The Secret Diary of A Stationery Lover 49¾

I’m not a happy bunny at the moment. Sorry to start on a negative, but I would rather be upfront with you before you read too much further.
Our company is “evolving”. Those are the words they used to explain the changes to me.
Evolving? What are they on about? Businesses grow, businesses struggle, or businesses decline, but evolve? Straight-away I knew I was going to be hit with some flim-flam and I knew I was not going to like it. Call me a dinosaur, but change is rarely good – you ask any dinosaur…well, you can’t can you because the dinosaurs evolved from a group of mostly dog and horse size creatures into the most enormous beasts that ever existed on land. And then what? Puff, they were gone!
So, we are evolving to a new hybrid way of working. Apparently it is all about well-being, improving life balance, reducing environmental impact, improving productivity and efficiency blah de blah. Great as that sounds, but at what point in this “evolution” did anyone give any consideration to me? I can tell you now, they didn’t. No, Mr Senior Stationery Supervisor is going to have to work out for himself how the all-important stationery essentials will be distributed amongst the hybrid working staff.
It used to be so easy. Employees would fill out a stationery request form which I would then decipher, change and make recommendations to before contacting our local supplier for the order. That might sound as though I am interfering, but honestly, a level of expertise is required to avoid us ending up with a pile of returns. For example, last week Anne in Accounts left me a message saying she needed a new shredder, can I sort it. Well of course I can sort it, but give me some more information, please!
Did she want small, medium, large? What security level? Strip cut, cross cut or micro cut? Is it just for her to use or for the whole department? After much deliberation and consultation I concluded that she qualified for a high end Rexel Auto+ 600X which shreds up to 600 sheets in one go with P-4 security, 4-digit PIN lockable paper chamber and a whopping 80L bin. Yes, 80 litres – that baby can hold the contents of FORTY 2-litre bottles of my favourite Diet Pepsi. Phenomenal. A Rolls Royce amongst shredders.
It is humbling to think that I have the power to make these decisions. OK, so I need to get anything over £25 signed off by the Accounts Department, but in this instance I had no issues with getting Anne to sign the Purchase Order. “No problem she said, just don’t tell Mr Chipperfield.” I’ve no idea why she did not want Mr Chipperfield, the company CEO to know, but I am not one to get involved with office politics.
As I was saying, life used to be easy, but now I have to manage dealing with requests and distributing stationery to employees that might spend half their time at home working. Hayley in Product Development even had the cheek to ask me if I could get her items delivered to her house – who does she think I am? “Of course, that is fine” I replied, “…as long as you don’t mind dropping the list of what you need around to my house?!”
The cheek of it. Although in truth, Hayley is rather lovely and I was kind of hoping she might say yes to that, at which point I would have asked her if she wanted to stay for dinner and I could have wooed her with my collection of Puntine Drawing pins which have been around for over a century. I have an impressive collection with perfectly preserved steel points in nickel-plated tempered steel, a treatment that gives hardness, brilliance and resistance to oxidation.
Faced with this dilemma – the need to supply our hybrid workers with stationery, not the one about having gone 27 years without a girlfriend – I contacted our office products supplier and I have to say they were absolutely brilliant. Being local we met up and devised a fantastic plan that means I can schedule in deliveries for when I know that certain employees will be in the office and leave it on their desk ready for them to collect.
The system works really well and our supplier has even put together special packs under one ordering code that I can use for ordering everyday items specifically suited for whether the person has a home office, works at a dining room table or is out and about nipping in to cafes and libraries to catch-up on a bit of admin.
I would like to say it was my idea, but in truth it was my local office products supplier that came up with all the ideas. The benefits of buying from a local supplier, we have a great relationship, and they even send me pictures anytime a new product comes out that they think I might like. In fact I am sitting here now looking at a picture of a Fellowes Stellar A3 Guillotine – Hayley has no idea what she is missing out on.

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Effective executive office design

Creating an executive office requires careful considerations and meticulous planning. A new office concept has emerged in modern interior design with the aim of improving workspaces to meet the demands of today’s leaders. Private offices must offer the top management a space that prioritises appearance and productivity in equal measure. A premium look doesn’t serve the purpose unless the space is designed for efficiency based on the user’s needs.
The modern-day private office must support the work style and daily habits of managers. It is supposed to make a solid impression on work colleagues, supplier partners and important customers. Merging the attributes of practicality, branding, and welcoming nature to the space would be the ideal solution. The approach is slightly different than other parts of the workplace to ensure that manager’s work environments are productive, efficient, and optimised for success.
Executive office spaces are designed to accommodate managerial needs and are used to analyse, organise and manage the actions of the company. It should be a combination of style and ergonomics so that the office is the optimum base for negotiations and the important exchange of ideas.
Strategic Location
Location and atmosphere can colour a message and change behaviour. Think about the difference between speaking with someone at a bar versus having a conversation in the park. Mood, tone, body language and energy shift. Research also shows that natural light can help increase productivity and reduce stress, which is an important factor for managers who need to keep a level head during stressful times to ensure issues don’t directly affect employees.
If the office is far away from the rest of the team, then managers might find themselves out of the loop in the office routine. On the other hand, executive offices right in the middle of a big, collaborative workspace might not be a good idea. Hence, it’s important to select a strategic location that would be accessible, yet slightly set apart from the hustle and bustle of the main work hub.
Personalised Functionality
Executive spaces get the luxury of personalisation and the opportunities are limitless, but functionality should always come first. An executive office is usually more than an individual working space. It also has various functions such as a space for company meetings with table with chairs, a comfortable sitting area with lounge chairs or sofas, and a storage space for important documents or to display company awards and mementos.
Ergonomic Furniture
It doesn’t matter if the office is mahogany-lined or modern minimalist, the boss’s office can be an intimidating place. As you bring people into the space, think about the messages it sends to your guests. The office should echo the brand’s core values and embody everything the company stands for. Celebrate the company’s culture with a unique design and décor. First off, a large desk and ergonomic chair is the heart and soul of the executive office.
It’s also important to create a harmonious look and feel of the space which matches the entire office, which means finding a suitable elegant wood finish for the working spaces including the desk, storage and table, together with a plush sofa in a material which creates exclusivity in the executive office. The furniture must adapt to the different dynamics and uses required, both in the present and the future.
Anson executive desking
Ideal for any manager’s office, the Anson range from Dams is a new, premium executive desking range that reflects a leader’s demand for an elevated aesthetic. The subtle, angled desktop provides plenty of work space, complemented with panel end legs and a modesty panel that combine perfectly to create a space with a beautiful aesthetic to suit the rooms of managers who want to furnish their office with prestige and sophistication.
The credenza-style return and mobile pedestal offer all important storage space in the same Barcelona Walnut finish, with a selection of tables also available from Dams in a matching finish to create a more executive feel and keep the executive office colour scheme consistent. Anson’s versatile aesthetics and specially designed storage components allow managers to design environments that connect with visitors and accommodate different job functions, work styles, and personal preferences.
Leave a lasting impression
A great looking private office is practically ineffective if it does not enable executives to get the work done. It should support you in extensive ways, no matter where you work or how you work. It is important to blend prime functionality with visual appeal. An executive office should speak volumes about the business and reflects the executive’s personality.
The furniture offering should stand out and be beautifully co-ordinated to offer a versatile whole room solution, bringing a timeless appeal to the executive space. As the boss your office isn’t just an extension of you – it’s an extension of the company. A message is sent and received the moment someone walks in. Take a good look and see if it supports your intentions, is aligned with your core values, and sets the tone you want for your visitors.

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We are damaging the planet… PACK IT IN

Here in the UK we have done a tremendous job in reducing our usage of plastic bags and generally making a conscious effort to reduce our use of plastic, particularly when shopping. It was not that long ago that you might have come home from a weekly supermarket shop with 5-10 plastic bags full of groceries. You would then empty your goods into the cupboard and stuff the plastic bags into another plastic bag hanging in a cupboard containing dozens of other plastic bags from previous weeks’ shops – how crazy does that sound now?
Great news for the planet, but in contrast we seem to have gone completely crazy when it comes to parcel deliveries and packaging – the site of Hermes, DPD, DHL and (dare we even say) Amazon vans weaving in and out of streets has become more common than the local bus service, and if you drive along any stretch of motorway around the country you are likely to have seen a huge warehouse being built or recently opened.
We have entered an era of complete packaging explosion, but how damaging is that?
Fortunately the increased use of packaging does not have to have a completely negative impact on the environment, our sales of bubble wrap and plastic based filling for example is being replaced by paper padding materials, and plastic envelopes replaced by more eco-friendly kraft or recycled material – giving a life to products that are already in circulation.
Using recycled material helps to conserve our planets natural resources, reduces the amount we are sending to landfill as well as reducing pollution by limiting the need to collect raw materials – it is a win-win situation.
Reusing products also reduces the impact of your parcel deliveries – corrugated boxes for example can be used several times over before being disposed of and even when they are past their best as a box, there are now new innovative ways to recycle the cardboard without having to send it away for any recycling process.
The ProfiPack 400 is HSM’s entry-level tabletop Cardboard Perforator and can shred cardboard to produce high-quality packaging material. By punching and embossing a pattern of slits and quilts into waste cardboard, it turns cardboard into a flexible, strong, recycled, environmentally friendly packaging and void fill material.
Whilst perhaps not the cheapest item you might buy from us, organisations using a ProfiPack machine in an appropriate setting often see a return on investment in under 12 months.
If you are not ready to invest in a machine to create your own packaging, a lot of companies are buying our effective manual wrapping solution which is an equally effective alternative to bubble wrap or loose fill.
When contents need protection against scratching, surface abrasion and minor handling incidents, this WrapPak® system uses patented processes to convert environmentally friendly paper into packaging that prevents damage, including problems caused by internal impacts when multiple items are packed together.
The Geami WrapPak expands the die cut paper to a 3D honeycomb structure providing a unique wrapping product. By locking angled paper cells together, items can be wrapped securely without the need for adhesive tape or cutting. The converter can be placed at any packing station where individual items require a protective wrap. Simply genius.
We are using more packaging material than ever, but we are also getting smarter in our packing – talk to us about your packaging requirements, together we can find a greener solution.

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Top-to-Toe Ergonomics

Irrespective of the industry we operate in, and the size of organisation we work in, good ergonomics should be part of everyday office design. By taking a holistic approach to the equipment and furniture used, we can dramatically improve the quality of day-to-day working lives and the level of productivity. There are some common physical problems office workers encounter and they all directly relate to their working environment. We’ve set out how, by improving ergonomics in the workplace, we could solve these issues for a happier office and a healthy ROI.

The problem: Low mood and trouble concentrating because of physical pain.
Even low-level pain, if constant, can be distracting and demoralising.

How to help:
You could help by carrying out a full audit of your office ergonomics. Comprehensive workstation assessments could highlight where potential problems are brewing and stop them in their tracks before they impact productivity.

The problem: Eye strain and neck ache.
The glare from a computer screen or even just a badly lit office space can cause agonising eye strain, headaches and even migraine. The neck and shoulders can become strained and painful if a monitor is set at the wrong height, causing computer workers to repeatedly shift their gaze up and down if reading or referencing materials on the desk.

How to help:
Make sure lighting is adequate and provide anti-glare filters for monitors, if appropriate. The right monitor, monitor arm or laptop support can help office workers achieve the correct ergonomic position, setting the screen at eye level to stop neck strain. Meanwhile, a document holder can help them to avoid constantly moving the head from paper to screen.

The problem: Wrist pain and strain caused by repetitive actions.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, where a nerve is pinched, is one of the most common issues caused by office working. Tendonitis is also common in the wrist, while ‘trigger finger’ is often related to repetitive strain injuries.

How to help:
Wrist supports can help avoid angling wrists upwards while working, an action that is likely to cause repetitive strain injuries. Wrist supports can be used with keyboards and/or mouse mats to offer a complete ergonomic desk set up. Ergonomic mice can help position the wrist in a more natural and comfortable position.

The problem: Backache.
Anyone who has suffered even the mildest backache will know how impossible it is to work well with this sort of pain. Spending too long in one position, twisting in an unnatural way to reach for the keyboard or phone, hunching over a desk and even crossed legs – all these can put unnecessary pressure on spinal discs and muscles.

How to help:
Provide lumbar support products and attach to existing office chairs, or invest in sit-stand workstations, which might be a good choice for some or all office workers. As well as helping workers stay limber, stretching their muscles and adding movement to each day, sit-stand desks have also been shown to have beneficial effects on the waistline.

The problem: Lower back pain.
Incorrectly positioned feet causing pressure and pain in the lower back. The wrong footwear, crossed legs and legs twisted at an angle to the body can all exacerbate back problems.

How to help:
There’s a great range of foot rests to help improve circulation and reduce fatigue by elevating and supporting the feet and lower legs. In turn, this will improve overall posture and help your team members to avoid back pain.

Investing in the right equipment in your office can have huge health benefits for your team. You should consider carrying out a workspace assessment today and find out exactly what kind of physical support they need.

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The Secret Diary of a Stationery Lover

It has been a busy week for me as work starts to return to normal (I hate that phrase, what is normal? Surely every workplace is different, what is normal to me might be very different to the guys down at the local garage where quite frankly the state of their reception desk has never looked like anything I have ever seen before, how do they ever find anything?).

At our company the return to the office has enabled us to once again welcome work experience students into our environment so that they can get a feel for working life. Last Wednesday young David spent the whole day with me. A bit of a cocky lad, seemed to think he knew everything, but I soon put him in his place. When I returned from a mid-morning toilet visit, I was greeted with: “Tina from Accounts called for you whilst you were away, I left a Post-it® note on your desk”

I looked at my desk and sure enough there was a note stuck to my monitor. But it wasn’t a Post-it®. Yes it was a sticky note and it was yellow and it was posted on my screen but boy, does this young lad not know anything!

“David – come over here” I yelled “what you have put on my screen is a yellow sticky note. Not a post-it® note. Post-it is a brand of notes – they are of a much higher quality and come in a much wider range of colours. Look, see how that note on my screen is already starting to curl at the edges and will very soon fall from my screen? If I had been another ten minutes in the bathroom it will more than likely have disappeared down the back of my desk and I may never have got the message. Pull up a chair…”

For the next twenty minutes I used our Workplace Solutions catalogue to explain the important difference between sticky notes, including the value of the Super Sticky range from Post-it® which are extra sticky and come in a range of different collections. As I started to talk him through the collections – the green and blues of the Oasis collection; the orange, green and pinks from the Boost selection before moving onto the new Playful collection – I could see his eyes begin to roll with amazement. Information overload.
I did smile, when that young know-it-all kid walked through the door, he would have had no idea how much he still had to learn. Even now I have not told him about the Post-it Extreme range which is water-resistant. Some things I choose to keep to myself, well, I don’t want him to come back to the company at the end of his exams and start having his eye on my role as Stationery Supplies Supervisor do I!

The day was not all about teaching, in the afternoon we had a really good laugh and I played a classic work experience trick on young David. When we were sorting through piles of paper I said “I know what we need – go down to reception and ask Steve if you can have a ‘long weight’ for a job we are doing.” Off he trotted, confident he knew what he was doing. How we laughed twenty minutes later when he returned, Steve having eventually explained the joke!

Throughout the day I continued to share much of my experience in administrating stationery in a busy workplace, but to be honest, sometimes it felt like a lost cause.

“Can I borrow your Sellotape?” he asked later that afternoon.
“I don’t have any I’m afraid.” I knew where this conversation was going.
“Yes you do, I can see it there on your desk, right next to…”
Gotcha! I knew I had young smarty pants once again. “That young man is mere sticky tape, a cheap brand bought in bulk by my predecessor. It is not Sellotape. Sellotape is a brand of vastly superior quality; stronger, tougher and lasts longer.”
Again the eyes rolled. He knew he had met his match.

At 5.30pm the cleaners started to gather in the doorway, removing their equipment from the cupboard, including the legendary red and black Henry vacuum cleaner. Wasting no time, David took that as his cue to pack up and leave. “Right, I’m off, it looks like they are about to start to use the hoover…”

“David, that is not a hoover…” My efforts to educate him were wasted, he was already out the door and on his way home. Funny enough the next day he never showed up for work experience, his mum called to say that he was not well and would not be returning. Kids today, they have no stamina.

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Office Furniture is the secret to productivity

The office is often referred to as a second home to workers, spending more time there than with their own family, and furniture is essential for smooth and efficient functioning of a workplace. It makes the office environment comfortable, pleasant and attractive, and the role of furniture in the productivity of workers and the efficient operation of a work environment is more important now than it has ever been.
With today’s office furniture ranging from the gimmicky to the purely functional, the style that companies opt for sends visual cues about their brand, not to mention impacting on office ambience and employee productivity. Today it’s not just tech and creative set-ups getting experimental with office furniture in regards to their colour and design choices. More professional services and financial services firms are kitting out their offices with height adjustable desks, soft seating areas, private working spaces and abundant indoor greenery.

The right furniture
While hammocks and bean bags may prove a talking point in communal areas of some imaginative, eccentric companies, in reality furniture needs to support and reflect the tasks being carried out. But with businesses looking to optimise their space and reduce the overall number of desks, the onus is more on the type of furniture to be used around the office. And there’s more choice than ever before.
Getting the right mix of office furniture is an investment in its own right, but while design trends come and go, what’s really important is ensuring the basics like desks and seating meet employee needs and make the most of the available space. There is the risk that companies can get swept along by designs, such as sit-stand desks, that are not used to their maximum benefit, for example if sit-stand desks are consistently used in sitting mode, it simply defeats their intended purpose.
Companies need to evaluate which types of furniture best support their employees day-to-day activities. For the employer, it’s about listening to the workforce, trusting their views and accepting that they don’t always have to be at their desks to do their job.

Boosting productivity
With all the positive effects of installing revolutionary furniture designs, one of the most desired outcomes of such change is the increased productivity of employees.
Employees work better and feel situated and happier in their work environment when the furniture is attractive and comfortable. Like a well-oiled machine, healthy employees generate quality output and also commit to working regularly, reducing the absenteeism rate. All this is possible with the installing of employee-friendly and contemporary furniture that breaks away from the traditional norm of workplaces.

Multi-functional spaces
Furniture can sometimes take up a lot of space, but it can actually make the office look more spacious if arranged properly. Multi-functional furniture is ideal for small offices and can help reduce the amount of clutter. Companies with more limited fit-out budgets need to think creatively about how they use the same furniture for different purposes, for example a multi-purpose chair can be used in a dining setting, and also be used for internal meetings if designed correctly.
In larger open areas, a range of flexible settings with different privacy levels turns the space into a vibrant hub where different modes of work can happen simultaneously – collaboration, informal social interactions, learning and even focus work. The addition of open collaborative settings allow people to safely and comfortably connect while moving around easily.
However furniture is positioned within the office, ensuring that employees have the privacy and the personal space they need to get their work done is key. And in modern offices, design choices also need to accommodate technology to connect quickly and easily. Today’s office spaces can look good but above all they must be fit for purpose if companies and employees are to get the most from them.

Higher productivity levels
As the nature of work evolves, office furniture is changing to keep pace, but the basics – a good desk, supportive chairs and comfortable breakout areas are still the essential design elements. The mix of exquisitely designed classic furniture and ergonomically designed modern furniture will give employees a space where they feel welcomed, comfortable and well taken care of, and also give the company a sophisticated and versatile image.
A spacious office complemented by space-saving multi-functional furniture can give any workplace an accommodating air.
Succeeding in the office requires more than the employee’s hard work. The office needs to be furnished with the latest furniture to give the added motivation. The rewards of creating high quality areas for working, for collaboration or for private working are higher productivity levels.

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