Across the globe work styles, work spaces, and work venues are undergoing a major shift. Part of staying current and relative in the business world is staying abreast of office space and furniture trends that match the workplace shift. Sustainability, smaller size, and ergonomics are all issues that must be considered when designing or redesigning the workspaces of today whether in an office or in your home.
Thirty years ago sustainability and office furniture would not have been in the same sentence. Impressive desks, massive chairs, and other ways to impress were the order of the day, and often getting a new boss meant getting a new set of fancy office furniture. With the changing world-focus, it has become imperative for businesses to start making sustainable choices when it comes to office space and furniture. According to Allsteel, a well-known office furniture manufacturer, sustainable furniture has:
- High recycled material content
- Few dissimilar materials
- Ease of disassembly
- High amount of recyclable materials
For some manufacturers, sustainability means they will buy their product back from customers when their use of it is complete. The company then disassembles and reuses the materials. According to the DailyGreen (1), the best sustainable office solutions are those that are made from recycled materials, can be recycled, and contain no PVCs, and no VOCs. As the government pushes for sustainability, such trends in furniture can be expected to expand.
Smaller is Better
Gone are the days of large, expansive offices. Today’s workforce is trimming edges and maximizing the use of space, especially since more people are working from home. It makes dollar sense to increase production per square foot by minimizing space taken by each contributor. In addition, because workers have become far more mobile, primary workspace need not be so expansive, according to Today’s Facility Manager (2).
When companies began to focus on ergonomics: making furniture adjustable and comfortable for individual users, a lot of knobs, screws, and handles were utilized. Getting comfortable was a complicated process of adjustments. Today’s ergonomics are far easier and incorporate technology that auto-adjusts to the user. While there are still some fancy knobbed and handled varieties, many of the ergonomic chairs of the future (and today) have an ingenious self-adjusting design. Mother Nature Network recommends several that respond even to shifts in body weight, allowing users to not only be more comfortable, but healthier as well. Many of these chairs recognize the fact the spine does not move in one piece, and thus chair backs should not either. Novel idea, right?
While the shift to furniture with body health and earth health is sure to continue, office managers need to also stay abreast of other future trends. “Green” is sure to effect daily business more and more, with a focus on minimizing the footprint business and industry leaves on our planet. Energy saving floor plans, such as those utilized at United Nations offices in Nairobi (3) will likely become more popular, as will energy efficient machinery and alternative energy. The most successful business will be those who stay abreast of trends and make adjustments today that will have a positive effect on the future of business.
David Ching works with a very experienced team of office furniture specialists at EQA Office Furniture. With many years in the business, they have organized their company around high-quality service and expertise in planning and execution of office design and furnishings.