People@Work

Missing your fancy office chair? You could soon get it at home

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on May 20, 2020 Published on May 20, 2020

As remote working gains traction, a quick pivot to work-from-home (WFH) solutions is offering new opportunities to beleaguered high-end office furniture companies and co-working spaces.

Ergonomic company Humanscale, which has global MNCs as its customers for its premium chairs, tables and accessories, has come up with a WFH special package for employees of its customers. It has also launched ergoIQ live — virtual consultations with ergonomic experts to help professionals ensure that their way of working at home is not damaging their back or arms.

S Cube Ergnonomics, its exclusive distributor in India, just last week launched an e-shop to service the demand from the WFH segment in the country. Soon, this will be linked to the global Humanscale e-commerce store so that orders from India placed there can be serviced here.

Rival Steelcase too is looking at the needs of the home market. According to Praveen Rawal, Managing Director, Steelcase India, this is a new segment for the B2B-focussed company and the e-commerce store will be launched in India by June. It has already been launched in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The online store, which will initially service Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai, will have its four best-selling office chairs — Think, Leap, Gesture and Series 1 as well as fun products like the Buoy, a colourful stool that could fit into homes. By next year it will expand to six cities. Rawal says he has had enquiries from over 20 corporates for WFH furniture units for their employees.

Complete unit at ₹3 lakh

Sathish Nandagopal, founder director, S Cube Ergonomics, too says he has received a lot of queries from corporate clients, especially for the company’s award-winning Freedom Chair and form-sensing Liberty Chair. And that has led to the company coming up with a few special packages and discounted deals for employees of its corporate clients. “Employees can use the discount code given by their employer,” he says.

In addition, he says, the company has launched a high-end, executive work-from-home complete ergonomic unit for ₹3 lakh comprising eight products aimed at senior management. This includes a sit/stand table, ergonomic chair, laptop holder, docking unit, articulating keyboard tray as well as foot rockers that relieve pressure on the lower back and promote circulation in the leg. “It’s a plug and play unit that can be fixed anywhere in the house and offer an ergonomic workstation to the executive,” says Nandagopal, adding that Humanscale, unlike other brands, has never diluted its ergonomic USP and offers only a limited range that is focused on promoting good posture.

Some employers are offering amounts ranging from $300 to $400 as perks to their employees to invest in a good workstation at home. “The amount may not be enough to cover a premium ergonomic product like ours, but employees who are used to the chairs at office are willing to bear the difference and buy the same unit,” he says.

Steelcase is also looking at promoting its Polyvision Ceramic steel whiteboards in the home market. “These come with 10-year warranties and we are looking forward to getting these whiteboards into homes,” says Rawal.

Making it locally

What about the call for local? Humanscale’s products are manufactured in Ireland, China and the US and imported into India. But Nandagopal says there is enough stock in the warehouses here currently. “We have been urging Humanscale to set up at least a local assembly unit in India, but that depends on demand,” he says. According to Nandagopal, the highly specialised segment in which companies like Humanscale, Herman Miller, Haworth, Bene and Steelcase operate is an estimated ₹1,500 crore market in India.

Steelcase’s Rawal says the company already has two manufacturing units in Pune and 60 to 70 per cent of India’s demand is serviced from these plants. Leap and Gesture are manufactured in Malaysia.

Awfis@Home

Meanwhile, co-working space provider Awfis has diversified into the work from home market with its latest offering Awfis@Home. This is an integrated platform designed to promote productivity, connectivity and convenience. From smart furniture to high-speed broadband connection, data security, IT solutions and collaboration tools, the toolkit offers several components and follows a monthly subscription model.

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Published on May 20, 2020
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