“The idea of coming to work and just sitting at a desk has changed,” says Heidar Jouyaeian, managing founder of Dubai-based office furniture company, WORKSPACE. “All the big companies, like Microsoft and Google, have shown that their employees can be just as productive away from a traditional desk. It’s about creating spaces that promote efficiency, creativity and productivity.”
These three cornerstones have been on Mr Jouyaeian’s mind of late, although to be fair, he was considering the implications long before the pandemic hit globally back in February of last year and changed the way the whole world works.
It goes without saying that a company that provides home office solutions could not have been better placed to accommodate the opportunities and demands the global pandemic brought forth, particularly when it came to the dramatic upswing in people suddenly needing home office space solutions.
“During the pandemic we were one of the only furniture companies still operating,” he says. “We processed over 8,000 orders in three months when suddenly everyone started working from home and needed suitable set-ups in their spare bedrooms or in a corner of the lounge. At one point we were delivering and installing up to 70 orders per day.”
Establishing WORKSPACE in 2017, Mr Jouyaeian fell into the business a little bit by accident, a little bit by luck and a lot by necessity.
“I was never in office furniture, but I had a lot of experience in e-commerce,” he says. “In 2011, I established the first online supermarket in the UAE, Supermart. When that was sold in 2015, by pure coincidence I needed office furniture of my own and after looking around discovered there was no online furniture supplier in the region.”
And so the idea for WORKSPACE was born.
Now available across all UAE and GCC countries, WORKSPACE also supplies international customers as far afield as Korea and Australia. With its UAE base in Dubai, Mr Jouyaeian recently opened a branch in Rotterdam, Holland, and is finalising plans to add a showroom to the New York office.
As well as great quality furniture for home or business, and the affordable price point he considers a pillar of the business, for Mr Jouyaeian staying on top of the trends is one of his main priorities, and he’s managing that thanks to one motto: customisation.
“At WORKSPACE, you can customise your desks as well as cabinets and workstations,” he says. “Customers can choose from 80 colours for their tabletops, as well as choosing the size, finish and shelving.”
As any business owner knows, keeping a finger on the pulse of what both individuals and companies want is an ever-evolving process which, for Mr Jouyaeian, means staying ahead of the ergonomically-shaped curve.
“Height-adjustable desks are a big upcoming trend,” he says. “Using electronic height adjustment, you can move your workstation up and down for whether you want to sit or stand. We also have desks that connect to your phone to calculate the calories you burn while standing.”
Another workplace trend employers should take note of is the move towards open spaces. Gone are the boxed-in cubicles of the past to make way for environments which foster and encourage the collaborative process.
“For businesses, the trend is space,” he says. “More and more businesses are creating collaborative areas so employees have more interaction. This then feeds into the creation of relaxation spaces in which employees can either chill or work away from their desk.
“The importance of colour in the office space is also coming to the fore. Office design is so important for the mental health of those working in the environment.”
Indeed, with office furniture trends aligning more with the kind of styles one might have at home, it's no wonder that the line between home and office is becoming increasingly blurry, especially given that now, for most people, their home is their office.
"There's no difference between the sofas you might have in your office and the sofas you would have at home," he points out. "Nowadays you can't really draw a line between home and office furniture as similar designs are used in both, especially as workspaces move more towards making employees feel as comfortable at work as they do at home."
It is this trend that has seen the company move into design, plus, the fact they've been perfectly placed over the years to observe what does and doesn't work in the modern office space.
And that expertise culminated in the launch of Edge, a sleek modern cabinet available in different shapes and sizes that marks the company’s first foray into product design.
“At the beginning we were just retailers, now we are designers,” Jouyaeian notes proudly. “The Edge is sleek and beautiful and the price reasonable. We will be getting more and more into the product design side of things.”
And not just design. “Next, we are moving into office interior design,” he says. “Our plan by the end of the year is to expand in Oman and Saudi Arabia, and extend our product range. At WORKSPACE, we don’t limit ourselves.”