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What Do Home Office Workers Want From Their Furnishings?

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Many homeowners consider appearance above all else when shopping for furniture that goes in the living room or dining room. When it comes to furnishing home offices, however, the emphasis shifts toward furniture that looks good and works hard. Maybe that's because many people who opened home offices to bring greater balance between work and family have discovered their offices also deliver an unexpected benefit- enhanced productivity. 15% more productive at home: In "Home Office Trends," a study of the home office market conducted by international research company Wirthlin Worldwide, respondents who work for their employer at home were asked where they're more efficient. A little more than one-third claimed to work better at home, while half said they're equally efficient whether at home or the office. Just 8 percent said they do their jobs better at the corporate office. Other studies have found that white-collar workers experience an average 15 percent increase in productivity after they begin working at home a few days a week. Among full-time home office workers, particularly consultants and those operating their own businesses, productivity can double. "The productivity advantage of working at home becomes even greater when people choose furnishings that complement their work space," says Bill Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for Sligh Furniture Company, a Holland, Mich., manufacturer of high-end home office furniture. "The dimensions of home offices-and the needs of home office workers- vary so tremendously that a one-size-fits-all solution rarely delivers the productivity gains possible with a custom layout." Top criteria for home office furniture: Home office workers seeking to get the most from their furnishings must balance a number of factors, including durability, functionality, size and aesthetics. Let's look at each individually: Durability. Many home office workers look for durable furniture that requires a onetime investment. In the Wirthlin Worldwide study, home office workers said they expect their desks and files to last an average of 20 years and their chairs to last 13 years. Functionality. Home Office workers who create a configuration that meets their unique needs will experience the greatest productivity gains. For example, Sligh's new (casual contemporary) line of home office furniture encompasses a trio of options-a Modular Home Office, a ComputerCabinet and an L-shaped workstation-all of which bring complete functionality to any office environment. The collection arrives in stores early this year. The C2 (C-squared )Modular Home Office consists of 19 components-including desks, files, storage pieces, bookcases, wall units and entertainment cabinets-that can be mixed and matched to create scores of functional configurations. The L-shaped workstation brings generous work surface and comprehensive storage options to a compact configuration. And the group's ComputerCabinet is a complete home office concealed within a beautiful armoire. Quality. The definition of 'quality" varies among home office workers. Nevertheless, most seem to understand that they'll work more efficiently if they use quality furniture, instead of making do with whatever happens to be available. Size. Furniture should accommodate the room-not the other way around. Though home offices come in all sizes, most home office furniture doesn't.   One exception: Sligh's C2 Modular Home Office, which offers modular components that can be configured to work beautifully in any home office, regardless of its shape or size. For smaller dedicated spaces, the L-shaped workstation offers everything you'd expect of a conventional office. And for shared-space environments-home offices that are sometimes used for other purposes-the C2 ComputerCabinet is an ideal solution because it literally folds up and disappears into the decor at the end of the workday.   Aesthetics. The ultimate home office combines the functionality of a corporate office with the casual ambiance of a comfortable residence. Furniture that captures the residential feel can go a long way toward creating a relaxing, stress-free environment. Among the most popular residential styles? The casual contemporary look found in Sligh's C2 lineup. The group is crafted of cherry veneers and solid woods with a Natural Cherry finish. "Having control over their surroundings is one of the reasons people start working from home," Peterson says. "They'll be more productive if they can tailor their environment to their needs." Sligh Furniture Co. is a 118-year-old, family owned furniture and clock manufacturer located in Holland and Zeeland, Mich. Now under fourth generation Sligh family management, the company manufactures and markets high quality home office furniture, business office furniture, and clocks in the United States and internationally. For more information on Sligh e-mail them at info@sligh.com.

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