Forward thinking businesses are recognising the need for office furniture that is appealing, functional and versatile. Gone are the days of the standard work desk and upright, uncomfortable office chairs. Modern office furniture is adaptable, functional and visually appealing. And, with recognition of social and environmental responsibility, many pieces of office furniture are today made from sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. As businesses are challenged to think about the users of the office space and what their work requirements are, it follows that the office furniture that is chosen needs to also reflect the needs of the employee and the activities they undertake. Many companies realise that the need for work stations divided by high partitions is unnecessary in their context and for the fulfilment of their core business activities. Instead, downsizing is appropriate for these businesses and space can be saved through the use of more effective storage and shelving and more compact work spaces.
This sounds simple, but if space saving really is a design trend for office furniture, how can businesses achieve this? Careful planning is critical to managing spaces well and building in possibilities for flexibility and change.
One popular feature of contemporary office furniture design is for pieces to be set on casters so that they can be moved, rearranged and configured differently by employees themselves. This way, as the needs of the business change (and the needs of workers simultaneously change), furniture can be moved and adapted to accommodate new demands.
Modular office furniture has therefore become popular. Modular systems can be more easily circulated and can be configured to facilitate communication and collaborative working, or private and discreet work areas. Systems furniture is recognised not only for its flexibility and versatility, but also its ability to respond to technological changes and needs. The importance of office furniture is most apparent when it can be adapted and changed to support employees to work in particular ways and to achieve defined goals.
Another advantage of modular office furniture (and a reason that also accounts for its popularity) is that it can provide an effective response where space limitations exist. For example, some types of modules can be configured to form an appropriately sized manager’s station but just as easily separated to form two separate workstations. Further to this, such a change can be made in a matter of minutes and by a person who requires no special knowledge or skills to do so.
Another design trend for office furniture is the capacity for furniture to be user friendly. The sit-stand is an innovative and contemporary piece that quickly and easily converts from a sitting to a standing position. Enjoying significant popularity in office settings where people traditionally sit at desks, working at computers or on telephones for hours on end, the sit-stand is so flexible that it allows the employee to use a lever to stand or sit with their work surface rising or descending with them. So many office workers understandably find this a revolutionary item of furniture!
One trend that seems to be persisting is the trend for an open work environment. Even more open than an office floor divided with cubicles, a truly open environment sees people working around conference tables in twos or fours. In light of this, some new conference tables are manufactured as quarter pieces of a round table that can be used as separate work stations or joined together to form a larger conference table.
Quite predictably in this day and age is the design trend for office furniture made from sustainable and/or recycled materials. Many businesses recognise the need to reduce their carbon footprint but also know that projecting a green and environmentally responsible image will stand them in good stead with customers, suppliers and investors.
Businesses have many good reasons for observing design trends. As well as comfortably accommodating their employees and making good use of the space available, providing a work environment that is modern and contemporary can do much to build and consolidate a business’ corporate image. No business really wants to carry an image of being resistant to change or being too inflexible to accommodate the needs of its employees. Current design trends in office furniture epitomise flexibility, versatility and help to provide a positive and accommodating work environment.