The importance of sustainability in the office has shown an uprise in the past couple of years. More and more businesses are putting in efforts to make their offices sustainable. And for good reason: businesses are supposed to be carbon neutral by 2050 according to the Paris Agreements, and sustainability is additionally highly valued by newer generations of employees.
Not only businesses, but also Orgatec itself had a focus on sustainability this year. In one of the halls, the fair had designed the Materials4Future stand. Here, we were inspired by the amount of natural materials that can be used in office design.
A number of companies that showcased their furniture at Orgatec this year have incorporated such green materials into their designs. A stand that really stood out to us in terms of sustainability, was VEPA. This company has sustainability as a priority, and provides a product passport for each product they manufacture. This way, it is always clear where their products originate from. VEPA has now developed a line of furniture that is created out of plastic debris that is fished out of the Amsterdam canals. While the material felt like a woolen fabric, it was completely water resistant because it was, in fact, plastic. Another line of products VEPA showcased at Orgatec is their Hemp Chairs. These comfortable chairs are entirely made out of hemp plants, making them completely biodegradable.
The needs and preferencs of newer generations of employees have changed through the years. They have increasingly started valueing sustainability and flexibility, but also health and safety at the office. Many people are starting to see the health benefits of ergonomic office furniture.
You might already be familiar with height adjustable desks, but the trend of ergonomic chairs is on the rise. In fact, on our own stand, we have collaborated with AdaptionLab. to show their automatically adjustable office chair. Just check into your desk and both the desk and the chair will adjust to your preferred settings. With this, Adaptionlab.’s chair is the very first smart office chair with memory function that adjusts to the users preferred seating settings automatically. This makes it the perfect addition to the popular hybrid working culture – it is no longer necessary to manually adjust your seat each time you visit the hot desking office. GoBright has therefore decided to collaborate with the innovative start-up, as it only makes sense. Just scan your NFC card on the GoBright Connect to check-in, and both the desk and the chair will automatically adjust to your preferred settings.
Other companies have shown different types of ergonomic chairs. Some focused on design, others on the health benefits. There even was a manufacturer that designed a chair that could be adjusted to standing/leaning height, with one leg resting on the seat. However, some took it to the next level. Walkolution developed a working station in which they incorporated a treadmill. This way, users are able to get their cardio in while at work. On the other hand, the same company developed a chair in which the user can lay down while working. All options are available for the working style that most fits your needs.
Greener furniture for greener offices
Besides healthy seatings, offices are also investing in other types of improving health at the office. We have seen a desk that had incorporated humidity sprays, which makes sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. It also had a water tank incorporated to have access to enough water. Besides these innovations, companies are also decorating the office with greenery. They are incorporating plants in office design. These filter the air at the office for better quality, and they liven up the space. They also provide for the humidity that people need.
We have seen many businesses with great ideas and products to enhance the workplace even further. Innovation brings the future. For the first time ever, we have tried a silent chair from Luxy. It has a specially designed headrest that surrounds your head, with built-in speakers. It works with Bluetooth, so the user can listen to music, make video calls and have phone calls. Other people won’t be able to hear it, but the user of the chair will! No more need for headphones and earplugs that will eventually cause discomfort.
Additionally, something that was drawn to our attention was the popularity of acoustics. After almost two years of working solely from home, coming back to the office is a culture shock. There is voices, phones ringing, and other sounds disturbing the silence throughout the day. These soundwaves are reflected by hard surfaces, resulting in sounds traveling further. Acoustic office design, usually made of softer material such as felt, limits this reflection and stimulates diffusion. This is why many companies are investing in acoustics in their workplace to manage sound diffusion, and create a more pleasant space to work in.
These softer fabrics such as felt are also being used in furniture such as desk dividers. These dividers were present in many different forms, both as a regular rectangular shaped divider, but also almost as a cubicle around the office.
Some companies even took it a step further by creating (mobile) silent rooms. We have tried a few of these silent rooms, and it was astonishing how well they kept the sound out. It was entirely quiet indoors when the door was kept shut. They came in different shapes and sizes, ranging from the occupancy of 1 until 6 people. Our very own resellers Zgoll and Pami had these on display, simultaneously using the GoBright software.
The colour scheme that continuously came back throughout the fair was pastel colours, such as light shades of blue, pink and orange, and also many organic colours. It seemed that it is becoming a trend to keep the office close to nature: Using natural colours such as the pastels, the greens and the oranges in combination with plants.
The office is no longer necessarily in the company’s building. It is also at home, in a café… Anywhere in the world as long as there is an internet connection and your laptop. Many organisations are realising this and their innovating designs and possibilities play into this development. One of the remote office designs that stood out to us was the collapsable desk from Beaktor. It serves as a desk and comes with a wall frame that you can customise to your preferences and the appliances you want to set up at the desk. When you are done with work, you will no longer have a messy desk. Just collapse your Beaktor and it is looking neat and clean. The exterior of the design can be decorated with a magnetic sticker, so it looks like an artwork in your home. The innovation of this product was even recognised by the Red Dot Design award.
Digitalisation at the office is becoming more and more important. Besides the Smart Office technology on our stand, we also visited the stand of our partner Vecos, and saw the wireless charging units from Zens. The office has become a destination for productive collaboration between people, a social hub, and therefore it must be designed as such. The businesses at Orgatec have shown that they understand this development and one by one contribute to designing the ultimate Smart Office.