Over the last decade we’ve seen tremendous changes in our offices and how we work — especially within the last couple of years. Office furniture trends of 2022 are no doubt a reflection of these important changes. As we recover from a world pandemic, our schedules are less structured, our interactions more organic and our technology more advanced. Innovations in office furniture have allowed us to complete our tasks much faster and be more mobile at work.
From the way we complete our daily tasks to how we meet and share ideas – our offices are changing in remarkable and exciting ways. As we review 2022’s office furniture trends, let’s ask ourselves, “How did we get to here today? And what do we have to look forward to?”
Photo: The Open Office Plan Setup
THEN: Open-plan benching systems have been the go-to workstations ever since their revival in the early 2010s. Designer Frederick Taylor pioneered the idea of the open office back in the early 1900s, claiming it was the secret to productivity. And over the last decade or so, they’ve regained much popularity especially among health-conscious millennials who found cubicles to be somewhat oppressive and confining. Open-plan benching systems, on the other hand, promoted open communication and collaboration, and kept productivity in mind while fostering team camaraderie and employee wellbeing. They also helped ease high costs of construction, utilities and office equipment, because they’re typically modular and can be set up and reconfigured much more easily in huge open spaces without having to partition areas by building walls. The open-plan set-up is not without its drawbacks, however. They can be noisy and have been criticized for imposing too much distraction to workers, making it difficult for focused individual work.
NOW: To remedy the shortcomings of open-plan benching systems, semi-private workstations are now taking center stage as the optimized solution for the open office. Providing just enough barriers and partitions, they are not as severely closed-off as traditional cubicles. They work better to offer needed quiet and privacy while still open enough to facilitate collaboration, interaction and exchange of ideas. Moreover, to avoid costs of having to implement entirely new workstations, many offices are now retrofitting their existing open-plan benching systems to be more semi-private, by attaching raised panels or adding storage bins and cabinets, as well as glass or plexiglass dividers. With improved separation between workers, this promoted better social distancing and sanitation practices in the workplace, especially during the post-COVID era.
Photo: Traditional Private Office
THEN: Private offices have thrived since the Taylorist 1900s era, and continue to be popular even today. Executives and managers especially benefit from private offices, which provide the needed privacy for focused work over extended hours and allowed them to meet with clients privately. Often furnished with a complete office furniture suite, the private office generally consists of a large personal desk, a return for additional work surface real-estate, chairs for guests, and credenza and hutch with shelves and cabinets for storage. This private room setup offers maximum privacy for confidential meetings and concentrated work, and most of the time includes windows overlooking employees to supervise them as they work. It’s the ideal setup for 9-to-5/five days a week schedules for many professionals.
NOW: While private offices are here to stay, office furniture trends in 2022 are seeing a rise of touch-down spaces. Touch-down spaces are smaller, more casual private or semi-private spaces for on-the-go professionals and executives to work. Today’s much more dynamic lifestyles and technology have allowed and granted more flexibility in our work culture. We can now complete most of our tasks anywhere on a laptop and be able to meet with clients in more comfortable informal settings. These less structured setups best accommodate the hybrid work-from-home/work-at-the-office schedules that have emerged from the COVID era. Professionals are able to come to work, interact with colleagues and coworkers, have a designated space for focused work, but are still mobile to be able to pick up their work and relocate.
Photo: Traditional Conference Room
THEN: Meetings are as old as time, and they have always had one thing in common: one location. Starting from the 1900s, office furniture has stayed generally the same in terms of the meeting room. These spaces, most commonly referred to as conference rooms, are typically private and spacious areas with a large and stately table in the center to seat a group of people for power meetings, presentations and exchange of ideas. Traditional conference rooms are designed to impress and slightly intimidate; they’re the place where executives would meet, negotiate important decisions and strike million-dollar deals.
NOW: The past several years have seen a sort of democratization of the workplace. The open office has especially paved the way toward a more inclusive work culture where employees have free rein to roam about, and have access to all areas of the workplace. There’s less need for huge, traditional meeting rooms that feel too formal. More professionals are gravitating to smaller meeting areas, sometimes referred to as huddle rooms, which are designed to be leaner, meaner, more efficient to use and accessible to everyone. The past couple of years of COVID especially have pushed for improved telecommunications and popular video-teleconference platforms such as Skype and Zoom. Meetings no longer need to take place in one location. Fully equipped with power and state-of-the-art A/V equipment, these new and improved spaces now allow for a quick gathering, brainstorming or impromptu collaboration without even having to be physically together. A more appropriate solution for the times, they help promote social distancing safety by keeping fewer groups of people together and allowing them the flexibility to meet virtually.
Training and Collaboration
Photo: Traditional Training Room Setup
THEN: Training and collaboration spaces are crucial to every company. These spaces are generally made up of numerous rows of chairs and tables lined up auditorium-style, inside a room specifically designed for training employees, group orientation or team-building exercises. Typically designed to be very capacious, they’re able to seat a great number of people all at one time, and typically orient a group audience toward a speaker, not unlike a classroom or lecture hall. Oftentimes these setups can feel severely rigid, formal and overly spacious, especially when only a handful of people need to use them.
NOW: Today, training and collaborative spaces are very much designed with the interaction of people in mind. The philosophy behind the design focuses on harboring a sense of community while facilitating a more intuitive and organic flow of interaction and communication among people. Now, we see breakrooms, lounges and other common areas that double as training spaces, in a less formal way. Comfortable modular furniture works best for this purpose, as they can nest together to accommodate group sessions, then be rearranged after to serve another purpose such as for lounge or individual work. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of sofas or individual seating with built in laptop and tablet tables. Sometimes, stools, benches and ottomans are used with occasional, nesting or bar-height parsons tables, along with mobile white boards and TV displays. Whatever the type of furniture, they’re meant to be dynamic, and are often on casters for ease of mobility and reconfiguration. These modern training and collaborative spaces are all about adaptability and flexibility, working to accommodate people’s natural way of interaction. The lines of formality are blurred, and optimized communication and comfort are prioritized.
With continued innovation in office furniture, there really isn’t one way to design an office anymore. Office layouts are fluid, and every generation focuses on different aspects of our professional lives and cultures to create what they believe is the perfect workplace for the times. Whereas the 1900s may have prioritized employees’ productivity and efficiency, many today weigh a significant value in employees’ happiness and wellbeing – because of the belief that worker satisfaction ultimately drives better productivity and efficiency. One thing will always remain however, and that is the constant improvement of the office to meet the ever-changing demands of businesses and the individuals who work for them. With a watchful eye on office furniture trends in 2022 and years beyond, we can look forward to new designs and solutions that will always reflect the culture of our times.
Following Office Furniture Trends of 2022
If you need help planning or designing your office space, please contact us and share your needs. Our team at 2010 Office Furniture has about 50 years of combined experience working with Southern California’s most distinguished corporations, universities, and small business from Los Angeles and Orange Counties to the Inland Empire.
Read Also: Designing a Healthy Office
Main Photo: Stylex Seating
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Global, Groupe Lacasse, Hat Collection, OFS, Scale 1:1, Senator & Trendway