Elise Nicpon is Outside Sales Manager for Room & Board Business Interiors (BI). She brings more than 20 years of retail and direct sales experience to this position. She’s been with Room & Board for 12 years, and knows a bit about how to make rooms functional and look GOOD. She’ll give you TONS of info on functional design and how you can do just that, using what you already have! Tune in!

“I would say, if there’s anything you can do to get an ergonomically correct chair… you can reuse a really good office chair in a lot of different ways”.

-Elise Nicpon


June 11. Hey guys, Peter Shankman. How are you all? I am thrilled to welcome to another episode of 20 minutes and lockdown. It is hot in here. I have very loud air conditioning in my living room that goes into my kitchen. So I’ve shut it off. So it is already, temperature is already creeping up. My cat is looking at me like, what the hell?

Why would you do that? And so I’m sitting here, uh, but it’s worth it to sweat because I’m sitting here with a least Nick pond from room and board who is going to talk to us today about what we can do. Since working, hanging home seems to be a thing. And now that company is the crazy part is companies are finally opening up and they’re allowing people back in and people aren’t going back.

They’re like, well, I landed this for three months and it worked. Let’s keep it going. So I think that we’re going to see a massive shift towards working at home. Um, that means we’re going to have to make some changes. You know, we’re not going to have to sit at our kitchen tables, surrounded by a. You know, unopened bottles of Powerade and, and then, and, uh, and the coffee mugs, you know, we’re going to have to.

He been good to keep it clean and gonna have to get a chair that doesn’t destroy our backs. I couldn’t figure it out. My back was hurting like a mother. Like what the hell I’m sitting in this kitchen chair. Not supposed to sit in the kitchen chair for 45 minutes. I have dinner. You’re not supposed to. The kids gave her eight hours a day.

So welcome. Elise, please save the millions of people who are working at home from mutually assured destruction. Teach us how to turn our space into something. Awesome. Yeah. Cool. Well, thanks so much for having me. I just can’t say enough. Um, It is a huge topic and it is a, a huge puzzle for all of us to figure out because to your point, you know, we, you know, we maybe initially were coming from home, coming home instead of in the workplace.

And we thought, we weren’t sure how long it would last. And now that we really have some, either mandates from workplace or to your point, finding that the more productivity at home and staying at home now we’re in this new mindset of like, okay, how do we truly evolve into working in this space? And I think, you know, there’s really five different things that we can think about and talk about.

But the first one is exactly what you mentioned, and it is sitting, you know, I’m talking with an architectural firm. Who before Kobe, they, you know, they had a way to monitor how much screen time their team was having for whatever reason, based on whatever projects. Um, that same technology of course, was still viable when they went home to work and they, and they can have seen that we’re sitting in front of screens about 70% more.

So when I heard that, and that felt like. I understood that from their team, but I was like, yeah, I want, I am 100%. I have 70% more SIG. I know it’s a crazy number, 70% more than from our shoes than we were in an office just three months ago. That’s right.

Yeah, you get up, you have a question, you get up, you go ask you, you know, you need a drink, he’d get up and go do this. And you, you know, you collaborate in different ways. You have meetings, um, all of those sorts of things. So now you start to edit it all edit as all to home. All of our meetings are through virtual meetings, et cetera.

It’s incredibly high numbers. So, um, ideally, you know, if you can sit and stand, it’s great, but you are definitely sitting more than we ever have. So having. An office chair that really is ergonomically, correct for you, which there is no one, um, one correct way. It’s all about, you know, how, you know, if you move a lot in your chair, your charities, to be able to move with you, um, you want your, when your feet are on the ground, you want your seat to be about 90 degrees or you likes to be 90 degrees.

Um, a lot of ergonomically, correct chairs, the seat pan will move back and forth and you don’t want the seat to be touching behind your legs. So you want to make sure that you’ve got like a fist worth behind your seat to the chair. So all of those sorts of things, you know, you start trying it and it’s um, and then the other thing is your arm placement, you know, as much as you’re mousing now, you don’t want to be too low or too high.

So. To find that chair that can really get you the balance for your body type. Some of us have longer torsos, some have longer legs. So there isn’t any one perfect fit, but it’s the right fit for you. And thinking about what those things are. And a lot of us are, you know, finding that we’re working from places that weren’t really designed for work.

I mean, like I said, I’m in my kitchen because the office that I pay for, I haven’t been able to go to, and for three months and counting it, they’ve still been able to bill me, um, you know, but, so, so, so talk about how do we make the, um, how do we make the home office? A little more officey without taking away from the fact that it’s still our home.

We don’t want to get it. So obviously that we forget that yes is also a place to relax and, and have a life. But on the flip side, again, bottles of Powerade and rotten bananas. Yeah. Yeah. I think it depends. You’re probably going to be in one of two camps. You’re either going to be, um, in your home or your, your home is going to not exactly have that separate spot that you can be.

Right. So if you, like, for me, this was my guest bedroom. The bed is now over here. So with the guest bedroom, I was able to move some things around and make it more conducive to work and an office environment and a video environment. Um, so if you have a space that you can do that, then there’s lots you can do with just as I did moving things around in the space, and then you are going to need different solutions within to make it.

More functional as an office space. So thinking about what is that desk? What’s the right scale. That’s going to fit in the space like a 48, 24 size desk is. PR is it’s enough, edit it edited enough that you could probably get like two screens on it, but it’s going to be kind of tight. So if you can go to 60, great.

If you can’t, you can’t, um, then you think about, you know, when you’re in this office space, what is the flooring? And if the flooring is a hard surface, it’s really important to find a rug. Um, I know that sounds funny, but if you don’t, it’s very echoey and you’re always on conference calls and video calls now.

So thinking about how to bring down that echo in the room, whether it’s with, you know, a rug or something, if there wasn’t one before. Um, also when you’re thinking about that space, it’s really important to have a good task light because now you’re. Very focused, you know, and where you’re going to be or how you need to be lit when you’re on a conference or whatever it might be.

So that lighting is important and then figuring out where and how you’re going to have storage. So if you have a separate space that you’re evolving to be your workspace, something like a bookcase can be a really helpful. Um, vertical storage, as opposed to, you know, a big file cabinet you might’ve had at your office that you can’t fit in this new space, you know, so some of those sort of areas to solve are going to be really important when you’re working from home, when you’re working in a space that it isn’t a different space, it needs to be, you know, within your kitchen or a new part of your living room.

I know I was helping a, um, a design project with a woman in San Francisco and that was it. She. Her living dining office was all one room. And so it was configuring how all of that can work together. And I think then it’s finding what are those, what is that desk solution that. A, where do you want it to be?

Where are you going to be the most inspired she wanted to be by the window. It didn’t used to be by the window, but now she’s there all the time. So we had to move the three spaces around. So what, what will bring you the most joy as you’re working and looking at whatever during the day, and then how can you flow those furnishings to be, to be consistent and quiet with the things that you already have?

So, you know, if you are picking a new desk and you have. More, you know, uh, stainless accents or something in your house. Maybe you’re looking at a stainless steel base table, or if there’s more wood or whatever it might be like, how can you flow it into the space with materials that make it seem less separate?

You know, like, Oh, now I’m in an office now I’m in a house, but you need it edited enough that you feel like you are, you know, you have all right. Great. Yeah. So let’s flow from that because I’m, uh, Gabby, who’s our, who’s a coast actually here jumped into any tips for keeping your home office desk organized.

And I think it’s a brilliant question cause I’ve just given up, you know, I think you kinda have to think about. When you, when you were at work, what sorts of things did you have? You probably had drawers or, you know, different solutions that you might not might not have at home now. And when I think of my office, my office and my, in our corporate office, I probably have a lot more stuff in those doors and I really need, but it was like, Oh, it goes in there, it goes in there.

So I think it’s thinking about when you’re working from home and at your desk, how much of the staff on your desk do you really need and really just have access to. The pen, the highlighter, the scissors, or whatever, and then have a simple way to contain it again. You just want to keep, keep things visually clean and calming, um, because another part of this whole movement of working from home and just the environment of the world today is there’s a lot of really stressful things going on.

And some might be experiencing more stress from it than others. There’s a ton of change happening in our lives. So. When it’s keeping our desks organized. It’s how can we keep that? Just visually really clean, because it does give you a calmer feeling. It’s like, if you, if you walk into a beautiful spa or resort or something, or you just walk into a space that you just really feel like that, Oh, wow.

You know, like, like the furnishings matter and how you organize your things on your desk and in your home office really matter to make you feel good. Um, not only in the way that, that you would hope when you’re at work, but in this new environment where there’s a lot of things that might be stressing us out to be said for being able to, uh, you know, get that sort of.

When you walk into that hotel, it’s a great example. You walk to that hotel or that boutique hotel, or, you know, you get off the boat at your, uh, at your, at your Island destination. Right. And you’re like, look at me and everything just sort of shifts in that mindset. So yeah, cleaner desk. But that, that brings up another question.

We are a lot of us, of course, my dad just joined and said, if we, if I cleaned my desk, the rest of the room will look like garbage. Thanks, dad. You know, the finishing question, the premise that we have, um, a lot of listeners, you know, we’re in small apartments, right? The one thing that, especially in New York city and major cities, that our apartments were not designed for pretty much anything more than sleeping.

Right? So a couple of tips on what people can do to sort of maximize their space efficiency when they really don’t have a lot of it. Yes. I, again, I think it’s looking for those very simple line desks and there is a good scale for that. So. Um, you know, anywhere, sometimes customers will even like behind a sofa, you can talk a, uh, a surface desk, a console table almost that would, you can use it.

As a consult table, or maybe you were, but now it needs to be a bit of a desk, you know, so understanding if there is a way to incorporate it into the space that way. But the other part is to be thinking about that vertical solution. So, um, as you’re thinking about, you need to store some things, your, how do you keep things organized to the question about the desk?

Well, maybe now the desk can’t fit it. So you need to use that vertical solution of. Either a bookshelf or shelves attached to the wall that can have files on them or whatever it might be. So I think it’s kind of thinking of those spaces in a new way, um, because you’re, and you needed it to, you know, it’s not like you can, another thing you could do, it would be like having an office armoire so that you it’s a cabinet.

That opens so that your work surfaces here, but then you can close it and then maybe you use it as serving for your dining room or something in a really small space. So I think it’s, um, you know, thinking of some of those different things, because you know, that is the scenario where it’s not like you can create a new rule.

It has to be incorporated into what you already have. So the other thing is you’re trying to keep all of these things in balance, especially in a small space, as much as you can, just keep things anytime you can square something up. So if there is a window and you’re now going to have a little desk, like if, if you can keep it square, square it up and then have things feel a little more balanced around the room.

Um, like all of that just helps your flow and how you feel about, about placement of things. So you might have to move a chair. You might have to, you know, move yourself back in a new way. Um, some of those things might change in order to incorporate a bit of an office. Talking about lighting because, um, you know, a lot of people don’t realize exactly how strongly a role lighting plays, not only in, uh, you know, obviously looking good and eating and things like that.

But I mean, I’m fortunate that I’m facing a large Northern, uh, a window, you know, high up in the sky. So I even, even on a cloudy day like this, I have natural light coming in. Talk about, um, you know, there are a lot of people that they might live in a studio on the first floor, or they might live under trees there, you know, where they don’t have light, they might, they might face an alley, you know, uh, talk about lighting and talk about the, the role that lighting plays, both in looking good in meetings, but also in your mental health.

Yes, totally. You know, and that, that’s my space to my, um, the way that my office at home faces. The more I’m in here, the darker it gets. And so, um, what you want to be thinking about is that triangle of light. So thinking about where are the three points in the room, especially if you’re, if your office is incorporated into your living space, you’re wanting, you’ll want to have.

That triangle of light can really help just balance the light in the room. So maybe it’s a tape, it’s a floor lamp by the sofa. You’re all working in the same space. You’re a floor lamp by the sofa, a table lamp on the table, and then maybe a little task lamp by a chair or, um, that kind of triangle of light, and then always having some kind of task light on, um, on your desk that.

Then, if it can’t, um, articulate around, um, then at least just getting light on your desk, but if it can, you know, so that you can manipulate the light, that’s even better because there are just different things that you. You know, again, it’s just a new, it’s another layer of strain. So whether it’s strain on your body from sitting or strain from the screen, if your light is also low, it’s another strain for you that you want to eliminate.

And you think about when you’re at the office, it’s not super dark in your office. Typically there is a certain level of insistent, overhead lighting that you might not have at home. So then creating that. Triangle help unless you already have overhead lighting. And a certainly having that lady solution on your desk is really important, not only for function, but for how you feel.

What do you, uh, what are your thoughts or advice? What are your, what, what is your advice to people who might be doing this on a budget? You know, one of the things that, uh, employers all around the country and, you know, companies all around the world, we’re being so nice and we’re going to let you work from home.

Yeah. Well, thanks. Willing to work alongside a guy, you know, but then the, the, the, one of the things they never did is, and we’re going to give you a budget to, to get a desk, to get a chair, to get it, you know, so a lot. And they never did that. So a lot of people are working from home. Finding themselves in a ridiculously small budget.

Cause they’re not making any more money. Right. And that, but they still have to never have to furnish a quote unquote office. So any tips or thoughts on what they can do to sort of just sort of do this on a budget? Yeah, I think when you’re thinking, um, and we’re all on budgets, that’s for sure. So I would say if you’re thinking about where any of that.

Um, purchasing is going to land. I would definitely do as much as you can with your chair. Um, and so, you know, if you’re trying to, instead of trying to spread it out over everything, because you know, a lot of surfaces can be a desk. You know, a lot of bins can be storage, you know, maybe under your desk or next to a sofa or something like you can solve some of those things.

But the thing that really, you know, if there is any, any place that you are going to put some dollars towards, I would definitely, um, focus on the chair. Um, but then just being able to, you know, there’s a lot of, if you look around what are just a lot of surfaces that you could repurpose in your home, whether it’s is it a console table or could you, could you look at a console table?

That’s maybe like. 54 inches by 18 inches, you know, depending on how big of a, how many electronics you’re trying to house on your desk, but it could be just thinking, what is it just a more edited version, not a full blown desk with drawers and you know, all of those pieces and parts, but just a simple surface.

Um, even looking towards when you’re, when you’re looking at options like that. Um, glass is a much less expensive material when you’re looking at a top of a desk. So, um, if you’re getting a base and then have a glass top, that’s always going to be the least expensive and most durable, a very durable surface.

Um, I know folks will worry about it gets messy. It gets dusty, but you know, when you’re trying to figure out all these things and especially in a small space, having that glass solution is, is a really great option. It just is visually. Less, it takes up less visual space. Yeah. So there’s those, those sorts of things.

And then thinking about what are some things that exist in your home that, that could, you know, be that extra seat by you or, um, It’s funny I’ve I have seen a lot of, um, and maybe you have to wear a lot of people have repurposed ironing boards as extra surfaces to put their files, not there, not as a desk, but just as an extra surface.

So, you know, as we’re, as we’re in these, if we are in a budget, Posture. And we’re trying to find a like, use now put away that’s an interesting little solution, you know, but so it is thinking about what are the things in our home that we can repurpose in a new way. Um, yeah, or definitely just calling in or just typing in the Craigslist, eBay, different ways, a Craigslist, even free cycle.

Any of those sites, there are a lot of people, maybe some of us are lucky enough to have a boss who bought us a new chair and well, there’s the old one, you know, whatever it is. So no, there’s definitely stuff. There’s definitely, as you’re looking at those two, it might be that you find a solution that you can put a glass top on.

You know that maybe isn’t a desk at this moment, but that’s just another kind of that repurpose upcycling. I love Danielle’s come and shower, curtain room divided. Here I come. Hey, there are worst things. There are worst things. I, uh, use the shower curtain, try and use one that can absorb sound too. When I do these, when I do these night, most of the time, for some reason, over the past few weeks, even though I split.

Uh, my time, uh, my daughter’s time with, with my self and her mom, I find that a lot of these I’ve done with her here. And, um, so we have, you know, we have what’s called room time, which is okay, daddy, didn’t do an interview for the next 20 minutes. It’s room time. How many things can you find your room? We give him the letter P or whatever, you know, and come out the trials in New York city apartment.

Um, last question, because I don’t want to be respectful your time. What is the absolute number one piece? Of furniture in any capacity that anyone working from home needs to have? Is it, are we going back to the chair? Chris Brogan says the button matters a lot, so he believes it’s the chair. So what do you think it is?

Yeah, again, I would say it’s chair because if, if you’re not sitting right, just like you’ve been feeling from sitting, it can affect your back. It can affect how your legs are feeling. It can affect the pitch at which you’re sitting. So now your arm isn’t right. Um, you’re when you’re. Overusing that or overcompensating, then your shoulder gets messed up.

So I would say, um, anything you can do if to get an office chair and ergonomically correct office chair, it does allow you to have some other leeway with at the, at the kitchen table, or, you know, some of these other things that maybe we can’t solve for space reasons or whatever, but if you can have an office chair.

Um, it will help with all of those things. And in small spaces, it’s easy, you know, there’s a lot of really beautiful office chairs, very simple, good looking and you wheel it into your living room. And now it’s an extra seat there too. So you can reuse a really good office chair in a lot of different ways.

Awesome guys. You’ve been listening to at least at least Nick pawn from room and board. Thank you so much for the brilliant advice. We really truly appreciate it. I’m thrilled that you were able to come on and, and talk to us for a bit. Guys, if you like what you heard, uh, we have 20 minutes in locked.com to zero minutes in lockdown.com.

And if you scroll down, if you looking at this, some Facebook scroll down. If you are entrepreneuring at home, I’m hosting a conference on the 25th, and I would love to see you there. It’s virtual because. What the hell is it today nowadays, right? At least. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really, really appreciate it.

Hope you have a wonderful day, guys. Thank you for listening. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon in the world you happen to be, stay safe, stay healthy. Yeah. Still stay home. Bye bye. Thank you. Connect with Elise at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elise-wil… Elise’s projects on Pinterest are here: https://www.pinterest.ie/enicpon/

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