Comfortable and Productive in the Workplace, Does it Exist?
A sofa, dining table and coffee table are furniture typically found at home. But interior work places incorporate these elements into their space. Why?
I visited the Coalesse showroom this past NeoCon and saw a collection of furniture that looks and feels “residential”. I remember sitting at a communal table accessorized with a bowl of fruit and a George Nelson clock on the wall; a lounge chair that sits on a shaggy rug; and their introduction of Hosu with a pillow to match in bright colors. I described it as residential because for me, it relates to comfort, and that is what I felt while I toured the showroom.
Why is this important to point out?
- It is about creating comfortable and functional spaces that allow your creativity to flow. Don’t you feel more comfortable talking to someone while sitting on a couch? It makes you feel at ease right? Sitting with your colleagues around a communal dining table feels like you are part of a team, gives you a sense of connection with the organization.
- It supports the idea of working anywhere at any time. With information being on demand and the opportunity to work at home seems more possible, one might seek a functional and comfortable work space at home. Tasks are always there, from answering emails to a conference call.
Where will this idea fit into the workplace?
The idea of providing comfort has always been addressed through proper lighting, temperature, ergonomics and indoor air quality. These physical comfort leads to a quality working environment that enables us to be productive and gain job satisfaction. To address productivity, a mixture of group areas and private and semi private spaces for the worker to gain control over where they work within the workplace. Soft lounge sofas, low coffee tables, even rocking chairs that mimic a living room and a communal table at break rooms use to show comfort and community. Building a strong camaraderie within the organizations is a good way for retaining employees and attracting good talent.
But work has extended to any place that supports technology, say co-working spaces and even at home. I’ve seen co working spaces that look like someone’s living room or an upscale exclusive club like (top image) Society M a co working space in Glasgow, UK a space designed by Concrete Architectural Associates photographed by Ewout Huibers. Workspring in Chicago provides a self serve coffee and tea at the cafe and comfortable seating near a string of doors that open to the courtyard.
Employees who work at home create a hybrid space that supports comfort and function. Working from home could be challenging, there are so many distractions and no face time with your team. But it is important to keep your home office an office and staying connected through technology. According to an article released by Steelcase entitled ” As 9 to 5 becomes 24/7, there are new challenges – and many opportunities.”When people are working at home, they don’t want to be isolated; that makes them feel as if they may as well be back at the office. Instead, many are creating what Coalesse researchers have termed “hybrid settings” — work locations throughout the home that don’t sacrifice residential comfort.” Coalesse (top 3 images above) addresses this growing trend and defines this category as Crossover. “Crossover means homes and offices, meeting rooms and social spaces, private retreats and public places – the fluid intersections of work and life where boundaries are collapsing and creativity is roaming.”Achieving a comfortable and functional space should not cost a fortune, but it is wise to invest on furniture that multi functions, re configurable as your company expands, and will last for a long time. As an example, the Campfire Big Lounge (bottom 3 images) doubles as a meeting area and when you pull a lap top stand, it becomes another work space. If you have an existing home office, there are ways to make it more comfortable through lighting, color and space.
Will this trend continue?
The word trend is synonymous to current or direction and the idea is validated when you see repetition by competitors. Based on what I saw at NeoCon last year, there were multiple furniture pieces that reflected some elements of home furnishing like dining tables, rocker chairs/stools, lounge seats that are meant for workplace use. As they say comfort is king, that is an idea that I hope will continue.