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Affordable does not mean cheap: how brands like IKEA enable agility and modular design

November 8, 2021

For this article we are going to simply focus on desks and work through an example situation plus just a few things that are tough to work through with conventional furniture options.

Setting the Context: 100 Desks

Imagine your workspace needs to have 100 desks laid out across your building, which may have multiple floors and room configurations. You team is coming back to the office after working remotely and will need desks to work at in 1 month.

Procurement Problems

You start calling around and quickly find that there are tons of places to buy desks – from distributors to manufacturers options are everywhere, but few people will sell you 100 desks with a 1 month turn around – most take up to 6 months to get your items delivered.

Additionally, the higher priced options seem to use sturdier materials which are heavy; so delivery will incur additional costs and work to find people to bring items in from the curb and then build out the flat-packed furniture.

So, finding the right desk, getting it delivered on time and then getting it built out and ready to use is starting to seem like a daunting task.

Layout Headaches

Because the desks you’ve ordered feature a range of accessories which you’ve opted for, you’ll need to be careful with planning who gets what kind of setup, which restricts how you’ll layout the new workplace with desks.

Accessories could include things like: under-desk drawer units, keyboard trays, cable trays and covers, pull-outs for extra table space, pony-wall type partitioning, built-in above desk cabinets, integrated white boards and so on…

Not only is it difficult to configure customized solutions for ‘systems furniture’ well, you’re often locked into a specific layout from day 1, which means that reconfiguring spaces is going to be laborious, expensive and not even possible in some cases.

Additionally, if you’ve chosen high quality expensive desks with solid wood they will likely be heavy – so heavy that your team won’t want to assemble, lift and move them – which means that once they’re on the floor because the paid assembler has set them up once, they will never change positions again, and that staff can throw their backs off trying to feng shui a custom setup.

Insurance Premiums

Depending on the cost of your procured furniture you may need to change your insurance policy – the boss could tell you he doesn’t care if it goes up in smoke but because you spent $150,000 on desks alone for your team the company’s broker recommends changing the policy which incurs additional costs on your policy’s premium.

A Better Approach: IKEA Linnmon + Adils

There’s an easier way and before you throw up your hands and shout “But I’m not in University Anymore” we want you to read how the scenario will play out differently with the simplest solution you can buy.

A bright and spacious 12 person furnished office at StartWell in Toronto


Procurement, simplified.

With IKEA you have options – browse an always available catalog in paper or online and see where there’s stock to order from, then choose to order online for easy and affordable delivery to your location or choose to pick up items from the store.

Picking up furniture from the store could be a fun team-building exercise – where everyone pitches in to drive furniture to the office, and eat some hot dogs along the way!

Layout On The Fly

Because these lightweight (laminated particle board) table tops come in various sizes sharing the same finish, and their legs are interchangeable, you can pre-plan layouts with ease; using larger tables where you think they’ll make more sense.

Once your desks arrive on site, setting them up is as easy as screwing bases on the top and legs into the bases – within 2 minutes a new desk is ready, and within a few hours you have 100 desks to shift about and a cold beer ready half finished.

Because of the light weight of these desks you can now play lego with them on the fly – change your initial layout with pre-planned alternatives that staff can manage themselves, and if you ever need to collapse furniture put the legs in bins and stack the tabletops against a wall easily.

Remember that IKEA are masters of flexible modular furniture that is light on the pocketbook – you can customize work stations in far more fluid ways than with say, Herman Miller furniture, and work with a few different IKEA systems for visual variety.


Due to the low cost of these desks, what might have cost you $150,000 elsewhere came to only $5,000 so its unlikely that you’ll need to change your policy to cover them.

Furthermore, if you ever want to upgrade or exchange the furniture you can easily return the desks to IKEA for store credit.

Because of how universally usable these desks are, even disposal is easy and cost effective – a simple classified ad or pile of desks on the street corner will quickly get them off your hands whenever you want.