The COVID-19 pandemic has immense repercussions all over the world, it affects all professional sectors and all functions. While in 2020, employees were temporarily forced to telework and limit their travel, it is clear that the situation is settling in over time. However, now is the time to plan for a return to a certain normality, even if it does not happen immediately. How can we anticipate the return of all employees to the site in a secure manner?
To think that companies will welcome their employees as before this pandemic is an illusion. They must rethink, reconfigure and reimagine their workspaces in order to ensure the safe reception of their teams.
In the United States (1) as in France (2) and in most countries around the world, teleworking continues to attract a large majority of individuals, to the point that after the epidemic is moving towards a hybrid model combining days of work on site and remotely. This could prompt some office furniture manufacturers to take an optimistic view of the future, where the trend towards telecommuting would allow further growth.
Focus on multi-use furniture to respond to the situation
This enthusiasm is reflected in the boom in e-commerce and the home furnishings market. These are all new partnership opportunities between manufacturers of office furniture and retailers. Consumers are looking for versatile furniture similar to those found in their offices and this niche market, that of complementary products, can constitute a new opportunity for growth.
CBRE experts (3) are convinced that collaborative spaces will continue to play an essential role, despite the evolution of workspaces during and after the pandemic (4). However, the furniture used in these spaces should evolve to offer better acoustics and integrate the most recent technologies in order to facilitate communication with teleworking employees.
This adaptation to the larger public market therefore requires an industrial tool adapted to the size of the latter.
Target the consumer to react to the decline in B2B sales
However, while many furniture manufacturers seek to reach consumers directly, the transition from manufacturing commercial furniture to selling office furniture to individuals involves a profound transformation of the organization of the company and its environment. activity. It is imperative that office furniture manufacturers change their production methods, while preserving the stability of their main activity and the resulting turnover.
Manufacturers of office furniture need to rationalize their production methods in order to offer furniture that meets the widely varying needs of consumers, while keeping pace with mass production. This requires resolutely connected tools and solutions that are part of the concept of Industry 4.0, an alliance of digital skills and optimal accounting management.
The pandemic has shown us that a company’s ability to switch from one mode of production to another to serve different markets, even over short periods of time, is essential to its survival and profitability. Manufacturers of office furniture have been offering personalized products for a long time. However, they generally work on contracts or projects with a sufficiently long implementation schedule to allow them to gain efficiency and save costs.
Thus, furniture manufacturers are already getting down to automating their production (from order processing to cutting), using artificial intelligence, data mining and the Internet of industrial objects, in order to manufacture a wide variety of models in a wide choice of materials and thus speed up the manufacturing process.
1 Source: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/hybrid-work-model-likely-to-be-new-norm-in-2021.aspx.
2 Source: https://www.andrh.fr/actualites/1093/le-teletravail-post-covid-vu-par-les-drh-resultats-enquete-andrh-bcg.
3 CBRE is a corporate real estate advisory group headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The group is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500, and ranked in the Fortune 500. Most of its sales are made in the United States.
4 Source: The Way Forward – https://www.cbre.com/thewayforward/the-future-of-furniture?article=%7B55f2ca21-a0b1-41c8-adc7-17685968cf07%7D.