With the highest number of people working from home in 10 years, Cabinet Maker talks to Teknik Office’s Richard Coleman about the latest trends in home office furniture, and how independent retailers could benefit.
The number of employees who regularly work from home has gone up by 19% over the past decade, with nearly quarter of a million more people home-working than just 10 years ago. This is according to analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC). In fact, there is now a national day dedicated to the practice.
Whilst some 912,000 male employees stated that they regularly worked from home in 2015 compared to 609,000 females, women represented the largest growth area, with 35% more working from home in 2015 than in 2005.
This trend is only on the rise, as ever evolving developments in mobile technology enable people to work almost anywhere they have a device - saving time and money on commutes, with many experiencing a better work-life balance. But what of the environment in which these employees operate? How does home office furniture compare with the tech?
Richard Coleman, national account manager at supplier of office and home office furniture, Teknik Office, explained: “It was probably 10-15 years ago when employees really started to become more mobile and make the move towards remote and home working. Since then we have seen an increasing demand for furniture that can cross over between the home and the office.
“Today’s smaller homes mean that, for many people, their office space is shared within another ‘functional’ room such as a living or dining area. It is of even greater importance, therefore, that home office furniture is both sized and styled accordingly. For example, an office chair should match or complement a suite, and the workstation should not look out of place.
“In our work with some of the larger furniture retailers, we have seen demand for home office products grow exponentially, so there is a big profit opportunity for those who can offer the right products, but the fear is that the independents could miss out.”
The latest Office and Home Office Furniture Market Report from AMA Research would seem to substantiate the opportunity potentially presented by the home office market, reporting that the UK office and home office furniture market showed modest value growth through 2012 and 2013, followed by stronger growth in 2014 after some years of pressure caused by falls in the office construction sector and high levels of commercial available office space.
Highest levels of demand were experienced geographically in London the South East; and sector specifically, in the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) sector, bringing more positivity to the table, and the market as a whole is predicted to show annual growth rates of 3-4% onwards from 2015.
In terms of trends, it is predicted that demand for smaller desks will continue, reflecting not only the changing work practices, but also technological developments, and some value is likely to be added through the introduction of more accessories and a greater level of integration with other products.
“Traditionally, Teknik was always known as an office products supplier,” continued Richard, “but we have been selling home office products for a while now, and found one of our most popular items to be a cream leather office chair which is designed to match a suite.”
Building on the response to these chairs, the company has now launched a complementary range of workstations for home offices, a move which followed the announcement that US based global flat pack furniture manufacturer, Sauder Inc made the business its exclusive distributor for the UK & Ireland.
The workstations are available in a number of styles, footprints and colours to suit most tastes, in order to provide the retailer with an additional sales tool for their arsenal. “Sauder had not sold to the UK before,” enthused Richard, “and the quality control is exceptional with solid handles, attention to detail and competitive pricing.
“As important as the quality to the retailer, of course, is the ability to deliver what they have promised their customer, and as a business to business supplier, we appreciate that this can often demand next day delivery.
“The US holds huge stocks, so we are able to replenish supplies quickly and offer stock on a next day basis to the retailer, dealer or – via pre-booked delivery - with the end user. We even have a live stock holding for each piece on our website so our customers can see in real time what is available.”
So, are retailers taking advantage of the home office market? “From our point of view, we have seen a good deal of interest in our own range from a number of larger retailers,” explained Richard.
“But we also see a good opportunity for independents. Currently we feel that they are potentially missing out, where, for example, they might stock a range of 20 suites when they could stock say 18 or 19 and incorporate a home office chair and workstation combination which would compliment one of their more popular ranges. By partnering with a supplier such as Teknik, they would have the additional benefit of un-branded point of sale equipment and support.”
The company has invested in a stand at next year’s January Furniture Show to bring this message to independent retailers. “We have not exhibited at the January Furniture Show for a long time,” stated Richard, “but felt that this new phase of our offering provided us with the right opportunity to speak to visitors about how we could help them diversify their own ranges and potentially make more sales.”