If you’re thinking about buying new office furniture, an office move or refurbishment project in 2019, then before you start assembling a team of architects, contractors and designers, then it’s worth considering what your employees actually want and need. This may sound obvious, but historically the majority of office furniture fit-outs are completed with zero employees consulted on how they would like to work and utilise their office space. Cynics might suggest that would be pandering to the workforce. However, when you consider that organisations with highly engaged employees report a 22% increase in profitability, then surely it’s worth considering their requirements before you invest in any work or office furniture solutions.

It’s also worth considering the research carried out by Senator Group. Senator is the UK’s largest manufacturer of office furniture and workplace solutions and a leading investor in research, development and design. Prism is a Senator Partner and we’ve been fascinated by the results of a survey they conducted of 2000 UK office based employees, to evaluate how individuals work. 

How we work

The ‘How We Work’ white paper that shares the survey’s findings provides an interesting insight into the modern workplace. It’s importance cannot be stressed enough. The benefits of a happy and healthy workforce are undisputed. It improves an organisation’s ability to recruit, retain and reduce absenteeism. It is also proven to improve productivity, profitability and customer service. Obviously there are other factors that will influence employee morale and engagement, but providing the right office environment is certainly a critical factor.

But what is the right office environment?

To answer that, it’s worth looking at the survey’s finding on demographics. In recent years the office design industry has been paying very close attention to the needs of millennials. This is a generation that has grown up with digital technology and a faster, more fluid approach to working. However, the How We Work whitepaper suggests that the industry has been putting too much emphasis on millennials. According to the research, the proportion of 18-34 year olds in offices has decreased by 9% and in fact, 62% of the UK workforce is over 35 years old. This would suggest that the needs of this larger group should be considered first and foremost.

If you are investing in new office furniture, an office move or refurbishment, then you need to look at your employee demographics and also consider your future recruitment requirements. The survey’s findings reveal that older workers are more territorial than millennials and generation Z. A collaborative workspace or open plan office with banks of hot desks and benches won’t necessarily suit ‘older’ workers who often prefer more privacy.

A particularly interesting finding is the fact that the majority of people, irrespective of age, prefer privacy when making phone calls. In fact 81% of those surveyed reported a preference for being alone when making a call. Younger workers are more accustomed to communicating via text and email and simply aren’t as comfortable on the phone, and senior workers are likely to have more responsibility and therefore require more privacy. This certainly translates into a requirement for secluded and private areas with screen technologies and acoustic solutions to reduce ambient sound.


Download the survey results


Another point that we picked up on in the survey results is that the office desk is by no means dead. We are all for more flexible and collaborative working, but when you consider that 81% of those surveyed said they prefer to be at a desk when carrying out intensive tasks such as writing and 75% prefer to send emails from a desk – then there’s no denying that adequate desk provision is an absolute must.

Office furniture that caters for individual preferences

One thing is for sure, with today’s incredible range of office furniture solutions it is entirely possible to cater for everyone’s individual preferences. What’s important is to recognise that one size doesn’t fit all. And if you do want a happy, healthy and engaged workforce, then taking into consideration how different individuals might like to work is essential.

The key is to empower people to work in whatever way suits them, by enabling them to tailor their space and their working day to their individual needs and preferences. In Senator’s Allermuir Settings brochure, Senator suggest that an office environment that includes all of the following ‘areas/functions’ is a very good place to start:

  • Work – a personal space where someone can concentrate

  • Share – an informal meeting space where ideas can be shared

  • Show – a formal space for presentations

  • Source – a space for shared resources and storage

  • Refresh – a welcoming space where people can informally interact and replenish their energy

This model recognises that traditional offices with banks of desks and formal meeting rooms (whether they are open plan or not) are too restrictive and prescriptive. They do not provide enough flexibility. Incorporating the above ‘areas/functions’ fully embraces the concept of agile working. It provides different areas that can be utlised in different ways, equipping your employees with all the assets they need to be comfortable, happy and produce their best work.


100 pages of designs and ideas based on a vision for future workspaces


You can download the Allermuir Settings brochure here.

You can download the How We Work survey results here.

If you’d like any further information on office furniture or assistance with your office move or refurbishment, then please call one of our specialists on 0333 456 1501 or email interiors@prismoffice.co.uk.

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