The Perfect Desk: Choosing the Right Furniture for Your Coworking Space

Hunting for furniture might not seem like the most critical component of setting up a workspace, but iQ Office Suites CEO & Co-Founder, Kane Willmott, explained it differently.

“You’re going to work,” he said. “This isn’t a fad for something that you may or may not do. You’re going to need this furniture for a long time … so pick it right.”

iQ Office Suites is Canada’s premiere solution for luxury shared offices, coworking, meeting rooms and event spaces with locations in Toronto and Vancouver. Keep reading for more of our discussion with Willmott.


Know the Purpose

“You really need to look at what your expectations are of that piece,” Willmott said.

Buying quality furniture for a workspace is vastly different from buying it for a residential setting. Willmott explained that quality furniture for a dining room is meant to be used for around an hour a day (during dinner). However, quality office furniture must withstand being used for eight or more hours a day, five days a week, year-round.

This frequency of use becomes a key consideration in whether to pick up a department store magazine and order furniture or to look for commercial-grade quality. Willmott said the quality of the mechanisms, pistons, plastics, rubbers, foam and fabrics all come together to create not only durability, but also a user experience that will be comfortable over time.

“It feels comfortable right now, but it’s not going to feel comfortable after you sit in it for five, eight hours a day,” he said of standard residential-grade furniture.

Rely on the Experts

“There’s a lot of hidden stuff you don’t see,” Willmott said.

He explained this was why his spaces work with a reputable furniture dealer to help them find furniture that won’t break down, will be durable and won’t ruin work clothes (or the user’s back).

“It’s something that we’ve always done,” he said. “There really is a science to getting the perfect office furniture.”

Willmott views this partnership as an investment into furniture that should last longer than lower-quality furniture would. In addition, while Willmott remarked that few clients would choose a space based on the furniture, the influence of comfortable furniture that supports good posture and productive work contributes to the overall experience — which, in turn, engages and retains clients.

Furthermore, Willmott shared that a good dealer isn’t tied to a single company. The expertise on furniture is important, but so is the ability to go out and find the perfect furniture that fits your space. Likewise, working with just one supplier is too limiting. A dealer will have relationships with a variety of suppliers and a deep understanding of the industry, which allows them to point you in the direction of high-quality furniture with a fair price tag.

Remember That Comfort Can Be Deceiving

Willmott compared furniture comfort levels to the comfort of a car. While many cars may seem comfortable when you first sit in them, far fewer will be comfortable several hours into a drive. Similarly, a chair that seems comfortable in the department store (or in a catalog) may not be comfortable over time, whether that’s simply because of a lack of quality construction from the outset or sub-par durability. For example, foam will break down, moving parts will break and the furniture will become hard to clean.

Desks are similar: While a residential-grade or cheaper commercial-grade desk may look great at first glance, if the construction behind the aesthetics doesn’t hold up, then the desk may begin to sway, chip or warp.

Invest in Sustainable Design

Although it can be tempting to buy a set that looks great in the showroom or catalog, there are a few more considerations when choosing a design scheme that will work for the long term.

Namely, if your goal is for furniture to blend in (rather than being the statement piece of your workspace), then you have to choose furniture that matches the color scheme and feel of your space. However, Willmott warned against choosing matching furniture that may go out of fashion. That’s because, if you expand your space or need to replace furniture, you’ll need to be able to easily swap in new pieces — even if the furniture you originally bought is no longer available.

At the same time, Willmott also cautioned against choosing furniture that goes excessively beyond client needs. For instance, buying elaborate desk setups for a new space may lead to clients finding these desks too large or intricate for their needs. Whereas a desk that’s too small would be problematic, a desk that’s too large can also diminish productivity by causing the furniture to detract from — rather than add to — the office environment.

Avoid Catalogs

Willmott stressed the importance of a furniture dealer to help find the perfect pieces for a space. But, he also added that a dealer has the expertise not only to help you select well-crafted furniture, but also to help you adequately test it, as well.

To that end, Willmott said that they never choose furniture from a catalog. Instead, they either go to a showroom and test the furniture, or, more commonly, arrange to have samples of the furniture shipped to the space so that they can test it extensively as a team.

“There’s no reason why that furniture shouldn’t last 10 years,” Willmott said of truly high-quality furniture.

Because the furniture search and selection process is so complex, it’s also important to budget an appropriate amount of time for finding, selecting and installing furniture. Specifically, Willmott suggested planning on a minimum of eight weeks, but noted that it often takes longer.

Ajay Deep

Ajay Deep is the brain behind Coworking Mag. He founded this website to help startups and aspiring entrepreneurs find a coworking space in their city. He is a successful entrepreneur who started and scaled a bunch of startups – all from shared office spaces. He has visited hundreds of coworking spaces in different countries and is now an investor in this evergrowing idea of developing new coworking spaces. You may reach Ajay Deep at [email protected]
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