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Does Your Office Furniture Inspire Encounters?

You know you can count on Arnolds to keep you up to date on all the latest office trends, which is why we want to make sure you know all about offices turning into meet markets (and we don’t mean the kind you find at happy hour on a Friday night). We mean the kind where co-workers randomly run into each other and come up with inspired ideas that will help your customers and make your business grow.

Those kind of meet markets require both the perfect office furniture and a setting that screams innovation. We rounded up examples of office furniture and meeting rooms that inspire random (and hopefully work-related) encounters. Check them out:

1. Picnic Tables
That’s right, the humble wooden picnic table (preferably set up on a posh rooftop terrace with incredible city views and filled with an assortment of scrumptious grilled goodies) can be just as good as a fancy conference table surrounded by cushy high-backed chairs. Maybe even better. The casual nature of a picnic table might let your employees let their guard down and share some truly new ideas. Of course, it could also make for some extended debates about the last episode of “Game of Thrones” over their hot dogs.

2. Lawn Chairs
Just like in real estate, when it comes to inspired ideas, sometimes the key is location, location, location. It’s amazing how a simple set of lawn chairs and a plastic table set up on a beach in some tropical locale can get the gears turning in your employees over-taxed brains. If your office isn’t on or near a beach (we’re guessing that’s most of you) then try re-creating the beach in your office. Add a mural of an ocean scene and pipe in waves over your sound system. If that doesn’t do the trick, offer meeting attendees a cocktail in half a watermelon. We’re pretty sure that will get people talking.

3. A Pile of Toys
We might kick ourselves for saying this, but great furniture isn’t always necessary for sparking creativity among co-workers. Maybe all you really need is a big stack of plastic bricks that are fun to build with, but not so much fun to step on barefoot. Want your employees to think outside the box? Make them gather ’round a big old stack of LEGO pieces.

4. A Stack of Boxes
Sometimes when you’re talking over ideas or reviewing plans, a quick meeting is all you need. You don’t necessarily want everyone settling into a chair, which is where something to lean on comes in handy. Sure you could go classy by setting up some taller tables throughout the office, but if you’re on a budget, a stack of boxes or a file cabinet will do. Who says inspirational can’t be budget friendly?

5. A Living Room Set
Fruitful random encounters happen when employees feel relaxed with their guards down, so create spaces in your office that feel familiar and comfortable like a living room. A slightly wrinkled, comfortable couch and worn coffee table for feet and/or a laptop are ideal pieces to start. Throw in some cool art, a tchotchke or two (maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cape for good measure) and some non-fluorescent lighting and you’re on your way to making brainstorming magic.

6. Transparency
It’s pretty tough for folks to pop into a meeting or jump into a conversation if they can’t see it happening. If you’re hoping for more collaboration in your office, keeping it open is key. If you need walls to keep noise levels down, consider using glass. Otherwise, set up a couches, chairs and tables throughout the office for impromptu meetings.

7. Lightweight
For random encounters, you want employees to be comfortable, but not too comfortable. You also want it to be easy for people to assemble. That’s where lightweight, easy-to-move furniture comes in handy. Wire chairs like those pictured above are hip looking and also perfect for pulling up to a group of people, but not so comfortable that folks are lingering too long.

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Photo courtesy of Phillie Casablanca/Flickr

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Photo courtesy of Bill Ward’s Brickpile/Flickr

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