At a time when corporations are shifting their strategies to put more emphasis on innovation and creative competitiveness, office designers play an important role in providing the right settings to support that creative work.
And creativity, said James Ludwig, Steelcase’s head of global design and product engineering, “requires both convergent and divergent thinking, with people coming together in small or large groups, and moving apart to do work alone.”
This coming together and moving apart brings a kind of rhythm and balance to the workday: group time then alone time, extrovert mode then introvert mode.
To support these different work modes, companies need to offer their employees a range of settings to work in—and not just places for quiet versus spaces for conversation, but also places that accommodate a variety of postures.
Lounge postures are a critical part of the mix. These are seated or reclined postures that have a relaxed, casual feel, no desk in sight. By offering comfort and supporting freedom of movement, lounge environments promote workers’ physical, cognitive and psychological wellbeing, with benefits that carry over to the organization.
Let’s take a closer look at three benefits of lounge seating:
1. Lounge postures encourage creative thinking
Sitting with feet up equals relaxation, which primes the brain to absorb ideas and make connections. Relaxed postures also allow the mind to wander, which can lead to unexpected insights and breakthroughs. Plus, the excitement we feel when the creative juices are flowing is good for our mental and emotional wellbeing. All good reasons to kick back.
2. Lounge postures support the new ways people are working
With technology more portable than ever, people are finding new ways and places to get their work done, whether alone or in groups. Lounge settings respond to workers’ needs by providing a blend of seating options, side tables for laptops and ottomans for those who like to work with their feet up. Today’s lounges also reflect worker preferences for more casual and reconfigurable environments.
This lounge on the campus of Grand Valley State University features the Bix lounge chair with tablet arm (foreground), a series of Thoughtful lounge chairs (center) and the Bob lounge chair with headrest (right).
3. Lounge settings promote personal connections
Perhaps most obviously, lounge settings promote social connections in the workplace. Through their accessibility and relaxed atmosphere, lounges make it easier for people to strike up conversations, get to know colleagues from other departments and brainstorm together for solutions to shared problems. This gives employees a stronger sense of engagement and belonging.
Featuring convertible Hosu lounge seating (background) and SW_1 lounge seating with SW_1 low conference table (foreground), this open space in the Campbell Ewald offices in downtown Detroit encourages social connection and creative collaboration.
Interested in our research about comfort in the office? See our 10 tips for fostering wellbeing in the workplace.