Looking back to office furniture design in the 1940s and 1950s, it is easy to see how much it has changed in the last 60 or 70 years. Traditionally it was felt that the main purpose of office furniture was not comfort for the user – it was meant to be practical and to conform to a typical office style. However, in more enlightened times employers have recognised the need for their employees to be comfortable at work in order for them to be as efficient and productive as possible. As a result of this, office furniture has become a lot less traditional and a lot more comfortable. With the development of ergonomically designed furniture, which is designed to fit and support the body, came an altogether more comfortable experience for staff that were deskbound for most of the working day.
Attitudes to work have also changed over the years and many offices now have an open plan, more informal feel to them, featuring bright colours and furniture that might traditionally be found in the home; recliner sofas are often seen in reception areas and staff rest areas. These can help to make both employees and clients feel at ease.
Older designs often featured natural wood, contemporary designed furniture – a style known as ‘Scandinavian Contemporary’. Furniture was simple, straight-edged and plain, with little ornamentation. Sometimes chairs would have been upholstered for the comfort of employees, but not always. Over the years the typical designs of office furniture has changed significantly – in prosperous times, furniture became more ornate, but in less prosperous times, it became plainer and chairs were no longer upholstered to save costs. Modern day office furniture doesn’t really have a particular style – different types of offices have different furniture, usually to reflect the style of the actual business conducted there. Those companies that wish to have a more formal atmosphere may feature striking furniture designs, with plenty of straight edges and neutral colours. Offices that wish to create a more relaxed, at home atmosphere may feature plush sofas, rustic wood furniture and brighter colours. Many modern office chairs are easily adjustable and automatically flex and swivel for maximum support, and upmarket leather types are not uncommon.
Many employers now wish to make their employees feel more at home, as comfortable and content workers are a lot more likely to be productive ones. In addition, employees who are comfortable are a lot more likely to enjoy their work and may therefore be prepared to go the extra mile to get their work done. In addition, it has been shown that employees who are in office environments that make them feel good are more productive and will work harder than those who are in drab office environments. For this reason many offices today try to create an environment that will make their employees feel good about working there, by using bright colours, comfortable seating and furniture which keeps the office tidy and generally looking good.
Source: Furniture Village