Your employees say they prefer the comfort of working at home, but you’d rather maintain the collaborative and more innovative culture of an office. A furniture company proposes a compromise: let workers experience the comforts of home—computer on lap, feet on coffee table—at work.
The Steelcase brand Turnstone, which is known for its lines of edgy and ergonomic office furniture, began last month taking orders on an extension to its Campfire product line, which is designed to accommodate the “lounge posture” at work. The demand for such furniture highlights the way mobile technologies are transforming the physical work environment.
Brian Shapland, turnstone General Manager, explains: Millennials—people aged 18-34—unlike previous generations, weren’t tied to library carrels or their dorm-room desks to do homework in school. They toted their laptops to the café or lounge and wrote college papers with their feet propped up. Now you want them to come to work and sit in a cubicle at a desk?
Truth be told, even if your knowledge workers do their best thinking witht their feet up, technology access in lounges isn’t always the most conducive to efficient work. Turnstone’s own research indicates that 72 percent of workers experience problems while working remotely, such as difficulty hearing phone conversations due to background noise, limited internet access, inability to print, and trouble connecting to company servers. Turnstone says these obstacles can result in wasted time and money for business owners, and their furniture aims to fix that.
Even businesses hip enough to have created lounge spaces in the office aren’t always tuned in to what make them productive workspaces.
Turnstone’s Campfire designs are aimed at making the lounge-working experience better. The new additions are an end-table (starting at $265) with directional wheels and a built-in cord guide, a console table (starting at $527) with a built-in power outlet, and a portable foot rest (starting at $119) with a compartment for boots and heels. “People like to fidget and adjust their legs in different postures—cross legs, feet extended, one knee angled—all while they have their laptop on their lap,” says Shapland, whose team has spent countless hours in observation of shifting work habits. “We recognize working in lounge posture is about bringing your work to you.”
What about the ergonomics of lounge posture? Slouching in a chair with your feet on a stool can’t be so great for the back, can it? Shapland says, “We encourage posture that supports work, and ergonomic chairs are the best way to support work for an extended period. But since people are already working in lounge posture, we said, ‘let’s find a more productive and health way for them to work’.”