Workspace Design Show

26 – 27 February 2025 | Business Design Centre, London

The Art of Thriving in the Office – the Scandinavian Way

You might not be able to change a company culture overnight. But you can start your makeover with some new furniture and clever office design – and improve employees’ creativity, productivity, teamwork, and overall well-being.

The term “the Scandinavian Way” has been used to refer to a unique approach to human resource management that is common in the Scandinavian countries.

This is typically characterized by open communication with all employees and less hierarchical organizational structures. Teamwork in Scandinavian companies is built around the same principles, focusing on equal and respectful participation and free exchange of ideas across seniority. These practices contribute to higher levels of employee satisfaction, work-life balance, and company culture in Scandinavian businesses.

Hierarchy in the UK

A new survey conducted by YouGov in May 2023 on behalf of Fora Form illustrates that UK workers desire the Scandinavian approach.

British employees are highly aware of their workplace’s inherent hierarchical structures compared to Norwegian employees’ answers. When asked to describe the hierarchy in the workplace, 60% of the respondents in the UK acknowledge that there are “several levels and clear hierarchical structures.” In comparison, only 29% of Norwegians have the same opinion.

Level the field

Changing and adjusting a corporate culture takes time and effort. But think of this in terms of office architecture and design solutions, and an overnight shift is possible: The interiors and furniture in the office can make a big difference in how your employees interact and how much they enjoy the time they spend at the office: the Scandinavian Way.

A physical manifestation of this difference might be between a long table in a corporate meeting room and a round table. Compare the chilly atmosphere of a white-walled office with the cosy comfort of a colourful lounge sofa.

Furniture can level the playing field by creating an inviting and attractive environment for workers, their ideas, and abilities.

Post-pandemic office solutions

Creating an attractive workplace is even more critical post-COVID, where long periods of working from home have highlighted the pros and cons of the office workplace. Most employers are now grappling with the constant challenge of getting us into the office. We need more than simply fulfilling our daily duties and demands to entice us. Consequently, many businesses have been forced to rethink the purpose of the office in terms of productivity, creativity, and physical team interaction.

Our survey shows this explicitly: Access to a printer is the most crucial benefit for office working. And let’s be honest – If a printer is the main reason for going to the office, you, as an employer, have a big challenge. Luckily, the second most important reason is being with colleagues, and most companies need people to work together to succeed. An aesthetically pleasing and pleasant atmosphere at work is seen as very important, and suitable furniture makes work more enjoyable. Face-to-face communication and meeting colleagues to solve tasks together are essential reasons for coming in instead of working from home.

Despite this, only one out of ten respondents in our survey report that their employer has refurbished premises or bought new furniture. In other words, There is a considerable gap between employee expectations and employer initiatives. These expectations are consistent between our UK and Norwegian respondents despite the cultural differences.

Designing meeting places since 1929

At Fora Form, we live and breathe, creating good meeting places. We are not the ones you go to for a new office desk, but for all those other furniture that bring your office space to life and make it a home away from home for employees. We’ve been designing social furniture since 1929. Our ambition has always been to create great indoor experiences. Today, our design is already starting to shape people’s future working lives.​

We don’t design furniture for offices – we design for open and valuable meetings between people. We don’t make furniture to impress – we create furniture that motivates. We don’t design for directors or to uphold power structures. We design to break down differences.

Through solid craftsmanship and timeless design, we make furniture that lasts. By giving design classics new life using modern materials, we reduce waste at every stage. Fora Form wants to nurture a new kind of working life, where sustainability means caring for humans as much as about our environment.

Our goal is to create workplaces good enough to match our homes. Our vision is to create furniture and meeting places that enable good meetings between people. Because at Fora Form, we know that people shape culture and that culture shapes people.

After all, employees are considered the most important asset of a company.

Main findings:

Survey period: May 5th-14th, 2023.

Conducted by YouGov on behalf of Fora Form.

53% report that employer hasn’t changed the office environment or made it easier for people to return to work after the COVID pandemic.

48% find that being with colleagues is essential for their well-being at work.

44% find that UK workspaces are clearly hierarchically structured

39% consider having an aesthetically pleasing and pleasant workplace atmosphere important.

38% say good furniture, aesthetics, and a good atmosphere make coming to work more enjoyable.

35% work in the office 5 out of 5 days. 18% work in the office only one day or less a week.

27% report that their employer has furnished the office in a way that facilitates effective teamwork.

26% say good furniture, aesthetics, and a good atmosphere make it easier to work with others.

25% say good furniture, aesthetics, and a good atmosphere are inspiring and make them more productive.

Co-working and communication with colleagues are the most critical factors for choosing an office over a home office:

  • Easier to communicate with colleagues (47%)
  • Meeting colleagues to solve tasks together (45%)
  • Meeting colleagues to enjoy social time together (41%)
  • Easier to work with colleagues physically rather than online (38%)

Has your employer made any changes to the office environment or made any other changes to make it easier for people to return to the office after the COVID pandemic?

  • No, my employer hasn’t done anything (53%)
  • Yes, my employer has provided better solutions/rooms for teamworking (17%)
  • Yes, my employer has refurbished the premises (13%)
  • Yes, my employer has bought new furniture (10%)

Article written by Pål Eid-Hviding, Head of Marketing, Foraform