For a solution called “Quiet Spaces”, the new architectural offering from Steelcase is certainly making a lot of noise in the office furniture industry. This manufacturer has created many notable designs for the “cubicle era” and continued its success with the transition to workstations for the open office after the walls started coming down. Now, Steelcase is at the forefront of office furniture companies acknowledging that the open office is not a one-size-fits-all solution either. For a significant portion of the population, working in a space without walls is simply untenable. Quiet office design is a much-needed update.
Introverts Need Space and Time to Be Alone
As author Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) has made quite clear, employers can’t afford to lose so many of their brightest minds by failing to provide secluded spaces in the workplace. The genius of the introvert is found in times of solitude, and the modern office simply isn’t meeting that need.
People who have a reserved nature find their thoughts drowned out by the endless chatter that passes for communication. They feel invaded by the constant gaze of coworkers. The overstimulation of the open office can kill their engagement, drive, creativity, and productivity. Simply put, your workers need to be able to hear themselves think.
How Can These Workers Get Away in the Office?
Turning back the hands of time and providing private offices for everyone simply won’t work—and not everyone can telecommute. But the fact that workers are now more mobile means that they don’t have to be at their own desk all the time to be productive. Instead, they can step away into a more sheltered location within the office when concentration is the #1 priority. Steelcase’s Quiet Spaces are designed to give introverts flexible, as-needed access to enclosed work areas when they need time to recharge.
The rooms can be equipped with a variety of workstation, seating, and storage options depending on how they will be used. For example, a lounge chair might be provided for relaxation or a desk with a chair for heads down work. The consistent features are the semi-opaque walls, soundproofed paneling, and scheduling software that lets workers reserve their own alone time. It’s a quiet revolution in the workplace!