The modern office is a diverse and evolved workplace, and office furniture trends tend to revolve around what's happening in that workplace, and around the people working there. Office work these days is much more collaborative than it used to be, and it's much more team oriented, and if we wanted to categorise typical office work we'd probably come up with three main groups; focussed, i.e. what people used to call 'heads down' work, (think accountants and the like), shared work, where perhaps two or three colleagues work together on the same project for a specific amount of time, and then there's group work.

Team spirit triumphs

And it's this last group that seems to be leading current trends. Office spaces, therefore, have to reflect what's happening in an organisation, and ultimately the furniture has to support whatever that space needs to be. Add to the equation the fact that the average office worker today is vastly different from someone who joined the workforce ten, or even five years ago. In a world where we are constantly inundated with data and stimulus of all kinds,  people these days are much better at multitasking, much more capable of fielding multiple pieces of information at the same time, and according to research, they generally perform better than someone who has become used to focussing on a series of single tasks one after the other.


In fact, it's not uncommon for four generations to be working in the same office; the so-called 'Silent Generation', the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, and then the Millennials. The result is a lot of different kinds of people doing lots of different types of work. This has lead to a slow dwindling in the number of individual workstations, and traditional cubicle panels are being shortened so colleagues can see and talk to each other over the top of them, not just to promote collaboration, but also to save on space.


Sat so long to privacy

Real estate costs are continually being squeezed, both in rate and volume. So, as density increases and real estate footprints decrease, offices become more and more prone to the loss of private and personal space. This, in turn, leads to a growth of public, shared spaces to accommodate the rise of group work. Compared to the ratio of say, ten years ago, when public office space was about 20% of any given office, the ratio these days is around 60/40 in favour of collaborative areas. And this trend is set to increase to at least an 80/20 ratio in the near future.


Needless to say, any manufacturer of office furniture will be following these trends very closely, and new furniture is designed to speak to these developments. But even when furniture constitutes a considerable component in a company budget, it's still paradoxically rare for CEO's, COO's, CFO's and other high-level influencers to get involved in frontline purchasing, and a lot of them have very little knowledge of the comprehensive range of offerings in the furniture industry, despite the abundance of trade shows and fairs being held at regular intervals around the UK.


Working and wellbeing

But there is more to buying office furniture than the allocation of funds. Health and safety is obviously a critical issue in the workplace, and while a lot of people think that ergonomic furniture is a matter of health and safety standards, it's really about employee satisfaction. The satisfaction that comes from an environment that provides the ability for workers to maintain their physical health, but also to be mentally healthy too. And one benefit of following office furniture trends that simply cannot be denied is the fact that our workspaces have, over the years, become healthier and safer places to work in. Think adjustable chairs, stand up desks and eye-friendly resolution for PC monitors.


The environment also plays an ever growing role in office furniture trends. People want their offices to be environmentally friendly and over the years, the idea of sustainability has become more than just an idea, it's become almost a demand. Today's furniture marketplace offers many, many choices to meet today's standards of expected sustainability. You might remember ten years ago when people started talking about furniture emissions like VOC's, formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds.


Today's manufacturers have gone much further than that. Most of the wood furniture available today, in the case of desks, cabinets, millwork or casework, are harvested from a source that is maintained by some kind of regulatory third party. This ensures that forests are replanted and not just stripped bare of their natural resources. And it's not just about companies 'doing the right thing'. An office environment that is certified to be sustainable and eco-friendly can be a major driver in sales and client acquisition. Or to put it another way, going green pays, now more than ever before.


The choice is yours

A lot of people looking for office furniture are surprised at the amount of choice available. The market is filled with tremendous products that have undergone serious development, are sophisticated and can be delivered within a really tight time frame. Another factor that is largely overlooked is the impact the right furniture can have on companies and organisations.


Consider the time office employees spend in the work environment. Some of us will even spend more time in our office chair than we do in our beds.  Don't they deserve the best? Office bosses will be amazed at the positive feedback they get from their underlings. That's not to mention the hike in morale and productivity that comes from workers who actually enjoy being in the office. And with such a variety of makes and models, price points, flexible delivery and after-sales services, buying office furniture has never been easier, or as much fun as it is today.