Should Your Company Own Furniture Anymore?

Ownership is overrated. These days, you don’t have to buy a designer outfit or a vacation home to reap the rewards of trying something new. Thanks to companies like Rent the Runway and Airbnb, everyone can enjoy an exciting experience without having to purchase a product outright. Consumers are fully embracing a host of new subscription models for good reason, and businesses should take note.

Consider the workplace. Ergonomic furniture, storage solutions, privacy pods: these are everyday office necessities, not luxuries (although the initial capital investment might suggest otherwise). Buying furniture for commercial office space costs U.S. businesses a staggering $54 billion each year — a huge upfront expense for depreciating assets. But, what if subscription culture had a role to play here too? What if you didn’t need to pay high upfront costs to buy furniture or fixtures anymore?

The Advent of Furniture as a Service

Today, it’s possible to rent everything you need for your workspace, saving enormous capital outlay. The average cost of buying office furniture runs $25 per square foot, with installation adding another 10 percent in furniture costs. Plus, there’s the time and labor involved in customization, delivery, and installation. Buying is a long-term commitment, with maintenance fees of $2-3 per square foot every two years, until the furniture wears down and ultimately needs to be removed at an average cost of $2 per square foot.

For companies looking to minimize capital expenditure, a furniture subscription could be a game-changer. An all-in subscription helps a growing company outfit its workspace affordably and quickly. Based on a company’s headcount, square footage, and culture, they only pay for what they need — instead of being tied down with ownership.

Managing the Open Office with Modularity

Modular build-outs for private offices, meeting and conference rooms, phone booths, huddle rooms, lounges, and silent work rooms can also bring efficiency back to open floor plans. More than 70 percent of today’s companies have open office spaces, but 58 percent of high-performing employees say they need more private space for problem-solving and find open layouts “too distracting.” Overall, more than 60 percent of workers in open spaces complain about noise and they’re actually collaborating less often.

Using modular furniture and demountable walls can improve an office’s productivity per square foot. It allows for a variety of work environments, which can be reconfigured when headcount changes. And with workers spending a total average of 67 days per year sitting at their desks, a workspace that’s both functional and inspiring makes a big impact on employee wellbeing and productivity.

The added appeal of a furniture-as-a-service (FaaS) model is its ability to flex and scale. Your business needs change every year, shouldn’t your office settings adapt, too? Plus, using prefabricated modular objects, like phone booths and sit/stand desks, does away with the logistical overhead and tedium of traditional builds, which normally involve permits and insurance.

Capital-Efficient Makeovers

Subscription also allows you to swap out aging furniture to make sure your space always feels fresh — it’s like updating your wardrobe when summer arrives. Whether your company is expanding or contracting, you can change subscription plans (or even opt out). And if your company relocates, you can replace pieces with ones that better suit the new space. Going through a re-brand? Don’t stop at paint and vinyl decals, customize your office settings to match.

A Sustainable Model

A modular furniture subscription is not only good for business, but also the environment. An astonishing 17 billion pounds of office furniture and equipment is sent to landfills every year, contributing to an ongoing environmental crisis. Under the subscription model, companies no longer have to regularly dispose of pieces they’ve finished using. Furniture-as-a-Service is a more sustainable and circular approach that reduces waste and landfill — when your subscription ends, the furniture can be refurbished and re-used.

In an era where the very idea of “ownership” is being upended, companies should learn from their customers and rethink traditional approaches to capital outlay. If you’re interested in learning more about how modular workplace furniture can benefit your company, get in touch.