Designing an office is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. There are many pieces that must come together to complete the puzzle. Some things are easy to complete, while others take a bit more time. If you’ve ever worked on a jigsaw puzzle, you probably know that it’s smart to fit the corners together first then pull out all of the straight-edged pieces and complete the frame, before tackling the interior pieces, which are trickier to get right.
One of the “trickier pieces” of the office design puzzle is how best to incorporate soft seating. Unlike “hard seating” like desk chairs and benches, which have fairly straightforward functions, soft seating needs in an office are a gray area. Knowing how to incorporate soft seating is requires you to really think about the space you’re designing and envision, how you want employees to interact, and what overall vibe you’re trying to achieve. Here are some things to consider when designing an office space with soft seating.
Soft Seating Absorbs Ambient Noise
If your office will be busy and buzzing, and especially if it will include an open-concept design, consider soft seating an effective tool to help absorb sound. Ringing phones, the buzz of conversations, footsteps on a tile floor, a coworkers radio… these are all office sounds that can be distracting. Soft seating absorbs sound waves so they’re muted and muffled and not as disruptive. As such, incorporate soft seating in high-traffic or communal areas.
Choose Upholstery That’s Not Too Delicate
Soft seating in a busy office will be sat upon! Because soft seating is more comfortable, it’s the ideal place for employees to kick up their feet, relax with a cup of coffee or a snack. When you’re contemplating its use in your office design, make sure the upholstery is of a color and texture that can stand up to use and that won’t be completely ruined if there’s a minor spill, dropped Sharpie, etc. (Of course it goes without saying that your choice of upholstery should complement the rest of the office décor and style.)
Soft Seating Pods and Booths
One fresh, relatively new trend in office design is incorporating soft-seating pods and booths in areas of the office ranging from the restroom and break room to the conference room. These cozy, intimate seating options are ideal for bringing a team together to collaborate and brainstorm – and, they’re unique, welcoming areas for clients and guests to relax while your team gives a presentation or has a consultation. As a designer, it’s your job to question the status quo. Does your conference room have to have a long rectangular conference table and traditional office chairs? Or might a combination of upholstered pods and benches work as well as (or better than) “the way it’s always been done?”
Soft seating is one of those seemingly unimportant office design “puzzle pieces” that can actually have a huge impact on productivity, workplace morale, and even your image as a progressive and forward-thinking company!