Someday, we’ll look back at the office furniture we used at the turn of the century and it will seem, well, like furniture we used at the turn of the century — old, obsolete, sepia-toned, and kind of funny.
“Can you believe it?” we’ll tell our grandchildren. “We sat at desks! We used phones that plugged into the wall!” And our grandchildren will look at us like we used to look at our elders when they explained what an ink well was, or how to change the ribbon on a typewriter. Ah, progress.
For the time being, we’re still with the program enough to be able to see how technology is changing our offices — and the furniture in it — into something entirely new. Here are the trends that are affecting where and how we work.
The desk phone isn’t obsolete yet, but it might be getting there. Many of us no longer have landlines in our home. How much longer will it be before companies dispose of non-mobile phones altogether? If they do, expect to see fewer and fewer desks with those little cut-outs in the back to allow wires to run from the desk to the outlets and phone jacks below.
Of course, part of the reason desks no longer necessarily need a place for permanent wires is that we’re using desktops less and less. Even companies that still assign desks to employees are more likely than ever before to skip the desktop and just issue laptops to workers. And that’s if they’re not embracing the hotdesking trend, and allowing workers to sit at any open desk, or getting by with an entirely remote workforce.
And speaking of hotdesking, let’s talk about electrical outlets for a minute: they are absolutely everywhere. Because workers might need to plug in at a moment’s notice, more and more desks have outlets built right in. We wouldn’t be surprised if they started making lunch tables and lounge chairs with outlets included. (Get on this, furniture manufacturers. It’s a growth market.)
Pictured: 20-foot cherry conference table, with power connections. Available here.
Open Plan Offices
Traditional desks and cubicles might soon be a thing of the past, if the trend toward open plan offices continues. If so, expect to see a boom in the production of open workstations and long tables. (With lots of outlets, naturally.)
Pictured: Haworth Race high-tech pods. Available here.
You can go ahead and turn the server room into a foosball lounge, because cloud computing might soon make the need for physical servers obsolete. Although most large companies still have dedicated servers, we might soon see that change. What does this have to do with office furniture, you might ask? Well, you’re going to need to put something in that space. We recommend against yet another boring conference room.
Images: 1, 2, and 5: iStockphoto. 3 and 4: Arnolds Office Furniture.