When do you most need “quiet time” at work—time and space free from distractions and interruptions?

It’s safe to say that for most knowledge workers, it’s when they’re on deadline and under pressure. A major project milestone is approaching or a proposal is due. The timeline is tight. People need time to pause, sort through problems, organize their thoughts, concentrate and crank out their best work.

It’s also safe to say that for many people, the best environment for focused work like this isn’t a desk in the middle of a bustling office—even if they wear headphones as a way of saying, “Privacy, please.”

Workers looking to carve out some alone time in a day filled with meetings and conversations—even if it’s just five minutes to unwind and do nothing—need a solo space: a private enclave or hidden refuge away from the action.

“The harder people work collaboratively, the more important it is to also have time alone—to be free from distractions,” said Donna Flynn, vice president of Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures research group.

“People also need privacy to decompress and recharge.”

Having the chance to recharge and rejuvenate may sound like an extravagance in today’s high-demand, high-energy workplaces, but ultimately it’s a necessity. By failing to provide ways for people to step away, unplug and clear their mind, companies may unwittingly compromise their workers’ cognitive wellbeing—their creativity and productivity. A lack of private spaces can also put people’s emotional wellbeing at risk, Flynn said.

Viewed from the flipside, giving employees the opportunity to escape noise and interruptions—whether you call it alone time, quiet time or “me time”—can make them more optimistic, productive and engaged. Solitude is restorative.

Office designers can support this need for intermittent solitude by planning great solo spaces that complement their clients’ vital collaborative and group spaces. All of these spaces belong to the spectrum of work settings needed to support wellbeing.

Even within the category of solo work, not all spaces have to be alike. Try designing different types of retreat settings so users can choose the space that best suits their task and personality. Scroll down for a few examples.

In this private work enclave, the Massaud Lounge with swivel tablet and matching storage ottoman give workers a quiet place to rest, read and reflect.

Blessed with natural light and restorative views of the outdoors, this calming space encourages workers to let go of their stress. The setting features the SW_1 Lounge chair and ottoman with the Sebastopol table.

Hosu Lounge Seating, with its convertible chaise foldout, offers workers a cozy spot to de-stress, ponder or focus on a project.

Office workers can hide in plain sight in the Lagunitas Lounge System single seater with high back—perfect for a quick break to restore balance to the workday.

Quiet time outdoors in the middle of the workday is good for both mind and body. Here the EMU Re-Trouvé chair and poof invite workers to escape the distractions of the workplace.

For more design thought-starters, see our Focus and Rejuvenation planning ideas.