So, you're designing or commissioning a new office fit out, and furniture is a big part of the process. Where do you start?

We can all relate to how inadequate office furniture makes us feel. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for eight hours or having a pesky pedestal crammed at your feet can make you cranky, impact your work and even harm your health.

We advise our clients starting an office refurbishment or fit out to think carefully about what staff want, and what kind of workplace experience the management team wants to create. Doing this exercise helps you narrow down your choices and invest in pieces that’ll add the most value to your office.

Firstly, your staff will have a set of requirements — somewhere to work (whether that’s a fixed workstation or not), storage and breakout spaces for collaboration or concentration. Often if you ask employees what they want, they’ll tell you they need what they currently have. Furniture workshops, showroom visits, tours of other offices and researching different furniture options are ways to move past this. Appointing a group of ‘project champions’ who report back to their peers can also make sure no-one feels left behind in the decision-making.

Secondly, your furniture choices can encourage employees to collaborate and adopt modern working styles like ‘activity-based working’ or even reinforce office etiquette. For example, providing seating pods or high-backed sofas in breakout areas tells your employees that it’s okay to move away from their workstations, whilst having lockers reinforces that personal items shouldn’t be stored in pedestals or under desks.

office fit out furniture in meeting pod
Lockers for staff in new office fit out

Top takeaways

1. Furniture doesn’t only look good and support different working styles, it serves a very real purpose for eight to 10 hours a day.

2. It’s an obvious point but make sure that you look for durable furniture with a warranty that meets ergonomic standards for commercial use. Cheap is cheap, and you can end up paying more in the long-term if you aren’t careful.

3. Furniture can turn heads, transform your workplace and make people feel better — it really is the centrepiece of any office project.

Finastra flexible and engaging workspace