More than 80% of companies are expected to embrace a hybrid work model in post-pandemic times.
To accommodate the new work schedule, businesses are redesigning their offices. Leaders expect there to be more collaborative work spaces, Zoom rooms, and fewer personal workstations.
Though the modern office is changing, commercial furniture advertisers are still unclear about how much they should be spending and what messaging they should use.
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The commercial furniture industry looks forward to post-pandemic work life
As workers were sent home, many were encouraged to take their desks, office chairs, and other furniture with them. Others were given a stipend to buy new furniture for their home offices. Though this was a bright spot for consumer-facing furniture vendors, B2B furniture companies didn’t share the same experience.
Companies, like Oracle and Uber, are now selling their used furniture via a new digital marketplace: Clear Office. Brandi Susewitz founded Clear Office during the pandemic when she saw there was a need for companies to unload their office furniture, and for employees to buy high-end, ergonometric furniture at a lower cost.
“A lot of companies left the office on a Friday, said ‘we’ll see you in a couple weeks’ and never went back and some of us never will,” said Jane Greenthal, strategies director at design firm Perkins & Will. “Now that it’s been a year, even the ones that said ‘we’re never going back,’ many employees are saying ‘well, I want to go somewhere.’”
Companies, like Square, who’ve told employees they can continue working remotely, are encouraging employees to buy office furniture from the marketplace.
Despite supply and demand being out-of-whack and a new used market, some B2B furniture companies don’t feel threatened. They recognize that change is coming to the modern office, and it’s their role to create products that will help their clients establish safe and reimagined workplaces.
“I think we have become a better company, more thoughtful, more aware—just smarter—because we have acquired all these different facets of design of environment,” said CEO of 73-year-old office furniture company Haworth, Franco Bianchi. “You pick an environment and we have developed expertise and products.”
Haworth is helping clients like Capital One, Shell, and Marriott return to the office with modern and safe furniture. The company has been promoting new privacy spaces, along with plastic and glass separation screens that can be easily disinfected. They also offer “BuzziSpace” screens to help direct office traffic.
Even though the vaccination rollout is going strong, businesses will want to make their employees feel safe and will need to accommodate new hybrid work schedules.
From our data, we see that the commercial furniture industry is still in recovery. There were 194 brands spending $2.05mm in the first quarter of 2021. This is down 47% in ad spend from Q1 in 2020, where 267 brands were spending $3.9mm.
Fewer brands may indicate that some businesses have stopped their spending altogether, which was an expected outcome from the pandemic.
Even though leaders are beginning the conversation, it’s still unclear what post-pandemic offices will look like. With a lack of clarity, brands have been slow to return their ad spend.
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