Personnel effects

You can tell a lot about someone by the state of their work area. Nicky Churchill looks at ways to brighten up your worktop and avoid stress and strain

Accessories in the office are seen either as a necessity or a luxury but most of the time they are a specification afterthought. Items are most likely to be purchased quickly and efficiently by the in-house facilities manager, and whether it’s a footrest or a filing tray, it will probably come from the office stationery catalogue.

The increase in computer use over the last decade, and legislation to go with it, has meant that accessories for computer operators are now big business. Monitor arms, CPU holders and footrests can all be provided to make the task more comfortable. Clear the worktop and you can optimise the desk space for each operator. Give them an adjustable arm for the monitor, a footrest and wristrest and suddenly workplace ailments are less of a problem.

A number of the office furniture companies have recognised this trend and now provide computer accessories alongside their furniture systems. However, if you just want to enhance your existing furniture, there are suppliers who specialise in, and understand, ergonomics of the workspace.

Colebrook Bosson Saunders is one such company which designs and manufactures computer and office accessories. These include monitor arms to raise the VDU to eyelevel, adjustable cradles to carry the hard disk beneath the worktop, and keyboard sleeves and trays to extend the worksurface. As well as the standard range of products, CBS will also produce specialist solutions for individual client companies.

One of its newer products is an adjustable under-desk CPU cradle that slides out and rotates horizontally for cable access. An optional heavy-duty steel lock prevents CPU and memory chip theft. CBS has also recently introduced a new flat screen monitor arm and a range of office accessories including screen or desk-hung filing boxes in aluminium.

For the desktop you might choose the Surf collection of ergonomic computer accessories, designed by Ross Lovegrove and Stephen Peart for Knoll some four years ago. This collection is both sculptural and colourful, and comprises wristrest and mouse pad as well as a footrest and a lumbar support which hangs from the chair back. Each piece comes in a range of colours – charcoal, scarlet, grape and ultra blue, and is available from Extra Accessories.

The trend of making the most of “vertical desk space” leaves more room on the worktop for accessories such as filing trays, pen pots and disc holders. But, if you have the right furniture system, these items can be clipped on to the screens that are part of the workstation.

Filing trays and the like vary in style and price and cater both for the executive office and the secretarial workstation. Ahrend has a large portfolio of suppliers, ranging from the leather and chrome Master collection by Italian manufacturer Caimi Brevetti, to the Helit range from Lesco. The clean lines of Raul Barbieri’s Status collection for Italian company Rexite is another firm favourite in matt black or aluminium (from Neil Rogers Interiors), while those from Spanish manufacturer Vilagrasa, (from Colebrook Bosson Saunders) have a certain classic charm.

Two further pieces supplied by Ahrend are worth noting, which, although not strictly accessories, could nevertheless be classified as specification afterthoughts. The first is the City Hall clock in brushed aluminium, designed by Arne Jacobsen – stylish Danish design at its best – and the other is Memoboard, designed by Elis Nielsen. Produced in polished aluminium, it is more akin to a piece of artwork than a pinboard with its cross-stitch slits firmly holding on to the office memos.

A bit of stylish personality on the work surface doesn’t go amiss either, whether it’s the colourful and flexible Cable Turtle from Authentics, introduced aft 100% Design, or the latest design from Rexite. Rexite continues its relationship with UK designer Julian Brown to produce Hannibal, a tape-dispenser shaped like an elephant’s head. The roll of tape is held in place by two weights and dispensed via the fold-out trunk. “It is a mix of dead seriousness and a touch of smile,” says Brown, explaining that Hannibal leans back slightly so that it appears to be talking to you. “It has a heart and a soul,” he says. Aimed at the middle market, Hannibal will be launched in February next year and is the first of a family of three new products for the desktop. No one is revealing what is to come, but we’re laying bets on a hippopotamus stapler.

Last, but not least, comes the Staple Wizard, a functional and fun stapler introduced earlier this year by Rexel. This nifty little item, with its internal workings on view through the transparent case, has a sensor system which makes it whirr into action as soon as the paper is inserted. Although it will undoubtedly bring much amusement to the corporate office, I would guess that it is more likely to attract the consumer in the home office.

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