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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: Work Hard, Play Hard

Shorten your commute and work from home, sweet home. That’s just what many consumers are doing as changing work patterns and trends allow today’s labor force more flexibility. These trends are driven by improved telecommunication and an ever changing stream of technology that virtually erases the need for meetings or collaborating to take place within the same space. For this reason, compared over the previous year (Q3 2017), the category has grown 7.6% and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

On trend open floor plans for homes means that home offices are no longer restricted to a single, dedicated area of the home. Instead, manufacturers are facilitating the trend to allow for more flexibility in their product offerings and where these products will be placed in the home. According to Lisa Cody, Vice President of Marketing at Twin Star Home, “consumers want more flexible spaces in their homes that can serve multiple activities” with products that “can work well in a home office, casual living room, mudroom or kitchen. On top of flexibility, we are in a time where consumers are influenced by technology in everything they do.”

And she’s right. Consumer research by FurnitureCore (the research arm of Home Furnishings Business) shows that among recent purchasers of home office furniture, 47.06% report using a laptop for their work, guaranteeing the fluidity of moving from space to space. The same report found that less is more in these home offices with 94.12% of consumers reporting that both a personal computer and printer are the main items in their work spaces. With the flexibility of smart phones, many other needs have fallen to the wayside (think fax machines and land lines).

Consumers still need an area to set up these items, no matter how technology shapes work life. 47.06% of consumers report that the primary use for their home office is an area to work when they are not in their regular office. Another 29.41% use the area to perform home and family business, while 23.53% report using the space for home-based business , up 11.93% points over 2017.

The furnishing selection is vital to the work that will be accomplished by the consumer in the environment of their choosing. 29.41% of consumers report that the home office is in a shared room and 70.59% of consumers report that their office furniture is not a part of a coordinated set. This trend has triggered a move away from office furniture collections and into a more eclectic look that can easily blend in with shared spaces. If these consumers rely on flexibility to create their work environment, manufacturers must meet that need by creating beautiful pieces that can be integrated into any room. According to BDI’s Matthew Weatherly, associate design director and designer, "the beauty of [BDI’s Office Collections] is the number of components offered, which means consumers can create the ideal set up that works for their space and their office needs. From a smaller, modular set up, to a full executive office suite, BDI brings sophisticated styling and generous features that make any workspace functional and beautiful.”

Desks have long been the heart of the home office. When asked, most consumers reported that their preferred style of desk is an executive desk at 35.29%, quickly followed by a writing desk at 29.41%, and L-shaped desks in third with 23.53%. Trailing behind were corner desks and desks with a hutch, both at 5.88%. Desks with an adjustable height were not included in the survey choices but are up in popularity as they allow the user to stand while working and are marketed as a healthy alternative to hours in a seated position. Though these desks provide differences in functionality, it is clear that the contemporary style is favored by nearly 50% of those polled, followed by traditional style at 29.41%.

Other office furniture staples follow with desk chairs and file cabinets both reported in consumers’ home offices at 58.82% and some 41.18% report that book cases are in their home office space. Work tables have surged in popularity as 29.41% of respondents reported that they are present in their current office set up (up from 10.1% reported in 2017.)

No matter the setup of the home office, more and more people are working from home with their entertainment sources just steps away, if not already in the same room.

Just as open floor plans are trending for the home, entertainment centers have opened up to reflect the technology advancements in the form of a wireless experience. Gone are the days of unsightly cable bunches needed to power home entertainment systems as we welcome Bluetooth and smart devices that consolidate function, like smart televisions with built in DVD players and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Televisions are crucial in the home entertainment case goods category and require consideration for cord management and screen size when it comes to selecting storage devices. Without fail, ‘the bigger the better’ mindset has persisted when it comes to screen size and picture quality, 50% of those polled reported that their primary TV screen in their home is 55” or larger.

While technology advancements move at a pace that will make your head spin, one thing is clear: consumers no longer need to hide their televisions and instead, proudly mount them on the wall as 31.25% of those polled have reported. Consumers’ favored method to display flat screen televisions is to place it on a media console as 43.78% have reported and only 18.75% of consumers prefer to hide their televisions. These televisions are central to the home as 50% of consumers state that the television is placed in the living room and 37.50% report that it is placed in the family room.

With the larger screen sizes and other advancements in technology, manufacturers have to find a balance by updating their product offerings to accommodate for the fast paced electronics industry. Luckily for retailers, they have done just that by offering wall mountable consoles, products with door features that allow remote access yet hide multiple media devices, or produce consoles that double as statement pieces for the room suited to large screens.

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