Office furniture comes in various shapes and sizes but all are designed for one purpose in mind. To extract the most work as possible from employees.
Have you seen the 'pods' in call centre offices? One large desk, divided into individual sections that give you just enough space for a keypad, notepad and pen. There is no space for the office incidentals, like plants or cute little family photos anymore, that used to make the working environment that little more homely. All 'pods' are directional with the PC screen as the focus.
Office furniture such as these sectional units are like a cross between a rabbit warren and a greyhound trap. They are designed to numb all free thinking and were inspired by treadmills. Other than that, desks are pretty much much of a muchness. Of course, you can choose between beech or glass or even oak if you're feeling a sumptuous need in the office.
The only thing to be recommended when it comes to office furniture of the desk department is the curved desk. My great grandmother was a tiny woman but it seems I inherited her patience - or lack of it. She once took a saw to the corner of her kitchen table because she was sick of the bruising resulting from yet another collision.
I feel exactly the same about my square desk that has sharp, pointy corners for what purpose? It's not like they do anything constructive, like keeping away those little men with more workloads to dump on me.
Of course, reception desks are something else entirely. The office furniture in my doctors reception is designed to be patient proof. They sit behind their glass walls feeling impervious. The patient side of this construction is made chest height with the idea of making you feel small. Once you feel small, you ask for an appointment and the receptionist gives you that inane grin and says no before even looking at the diary.
When you complain that you cannot hear her from the other side of the partition, she then finds a way of amplifying your test results for all the waiting room to hear. How does she do this? Now you know why there's a completely bomb proof partition between receptionist and patient- it's to stop you pulling her over the counter and giving her a piece of your mind.
When it comes to office partitioning, office residents need to remember that, like curtains around a hospital bed, they are not sound proof. Ok, they do stop you being able to look at other people's paperwork but this can be overcome if you stand on a chair, preferably not a swivel one, tilt your head at a forty five degree angle and squint.
Office furniture seating is a whole new realm. Chairs are picked depending on what you want the seated to be feeling or doing. Want to intimidate during an interview? Install a seat that is lower than the interviewer, immediately giving them the feeling of being looked down upon. Best they learn right from the start where they stand.
Are you a control freak? Then bolt a chair to the floor and watch the seated squirm when they find they cannot move it to a position that gives them a better advantage. Chairs in the unemployment offices are bolted to the floor but this is to prevent them being used as projectiles during a riot.
For those that want to keep their customers as long as possible, soft seating is a good idea when choosing your office furniture. Make them comfortable, relax them with a little light reading and a beverage. In that comfy seat they'll feel right at home and want to stay until they've spent all their money.
So, if you want your visitors to stay or go, if you want your staff to work harder or faster, there is a design of office furniture to suit all applications.
Furnishings expert Catherine Harvey looks at what office furniture suits different applications.