According to a survey conducted by Gallup in 2015, the percentage of American workers taking advantage of telecommuting has grown to 37 percent. Numbers from past surveys show that there has been a steady increase over the past 20 years, despite a slight decrease in 2008. Another survey published by Global Workplace Analytics, based on figures from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, indicated that 3.7 million Americans worked from home for at least half their regularly scheduled hours, as of 2014.
One of the reasons telecommuting has increased is due to the fact that half of US jobs now have the capacity to support remote work. This has two main benefits. First, people no longer have to spend so much of their time and money on commuting. Second, the furniture industry profits, because employees need home office furniture to create comfortable workspaces.
MarketResearch.com published a report estimating that the market for home office furniture will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 5.58% over the next few years. The number reflects sales worldwide and includes desks, office chairs, and filing cabinets, among other essentials. The same organization anticipates that consumers will search for furniture that serves multiple purposes, so when it is not in use, it becomes a functional household item.
To help you develop a strategy for selling home office furniture to this growing market, read on to find out what variables and features consumers value when creating a functional home workspace.
In a January 2016 interview with Retailer Now Magazine, the vice president of merchandising and design at Somerton Dwelling shared that millennials make up a large portion of the telecommuting population. Unlike other generations, they are less likely to own homes or rent apartments that offer a traditional home office space. Therefore, they prefer to have pieces that can be moved around and configured easily to create a workspace. For this reason, keeping an inventory of sofa tables that have dropdown drawers can be a good idea. The table can be used traditionally as an accent piece, and as a desk when accompanied with a chair. Another way to help consumers make impromptu workspaces is to sell modular furniture. Smaller in size, modular furniture is made to be rearranged, so it can serve as shelving, a desk, or any other home office piece.
Having enough room to store items neatly away will always be a necessity. Based on the number of home office organization pins on Pinterest, it’s clear that consumers still seek the perfect solution. Help them find what they need by stocking your showroom with desks that feature ample drawers and enough surface space to house desk accessories.
A good way to demonstrate a piece of furniture’s storage potential is to stage it in a way that illustrates how it’s intended to be used. For example, a person who works at home as an artist will not only use the desk to sketch, but also as a place to store tools, such as paper and art materials. Open drawers and place these items within. If the desk comes with an embedded filing cabinet, stage it by adding filing folders and paper. Doing so effectively showcases storage features that a potential buyer may overlook.
Telecommuters must stay connected at all times, which means they require home office furniture that keeps their devices charged and cords organized. A good way to ensure your products meet both needs is to stock furniture that has Universal Serial Bus (USB) and electrical power strips embedded in them, so users can charge multiple electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
As an added perk, give consumers the option to buy office furniture that features built-in Bluetooth speakers. People can use these not only to listen to music as they work, but also to communicate during meetings. Finally, a functional piece of office furniture requires one extra element: organization. Tangled cords can easily present a tripping hazard, so stock desks and other pieces that offer a place to keep cords separate and tucked away.
Efficient use of space is a necessity as people of all generations are increasingly downsizing to smaller homes. Many consumers nowadays seek a more minimalist lifestyle and manageable home, rather than the sprawling “McMansions” of the past. The notion of “less is more” is the key to selling your products to these buyers. Figure out how you can give a telecommuter everything they need in a compact piece of furniture. For instance, offer desks that are slim and can be placed flush up against a wall. Corner desks are also great for tight spaces, as are desks with built-in shelving, roll-out or pull-out cabinets, and other space-saving features. This increases storage potential dramatically.