What do industry analysts and office furniture companies see as the big office furniture trends for 2013? Here’s a roundup of some popular concepts this season.
Since facility managers work closely with business decision makers and procurement specialists to outfit offices, we pay close attention to their predictions. TFM sees a number of current industry trends that are driven by a need for greater efficiency and flexibility. While they mention a rise in collaborative spaces, they also note that many of these “huddle” areas require a certain amount of separation from the rest of the office. Instead of having several large conference rooms, a company might choose to set up half a dozen teaming spaces surrounded by architectural walls or other space dividers.
Mobile workers and an age-diverse workforce bring new urgency to the need for flexible workspaces. There is no one preferred work mode or workstation style for all of today’s employees. Instead, workstations must adapt to a wide range of users. We’ve certainly noticed that a preference for panel dividers and cubicle wall heights varies among different employees by factors such as personality and assigned tasks. Often, having high panels around a workstation for concentration and the freedom to physically move to a work/lounge area for collaboration is ideal.
This office furniture supplier also notes the complexities of furnishing an office for four generations of workers. However, they place more emphasis on the company culture and understanding what it takes to keep employees engaged. Comfort and choice serve as the foundation for worker satisfaction. Employees do expect to have ergonomic equipment to reduce back pain and fatigue. This often means pairing an adjustable chair with an adjustable desk.
The BYOD (bring your own device) trend is also changing office furniture. Easy access to recharging technology is one key feature of today’s designs. In fact, there were a few wireless charging stations featured at NeoCon 2013. With these pieces of furniture, employees don’t even have to dock their device. They can simply set it down on a desk or side table to charge while they work. We expect to see tech built in to many more types of office furniture over the next few years. Pretty soon, you’ll see smart desks and smart chairs to go along with employees’ smart phones.