Office workers are becoming more mobile, both in movement and devices. Employees don’t have as much personal space in the office, and people can work almost anywhere. To meet these changing expectations, office furniture types and materials are changing.
“Where people have their personal work take place, the overarching trend is height adjustability and built-in technology support,” says Nick Meter, Director of Customer Experience at Tangram Interiors. “Does this table go up and down? Is there support for charging or multiple devices and a laptop dock? Does the space allow you the opportunity to meet collaboratively?”
Because people might be moving around, not have an assigned desk or even work in another part of the building, Meter says that clients are thinking beyond the desk when looking at office furniture.
“There’s a diversity of spaces taking over – it’s more than desk and chair,” he explains. With mixed uses for social spaces, “there’s a lot of move to eclecticism and unique products.”
Integra’s Joel Riley, National Sales Manager, and Chandra Putnam, Director of Sales and Marketing, notice clients asking for more modular and flexible lounge seating options, with many spaces serving multiple purposes. As furniture is used more within a space, it needs to be multifunctional and durable.
Read on to see what trends are popular in functional and durable office furniture.
Feeling at Home in the Office
All three cite a residential look as a top trend in more social spaces in the office. Meter has clients asking for office furniture that has a residential look using contract-grade textiles.
Textile manufacturers are responding with materials that previously have not been associated with durable applications (e.g. wool) by making them contract grade. Others are incorporating looks inspired by fashion or more plush looks generally associated with residential furniture, he notes.
While sustainability of materials was a request from clients a few years ago, Meter notes that isn’t the case as much. People now expect sustainability to be part of the process and it’s more of a standard practice in design.
“A lot of companies have risen to a level where they’re producing products using more sustainable wood materials or better chemical compositions with their paints and adhesives,” he notes.
In certain settings (e.g. healthcare and higher education) Meter is seeing clean surfaces as a top priority. “Because of the exposure from a liability standpoint, it’s part of the thinking in these spaces,” he says, giving the example of antimicrobial surfaces for textiles and countertops.
Even in an office environment, Riley and Putnam note that clean spaces and sustainability can go together. “Lounge seating with replaceable and/or recoverable components address both issues,” they say.
They give the example that a seat’s parts (e.g. back, arm, leg, etc.) can be removed to clean, repair, recover or replace, and cleaning between the seat and back keeps it free of debris. Also, the stronger and more durable the office furniture, the longer it lasts and the more sustainable it is, they note.
Preparing for Success with Redesigning the Workplace
Office Furniture: Athletic-Inspired Material
In addition to looks and green options, people are considering the technical aspect of office furniture inspired by athletic wear, with stretchable and breathable material options available.
“People are looking for space-age athletic-type materials that really stretch, bend and mold over interesting designs of furniture,” Meter says. He also notes that because they are inspired by athletic wear, they offer a familiar feel.
Benefits of this material include:
- Returns to form
- Sculpted appearance
Office Furniture to Get the Job Done
Productivity should be the main consideration when setting up an office space. Incorporating durable and functional office furniture that will stand up to how employees are using it to get their job done should be top priority.
While Meter says price is always a concern for facilities, they are spending less on personal spaces. “Now more than ever, clients are looking for the right combination of value, team, provider and cost.”
Valerie Dennis Craven firstname.lastname@example.org is Editor in Chief of BUILDINGS.