The number of workers telecommuting all or some of the time is on the rise. According to a study conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, in 2017 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce worked from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005. Working from home is not the only change, many startups and small businesses are taking advantage of co-working spaces that provide flexible and collaborative environments and access to conference rooms and meeting space.
While the implications of this growing mobile workforce are many, the furniture industry has been directly impacted. Gone are the days of long wooden conference tables and black leather chairs. Today, companies and employees are looking for furniture that is comfortable and evokes a feeling of home, according to Blake Zalcberg, president of Holly Springs-based OFM, an office furniture maker.
“What we are seeing is a homier feel to workplace spaces,” said Zalcberg.
The company, which launched in 1995 with seven office chairs, today sells everything from seating and desks for home and office to powered furniture with plugs, teachers’ desks and gaming furniture.
“Today, the focus is on the man cave and the diva den,” he said. “The space you are really comfortable in so you don’t necessarily feel like you are working.”
With the growth of home offices and co-working spaces, the furniture industry developed a new term three years ago: resimercial.
“It is furniture made with commercial quality to hold up for a person’s eight to 10 hour work day with the residential elements in mind,” said Zalcberg. “Every space is now designed to make you feel comfortable so you can perform at your best.”
This design can be seen at co-working spaces across the Triangle.
“Co-working spaces want to be on trend,” said Zalcberg. “They are obviously presenting themselves to the next generation of business leader or entrepreneur. What it has done has forced us as a brand to have on-trend furniture that can be easily swapped out.’
What is on-trend?
“Everything you see on HGTV,” he said. “Build your office and make your office part of your home. The trends are making sure that even in the office people feel like they are coming home.”
New Generation; New Furniture Design
As the furniture industry looks forward to 2019, it is seeing a generational impact on furniture design.
“We are seeing a generational shift in styling in what is being purchased,” said Zalcberg.
As purchasing agents in large corporations retire, a new generation is taking their place.
“As the generations continue to shift, we are seeing more design-oriented furniture,” said Zalcberg. “We are continuing to build out these niches and trends. Today, you will see colors in a conference room you have never seen before, such as black and white and purple and black.”
He also points out that companies want their office space to reflect their brand and culture. As a result, the bland conference room with the long table and black chairs are being replaced.
A visit to OFM’s website shows six-seat tables with backless seats and a dry erase white tabletop and electrical charging panel. Other items include plastic task chairs in green and red, as well as a shiatsu leather massage recliner and ottoman.
“We are seeing companies purchasing gaming chairs for their conference rooms so they have more of an edge,” said Zalcberg. “Keeping in line with the overall space, a company may use a more aggressive styling table and car seat chairs.”
If your office doesn’t need a shiatsu massage recliner, OFM has other offerings, including a new line of LED desk lamps with wireless charging pads, colorful tables and other desks and chairs to for the corporate or home office or classroom.