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Office environments have been changing a lot recently. Beginning with creative and digital industries, there’s been an increased focus on employee comfort and how they emotionally interact with their environment. For instance, you’ve probably seen that some office have installed slides instead for people to get around.

This trend began with companies like Google, that saw endless cubicles under drab fluorescent lighting office environment, to be doing a lot of harm to innovation and productivity. The prevailing attitude before that was that anything pleasurable in an office, distracted employees from their work. But studies have proven quite the opposite.

Here are some of the latest office furniture trends sweeping across modern workplaces.

Standing Desks

Courtesy of flickr user  ramsey beyer

Courtesy of flickr user
ramsey beyer

While not exactly the latest technology, standing office desks have had a big comeback due to their reported health and ergonomic benefits. A recent study suggested that there was a proportional 11% increase in mortality threat, for every additional hour we spend sitting. Not to mention the threats of obesity, cancer and diabetes related to sedentary lifestyles.

Nap Pods

Courtesy of flickr user  Pedro Dias

Courtesy of flickr user
Pedro Dias

Letting your employees sleep at work doesn’t seem like the best way the make them work more. However, it’s when we ask too much of our employees without giving them sufficient time to recharge, that we see their work quality begin to slip and their productivity rate decrease.

A 20 minute nap has been shown to increase concentration by 34% and boost morale considerably. The naps pods have alarms that can be set in 15-20 minute sessions, blocking out light and cancelling out sound. The only dissuasive thing about this technology is the price of naps pods, which can range anywhere between R 25 000 and R 120 000 per pod. However, there’s always a more cost effective way to improvise these kinds of areas with other office furniture.

Bean Bags

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Bean bag chairs and beanbag work areas are becoming a very noticeable workplace furniture trend. These areas are more suitable for people who do very typing-intensive work that doesn’t require a work desk or a wide range of motion, such as coders or data capturers.

The idea isn’t that they permanently work in these areas but these a merely transitory pieces of office furniture, much like the way you might move around your own home’s furniture throughout the day. As a person’s mood about their comfort changes, they have different options of work station: bean bags, standing desks, lounge chair, outdoor areas, etc.

Telepresence Robots

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It almost seems like something out of a bad sci-fi film. Combining the technology being used in teleconferencing (Example: an iPad and a Wi-Fi connection) and a roller-base to get around, we get what is essentially a floating live video of the employee, navigating their way around the office, not bound by the reciprocal process required to setup teleconferencing.

These are often modified with a wide angle lens and background-noise cancelling technology to give the employee adequate awareness of their environment. Although it appears a little unusual at first, it gives telecommuters a more valuable presence in the office and allows them to interact with their workplace and colleagues in more productive ways.

While some of, or even most of, the above may not apply to your workplace, it’s interesting to see how different industries and organisations are approaching the modern idea of the workplace and office furniture. And that we can’t use the exact same office décor strategies across all industries, tasks and workplace responsibilities.

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