How will office furniture fit into the hybrid work of the future? The answer of CBRE‘s research is variety (of shapes, sizes, heights of the seats) and lightness (of materials, which grants more flexibility and agility of use) in order to meet new needs coming from constant collaboration, home working and changing space planning.
According to CBRE, people will return to the office for several reasons: to search for spaces for collaboration, to get in touch with the company’s culture, to foster innovative thinking, meaningful connections and live communication. This is what emerges from an analysis supported by CBRE’s Global Occupier Sentiment Survey, which involved 77 global companies, half of which among the Fortune 500, in the fields of tech, finance, manufacturing and business services.
First of all, the need for open and flexible collaboration will require furnishings with better acoustic and sound-absorbing capabilities, along with integrated technology for connecting with those who work remotely. In addition, reconfigurability, mobility and the possibility of always designing new and different work areas will be even more important.
Tables of different heights and shapes will be required in order to always allow people to reconfigure the space, as well as a variety of seats and work options. In addition, light materials will be favoured in order to guarantee the needed agility and flexibility of furnishings and spaces.
Moreover, office furniture design must take into consideration the new kind of space planning, moving from a high-density model, with little separation and privacy, to a lower density one. This new space planning will favour different geometries, with fewer linear corridors and more activity-based areas and paths, following the models of “neighbourhoods”, where teams that work together can find touchpoints and common spaces to collaborate.
Finally, an impacting factor will be the role of home office in the future hybrid work. If office furniture is to be adjustable, flexible and technologically interconnected, home office furniture needs to be also easy to order, ship and use. This will push towards an even more flexible and agile design, which will create products that could be used both in the workplace and at home.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Opening pictures: Herman Miller Clubhouse