Whether it’s your home-based trading hub or the professional office that’s like your second home, designs for cubicles, conference rooms, and desks look a lot different these days. That’s because comfort, ergonomics, and collaboration are thought to bring out the best in most workers.
Julie Williams, an interior designer with Larson & Darby Group, said design is always morphing, but a big trend in conference rooms is toward what she calls “hospitality design.”
“You’ll see conference rooms with lounge chairs as opposed to the typical high-back leather chair with the wood frame,” she said. “There’s a lot more soft seating, more cozy areas for collaboration, less of a formal feel to thinking and putting things together. You’re more relaxed and freethinking.”
Sitting Is the New Smoking?
At home or work, the biggest trend this year is the “sit/stand” desk, said Kevin Garvey, vice president of sales at Garvey’s Office Products.
“The one that is not going away is the sit/stand revolution,” he said, adding that demand took off this year for desks where workers can either sit as usual or raise the platforms high enough to allow them to stand and work.
“There’s been a lot of media attention brought to sitting in the office all day. It’s more on people’s minds. Sit/stand is the next generation of ergonomics. It’s not healthy to sit all day, even if sitting in the proper position,” he said.
Several media stories this year refer to sitting for several hours a day as “the new smoking,” and that message seems to be getting through, said Garvey and Williams. There are a number of different sit/stand desk options available, from a version that can be manually lifted, to those that have electric adjustable-height work surfaces, Garvey said. Prices for these desks have fallen dramatically, he added. Manual ones can cost as little as $400, or just under $1,000 for an electric model. Those electric models used to cost $3,000 to $4,000 just a few years ago.
Some desktop models can sit on top of existing desks, meaning there’s no need for all-new furniture, he added.
Both Garvey and Williams have the desks and recommend them.
“I just started using it so I could talk to clients about it, and it makes a huge difference ... [People are] not static,” Williams said.
Garvey also said “there’s nothing he can’t do” sitting that he can’t also do standing.
Williams said ergonomics in general is getting a greater focus—everything from chair and desk combinations to lighting. Many office furniture manufacturers have samples available, and she highly recommends testing out different types before buying. They can adjust fit, too, she said.
What about the trend nearly all office workers seem to hate—the “collaborative” workspace that gets rid of private offices and partitions between desks? Garvey thinks it’s a trend that might go by the wayside.
“I bet that runs its cycle. If you’re going to have people talking on the phone, it’s hard to concentrate,” he said.
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