Flexible work environments are essential for maximizing productivity and inspiring collaboration in the modern office.
However, it’s nearly impossible to create a flexible office environment without furniture that easily moves and adapts. In fact, modern workspaces need desks, chairs and tables that can provide both private and collaborative environments on demand.
Here’s a roundup of office furniture retailers and designers that help expand the limits of office environments, making it easier than ever to create the workspace you want.
Seating That Facilitates Collaborative Work
Y Living has several chairs and sofas that draw people together for collaborative work — or just for work that can be done in a more social setting. Here, you’ll find a variety of seating options designed to move and adapt to different environments. From moveable armchairs to inviting stools, this collection offers a variety of options for designers trying to create the optimal workspace.
Strong Project also creates collaborative office furniture that works for a variety of situations. High-backed benches offer a sense of privacy, and moveable, high-backed chairs make it easy to host a breakout session anywhere in the office. These furniture pieces are specifically designed for teamwork, making it easier to host both open and private meetings anywhere in the office.
Seating for Private Solo Work
When people think about privacy in the office, chairs aren’t usually the first things that come to mind. However, modern workspace designers are redefining privacy with seats that make a person feel as if they’re sitting alone, even in an office filled with people.
The Hosu seat, by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, is designed to create a comfortable work environment where an employee can simply relax and feel safe. Since it’s closer to the floor than normal chairs, it provides the sense of being separate from other people in the office, effectively creating a personal island where productivity can be reached.
A similar sense of privacy is achieved by the Amoebe Highback chair, which Vitra sells. This chair features an ultra-high back that curves upward and over the seated person. This creates a feeling of protection and safety, yet it still allows the person to see and hear what’s going on in the office.
Turnstone also creates adaptable privacy seating in the form of sofas and lounge seating. The Bivi Freestanding Rumble Seat with Hoodie features a sleek, modern sofa topped with a privacy hood that offers a sense of being alone. The privacy hood can be removed, making it a great choice for offices who want to offer options for both solo and collaborative work at any given notice.
Sometimes, you need a little more room to sit, but you still don’t have the brainspace for interruptions or conversation.
One design approach to this work mode is privacy sofas. To accommodate such a work mode, German-based designer Sebastian Herkner has created a wide, modular sofa with four levels of privacy that can be adapted. Simply adjusting the modular wall at the back of the sofa helps break up the space that the chair is in and give privacy to the person sitting in the seat.
Office occupants who are concerned with taking a call or having private discussions might look for similar designs, but they also need a little acoustic privacy, as well. One such solution to that is Borgo Seating’s inviting structures, which are optimized for sound. They also have adaptable swivel desks that can be attached to the sofa in a variety of ways, helping extend the capabilities of the seating arrangement even further to include desk work.
Sometimes, the acoustic and visual privacy that high-walled furniture creates isn’t quite enough. If you need a seriously quiet place for focused work — or if you simply need to make a phone call without disturbing the people around you — only a fully enclosed workspace will get the job done.
That’s why we have built the EmagiKit™ Privacy Pods to be soundproof, tidy enough to fit into any modern workspace, and comfortable enough for anyone to work quietly on a laptop or phone.
Some of the best modern office furniture is that which reevaluates the role of office furniture altogether.
For example, what if we imagined desks in an office more like houses in a neighborhood? Designers Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, who co-founded London-based design studio Industrial Facility, used this approach with their new office furniture collection.
Aptly titled Locale, this collection “recognizes collaboration as a necessity of good business.” Arranging a variety of creative employees in a strategically designed office pod is similar to designing where services, activities, businesses and amenities would exist within a community.
Employees also value the ability to change their workspaces throughout the day. This sometimes means moving to a new space for sitting and working, but it might also mean alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day. This is why more companies are creating adjustable desks and height-adjustable workstations:
• Smart Furniture is just one of many retailers that has a collection of height-adjustable desks. While some desks can be adjusted manually, others have digital capabilities that allow for instant, automatic adjustments whenever they’re needed.
• The Mod Office has a variety of number of flexible chairs available. Drafting chairs and adjustable-height chairs are important for providing a more ergonomic solution to desk work, and for accommodating different desk heights.
• UPLIFT desk has created flexible standing desks and chairs. These sit-stand workstations allow employees to adjust desk heights at the touch of a button.
And, sometimes, you need a workspace that can do everything over the course of a workday. Designer Sophie Kirkpatrick, who also founded the company Atlas & I, created The Duplex Workspace prototype for exactly this reason. The Duplex Workspace features a desk with a hood that can be pulled up when extra concentration is needed. Then, when it’s time to collaborate and share with others, the hood can be pulled down so that the furniture functions as an ordinary desk.
Clive Wilkinson Architects applied this same principle to an office-wide project for The Barbarian Group. Clive Wilkinson Architects took collaborative workspaces to a whole new level by creating an endless table that invites employees to work on the same surface, even if they’re not necessarily collaborating. This table also snakes throughout other areas of the building to create grotto-like arches that can accommodate both solo and collaborative work in a private, cozy space that promotes creative thinking.
In addition to desks, chairs and tables, ergonomic and adjustable office accessories also play a role in making the office more adaptable. For example, Haworth, Inc. supports adaptable work environments with a slotted storage stanchion that can be added to the wall in front of the desk. The slots then serve as hangers for a variety of office accessory holders, including pen cups, shelves, paper holders and more. Other options for portable storage come from the furniture company EthoSource, which creates mobile pedestals equipped with drawers and wheels for a 2-in-1 seating and filing option.
This approach to office organization enables a workspace to cater to different projects, and makes it more compatible to either group or individual environments. It also plays with the idea that assigned seats aren’t necessary, since it allows people to place their things in an organizational structure that works for their needs either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that doesn’t feel permanent.
Additionally, accessories such as whiteboards and screens that can be moved around the office help employees create small pods of productivity wherever they’d like to work. As seen in the the Otto Collection by Leland International, portable whiteboard screens can be used alone to enhance collaboration, or together to boost a sense of privacy.
Another portable whiteboard design is made by Allsteel Office. This board can easily be moved around the room due to its light, ergonomic design. Plus, its moveable magnetic marker tray adapts to different situations and people for a more comfortable writing or presenting experience.
Designing the Future of Flexible Office Furniture
Well-designed flexible offices have the capacity to accomodate all employee needs at any given time. With furniture that accommodates both private and collaborative work, workspace designers are able to create the ideal hybrid office environment for inspiring creativity and productivity among employees.