Employees

shopping

How to Host a Great In-Store Event

Today’s furniture retailers are working in a market that is much different than it was just a decade or so ago. With easy access to online shopping via computers and mobile devices, modern consumers are certainly not lacking for options when they want to spend money on a new product. Unlike many other areas of retail, however, the home furnishings industry is still largely driven by brick-and-mortar sales. Furniture retailers looking to stay ahead of the competition must focus on creating a great experience for every customer who walks through their door.

One way to deliver a remarkable experience while boosting your brand is by hosting an in-store event. Fortunately, hosting a successful event at your store doesn’t have to be a headache. Here is some advice to help you on your way:

 

Preparation Tips

 

  1. Plan well in advance

While you shouldn’t let planning an event take over your professional and/or personal life, it is important to take the time needed to put all the necessary moving parts together. It’s best to begin planning at least 90 days beforehand—and don’t forget to set a timeline with attainable goals along the way. During the planning phase, think about the timing of the event and make a list of what you want to accomplish to ensure that you’re successful.

 

  1. Set a budget

Another important part of the planning process involves sorting out your budget so that you do not overspend. After you’ve decided on what to do during the event, carefully calculate the costs of promotional items, marketing materials, staff, and other needs before establishing your budget. Having a budget in place will also help you assess your return on investment after you wrap up the event.

 

  1. Get the word out

You can’t expect people to show up to an event that they don’t hear about. Be sure to focus heavily on marketing and don’t hesitate to use multiple forms of media to get the word out. You can send out invitations to customers via postal mail, e-mail, and social media. Print ads and outdoor advertising are also effective. If possible, you can create more buzz about your event by reaching out to journalists and local media outlets to help share your story.

 

instagram

 

What to Do the Day of the Event

 

  1. Consider offering freebies

Who doesn’t love giveaways? One of the best ways that you can boost attendance at your event is by offering free stuff. Providing free food and drinks is always a good idea, but you can also hand out goody bags with promotional items and discount offers. For an added draw, consider having a prize raffle. If you go this route, be sure to capitalize on your investment by collecting valuable customer info from those who enter.

 

  1. Get out the camera

After going through all the work of planning and hosting an event, it’s important to document the activities via photos and video. If you’re uncomfortable or unskilled behind the camera, consider delegating the task to a staff member or hiring a professional for the job. Don’t forget to get your guests’ permission if you plan to post the photos and videos to social media or your website.

 

  1. Don’t oversell

While the whole point of hosting an in-store event is to boost sales, it’s important to focus on creating a great experience rather than pushing products onto your customers. Give your guests the opportunity to explore your store and browse on their own without you or your staff getting too “salesy.” Those who are thinking about making a purchase during the event will be more likely to do so if they are comfortable and having a good time, so be sure to make that your priority.

 

shopping

 

How to Follow Up

 

  1. Post photos and event highlights

In the days and weeks following your event, keep the buzz going by posting photos, videos, and recaps on your website and social media pages. If any special guests, community groups, or business partners took part in the activities, don’t forget to mention them in your posts. Also, look around for other people sharing info about the event and send them thanks.

 

  1. Send out follow-up offers

As a thank you to those who attended, you can send discount offers via e-mail or traditional mail to any guest whose information you collected during the event. You can also send out a blanket thank you to the community by offering a “second-chance” promotion to those who were unable to attend.

 

  1. Reflect and start planning the next one

Once everything has settled down, gather your staff to discuss what worked and what didn’t. This is also the time to review your goals and see how well you did at achieving them. In addition, it’s important to crunch numbers to evaluate your budget and overall return on investment. With this information in hand, you can refine and improve your strategy for your next in-store event.

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employee engagement

Practical Advice on How to Improve Employee Engagement

Maintaining a positive, productive, and profitable workplace requires employees who are engaged in their job and committed to giving their best every day. Engaged employees work harder and are willing to go the extra mile because they feel connected to their company. In a retail environment, such as furniture sales, employees who are committed and dedicated to their work help to increase sales and annual revenues while promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. Satisfied employees are also much less likely to leave their jobs. Reduced employee turnover means that furniture retailers can save on the significant costs associated with hiring and training new workers.

Despite the many benefits that come with employee engagement, many business owners are failing or simply not trying to cultivate an engaged workplace. In fact, recent research found that nearly 35 percent of the American retail workforce is disengaged from their jobs. Fortunately, retail business leaders who are interested in boosting engagement among their employees can find success by following a few simple tips.

 

employee

 

Make Communication and Positivity a Priority

Communication is a crucial aspect of business operations for companies of all sizes. Business leaders who communicate their expectations to each employee will have greater success in attaining overall company goals. In addition to providing clear guidance and instruction, prioritizing communication in the workplace also involves embracing transparency and accessibility. Retail employees who view managers and owners as another part of the team that is available to assist them will have a deeper sense of investment in their work and the company.

Focusing on positive communication and taking time out to thank employees for their work are other ways that business leaders can improve workplace morale and engagement. Overly critical work environments are stressful and prevent employees from speaking their minds. Supportive and positive workplaces, on the other hand, foster engagement and motivate employees to perform at their very best.

 

Hire and Provide Support for Strong Managerial Staff

Much of the responsibility for promoting employee engagement lies with managers. The most successful managerial staff members are those who want their people to succeed and will provide the support and guidance they need to do so. Effective managers also understand their employees’ strengths and value their contributions to the company.

When hiring from outside sources or promoting from within, business leaders should focus on finding managers who possess the leadership traits needed to improve engagement among workers. Providing ongoing coaching and holding managers accountable for employee engagement are keys to continued success. Research has shown that companies with supportive managerial staff have employees that are 67 percent more engaged than those at non-supportive organizations.

 

management team

 

Implement Recognition and Reward Programs

It should go without saying that an employee who feels respected and valued for his or her work will be more motivated to continue supporting the company’s goals. Offering a simple verbal “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation for outstanding employees, but managers and business owners can take things a step further by providing employee rewards and incentives.

Recognizing employees with a “Wall of Fame” board, an employee of the month party, or shout out on social media can all be part of a rewards program. In the furniture retail industry, employers can motivate associates with leaderboards for top sales or number of hours worked during a busy season. Offering employee discounts for outstanding work is another way that retailers can engage sales associates while making them feel valued.

 

Give Employees Room to Grow

The potential for internal growth plays an important role in driving employee engagement. Regardless of the type of work that one does, it is difficult to remain engaged when daily tasks never change. For this reason, business owners looking to attract and retain top talent should examine the growth opportunities they provide to potential and current employees.

Although managers often correlate growth opportunities with a salary increase or a new job title, many employees can get the same satisfaction from growing within their current position. Providing employees with training and new leadership opportunities can be all that is needed to increase their engagement and break up the monotony of their day-to-day work.

 

employee

 

Do Something outside of Work

Along with allowing a little time for fun in the workplace, business leaders can promote employee engagement by organizing social events. Social activities outside of work give employees the chance to interact and develop personal relationships with one another in a relaxed environment. When teams of workers enjoy each other’s company, they are often more productive professionally.

Employees’ personal schedules can sometimes make it difficult for everyone to attend any one event, so companies should try to organize several throughout the year. Activities can include a company softball tournament or barbecue, weekly happy hour, or an evening at a professional sports venue. Bringing employees and managers together for volunteer projects also provides a way to increase engagement while maintaining a positive presence in the local community.

business

Here’s How to Create Your Perfect Home Office

With nearly 4 million Americans working from home at least half of the time, blending one’s work and one’s living space is becoming increasingly common. Because of this, the home office has evolved from a glorified computer closet lined with a few books into an important and necessary space in many households.

Even those who don’t use their home as a remote workspace appreciate having an area to go to when it’s time to pay bills, send an e-mail, or help the kids with their homework. A home office is also the perfect place to hide away and delve into a new novel. Regardless of how a family uses the space, there are ways to improve the style, comfort, and functionality of a home office with minimal effort.

The following are some simple tips for creating the perfect at-home work area:

 

Start with the Necessities.

While specific needs and style preferences will vary from one person to the next, there are two items that virtually every home office needs: a desk and a chair. No matter how big the area is, these two pieces will serve as a design focal point and provide the main space in which people are likely to do most of their work.

To find a suitable desk, individuals should first consider how much room they have to work with. The next things to think about are functionality and style. If the desk’s main purpose will be to support computer-based activities, then it’s vital to find a piece with features such as built-in wiring holes and a CPU compartment. Those who will do a lot of printing will want to find a desk with storage or enough surface space to accommodate printing equipment, paper, and files.

Pairing the right desk with the perfect chair should really be more about comfort and support rather than aesthetics. Most people do the majority of their work from a sitting position. Therefore, it’s essential to find a chair with ergonomic features such as lumbar support, as well as adjustable armrests and seat height. It’s also a good idea to select a chair that rocks, bounces, tilts, or swivels, because these motions make it easier for people to sit for extended periods.

 

home-office

 

Consider Personal Needs and Preferences.

When combining the right chair, desk, and office accessories, it’s important to ensure that the space reflects the user’s specific needs and preferences. Along with using paint and décor to improve the office design, incorporating functional pieces can add a bit of style while supporting productivity.

Floor and table lamps are appropriate for any home office, and they often come in a set to provide a tied-together look. Other accessories to consider include anti-fatigue mats, flexible footrests, and adjustable stools, all of which can make those long workdays less stressful on the body and thus, more productive.

Those who prefer to do some of their work from a standing position will find that today’s furniture manufacturers offer a variety of adjustable desks that users can lower and raise to make it easy to alternate between sitting and standing. Some desk options even offer programmable height settings and adjustable electric lifts.

 

Cut the Clutter with Organization and Tech-Friendly Designs.

An easy way to keep papers and other essential items organized is to strategically employ bookshelves, file cabinets, and lift-top coffee tables. Those with a smaller office space can combine hanging file folders and simple storage carts with creative solutions such as baskets, storage cubes, and floating shelves to ensure a clutter-free workspace.

In today’s tech-driven world, people need computers and other electronic devices to stay engaged and on top of work responsibilities. To keep one’s home office looking tidy, however, it’s important to keep any accompanying wires, cords, and accessories, such as chargers, organized and out of sight. This is easily accomplished by using wiring channels, multi-outlet surge protectors, or something as simple as a cable tie. Tech-friendly desks and end tables with built-in electrical outlets, USB ports, and cord compartments are also options for those looking to keep their workspace looking sleek, modern, and uncluttered.

 

home office

 

Keep the Space Flexible.

In addition to ensuring that there is a place for everything, individuals can maximize the space in their home office by embracing a flexible layout that they can easily reorganize to accommodate different work habits and positions. A flexible layout also makes it easier to add or remove furniture and accessories as needed.

For many people, their home office must also serve one or more purposes outside of providing an area for work. Incorporating multifunctional furniture pieces and seating arrangements offers a simple way to keep the space comfortable, functional, and adaptable to the needs of the entire family.

Millennials

7 of the Best Recruiting Tips for Furniture Business Leaders

The Internet has transformed the recruitment process over the past two decades, greatly expanding the variety of opportunities available to companies and job seekers alike. Online recruiting tools have enabled business leaders to pore through an international expanse of qualified candidates with more speed and accuracy than ever before, while at the same time empowering professionals to thoroughly research a multitude of employment options.

The World Wide Web has greatly expanded the recruiting playing field, and while this has its benefits for companies seeking top talent, it also requires business leaders to be extremely diligent in their hiring efforts. In order to keep up with the competition, furniture companies of all sizes must take an active approach to recruiting that not only responds to the firm’s current needs, but also anticipates future challenges and growth.

The following are some key tips to keep in mind when seeking out new team members for your furniture business:

  1. Be Proactive.

It may be tempting to delay serious recruiting efforts until they become a necessity. However, if you wait until your business has a clear need to fill a particular role, it’s likely that the empty position will have already caused operational delays and lost sales.

businesswoman

To avoid the negative repercussions of an understaffed team, you must approach recruiting proactively. It is not enough to simply set aside time and resources for recruiting at a later date; in order to connect with the best candidates, you should make a habit of conducting recruiting activities on a regular basis. In doing so, you should make a clear distinction between hiring and recruiting. While you’ll only hire when you’ve identified a need to expand your team, your recruiting activities should be an ongoing effort shared by multiple members of your company.

Business leaders should allow mid-level managers to share some of the recruiting responsibilities. In fact, their job descriptions should include regularly scheduled recruiting tasks. These individuals are in the best position to detect gaps in their current teams and aid in the development of job listings that capture the essence of their departmental goals. In order to keep your managers accountable to your broader recruitment game plan, you might consider scheduling regular recruiting strategy meetings to ensure that all managers are on the same page regarding the company’s objectives and are working diligently to meet them.

  1. Practice Networking.

Recruiting is one operational area in which you should never hesitate to ask for help. A significant portion of the recruitment process is networking, and business leaders should explore every avenue when seeking the candidates who could one day become their most valued employees.

You most likely will not be able to offer employment to every qualified candidate that you interview, and the same fact holds true for your competitors. For this reason, it can be effective to develop a rapport with other businesses in your sector in order to share qualified candidates for open roles. While some business leaders may hesitate to share attractive candidates with their competitors, research has demonstrated this practice to be mutually beneficial. According to Scott Wintrip, author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant, business owners who introduce talent to at least eight other companies describe hiring leading candidates at a much faster pace than their peers who overlook the value of networking.

Your current employees are an extremely valuable—yet often overlooked—recruiting resource. By encouraging them to search their networks, both personal and professional, for qualified job-seekers, you can greatly expand your recruitment potential. You might even consider introducing an incentive program for referrals, offering employees bonuses for recommending new hires who remain with the company for a specified period of time.

Former employees who left the company under positive circumstances can also help you connect with other skilled workers in the industry. When seeking ideal candidates for positions in sales, you might even find attractive prospects elsewhere in your company. Individuals working in various aspects of your operations will often possess the knowledge and enthusiasm to excel in customer-facing roles and may be eager to apply these skills to increase their earnings in a sales environment.

  1. Know What You’re Looking for

To make the most of your recruiting efforts, it is important to be specific in your job listings and requests for employee referrals. Each position should have a detailed, task-oriented description that clearly outlines the skills and experience required for the role. You should also carefully consider the type of attitude that your ideal candidate would have, thus ensuring that you are seeking out individuals whose personalities will mesh well with your existing team and company culture.

research

The time you invest in creating a highly detailed job listing will result in a much more efficient recruiting process, thus enabling you to fine-tune your recruitment strategy. Rather than simply asking your industry contacts if they know anyone who is searching for a job, you will be able to take a more direct approach by inquiring after individuals who, for example, have experience managing a retail environment or providing fast-paced customer support.

  1. Conduct Hands-On Interviews.

While a typical verbal interview can provide a valuable introduction to a candidate’s personality, it rarely offers an opportunity to assess his or her skills. Including a hands-on portion in your interview process will enable you to evaluate candidates with a greater degree of confidence. For example, you might design sample exercises to observe how candidates handle sales calls or customer service scenarios, or you might give them the opportunity to showcase their abilities alongside one of your existing team members by allowing them to assist with real customer interactions.

  1. Cultivate an Inspiring Culture.

In order to attract high-quality employees, your business must be a place where experienced, skilled individuals want to work. As a business leader, you hold the responsibility for creating an empowering, structured, and rewarding work environment that will give your employees the tools they need to thrive. You should ensure that your managers approach their jobs with a positive, uplifting attitude and are capable of leading with clarity, empathy, and vision. You should also take the time to create and communicate your company’s mission, policies, and values.

In order to attract the best candidates, your recruiting strategies should center on the mutual goal fulfillment. While seeking qualified candidates to support your business’ continued success, you should also operate with a dedication to helping employees meet their highest potential and fulfill their professional objectives.

ashley furniture

9 of the Best Moments from the Most Recent Ashley for the Arts

Ashley for the ArtsEach year, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., hosts a celebration of art, community, and philanthropy in its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin. For three days, the town of just under 3,000 people grows by the tens of thousands as families travel from all over the region to take part in one of Wisconsin’s biggest charity events. Ashley for the Arts is a weekend dedicated to showcasing regional artists, enjoying award-winning entertainment, and bringing people together for a good cause.

Ashley Furniture has sponsored Ashley for the Arts since 2009, and the most recent iteration of the event was one for the record books. The 2017 event took place from August 10-12 and featured an unprecedented number of attendees and unforgettable performances. As per tradition, organizers hosted the affair at the 54-acre Memorial Park, which provides an expanse of beautiful, green spaces to accommodate numerous vendors, performers, refreshment stands, and other family-friendly activities. The following are some highlights from the 2017 Ashley for the Arts festival:

  1. Ashley for the Arts 2017 Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

Ashley for the Arts is one of the largest charity events in Wisconsin, having grown exponentially since its inaugural festival in 2009. This initial affair welcomed only 300 attendees, but in 2017, Ashley for the Arts hosted an incredible 50,000 people. The largest crowd in the event’ history, this year’s audience smashed attendance records, surpassing 2016 numbers by more than 20,000.

Ashley for the Arts’ consistent affordability plays a large role in its ever-increasing popularity. From the beginning, event tickets have cost just $10 for the entire three-day festival. Sponsorship by Ashley Furniture, the involvement of several other corporations, and the support of the local community have all helped keep Ashley for the Arts an inexpensive, fun weekend for the entire family. The key facilitators of the event include nearly 3,000 volunteers, who donated their time and talents to make this magical weekend possible.

  1. Ashley for the Arts Raises Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for Multiple Causes

In addition to being a celebration of art and creativity, Ashley for the Arts is also a massive charity event. Over the course of the weekend, the festival raised $425,000 for a vast array of children’s advocacy organizations, medical research groups, and other charitable nonprofits, as well as several regional school districts.

  1. Running for a Cure

pursuitofacure5kAshley for the Arts raises money through both admissions costs and events such as the Pursuit of a Cure 5K (and Miracle Mile) Run-Walk. Now a tradition at the annual arts festival, the casual race raises money for medical research and patient care, providing resources to help patients manage their day-to-day expenses while aiding efforts to develop cures to serious illnesses.

Each runner chooses his or her own charitable or research organization to support. The participants in the 2017 5K and Miracle Mile contributed more than $20,000 for their respective organizations, which included both national and local nonprofits such as the Arcadia Ambulance Service, the Rita Tranberg Memorial, and the American Cancer Society.

  1. Visual Spectacles

There was plenty to see at the 9th annual Ashley for the Arts. Throughout the weekend, hot air balloons provided a scenic backdrop for the daily festivities, and at night, attendees marveled at sky lanterns launched into the air.

On the third day, attendees also had the opportunity to peruse the annual Cruisin’ for the Arts car show. A treat for automobile enthusiasts of all ages, the event showcases both classic and contemporary cars.

  1. A Plethora of Family-Friendly Activities

Ashley for the Arts featured a vast array of creative performances and activities that provided exciting fun for the entire family. Throughout Memorial Park, guests encountered bounce houses, circus performers, magicians, acrobats, fire dancers, and even an interactive drum circle.

  1. Entertainment by Award-Winning Performers

Ashley for the Arts’ impressive selection of headlining musical performers is always one of the major highlights of the event, offering a medley of chart-topping hits from multiple popular genres. This year, the festival welcomed such noteworthy performers as Three Dog Night, Kip Moore, Echosmith, Gavin DeGraw, Montgomery Gentry, and NEEDTOBREATHE. It also celebrated talented local and regional artists including The Mondays, Big River Radio, Jackson Michelson, and Hope Country.

  1. Performances by Talented Young Artists

Ashley for the Arts also featured performances by the award-winning musicians of tomorrow. Several regional school districts showcased their creative talents at both the Amphitheater Stage and the Main Stage, where the festival’s headliners performed. On Friday, students from the Arcadia, Aquinas, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau, and Hope Lutheran performed, while Saturday’s schedule featured several unique musical ensembles from around the region, including the Cotter Marching Band, the Cochrane-Fountain City Jazz Combo, and the Black River Falls Tintinnabulators.

Later, students from Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Vocal Point entertained a crowd of over 30,000 on the main stage. In between headlining acts, the talented a cappella group shared multiple numbers from its recent performance at the international a cappella championships.

furinture

This Is What Ashley Furniture Has Been Up to Lately

ashley furniture logoAs the largest furniture retailer in North America and the top furniture manufacturer in the world, Ashley Furniture has developed a significant presence in many communities. The brand is not only dedicated to providing consumers with the best value on stylish and high-quality home furnishings, but also committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates.

In recent months, the company has done a great deal to support families in need while also receiving widespread recognition for its commitment to philanthropy and employee engagement. The following are some of the most recent news stories from Ashley Furniture:

  1. Ashley Helps Students Further Their Educations

A key aspect of Ashley Furniture’s ongoing efforts to enrich communities is its commitment to education. Each year, the company awards scholarships to help the children of its team members pursue their academic goals. It recently announced that it had awarded over $245,000 in scholarships to students who met these criteria and are heading off to college in 2017.

A total of 100 deserving high school graduates received scholarships under two programs: Ashley Grants in Aid, which awards a one-time scholarship of $2,000 to college-bound students; and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which awards $3,333.33 to high school students planning to pursue secondary degrees in engineering or design.

In addition to helping fund the education of incoming college freshman, Ashley Furniture also facilitated an exciting learning opportunity for the junior high and high school students of Ashley employees. Over the summer, the company’s sponsorship allowed 23 children to attend the National Flight Academy Program, a week-long experience that offers students a uniquely engaging introduction to STEM topics.

During the program, students stay in a multi-story facility that serves as the world’s largest aircraft carrier simulator. As they take part in a variety of educational activities, or “missions,” students have an opportunity to build their interpersonal skills, learn to think on their feet, and engage with technologies such as flight simulators and virtual reality programs.

By allowing students to see through the eyes of a naval aviator, the National Flight Academy Program helps to introduce students to a variety of STEM-based career paths. Ashley furniture hopes to provide this opportunity to an even greater number of students in the future and has announced that it will sponsor 50 program participants in 2018.

  1. Ashley Furniture Contributes to Natural Disaster Relief Efforts

Ashley Furniture’s philanthropic endeavors extend far beyond education. Throughout its history, the company has shown a commitment to helping those most in need in whatever way it can. Recently, Ashley furniture teams across the country joined forces in an effort to assist communities impacted by severe hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

hurricane relief

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, employees at Ashley Furniture officers, retail centers, manufacturing facilities, and distribution hubs have participated in a flood drive gathering food and personal hygiene items for individuals displaced by these natural disasters.

Additionally, Ashley furniture has partnered with local retail locations and relief organizations in both states to help families find stable living arrangements as quickly as possible. The company also plans to provide over $1 million in products and discounts to residents of affected states.

  1. Dr. Ronald G. Wanek Recognized as Philanthropist of the Year

Each year, the National Speakers Association – a nonprofit that provides resources and networking tools to a diverse array of public speakers – holds an awards program to recognize noteworthy speakers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to philanthropy. Named after the founder and chairman emeritus of the National Speakers Association Foundation, the Nido R. Qubein Philanthropist of the Year Award highlights individuals both within and outside of the origination, but the 2017 awards program recognized a longstanding member: Dr. Ronald G. Wanek.

The Ashley Furniture Industries founder and chairman has prioritized philanthropy throughout his professional career. Since establishing the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation with his wife in 1998, he has channeled tens of millions of dollars into areas including education, veteran’s affairs, and medical research. The Wanek family is particular concerned with the fight to cure type 1 diabetes, and to this end, the foundation recently awarded a $50 million grant to The City of Hope.

  1. Delivering A Good Night’s Sleep to Kids in Three States

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture’s Hope to Dream program has provided mattresses, bed frames, and bedding to children who do not have beds of their own. Recognizing that a safe and comfortable place to sleep is vital to children’s overall health and happiness, Ashley partners with local sports teams and nonprofit organizations to host Hope to Dream celebrations at stadiums and ballparks.

kids bed

In addition to providing children with their own beds, these fun-filled days also include plenty of snacks, exciting activities, and opportunities to hang out – and even dance – with star athletes. Over the summer, Ashley partnered with sports organizations including the Clearwater Threshers, Nashville Sounds, and Gwinnett Braves to give children in Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia an incredibly special day at the ballpark.

  1. Ashley Furniture Named One of America’s Best Workplaces

Once per year, Forbes partners with research firm Statista to assess the vast landscape of American workplaces. In their most recent study, the organizations surveyed 30,000 workers to glean which employers offer the greatest value to their employees. Forbes’ 2017 list of America’s Best Employers includes Ashley Furniture, which has been committed to employee development and engagement since its founding in 1970.

As the company has grown from a single 35-employee manufacturing facility to a global enterprise comprising over 26,000 people, Ashley furniture has continued to support the continued professional growth of its team members. As described by president and CEO Todd Wanek, “Our employees are the heartbeat of our organization.” This is demonstrated in the company’s financial investments in its employees; in recent years, it has channeled over $1 billion into employee development, particularly efforts to engage and empower employees with technology.

telecommute

The Most Important Things Telecommuters Want in Home Office Furniture

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.

home officeOne 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.

Flexibility

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.

Storage

storageHaving 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.

Function

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.

Size

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.