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  • Feature Story

Today’s office furniture makes work more mobile


July 17, 2015

What does today’s office look like? In a word, it’s mobile.

With the current focus on improving health by reducing long stretches of sedentary time, many office workers are more mobile and focused on “active” working. Spurring this trend is the mobile furniture they use, enabling them to sit less and move more, while still being connected and productive.

So with that in mind, what can we expect from the office furniture of tomorrow?

Today’s office furniture supports an active office, which allows workers to change their work position more frequently. Research shows that office workers sit too long in one position, and that more movement throughout the workday can reduce the negative health effects of sitting for extended periods.

Manufacturers are helping address this concern by developing furniture that enables employees to change positions and increase how much they move during the workday. Furniture for the active office includes height-adjustable tables, which allow people to alternate between sitting and standing positions. While these tables have been around for years, they are becoming more popular and many companies offer them. Other examples include chairs that recline, to reduce the amount of time people spend in an upright position.

As we become more mobile at the office, we also need furniture that supports the ability to work in more places than just a desk. Workers are leaving traditional desktop computers behind for mobile devices such as phones, tablets and laptops. To support this trend, our offices are more wireless, and our furniture is more wired. Traditional workstations and conference tables have been wired for years, but now companies are introducing lounge seating, work pods and storage units that will charge devices and even provide their own wireless internet access. Employees are not just limited to being connected at their desks, now they can be connected in “touch-down” spots throughout the office, so that every inch of the office can become a workstation or functional meeting place.

All of these devices are low-voltage and companies are working towards having low-voltage systems built into the furniture to eliminate the need for separate power supplies for each device. And like wireless Internet connections, people are working towards having wireless power connections.

The threads that tie both of these trends together are complexity and motorization. Modern office furniture designs are increasingly complex, and include motors, cabling and electrical wiring. Providing clarity to this complexity, UL Safety Certifications help manufacturers ensure that these products are safe for employees, so the active office can be synonymous with the safe office.