By: Wendy Noory and Stacy Fraser
Form follows function. Nowhere does this hold more true than in office furniture, where productivity is always a main driver of interior design decisions.
For generations, the standard office desk, phone setup and conference room were a “one-size-fits-all” solution, with the only change being that cubicles went from a high-paneled 10’ x 10’ workstation to lower-paneled 6’ x 6’ workstation. In the past 10 years, however, the functions themselves – the ways employees work – have changed. Mobile technology has brought us just that – mobility. No longer do we need to be, or want to be, tethered to a desk. Sitting for prolonged periods of time day in and day out is completely out of vogue. And we’re realizing that if we’re going to spend 60% of our waking hours at work, we can at least make it comfortable and allow us to ultimately be more productive.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” said Wendy Noory, Director of Fitments at INTEC Group. She continues, “It’s what people have been used to doing for so long – but now there are a so many healthier alternatives to consider.” That’s why we’re seeing such a trend toward walk stations, which have an adjustable desktop on a treadmill that goes only to a speed of 4 MPH. “You would think it would be hard to focus, but at the lower settings, walking is as easy as breathing, and we consistently get feedback from our clients that the walk stations are used frequently.”
The traditional break room is evolving as well. Companies are offering more family-style furnished spaces replete with lounge areas, specialty appliances (Keurig and espresso machines), fireplaces, and healthier snack options. Throughout the office, employees are provided a mix of private spaces and relaxed collaboration areas such as coffee bars, quiet rooms, and gaming areas. These amenities may seem counterintuitive for an employer focused on productivity, but these “perks” increase employee productivity, employee retention, and strengthens the overall company morale. The other change driving office furniture trends is the need to stay nimble. Now more than ever, employers ask us to “future proof” their offices. As the cost of leasing or buying real estate increases, they want to know they can stay in their space and accommodate changing numbers of employees.
“Now that we’re so much less dependent on paper and stationary filing systems, most employees are happy to work on benching or hoteling systems, so long as they have a ‘touch down’ space that’s theirs,” said Noory.
We’re also seeing a lot more whiteboard walls that double as work walls and can change from one configuration to another; so, for example, a conference room can have the flexibility to become a double-person or triple-person office, if needed, just by doing some simple rearranging. We explore endless possibilities, every day, looking for ways to capitalize on productivity, flexibility, and profitability for our clients. These are a few of the unique ways office furniture can be impactful.
So ask yourself, can your office furniture holding you back from attracting new talent and competing with the amenities and perks your competitors are offering? Whether you are relocating to a new space or you’d like to maximize the impact of the space you’re already in, our INTEC Group Fitments team would love to brainstorm with you!
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A small (furniture) change can go a long way.