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By Adam Motley, 2Y 2019

One of the strongest predictors of business success is employee engagement. According to the latest Gallup data, employers ranked highly in engagement were 22% more profitable, have 48% fewer safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality defects.

According to Jacob Morgan, an author and researcher on the subject, the employee experience is driven by three components: culture, technology and physical space.

Business leaders often focus almost exclusively on the first two: culture and technology. Yet physical space accounts for 30% of the employee experience. That is worth repeating: Physical space accounts for 30% of the employee experience.

Trends that are transforming the modern office

A little over three years ago, I had a crazy idea to reimagine the office chair for the modern work environment. I spent the last two years doing customer interviews, building and testing prototypes, researching the latest trends, and talking to industry experts. The result is MOVO — an office chair that makes sitting with perfect posture the default.

As I learned more about the industry and spoke with interior designers, architects, and furniture product designers, three trends stood out that are transforming the modern office:

  1. Sit/stand desks: About a decade ago, research showed the dangers of sitting all day. “Sitting is the new smoking” was the mantra as people switched to standing desks. But standing all day is even worse! Healthy work posture involves movement: changing positions from sitting to standing throughout the day. Intuitive, height-adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs are becoming table stakes in the modern office.
  1. “Hoteling” workstations: As remote work and team-based work become more common, employers are moving to flexible work environments where employees can grab a workstation for the day when needed. Prior to Kellogg I worked at Deloitte, and I never had a desk that was strictly mine. This limits customization – you cannot outfit a workstation for an individual. It also requires standardization: each chair, each desk, each computer monitor must fit every employee in the company. Any employee could work at any workstation on any given day!
  1. Mobile devices: People no longer work exclusively on desktops or laptop docking stations; 2-in-1 laptops, tablets, and phones are now an integral part of modern workflow. Ergonomics is moving beyond monitor arms and keyboard trays, and expanding to new working positions and postures as people lean back, look down, and use multiple devices.

Are you blowing hot air from the Windy City?

The office furniture industry is rapidly adapting to these trends. For MOVO, our product is specifically designed to make sitting with perfect posture the default. While helpful for everyone, this is particularly important for teammates sitting down to take a break from standing: they are fatigued and especially prone to slouching. It is also designed to fit people of all sizes, so any employee can sit in any chair in hoteling workplace concepts. Finally, it is designed to accommodate additional mobile device postures: a headrest supports leaning backward, and a tilted seat cushion enables good posture while leaning forward.

I am not the only company adjusting to these trends either. Industry leader Steelcase launched a smart standing desk that reminds users to sit down. They also launched a series of portable walls and decorations so employees can set up (and take down) private enclaves depending on their working style. Finally, just this year they debuted a portable power station so people can easily charge all their devices no matter where they work in the office.

What am I supposed to do?

The modern business leader must:

  • Remember that the physical workspace accounts for 30% of the employee experience.
  • Monitor the latest trends in the workspace — both at a national level and specific to their own industry and team
  • Constantly improve their working environment to align with the people, culture, and technology of their business

Right now, the latest trends are environments that are sit/stand enabled, provide flexible hoteling workstations, and are mobile device-friendly. Is your office keeping up with these trends?