Office furniture: wellbeing in the office and at home
People are at the heart of an organization’s success. This awareness is changing the design of workspaces. In a world where we compete for talented professional resources, where the trend is toward environmental responsibility and where technology has saturated almost every aspect of our lives, companies that stand out offer a comfortable and flexible work environment that supports the way employees feel, think and move.
How do office furniture manufacturers respond to this reality?
Wellbeing on the job
Wellbeing at work is undoubtedly the main focus of commercial and professional furniture design today. This quest has led to a host of trends, including the influence of residential design on commercial design (also known as resimercial), biophilia (or a design that approximates or mimics the conditions of the natural environment), hot desking or hotelling (terms used for unassigned workspaces or those reserved for nomadic workers). “Because of the limited effect of more traditional methods, these methods are used to meet the need to retain and attract talent,” explains Dominic Aubry, Product line manager for melamine furniture at Groupe Lacasse. “The goal of all this is not only to offer unique or more functional furniture to the employees, but rather to offer them an enhanced work experience.”
Space for everyone and everything
The office furniture manufacturer Artopex is also one of those companies that are using this wind of change in the office furniture design market. “As a manufacturer, it is a challenge to adapt quickly to market changes, to be on trend and avant-garde,” explains Francis Pelletier, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Artopex. However, the company that has been operating manufacturing plants in Granby and Sherbrooke for more than 50 years is well aware of this reality. According to Mélanie Tremblay, the company’s Director of Marketing and Communications, each employee will use different workspaces within a company every day. “This is why today’s work environments combine not only closed and open offices, but also chat areas and formal or informal collaborative workspaces.”
Therefore, furniture manufacturers must consider workplaces that are intentionally designed to foster teamwork, but also workplaces that are designed to foster the cross-pollination of ideas outside of the teamwork. They must offer furniture that encourages both collaborative work and moments when workers must step back and work alone. Some of them, such as the Quebec company Teknion, have designed booths where refuge can be taken, away from open areas. These spaces, like the freestanding Tek Booth, are carefully designed to provide the perfect comfortable space for private calls or work, thanks to their carefully designed structure that takes into account optimal acoustics and ventilation, as well as technological tools and lighting.
Variety and comfort
By offering workers the choice, they can pick the appropriate environment for the specific task they are trying to accomplish. And regardless, companies increasingly focus on improvements on how workers will feel and work if their wellbeing is sustained.
In a world of pressure-generating work, workers need to be provided with relaxation areas. These spaces have become essential in this era, allowing people to socialize, clear their minds, eat and sometimes even work in a more relaxed atmosphere. “For some time now, we have been opening up to informal spaces that have been added to workstations, which our industry calls in-between spaces,” explains Julien Meilleur, Senior industrial designer at Teknion. “With these informal areas, such as armchairs and coffee tables, we have come to integrate more friendly spaces that remind us of a residential atmosphere, where people feel at work as they feel at home.”
From the type of furniture to the choice of materials, flexibility is central to the design of these areas. It is preferable to choose a variety of seat types, from benches to upholstered armchairs, as they offer the possibility of adopting a variety of postures. And to create a space that is even more adapted to everyone’s wellbeing, we can allow individuals to move furniture around to make the space more functional for their use. With configurable and customizable spaces, the workplace becomes easier to live in, offering the flexibility of having multiple experiences. Moreover, it has been shown that employees feel more productive when they have control over their work environment. Adaptability and variety play an important role in keeping employees happy and productive.
In a connected world, technology must also be closely linked to each layout. Thanks to analog and digital elements, multi-socket modules and cable management options, technology is included to facilitate both comfort and work. Ergonomics is also central to comfort and support of wellbeing. For this reason, furniture manufacturers integrate a variety of accessories and features such as keyboard holders with wrist supports, worktops with sitting-standing mechanisms, screen and arm supports, whether retractable, swivel or wheeled. Groupe Lacasse’s STAD collection is a good example of this, offering a real way of life for professionals, with the integration of optional elements such as adjustable tables and modular chairs. Moreover, with upholstered seats and shapes that include rays and curves, and materials that include the warmth of woodgrain, STAD forges a relationship with nature and approaches biophilic design, a design to promote our wellbeing and bring us closer to where we feel best: in nature.
Today’s workers have very different expectations of the layout and amenities of the offices they occupy than they did a decade ago. More is needed to retain these employees over the long term, but we know that these changes have a positive effect on their performance and overall level of satisfaction. Comfortable employees are happier, and therefore more productive employees. This is why companies of today offer workers areas that promote wellbeing, in spaces that adapt to their changing needs during the day. To achieve this, they can undeniably rely on Quebec office furniture manufacturers, with whom they can find furniture that will promote a warm and friendly work environment; an environment in which the employees will feel as comfortable as they would at home.