.
- Durability – When considering metal/steel, plastic and modern furniture, metal/steel office furniture is of superior durability.
- Weight – If furniture has to be moved around, as it often does in a large office, light weight is preferable and fibre glass is very suitable.
- Space saving – furniture which would occupy minimum space should be selected based on space available in the office and the number of persons who work there.
- Hygiene – Select office furniture which can be easily cleaned as well as having plenty of space underneath for cleaning the floor.
- Appearance – Office furniture should be attractive and of good appearance, quality and pleasing to the eyes so as to impress workers and visitors.
- Safety – Office furniture should be safe in use – rounded corners, avoid the constant bruising caused by square corners, when space is limited.
- Fire risk – Metal and fibre glass are much less flammable than wood.
- Finish – Desk tops should be matt to avoid glare, shouldn’t be light reflecting but of dull material.
- Labour-saving – Some furniture have built-in file units, which can save walking about by the clerks and so save time.
- Explain five factors that should be considered when buying office furniture. (10 marks)
- Highlight three types of desks that can be used in an office. (5 marks)