The future of the workplace : How can office furniture companies create circular business models while supporting the changing world of work?
Abstract: The contemporary economic, social and environmental context is at the edge of change. Governments, individuals and, companies need to take drastic measures to save the planet Earth. It has been globally communicated and understood that our lifestyle is not sustainable. If we do not transform how we produce, consume, travel and live, the future generation’s ability to evolve in the world we know today might be compromised. The study is using the Circular Economy as a way to rethink industries and furniture usage. In this case, the researcher inquired the office furniture industries. The goal at the end of the research process is to find an alternative to the linear business model established in the office furniture industry. The project is providing a holistic vision on the furniture’s journey from production to recycling. The proposal is based on the analysis of the current state of the office furniture industry to transform the linear business model to a circular model. The research was mainly lead thanks to three collaborators. The most important collaborator in the study is Steelcase. The company is the leader and expert in the office furniture field. Thanks to one year of experience at Steelcase, the researcher acquired deep knowledge about the office furniture industry in the heart of the industry of interest. It allowed to collect valuable information to understand the challenges office furniture industries are facing. And, finally, analyse the potential and challenges the transition from a linear to a circular business model represents for office furniture companies. The researcher also gained knowledge from dealers working at Blanchet-D’Huismes, who have a lot of expertise about the workplace and the office furniture industry. Finally, the last collaborator involved in the study is WeWork, a company renting workplaces, which represent the new business models appearing in the office industry. The research is lead from a designer’s point of view. Thanks to the experience and conversations with professionals from the workplace industry, valuable knowledge was acquired. With a deep understanding of the office furniture industry, the researcher designed a circular model. In order to share the findings of the research, the model was visualised with diagrams which allow anyone from the office furniture industry to understand the project. The goal of the project is to communicate the issues with the current model and propose a new approach to how the workplace could be furnished in the future.
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