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A Buyer's Guide to used office cubicles

The environment of an office can have dramatic effects on the happiness and productivity of employees. A functional layout that feels spacious and intentional goes a long way to helping workers feel welcome in the space and can increase collaboration or focused concentration. While there are many choices for office furniture, intentionally choosing styles and sizes that are well matched for the tasks of the job will give your employees the tools they need to succeed and reduce workplace injuries. One major office purchase that affects both layout and employee comfort is office cubicles.

Looking for used cubicles is one way for office managers and business owners to save money on an office redesign without sacrificing employee comfort or health. Not all used cubicles are equal, however, so to make the most of your used cubicle purchase, learn more about these 15 tips about the benefits and options available to you.

1. Be open to style options

The nature of buying a pre-owned product is that supply will be somewhat limited compared to new products. If you are set on a single color, style, or size configuration, you are unlikely to find it easily available to you. Figure out what your bottom line needs are before browsing, and keep an open mind about the features that aren't as important to you.

2. Know the quality grade

Not all used products are the same quality! Find out whether you'll be purchasing something that's near-new or good quality, and avoid cubicles that are fair to distress. Saving money on the initial purchase won't be worth it if the cubicles are so worn that they make your employees feel unsafe or have to be replaced after a short time.

3. Measure twice, buy once

The office dimensions and limitations are the most important variables in purchasing cubicles. Not matter how great the deal on used cubicles might be, if they won't fit in your space, they're not right for you. Make sure you have the exact measurements on hand while you shop and try to have more than one functional layout you know will work so you can have options.

4. Consider repair needs

Just like any other product, some brands of cubicles are more popular than others. Off brand products may come with a slight discount, but will be harder to supply parts for if repairs or reconfigurations are needed later. Stick with trusted brand names like Steelcase, Avenir or 9000; Herman Miller, AO or Ethospace; Haworth Places; Knoll Morrison; or Reff.

5. Ask to see the inventory list

Each cubicle you buy is more than a set of walls. In addition to the panels, you will also need connectors and work surfaces, along with drawers, shelves and other customizable add-ons. The previous owner of your cubicles may have used a different configuration and may have used different parts than you will need. While most used dealers will work with you on these details, it's useful to be proactive about making sure all the parts you need are included rather than having a bad surprise on delivery day.

6. Work with a reputable dealer

Reliable businesses with a history of quality goods and customer service are even more important when working with used office furniture. The supply chain is more complicated, managing the inventory and sourcing repair or replacement parts all require special skills that other businesses may not have. Find your used cubicle dealer through positive reviews and don't hesitate to ask for references yourself before committing to a purchase.

7. See how the cubicle looks in action

Sometimes the official dimensions or a picture of the disassembled cubicle keep you from seeing a problem with the impact of a style on your office environment. Many dealers will have a sample cubicle set up so you can see what it looks like when it's fully assembled. You may be able to visit the warehouse in person, or you can request they assemble one unit and send you a picture.

8. Try to find assembled products

No matter how sturdy a cubicle is, each tear down and set up will wear on the product and may hide some unseen damages or problems. If you are able to find cubicles that haven't been disassembled, ask for them to be shipped as is. This will limit the availability, but you'll know exactly what you're getting.

9. Don't settle for the written description

Working with a local deal does limit your options, but a reputable dealer should be happy for you to come and personally inspect the product before you complete the sale. Look over each panel for damage, if possible, and at minimum make sure the size, style, and part all match what you expect.

10. Know who owns the product

Some businesses buy used products outright and then resell to you for a profit. Others work with a network of sellers and serve as the consignment hub for multiple product owners. Both models are legitimate and can be a good way to find a deal on great products, but you want to know who to contact in case there is a problem with the cubicles down the line.

11. Don't wait too long

If you're shopping for used cubicles, you have an eye for a deal, and you may be tempted to comparison shop and look for the very best deal you can locate. In the world of used office furniture however, inventories move quickly. Taking a few days to look for a better deal can cost you the first set of furniture you found. Finding a dealer you trust and settling on what configuration you can live with will make it easier to sign off on an acceptable purchase once you find the right set of cubicles.

12. Look for reliable products

Cubicles are the ideal used purchase because they're designed to last for decades and built with durable metal and plastics. They also sustain different wear patterns than home furniture. You're already getting a significant discount, so look for the best quality your budget will allow. You can look at your used cubicle purchase as investment in products that will last, and may even be resold to another future owner when you're ready to redesign again!

13. Maximize your cost-effective choices

Any used cubicle purchase is going to save you a significant amount of money: you may receive a discount of between 50%-75% compared to new products and often there is no noticeable difference in the cubicles themselves. Thinking ahead to how your office needs may change in the near future can help you maximize that discount. If you expect to expand your capacity or hire new workers in the next 5 years, consider purchasing a few extra cubicles to keep in storage until they're needed. It will add slightly to the cost now, but will save you from having to use mismatched furniture or pay for a total redesign when you need the additional spaces.

14. Look for fast delivery options

New office furniture is usually sourced from a giant warehouse in a distant location. You can expect to wait weeks, or even months for your product to be processed and delivered. Local used dealers can often arrange delivery of your used cubicles within days of your purchase. Ask about delivery costs, and for any set up and configuration assistance you require. Some companies will include these services in the price of the used cubicles, while others will charge an additional fee.

15. Enjoy the environmental benefits

Buying pre-owned cubicles not only keeps the used products out of landfills, but saves tons of carbon emissions and energy use by reducing the metal extraction, factory production, and packaging required to manufacture new cubicles. Additionally, by buying and delivering locally, you're reducing your footprint even further. If your company values sustainable practices and efficient energy use, you can feel good about buying used cubicles. Each time your employees sit down to work in their redesigned space, they're contributing to a greener society.