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Sitting Selections: Identifying the Right Seating for Your Work Environment

We find seats everywhere. They are at our office desk and in conference rooms. There are seats for hospital exam rooms and others that are perfect for creating a welcoming, comfortable lobby. There are seats designed just for students in educational settings, chairs for adjustable-height desks, and those meant to be a comfortable place to collaborate as a member of a team. And, according to research used in a piece by the Independent, the average employee spends 6.5 hours a day sitting at work. That is a great deal of sitting.

There are so many seats to choose from, it can seem a bit overwhelming. Since we spend so much time sitting in them, care must be taken when choosing seating that will fit your specific environment. Furniture selected for a classroom would not necessarily be appropriate for a medical waiting room in a geriatric doctor’s office. This little guide offers you a few things to keep in mind when selecting furniture for your particular work space.

Medical Environments

Medical professionals find that their seating environment not only needs to be ergonomically correct and aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to protect patients from contracting any form of infection or virus. Additionally, medical settings typically require a wide variety of seating from the lobby to exam rooms and physician seating to chairs for front office staff. These facts can make medical seating quite challenging to select.

The first rule of thumb for medical office seating is to pick furniture that is seamless or with little to no stitching and crevices. This will reduce the risk of growth and the spread of harmful bacteria. It also makes cleaning much easier. You can even purchase seating for your medical practice or hospital that is made with antibacterial material to further reduce the spread of germs.

You’ll also want to ensure your seating allows for freedom of movement in the space you are purchasing it for. For example, you’ll want to consider the space and layout of your lobby and waiting areas. Not only should the seating be comfortable for your patients and visitors, but it should also allow for ease of movement. Patients may have wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches that hinder their movement and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides federal requirements for removing barriers in public spaces such as restaurants, schools, and doctor’s offices.

Commercial furniture retailers such as CORE are familiar with ADA requirements and can help you map out your lobby, waiting areas, and other spaces to ensure your business or office meets federal regulations. Additionally, seasoned professionals should also be able help you select the proper products from bench seats and chairs to ergonomically correct seating for your staff and comfortable exam tables for your patients.

Today’s manufacturers offer a wide selection of materials, colors, and patterns to choose from so you can make your medical environment as clean and safe as possible while providing a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere to reduce stress on your patients. You can choose from solid colors to bright patterns. It’s all about the statement you wish to make with your medical environment. Intensa is just one manufacturer of medical and laboratory seating that is engineered specifically for the healthcare industry with a wide variety of options to choose from. Stance Healthcare also offers premium seating designed specifically for medical offices and facilities. For example, check out the Carson Sleeper which converts from a cozy couch to a user-friendly, easy-to-clean bed and back again.

Whether you are looking for something to fit your existing décor, you’re undergoing a complete renovation, or you have a brand new medical space, there is seating to meet your workplace needs. For more information about selecting seating and furniture for medical spaces, check out the CORE blog “Selecting the Best Furniture for Medical Spaces.

Educational Seating

As teaching methods continue to grow and evolve, so does classroom furniture including seating. When choosing the best seating for your students, the age of the students, their average size, and how long they are sitting in the classroom should all be taken into consideration. You’ll also want to think about students who may have any special needs and ensure that the seating you choose fits the space you have in order to allow ease of movement.

Not only is the right seating important for capturing bodies and minds, it can teach correct posture and sitting habits starting at a young age. Heavy backpacks and sitting for hours in a classroom can make it difficult for children to achieve proper posture but there is classroom seating available to improve the ergonomics for your students. For example, American Seating offers a wide range of educational seating options including the NIMA® that is built to offer an exceptionally comfortable design while adding color to your classroom.

Classrooms also vary from seats with attached desks such as the Us® Chair Family by American Seating to chairs with tablet desktops such as the Reve™ by Safeco. Some educational environments require space to adjust seamlessly from one activity or lesson to the next which calls for easily stackable, storable seating options such as the Acton® by American Seating.

Older students at the secondary level or in institutions of higher learning will appreciate more versatile seating such as the Tuck Collaborative chair offered by AllSeating.  The chair offers arm rests and mid-back support for comfort but also sits on casters and swivels to allow students to easily turn or move in order to collaborate with others.

AllSeating, among other manufacturers, also offers a wide range of other educational seating options ranging from counter-height stools for the science lab to benches for shared spaces such as the library and high-back seating for teachers and professors. Kimball also offers a wide variety of seating options and arrangements from stackable and mesh chairs that are light and easy to move such as their Guide™ collection to rolling seats to allow for simple collaboration among scholars.

Just as with medical facilities, seating in classrooms and environmental areas will need to be easy to maintain and clean. With proper care, they can last for many years and create a bright, fun, and comfortable learning atmosphere. For more information about selecting the best furniture, including seating, for your classroom setting, read “Choosing the Right Furniture for Your Students and Classroom.”

Conference Rooms

When it comes to selecting the best chairs for your office conference room, there are a number of items to consider. First you will need to account for how many people you want to be able to accommodate. You’ll need to measure the space you have and consider allowing extra room for movement and those with special needs.

The next step is to consider size of table you want for your conference room. The table will likely become a centerpiece in the room and your seating will want to fit well with it. Based on what conference table you select, this will determine how much space you have for seating and how many chairs you will need. Some to consider include the Ayles by AllSeating for its contemporary appeal with a knife-edge shape, the stylish NV™ by Neutral Posture for comfort with its high back and armrests, or the clean shape of the Ardi by Enwork featuring subtle lines across the back for aesthetic appeal.

It is also a good idea to have extra chairs that are not around the table, but can fit in the back of the room or along the sides to provide overflow seating for those larger-than-expected meetings. The Tucker™ side chair by Kimball is compact and attractive enough to add to a conference room while providing comfortable seating. Among other overflow seating options are the Flip with Arms by Euortech which offers a black mesh back and efficient storage with a flip-up seat.

Keep in mind however, that there should be a comfortable amount of space for people who arrive late or leave the meeting early. They should be able to walk past without bumping into other employees as they enter or exit. Accurate space planning is something the professionals at CORE can help you with before ordering.

Conference rooms will have different people in and out of them throughout the day. Some meetings will last a mere 15 minutes while some can go on for hours. This means it is important to have ergonomically changing seating for whoever is using the chair at each time. This means seats that can adjust the height of arm rests as well as the chair itself. Chairs that recline and swivel also allow for added comfort and collaboration during group conversations. AllSeating offers a wide range of conference seating as do several other manufacturers so you have many options to choose from to fit the specific needs of your office or business.

Employee Chairs

A supportive office chair can help prevent fatigue in employees, lower discomfort, and provide many health benefits. According to Gear Patrol, employees are more productive and contribute more positive work than an uncomfortable employee. That’s where padded, adjustable seating with ergonomic support comes in.

Bad office chairs can lead to bad posture which can then lead to back problems, leg strain, and carpel tunnel, all of which can lead to medical time off. It is important to select the best office chair to keep your employees not only healthy but happy.

Many manufacturer’s such as AllSeating have worked hard to develop chairs that offer proper ergonomic support. Some chairs are stationary and cannot be adjusted while other can have too many knobs for the user to figure out. The most important adjustable parts of an office chair should be lumbar support, arm width and height, seat back width and height, and seat and back angle. Swivel chairs with wheels at the bottom are great so employees can move around their desk space without over reaching which can lead to straining or falling.

The Levo Task chair features a proprietary “hands-on” back adjustment system that provides lumbar support at five intervals while the Cozi® 24/7 by Neutral Posture offers catered seating with two back size options and built-in lumbar support, two contoured-seat options, and adjustments for the height, angle, and tension of the seat. Neutral Posture’s Icon chair provides adjustable and removable lumbar support, has three adjustment levers, and replaceable/removable seat cushions.

With a few simple steps and easy instructions, every employee can adjust their own seat to match their individual needs. See the quick video from AllSeating. Additionally, here are some ergonomic principles from Neutral Posture to keep in mind when selecting desk chairs you’re your employees:

  • Set the height of your chair to allow the floor to supporting your feet and lower legs only.
  • Make sure the angle between your torso and legs is greater than 90°.
  • Allow two to four inches of space between the front of the seat cushion and the back of your knee.
  • Look for forearm and elbow support that allows the user to keep their wrists in a neutral position.
  • The seat should allow the position of the backrest to be nearly upright, or slightly reclined with head support.
  • Select seating that allows support of your lumbar curve.

Finally, the fabric or material of your seats should be breathable. This stops the chair from becoming overly hot after hours of sitting. It should also have enough cushion to support every employee so they cannot feel the chair through the fabric.

Reception, Lobby & Waiting Areas

The first thing a visitor sees when they walk into an office is generally the reception area, lobby, or waiting room. The style of a these spaces can say much about a company’s values and can even be designed to generate certain emotions in visitors.

From residential buildings to businesses, nearly every building that has people coming and going has a reception, lobby, or waiting area. Whether for aesthetics, security purposes, or functional operations, almost any visitor will have to spend some amount of time in these open spaces. It can leave a lasting impression so it is important that your reception and waiting areas convey a feel that speaks to your business and provides optimal seating options for anyone who may walk through your door.

To achieve this goal, there should be seating that allows for group discussions as well as independent seating for those in need of privacy for telephone calls, texting, or work. That means there should be a breadth of seating options in every one of these areas.

Pixley by Enwork features asymmetrical, organic curves to define seating space without separation. You can group several together for big groups or spread them sporadically for seating throughout a large space. These upholstered benches are great for public areas and can be ordered with or without backrests in a wide variety of colors to match any office décor.

Kimball offers a wide variety of seating options that allow for both group and private arrangements. The Wilder™ provides private seating that can be paired with other sitting options or left on its own while the Pose™ offers long-term comfort and style that may also stand alone or be grouped. For a lush, contemporary yet relaxing seating experience, Enjoy™ and Vista™ promise additional options to choose from.

Versteel® offers a wide variety of public area seating with its Immix collection. The strong materials allow the seats to last for years to come while the design allows seating to be structured in several ways. Whether you want to offer round seating for people to enjoy open views through large windows or clustered seating interspersed with tabletop pieces for drinks and magazine, Immix is something to consider. The chairs come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and prints so you can choose what speaks to your business or office environment.

In conclusion, there is a great deal of seating to choose from in the world of commercial furniture but not all furniture fits all needs. Before you buy seating, be sure to take proper measurements of the space you have, how much traffic you have in the room you are buying for, and the comfort of the people using them. Additionally, you’ll need to consider the amount of use the chairs will experience, how they are used, and by whom. There’s also the look and feel you wish to create with the furnishings you choose.

If you need assistance with ordering the right seating for your work environment, contact the professionals at CORE at (520) 999-3470 or visit us online. You are also invited to swing by our new showroom at 698 E. Wetmore, Suite 410, in Tucson to experience some of the many seating possibilities we have to offer. You may also view our very own chair wall featuring additional seating and decorating options for your office.

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Selecting the best furniture for medical spaces

Some things to consider for your healthcare office

Picking furniture for your office space can be a daunting task. From finding the right style to selecting the best color coordination, it’s not always easy. For medical professionals, picking the best office furniture can prove even more challenging.

Not only does the office style need to be aesthetically pleasing, but requirements such as cleanliness, function, and patient accommodations need to be thought through. In most offices, especially a medical office, a waiting room can say a great deal about your company, culture, and business. Here are some tips for selecting the best furniture for your medical office environment from the waiting room to the exam room.

Aesthetics and Comfort
The aesthetics of an office are truly important to the overall patient experience. From the layout of furniture and the lighting to the colors used in the décor, every piece matters. It is essential that you create a welcoming environment for all of your patients that will soothe and reassure them. The furniture selected should reflect and promote how you wish for your guests to feel.

Consider the following when decorating and furnishing your medical office:

Inspire– When it comes to marketing your business digitally or in print, you’ll want to showcase your office space. Make it bright, professional, and comfortable in appearance so people will want to visit.
Evaluate– Consider your floorplan and the layout of your furnishings. Is there enough space to move comfortably? Does it meet requirements for ADA access? Does the layout allow you to interact with patients as seamlessly as possible?
Payments and Data– Does your office allow for enough space for you to gather patient information and payments with privacy?
Exam Space– Do your offices provide enough space and a layout that is comfortable for the doctor(s), nurses, and patients to move in?
Storage– Is there lockable storage available for clinical records, marketing material, and medications where patients, service personnel such as vendors, and other guests do not have access?
Staff– Is there designated space for staff members to take breaks and eat lunch that is not open to the public?
Privacy– Are your exam rooms private enough for you to hold exams and for patients to disrobe, apply medications, etc.?

Sanitary Environment
Germs are everywhere and members of the healthcare industry must be especially cognizant of choosing the right furnishings to help eliminate the threat of germs to their clients. Whether you are operating a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a dermatology practice, you want to eliminate all of the germs you possibly can and there is furniture to help you accomplish this goal.

The spread of germs is a very real threat. According to the Center for Health Design, germs can lead to unnecessary infections and further healthcare issues. A whitepaper published by the Center for Health Design explained that Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI), an infection that “patients acquire during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a hospital care setting,” are contracted by one in every 20 patients.

Some of these HAI pathogens can live on inanimate surfaces anywhere from hours (Pseudomonas Aeruginosa) to months (Clostridium Difficile). In order to reduce the risk of spreading HAIs, furniture must be cleaned routinely by staff. In order to make this frequent procedure more efficient, easy-to-clean furniture is imperative. The following are some tips when selecting furniture for your practice that accomplishes this goal:

• Seams, stitching, and crevices can harbor harmful bacteria and increase the risk of HAIs. Select furniture with minimal crevices and with areas that are easy to disinfect.
• Pick smooth, finished countertops, desks, and side tables that are easy to wipe down. According to HMF Magazine, non-porous furniture made of material such as vinyl or polyurethane is commonly used in medical settings because of their inherent clean-ability.
• The study by the Center for Health Design shows that the theory that anti-microbial material helps reduce pathogens on furniture has inadequate evidence to support it. Upholstery should be manufactured with impervious materials that are easy to wipe down and maintain.
• Office furniture should last and not be damaged easily. The furniture selected should be easy to maintain and repair. Also fabrics that tear or rip can harbor bacteria.
• Couches and chairs with removable cushions or parts make for convenient disinfecting, easy repairs, and quick replacement are highly recommended.

The Reception Area & Waiting Room
The first thing a patient sees when they walk into an office is generally the reception area and/or waiting room. The style of a waiting room can say much about a company’s values and can generate a certain feeling in patients.

Your reception area should have a clearly visible desk where patients know to check in for appointments. It should be easy to reach sign-in sheets and staff should be visible over the desk. You’ll want to ensure your reception staff has comfortable, ergonomically correct seating for their comfort through their long hours at work. Balanced, comfortable seating should also be offered at the reception desk for patients and guests if they are expected to sit while signing in or filling out paperwork.

Consider who your patients are when decorating and selecting furniture. For example, if you are a pediatrician’s office serving children, you’ll want to include bright colors and a play area with suitable decorations, toys, and books to keep them occupied while they wait. Toys will need to be made of materials that are easy to clean and books should have covers that can be wiped down to help prevent the spread of germs.

Magazines and books are also great items to have in the office on an end table or coffee table for patients to enjoy. Even a basket can serve as a good place to store reading material. Some offices even offer mini refrigerators with bottled water or soda for patients to enjoy while they wait. These should also be cleaned regularly to reduce the spread of germs.
There should be enough seating to accommodate all of your guests. In addition, you want to make sure there is a wide variety of seating from chairs to couches that allow guests to sit where they are most comfortable.

One of the common aspects of a waiting area is the television. This can serve to keep patients entertained and pass the time while they wait as well as offer sound cover for private conversations at the reception desk. Televisions kept on a loop can become annoying, however, so experts recommend the use of smart TVs that can easily stream content from a variety of sources such as cable, Netflix, and the internet. Just make sure the content is appropriate for your audience. For example, Disney movies at a pediatrician’s office are good entertainment for the kids but wouldn’t necessarily be a good fit in a geriatric office.

Exam Rooms
According to projections released in the latest U.S. Census, the American population is expected to continue to become older and more racially and ethnically diverse. The population of those age 65 and older is expected to more than double by the year 2060 to 92 million as people are living longer with improved healthcare. In addition, the obesity rate among U.S. adults also continues to climb. A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found more than one-third of Americans are now obese.

With such statistics in mind, medical offices will needs to ensure waiting rooms are large enough to accommodate patients who suffer with bariatric issues or those in wheelchairs. According to a whitepaper by Midmark titled Five Key Factors to an Effective Exam Room Design, a patient’s “level of comfort can directly influence their anxiety level and ease ‘white coat syndrome.’” Additionally, there should be enough space for doctors to work adequately as the “inability to easily maneuver in the exam room can often cause physicians to alter their work style over time, which can result in repetitive motion injuries.”

With the population of elderly patients increasing, a growing number of patients may need help getting onto the exam table. Tables should be accessible in that they are able to be lowered to a height of 17 to 19 inches to lower the risk of falls or the burden to staff of lifting patients.

The acquisition of vital signs should also occur in the exam room, according to the Midmark study which concluded that this improves most patient/caregiver interactions. The process of taking vitals hasn’t changed significantly in the last 30 years and many offices are set up to take vitals at several stations which can be uncomfortable for patients, especially if they are in semi-private or public settings.

With rising costs and shrinking office sizes, medical providers and practices can still offer terrific customer service and patient care with foldable workspaces for doctors and nurses. There is no longer a need for a large desk and heavy computer in the exam room. Today’s offices are able to seamlessly work from tablets and laptops with a small desk that can easily be folded against the wall to make more space.

ADA Compliance
You’ll also want to ensure that you accommodate for patients with special needs such as those with bariatric issues, the elderly, and those in wheelchairs. Ensure there is adequate space between the furniture to meet ADA regulations and that your office allows for ease of movement for every patient. Make sure the width of office doors, both exterior and interior, are able to accommodate wheelchairs so patients can move independently and safely. This is also true of restroom spaces.

Selecting Safe Furnishings
The number one priority for a medical practice should always be patient safety. This should take precedence over style when selecting furniture though the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

For example, falls are the number one form of patient incidents that resulted in death or injury in a hospital setting, according to the Center for Health Design. About 15 percent of those falls are caused by factors in the patient’s environment such as furniture. Below are some facts to recognize when picking safe furniture:

• According to a study by Weiner and Colleagues, when chair height was raised from 17 inches to 22 inches, successful standing efforts rose to nearly 50 percent in nursing home subjects. Select seating with different heights to decrease the fall risk for patients.
• Armrests can provide additional aid in helping patients rise from their chair without changing their knee or hip angles.
• Sturdy furniture is crucial. If a patient attempts to stand up from an unbalanced chair, the risk of falling can increase. This is also a risk for children as unbalanced furniture could tip and land on a small child.
• If a patient does fall, they could potentially fall into furniture. For this reason, chairs and tables should not have sharp edges.
• Bariatric seating should also be incorporated into your furniture selection. According to the Center for Health Design, bariatric seating should be offer “appropriately sized elements with capacity adequate for the obese patients, interspersed with more traditional furnishings to avoid confining bariatric patients to specific areas of the waiting environment.” The seating selected should be hold up to 700 pounds to help reduce fall risk for heavier patients.

Comfort is Caring
The comfort of your patients should also be kept in mind. The comfort of medical furnishings should reflect the duration of the stay your patients and guests will be experiencing. If you are furnishing a maternity ward, for example, you’ll want to ensure that the bed is comfortable for your patient but that there is adequate seating for multiple guests that are likely to visit such as new grandparents as well as a place for the other new parent to catch some Z’s.

Putting some thought into the comfort of your patients and their guests shows that your practice cares about them. The right furnishings can help make a potentially stressful situation less so if they have a comfortable place to wait and be treated.

CORE offers a wide variety of furnishings for all of your medical office needs. Visit CORE online to see what we have to offer the healthcare industry or call us today at (520) 999-3470 to schedule a free initial consultation.