HBI Inc. :: Blog http://blog.hbi-inc.com Mon, 09 Jul 2018 23:03:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 Comfort for All: Q+A with Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams http://blog.hbi-inc.com/comfort-for-all-qa-with-mitchell-gold-and-bob-williams/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/comfort-for-all-qa-with-mitchell-gold-and-bob-williams/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:25 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18916 Continue reading ]]> Comfort for All - Q+A with Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

When Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, co-founders of the North Carolina-based furniture design and manufacturing company of the same name, say they stand for “Comfort for All,” they don’t just mean a luxurious and beautiful sofa—though that’s certainly true. Comfort extends to their people, their families and their community. Driven by a strong ethos to make the world a more comfortable place for everyone, they’ve grown from a startup of 23 employees in 1989 to a family of more than 900 today—proof that their values make good business sense.

360: How does your company’s sense of purpose manifest itself in your business?

Mitchell Gold: Bob and I want everyone in this company to feel they have equal opportunity. We want everyone to know that at work there’s no such thing as discrimination. We are a family business in the sense that we all care about each other. More than 20 years ago, we told our new head of human resources we wanted him to be an advocate for our employees, not a person they feared. People should know they can come and talk to his team. That’s been a really great part of the company.

360: When you started your business, you considered housing your organization’s corporate offices in a new building. Why did you end up deciding to keep them inside your manufacturing plant?

Bob Williams: We wanted everything that we do, whether it’s finance, product development or marketing, to work together. People have to talk to each other. It’s really worked for us. When you’re in the cafeteria, everybody’s together. In fact, in 20 years, I’ll bet we’ve only had a lunch meeting in a conference room three times. When we have guests or board meetings, we all go the cafeteria because we want to be together.

360: As your business has grown, you’ve emphasized investing in your people, adding benefits like an on-site clinic, a gym and scholarships for employee’s kids. Do these benefits help you realize business objectives?

MG: We respect our employees and, in turn, they respect us. We have really low turnover. Our motto is “Consistently Good Quality, Consistently On Time.” We can only do that with employees who know their job and are here. If you have high turnover, you’re constantly training people. We are able to run very lean because we have a consistent workforce.

BW: How can you justify the cost of some of these things? Instead of looking at them as expenses, we see them as assets because of what they add to the bottom line in terms of productivity.

We are a family business in the sense that we all care about each other.

360: You have an on-site daycare center as well. Why did you decide to take that on?

MG: I was meeting with an employee at 4 p.m. one day and realized halfway through she wasn’t paying attention. I asked why? She said “I have to pick up my son at daycare. If I get there past 5:30, they charge by the minute.” It made me say, “We need a daycare here. We shouldn’t have employees at the end of the day who can’t concentrate.” Lawyers, accountants, insurance people all had reasons why we shouldn’t. But, it’s good for business. It’s one of the best things we’ve done in our career.

BW: The daycare even attracts people who don’t have kids. We’ve had job candidates say, “I figure if you have a daycare, this has to be a good place to work. That’s why I wanted to come here.”

360: You’re both fierce advocates for the LGBTQ community and have received accolades for your bold marketing campaigns featuring diversity. How have you seen this inclusive culture impact your business?

MG: We get incredibly positive comments and I believe we do a lot of business because people have seen our advocacy and philanthropy. They want to buy from a company like ours. Even the bank we borrow money from, our investors, our business partners, they all want to be part of doing good in the world. And, they see it’s helped our profitably. At the end of the day, we want to be role models for vulnerable kids.

360: Do you see evidence that opens an inclusive culture you foster in the workplace  encourages your people to contribute ideas and take risks?

MG: We think it’s really important for people to feel comfortable failing. Work is a social activity and that takes trust. We let people know their voices and ideas matter, and ask them to speak their minds. We’re always striving to do more of that, and I think that’s a good thing. And, without a culture that breeds trust and a diversity of ideas, people aren’t going to feel safe trying something even if it doesn’t work. We believe we build on success by learning from failure.

360: You’ve committed to using sustainable materials since you started your company. Why was that so important?

MG: Within a month of starting the company, I read an article able how the ozone is being depleted and that the furniture industry in North Carolina was one of the biggest abusers. I remember calling Bob saying, “We’re going into a business that’s hurting the environment!” That led us down a road to understand what we could do. We tested new kinds of foam, rethought packaging and started sourcing wood from quick-regrowth forests. We wanted to be part of the solution.

360: You’ve said you wouldn’t put anything in your office that you wouldn’t also put in your home. Why is comfort such an important factor in workplace design?

MG: One of our mottos is, “When a home has been furnished successfully, just walking in the door is like getting a hug.” That’s what we think a lot of offices want to be like.

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How Will Artificial Intelligence Shape Our World? http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-will-artificial-intelligence-shape-our-world/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-will-artificial-intelligence-shape-our-world/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:00:34 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18718 Continue reading ]]> How Will Artificial Intelligence Shape Our World

The FORWARD Fellowship guides designers to explore the possibilities.

The field of design is ever-evolving. Today, designers must address new client expectations and desires, all while integrating new technologies and producing creative outputs at swift speeds. The majority of technology influencing business in the next 5-10 years hasn’t hit the market yet, and if it has, little is known as to how deeply it will impact our lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the perfect example — it has immense potential to shift every industry but remains ambiguous for most. What will AI look like for design? How will it shape the environments we create, live in and work from? Gifted designers from across the globe have intriguing ideas.

“Design-thinking is where the future is going in business,” says Jerry Holmes, principal with Steelcase Design Alliances. Steelcase Design Alliance’s partnered with Steelcase researchers and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Design Management Program to create the FORWARD Fellowship. Tom Hardy, Design Management professor at SCAD, believes Steelcase and SCAD are great partners in this mission. “There is something about Steelcase and the people who work there. They have the insight to do this. We’ve been focusing since the first fellowship with Steelcase on the concept of design-thinking.”

In its second cohort term, the team invite a diverse group of designers from competing firms and various countries to participate in the global design-thinking fellowship aimed at providing the design community with new methods and ways of thinking to solve the complex challenges clients face today.

The Central Question

Each tasked with solving the central question — “How might we design environments that optimize the combined capabilities of people and machines?” — four teams worked throughout the year juggling time zones and full-time jobs to research, analyze and define solutions.

Each team viewed the central question with a lens that interested them. The lenses of discovery were:

  1. Reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace
  2. Promote a positive work experience through a focus on positive behaviors and wellbeing
  3. Enhance human connection in the workplace
  4. Add value to the student experience by using AI

A Crash Course in Design-Thinking

A Crash Course in Design-Thinking

Starting off as strangers, the participants gathered for the first time last summer in Rome, Italy for a week akin to a design-thinking summer camp. Designers attend workshops co-designed and co-facilitated by SCAD’s Design Management Professors Tom Hardy and Billy Lee, and Steelcase researchers, Melanie Redman and Vanja Misic. The four leaders guided the fellows through the subjects of AI, emerging technologies and design-thinking research methods like scenario planning and the STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental and political) framework. Once back home, fellows had access to Steelcase professional across the organization to help them navigate questions and roadblocks.

The Future of AI


The innovative ideas the fellows developed on how to leverage AI highlight how deep and wide design-thinking guides research and solutions. Teams showcased how AI personas could work intuitively to turn on a social mode for email so people get the human connection we all need to work. AI could also signal the need for team meditation and infuse biophilic elements like plants into the office when workers are stressed and wellbeing is low.

AI can do more than make things easier and shift environments based on personal preferences. The future of artificial intelligence has the potential to remove cultural and socioeconomic barriers. Speaking different languages is no longer an issue with automatic translation. Learning environments in the future can reach anyone, anywhere with immerse campuses through contact lenses and connect students with tutors and professors worldwide based on interests and needs.

The fellows demonstrated the immense positive impact AI can have on the future. It can make the world more democratic and unbiased. It can help us become healthier, happier and capable of more connect and creativity.

Closing Ceremony

Gathered in Munich for the final week of the program, fellows visited the IBM Watson to IoT Center to learn about IBM’s Augmented/Artificial Intelligence direction as well as how they are leveraging enterprised design-thinking in their business. Host, Dawn Ahukanna, along with Laura Dohle and John Vasquez guided the group. Both Ahukanna and Dohle attended the closing ceremony to hear the fellows’ final presentations and offered insightful feedback.

After final presentations, participants discussed the benefits of implementing what they learned at their individual firms. Julia Leahy noted that the STEEP framework helped her engage teammates. “I gathered a cross-disciplinary team, and we went through STEEP with post-it notes, asking, what are the drivers and coming up with imagery inspiration? It kicked the project off with really good team synergy and optimism.” James Merchant agreed, saying scenario planning, made a big impact on clients. “I’ve introduced scenario planning to my team. It gets people into the human experience, doing a storyboard and day-in-a-life scenarios. I really like doing it now with clients as well, taking them through the experience has made a huge difference.”

Redman highlights the benefit of the fellowship with, “The fellows are able to apply this process to their daily projects. It’s a chance for them to explore something completely different than what they regularly do and make new friends with people they would have never otherwise met.”

Holmes echoes Redman by emphasizing the takeaways of the program. “The richness of what we hope to accomplish is learning the skills of design-thinking. The design industry is under an assault of being commoditized. If you can elevate the game and approach critical problem solving in a different way, you have the potential to fend that off and have a new strategic approach.”


The fellows and leaders met at the Steelcase LINC in Munich, Germany for the closing ceremony.



  1. Aline Browers – HLM ARCHITECTS – Glasgow
  2. Christie Giemza – LITTLE – Raleigh
  3. Dewi Schönbeck – CSMM – Munich
  4. James Merchant – AECOM – Los Angeles
  5. Julia Leahy – IA – Boston
  6. Katie Lin – IA – London
  7. Laura Langlois – ARP ASTRANCE – Paris
  8. Lonneke Leijnse – HEYLIGERS – Amsterdam
  9. Yelena Mokritsky – HOK – NY

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Data Privacy. By Design. http://blog.hbi-inc.com/data-privacy-by-design/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/data-privacy-by-design/#comments Mon, 11 Jun 2018 21:42:26 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18670 Continue reading ]]> Date Privacy - By Design

The benefits of a connected world—greater innovation, growth and prosperity—will not be realized unless people can trust that data being collected is managed and analyzed responsibly.

“As data becomes the key resource for every business, the security and privacy of data becomes every organization’s concern.”

STUART BERMAN | IT Security architect at Steelcase

Data Privacy in a Connected World by Design

The Smallest Actions Can Have the Biggest Implications

Every day we trade private communication about ourselves inreturn for digital devices. We make an online purchase, use a search engine, or download an app, and Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and others harvest data about where we go, what we buy, who we interact with online.

For many people this is a reasonable trade, data for services that make life easier, more interesting, more fun. Others are less comfortable about this tradeoff. Yet everyone expects their personal data to remain private and secure.

“Privacy in the workplace used to be about audio privacy, visual privacy, territorial privacy and informational privacy,” says Steelcase Senior Design Researcher, Melanie Redman. “These are types of privacy people say they need in order to focus.”

“What’s changed is how we think about informational privacy: now we think about data privacy and about psychological privacy, because our perception of privacy impacts all of our other experiences. Privacy is more contextual in the workplace, more personal and a topic of growing importance in every organization.”

Privacy in a Connected World

Privacy is not a new issue for Steelcase. The company has conducted research on privacy in the workplace for over two decades, and three years ago began to study digital privacy issues.

“Organizations have made assumptions about digital privacy, but those assumptions had never been tested. The assumption was that people are willing to trade personal data in return for services, such as web searches or connecting with other via social media, so they would be willing to make the same trade at work. In other words, they would allow the collection of data in return for helpful business services. We wanted to test those assumptions,” says Redman.

Date Privacy. By Design.

Date Privacy. By Design.

Steelcase surveyed 3,000 people around the world about privacy concerns in the workplace. A major finding: employees’ attitudes about privacy are remarkably consistent across geography, gender and demographics. This calls into question popular notions about privacy, such as assuming younger workers, who constantly share information via social media, are less concerned about data privacy. It turns out that privacy attitudes don’t vary age; they vary by the type of organization people work in, and by the ways people work.

Attitudes about privacy differ, for example, based on how mobile a worker is, how readily they adopt new technology or how collaborative they are in their work.

Two dimensions of privacy have moved to the forefront for employees. One is being able to control stimulation and distraction, a fallout from more open workplaces and the use of mobile devices. It’s hard to find quiet, private time and harder to disconnect from work. Controlling stimulation can be accomplished through the physical workplace and Steelcase has many strategies to help companies provide places for privacy, rest and rejuvenation.

Privacy in a Connected World003

Space measurement and analysis tools designed to improve the workplace must include leading-edge privacy protections that anonymize user data.

The second ascendant issue is controlling information. The proliferation of data and the increased ease of aggregating and deriving value from it mean it’s harder to control who has our information and what’s done with it. Losing control over your data causes anxiety because controlling your information is essential to privacy.

“The world is increasingly digital and data driven and we’re rapidly entering a future where everything will be connected. As data becomes the key resource for every business, the security and privacy of data becomes every organization’s concern,” says Stuart Berman, IT security architect at Steelcase.

To ensure the responsible collection, analysis, and management of data, Steelcase designs all of its technology products to strict privacy and security standards. “We know how important it is for companies, and individuals, to control their information. So before we developed any digital products at Steelcase, we establish company principles of privacy by design, and data security by design,” says Barbara Hiemstra, Steelcase privacy engineer.

Meet Steelcase’s Privacy Engineer

High-profile security breaches, social medial user tracking, protecting and securing data from cyber attacks: The realities of the connected world have led to an emerging profession, the privacy engineer, an increasingly common position at web and software companies. Barbara Hiemstra is one of the first privacy engineers in the office furniture industry.

“I’m part of the IT security team that interacts with researchers, designers, software developers, legal experts and others to help ensure that privacy is an integral part of the design process. We recommend privacy-enhancing technologies to mitigate privacy risks, conduct privacy-related risk assessments and help integrate privacy into the software engineering lifecycle,” says Heimstra.

Her team also informs users in cyber hygiene: individual behaviors to maintain a “healthy” (secure) online presence. This includes password maintenance, software and virus protection updates, data backups and other strategies. The content is made available to Steelcase dealers, who in turn can offer it to customers.

“Big data is an awesome tool, but it comes with a big responsibility,” warns Hiemstra.

Steelcase Workplace Advisor

Steelcase’s Workplace Advisor collects data about how the workplace is used in order to help organizations understand how to best use their real estate.

 User-Centric Design

This approach stems from Steelcase’s longstanding user-centered design process for developing new products. “We don’t create a chair, for example, based on what we believe the customer wants. We talk to them first, we go into the field, we observe how people work, the issue they have. We draw insights from those observations, and we engineer and design around those insights. So we do the same work before we develop our digital products,” says Redman.

One of Steelcase’s first digital products, introduced in 2017, is Workplace Advisor. It collects data about how the workplace is used in order to help organizations understand how to best use their real estate and create more effective workplaces.

“We are completely transparent about all the customer data Workplace Advisor collects, how we use it, how we secure it. We want our customers to completely understand the process,” says Shawn Hamacher, assistant general counsel at Steelcase.

“Privacy by design means we build privacy into the product. You don’t try to bolt it on afterwards. Privacy is part of each digital product’s DNA.”

To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of the data collected by Workplace Advisor, Steelcase uses the Microsoft Azure IoT platform with its strong security and privacy guarantee. In addition, Workplace Advisor systems will be audited against the Service Organization Controls (SOC 2) framework. Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, this includes third-party audits and reports available to Steelcase customers who use Workplace Advisor.

Workplace Advisor

“We are completely transparent about all the customer data Workplace Advisor collects, how we use it, how we secure it.” – Shawn Hamacher, Steelcase Assistant General Counsel


A Global Standard

Privacy standards evolve, of course. For example, Europe recently has taken the lead in digital privacy by establishing the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which went into effect in May. GDPR increases privacy protection for all individuals in the European Union. Steelcase will comply with GDPR for all of its digital products customers, not only those in Europe but around the world.

“It’s the most stringent standard globally for data privacy and security, and we’re using it for all our customers’ data. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Steelcase customer in Europe, Asia, Africa, North or South America, any country—our digital products will comply with GDPR,” says Berman.

Product DNA

“Privacy by design means we build privacy into the product. You don’t try to bolt it on afterwards. Privacy is part of each digital product’s DNA.” – Shawn Hamacher


“We want all of our customers to understand that privacy and security by design means transparency in how we operate, how data is gathered and used, and how we protect that data,” adds Hamacher.

The same applies to all Steelcase digital products, including Steelcase Find, a mobile app that helps people quickly locate workspaces and colleagues, which makes it easier to connect and collaborate the core work of the innovation economy.

“High expectations and tough requirements have always been part of the development at Steelcase,” says Steve Rodden, who heads the development team for Smart + Connected products. “As a company, we’re used to dealing with regulatory guidelines, quality standards and different compliance issues for furniture. We want to not just meet basic standards. We want to be excellent in those areas, so we set even higher design, engineering and manufacturing requirements of our own. It’s the same with digital products. We want to lead in data privacy and security, so it was an easy decision for us to set stringent data privacy and security standards as part of our development process.”

Business runs on data. Every time we trade information for a digital product, we help fuel the new global economy. Users must be able to rely on organizations to be fully transparent about how they collect, store and analyze that data.

It’s important that our customers understand that the everyday transactions of data in exchange for helpful services rest on a foundation of privacy and security,” says Hamacher. “We’ve stood behind our products for over 100 years and that’s going to change because it’s a digital product. How we operate is how we’ve always done business. It’s all about trust.”

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Four Ways TED2018 Will Make You Think http://blog.hbi-inc.com/four-ways-ted2018-will-make-you-think/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/four-ways-ted2018-will-make-you-think/#comments Mon, 21 May 2018 11:00:45 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18580 Continue reading ]]> Four Ways TED2018 Will Make You Think

TED2018 tackled the future of artificial intelligence, the fate of humanity, the design of cities and its own Audacious Project.


Eighteen minutes. That’s just 1080 seconds to capture the attention of your audience and inspire them to do great things. This year, TED2018 invited people behind “jaw-dropping AI, glorious new forms of creativity and courageous advocates of radical social change” to take the TED stage for its marquee conference titled “The Age of Amazement.” As Steelcase vice president of strategy, research and digital transformation, I was among the audience in Vancouver. A number of clear themes emerged as the conference unfolded.

Artificial Intelligence

It’s no surprise that one of those themes artificial intelligence. Spectacular tech demonstrations have always been a feature of the TED stage, and that was true again this year. For example, I watched Google’s Supasorn Suwajanakorn show incredibly realistic videos of former President Barack Obama speaking — videos created entirely by an AI model (Visit “Synthesizing Barack Obama“).

This year at TED, however, an even bigger theme than AI was what role AI should play in our society. Suwajanakorn’s video raised the question of how we’ll know in the future what is real and what is not if AI can create realistic video, audio and images. Yuval Noah Harari posed the question: Could AI threaten democracy? If information is concentrated in the hands of a few, could AI be created that knows an individual so well, it can manipulate that person and his or her views and feelings without the person knowing it. In light of recent debates about the role of social media in society, the question of how we can avoid allowing ourselves to be manipulated by those who control data is a timely one.

Jeron Lanier’s solution to the challenge surrounding data control is to rewind the clock. He believes the single biggest mistake made in the development of the modern Internet was to make the internet free and public. The only way to have a free and public internet that also supports viable business models is to adopt the advertising model We get free access in exchange for tech companies using our data to facilitate advertisers’ targeting of ads. Jeron argues that what started in the 1990s as advertising has now become behavior modification on a mass scale that he sees as a threat to society as we know it. The solution Lanier proposes is to adopt a paid model for search, social media and other online tools. He suggests television is the model to follow – where many argue the best content being created is supported through paid models such as Netflix and HBO.

MIT’s Cesar Hidalgo took the conversation about AI in society a step further. He asks: Could AI by used to automate politicians? Hidalgo argues that representative democracy has a very bad user interface, which means we don’t use it as much as we could. What if the future of democracy is a direct democracy, where all citizens participate in decision-making through our individual AI agents? These agents would know us so well they could represent our views and make votes on our behalf.

The Survival of Humanity

While the future of AI and its impact on society is enough to keep us up at night, TED also tackled an even bigger question: How do we ensure the continued survival of humanity?

Will MacAskill, a moral philosopher at Oxford, said that effective altruism and philanthropy should be aimed at big, solvable and neglected problems. He argued that among the issues that fit these criteria are existential risks such as global warming, pandemic, or nuclear war that threaten humanity’s survival.

Writer Charles Mann challenged the idea that people are special relative to all other living creatures. Many would argue that our specialness comes from our ability to develop collective knowledge and to work collaboratively to solve problems. If that’s true, Mann asked, are we authentically using our knowledge and ability to collaborate in order to ensure the long-term future of humanity? He feels that humans could do better.

Economist Kate Raworth pointed out that going forward and upward is the most basic human instinct. Whether it’s a baby’s desire to sit, stand and then walk or a parent’s hope to give her child a better life, we have an innate human obsession with growth. Why? Raworth argues our economies and entire way of life is now dependent on unending growth. Whether it be a company’s quest for more revenue, a country’s desire to increase GDP, or an employee’s hope for a raise, she believes this is an unsustainable addiction. She offered ideas for how we might create economies that are regenerative and distributive by design to help end structural dependence on growth.

Lastly, Stephen Webb, a physicist, looked to the stars and all of the scientific work that suggests the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe and asked: “Where is everyone?” If our universe is vast and there are other life forms out there, why haven’t we found them or vice versa? Through a compelling set of facts and a scientific argument, Webb shared with us his conclusion: “I think we are alone.” If the human race is the only life in the universe, then all the more reason to get to work on tackling the issues that threaten the survival of our species.

Designing Cities

TED wasn’t entirely about questions of existential proportion. Designers and artists had their moment as well.

Architect Vishaan Chakrabarti highlighted a tension. He said living in a city is most healthy for the planet (city dwellers have a fraction of the carbon footprint as do those in more rural areas), but city living is being beset by a creeping sameness. The office building or apartment block being put up in your city is almost indistinguishable from similar towers going up in cities around the world. Chakrabarti offered ideas for designing cities that are more prosperous, sustainable and joyous.

Curator Nora Atkinson discussed the Burning Man festival and treated us to a fantastic photography of what happens when people are inspired to create art for themselves rather than to satisfy the art market. And, engineer and bridge builder Ian Firth, made structural engineering more interesting than I could have ever imagined and shared photos of bridges around the world that took my breath away.

The Audacious Project

Lastly, this year TED introduced an initiative called The Audacious Project, aimed at making concrete progress on the kinds of issues that are often raised at TED. The Audacious Project team has been vetting ideas to solve big problems and working with a group of philanthropists to identify the projects with the best plans and likelihood of success. The TED organization is leveraging the TED community and its network to raise massive dollars to put behind these projects, $406 million committed to date. That’s philanthropy on a major scale!

The founders or leaders of the five projects being piloted in this program presented their ideas and I found their collective work truly inspiring. The five are:

  • GirlTrek is the United States’ largest public health nonprofit for African American women and girls. In a country where 50% of American American women are obese and dying premature deaths at an alarming rate, GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practice first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities. With the support of TED, GirlTrek plans to mobilize and train 10,000 community volunteers to create GirlTrek chapters in their communities.
  • Sightsavers’ Caroline Harper is an advocate for the visually impaired. She shared her plan to create an army of community health workers in a handful of African countries to eradicate trachoma, a painful blindness-causing infection that can be treated or avoided with simple measures.
  • Environmental Defense Fund and its president Fred Krupp announced a plan to use The Audacious Project funding to help combat global warming by stopping leakages of methane from a variety of sources.
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and ocean scientist Heidi M. Soski are receiving a grant to study and preserve a unique layer of the ocean known as the twilight zone. Not only is the work compelling, but Heidi shared amazing (if somewhat scary-looking) photographs of creatures that live in the deep, deep ocean.
  • The Bail Project | Poverty is not a crime and Robin Steinberg opened our eyes to what she describes as a bail system out of control in the United States. While bail was first introduced centuries ago for a specific purpose, she believes that system has turned into something else: a two-tier system of justice in America, where those who cannot afford bail are incarcerated. The Bail Project aims to combat mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system.

All of these people and projects were inspiring, and you can read more about The Audacious Project on TED’s website.

To learn how a TED Talk inspired a recent Steelcase innovation, read Steelcase Unveils Limited-Edition SILQ Chairs for TED.

Written By:

Sara Armbruster

For Steelcase


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A Two-Part Equation for Active Learning http://blog.hbi-inc.com/a-two-part-equation-for-active-learning/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/a-two-part-equation-for-active-learning/#comments Fri, 11 May 2018 22:00:28 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18559 Continue reading ]]> A Two-Part Equation for Active Learning

Three recipients of the Steelcase Active Learning Center Grant share ingredients fro implementing a successful active learning initiative.

Active Learning’s Two-Part Equation

Active Learning Center results included fewer poorly-performing students, more highly-rated teachers and, at one school, 100 percent of the teachers surveyed wanted to use the Active Learning Center again. These are just a few of the positive results three former Steelcase Education Active Learning Center Grant (ALC) Grant) recipients shared at this year’s ELI Annual Meeting — a place where higher education institutions and organizations committed to advancing learning through information technology innovation come together everyday.

Connecticut’s Fairfield University, California State University Los Angeles, and St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas were already developing active learning pedagogies when Steelcase Education awarded them ALC Grants in 2015. As they shared their learnings with fellow educators at ELI, they concluded active learning can be boiled down to a simple equation:

Mobile Classroom + Active Pedagogy
Positive Student and Teacher Outcomes

Mobile Classroom

In Fairfield’s active learning classroom, students face each other toward the center of the room. Verb whiteboards and Thread portable power distribution provide places for group work with technology throughout the room. The mobile Node chairs and Verb tables let students easily work in groups and the Verb easel helps display ideas.

CANISIUS 9 from Fairfield University on Vimeo.

After Fairfield University installed their ALC classroom in 2015, professors began to adapt to the mobile and flexible spaces that had no traditional ‘front.” The active learning classroom eliminates the front-and-center instructor station, abolishes standard rows of students, and integrates whiteboards and technology tools throughout the space. By being able to move tables and chairs, they could create configurations that engaged students, and with no ‘front’ to the classroom they could increase student involvement.

“There is no front and no back. Nobody can hide,” says one professor. Fairfield now gets rid of the traditional classroom ‘front’ in nearly every classroom on campus and recommends this as a great first step for any active learning initiative.

“The furniture is an essential component of the classroom that really grabs people’s attention and creates a fluid environment for learning,” said Jay Rozgonyi, Fairfield Director of Academic Computing & Learning Technologies. “The furniture has become a catalyst for this whole project which when combined with technology re-imagines teaching.”

Active Pedagogy

While mobile classrooms can enhance and encourage active learning, it’s the second element of the equation that shifts teaching practices – active pedagogy. Cal State LA, another ALC Grant recipient, set up a pilot classroom to test mobile furniture. But, they found educators left to their own devices weren’t maximizing the classroom’s potential. Cal State LA established a faculty development strategy that included an active learning workshop to help faculty feel comfortable moving around in the active learning classroom, teaching in a room with no ‘front’ and integrating tools and technology into their classroom activities.

“My goal is for them to feel like an active learning rockstar so they can get up at the end of this workshop and comfortably orchestrate active learning activities in the active space,” said Beverly Bondad-Brown, director of Academic Technology at Cal State LA’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning (CETL). Workshop exercises included designing an ideal active learning classroom, sorting a deck of cards with active learning exercises and brainstorming on an active learning session planning sheet.

“Faculty may try something, and if one little thing goes awry, then they may feel like they’re just don with active learning altogether,” said Bondad-Brown. “The (planning) sheet prompts them to consider all aspects of their activity so that they won’t miss something, have a poor experience and abandon active learning. They walk away more confident.”

Positive Student and Teacher Outcomes

Positive Student and Teacher Outcomes

Dr. Tricia Shepherd brought years of experience with active learning to St. Edward’s. Along with her fellow panelists, she sees a positive change in attitudes and behavior since implementing an active learning classroom. She says students are very thoughtful about using the space to improve their learning. At the ELI Annual Meeting, Shepherd and the other educators shared how the sum of these active learning initiatives resulted in a successful active learning experience for teachers and students.

Cal State University Los Angeles

  • For some classes, Cal State LA also saw a dramatic decrease in DFW (grades D, F or withdrawals) rates, from 18.1 percent to 3.45 percent, when teaching a course in the active learning classroom.
  • Students with an instructor trained through the Cal State LA workshop were two times more likely to rate the instructor highly effective in helping them learning course material.
  • Students reported an increase in comfort, collaboration, engagement with content, as well as more stimulation and interest in the new active classroom.
  • Teachers reported feeling “more energized” and students didn’t want class to end.

Fairfield University

  • 100 percent of teachers who taught in the active learning classroom said they wanted to teach their again.
  • 35 percent of class time now spent with students actively engaged in small group work, whole class discussion or presenting to classmates.
  • Teachers noted a stronger classroom learning community and enhanced student relationships since not all eyes were directed toward the professor all the time.
  • Professors reported increased satisfaction and motivation for teaching in the updated classroom.

St. Edward’s University

  • DFW rate went from 29 percent to 22 percent with the only changed variable being the active learning classroom.
  • Professors used more active learning practices than in previous years simply by having access to the active, mobile room.

These outcomes were all attributed to the successful implementation of each factor in the active learning equation. Find out more research and outcomes from previous grant recipients.

Steelcase Education awarded grants to another 16 schools in the most recent Active Learning Center Grant cycle. Learn more about the program and sign up to be notified when the next cycle begins.

Written By:

Tylee Bush

For Steelcase


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Global Trends Influence Seven New Colors http://blog.hbi-inc.com/global-trends-influence-seven-new-colors/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/global-trends-influence-seven-new-colors/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:00:20 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18433 Continue reading ]]> Global Trends Influence Seven New Colors

No matter where we live, technology allows us to experience the world like never before. Our innate curiosity can be satisfied on a whim. We can connect to people, pictures and live video from almost anywhere. We can import portions of the world at will and it’s exciting. We live in an age of plurality — a world full of color, texture and inspiration.

Julie Yonehara, Steelcase surface materials designer, works with teams based in Michigan, Munich and Hong Kong to understand why certain design directions are gaining traction and what people need in the workplace. Yonehara is seeing connections emerge between the broad themes of culture and identity, globalization, biophilia — people’s innate desire to be close to nature — creativity and how technology is influencing every aspect of our lives, tying everything together. The intersection of the drivers making up these big trends informed the creation of seven new accent color palettes for furniture recently added to Steelcase’s growing portfolio.


Aubergine is a subtle, sophisticated and tinted neutral. (Photo courtesy: Zara Walker)


In today’s workplace, people are seeking places that make them feel happy, comfortable or inspired. Demands are higher because people are spending more time with technology and working longer hours. They’re also growing more sophisticated in what they like as a result of what they experience through technology and social media. More than ever, it’s the perfect time to add more color choices for workplace designers.

“The colors represent the cultural shift in how and where work is taking place. There’s more informal spaces where people can feel good like they do at home,” says Yonehara. “Color and materiality can reinforce the mood and intended use of a space. Color helps communicate permissions of the space.”


New Accent Colors

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As the Suface Materials team explored what colors to add to their portfolio, they captured inspirations from around the world.

New Color Palettes

New Color Palettes

Paint, plastic and textiles render color differently because of texture and the material content in them. The Surface Materials team took care to make sure each color is applied in a way that it appears its most beautiful on each material.

New Color Palettes002

Peacock is inspired by nature and more sophisticated than existing alternatives. Celebrating the prominence of blues and greens in design, Peacock strikes a powerful balance and is a fan favorite among designers.

New Color Palettes003

Lagoon is inspired by the environment. It’s sun faded quality is influenced by wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic based off nature and imperfection.

New Color Palettes004

New Color Palettes005

Aubergine is a subtle, sophisticated and tinted neutral. It offers a darker option for respite and pause without being overly saturated.

New Color Palettes006

Merlot has its roots in biophilia, yet pairs well with futuristic settings as well by providing a darker accent. It’s rich sophisticated sets it apart creating a moodier feel.

New Color Palettes007

Honey is inspired by nature as well as cultural roots tied to the culinary arts. It creates a feeling of warmth.

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Saffron communicates authenticity. It’s replicating sunbaked colors and referencing spices as well as trends using terra cotta in interior spaces.

Technology + Culture

Yonohara is seeing the intersection of technology and culture contributing to the themes of culture and identity, globalization and creativity.

“Dynamic culture tribalism is happening through technology,” she says. “We look at social media to assemble our own identities through an emotional response. This mesh of culture and technology is defining a shared language and point of view.”

At the same time, traditional craft is being rethought and reinvented with new materiality and technology elevating what we know about making. There’s a layering of past, present and future. Earthy colors are being paired with synthetic accents to create a jarring juxtaposition.

Physical + Digital

Technology and artificial intelligence are becoming more empathetic and emotional. The boundaries between the physical and the digital are starting to blur to create a new breed of hybridization. We’re already seeing the visualization of people to create an emotional response — consider emojis. And, robots that make us smile or care for us — think of Jibo, a robot that dances. This synthetic reality is another driver impacting the theme of creativity, according to Yonehara. She’s seeing colors derived from nature being dialed up. And, brilliant hyper-natural colors evolve from palettes found in nature.

Biophilia + Authenticity

Biophilia + Auntheticity

Inspired by nature, Peacock celebrates the prominence of blues and greens in design. It strikes a powerful balance and is a designer favorite. (Courtesy: Andre Mouton)


In contrast to trends driven by technology, Yonehara is seeing an elevation of environmental consciousness. People are seeking authenticity and are drawn to biophilia. This equating to quieter, calmer spaces connecting people to materials and elevating recycled goods as luxury items — consider beautiful reclaimed wood such as Planked Veneer or closed loop textiles such as New Black. Sunbaked, raw and faded colors synonymous with nature embrace bringing the outdoors inside and help connect people to materials as they evolve over time in nature.

Wellbeing + Respite

As people work longer hours and engage more frequently with technology, luxury is being defined by privacy and being able to turn off. Attention spans are shortening, reducing productivity and damaging wellbeing. Finding time for self is crucial. Decluttering the mind benefits creativity and helps people feel better. This is leading to an evolution of biophilia and hygge (pronounced HOO-gah), the Danish concept of coziness, in the workplace. Colors emerging from this driver or amplify light and how spaces can reflect or absorb sound, for example. Spaces are being designed to create tactile environments that help people feel centered and calm.

It’s this layering and plurality of trends, themes and influences that are informing the broader color choices now available for today’s workplace.


New Accent Colors

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* Lead photo courtesy: Peter Gabas

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Design Thinking and Its Role in the Creative Process http://blog.hbi-inc.com/design-thinking-and-its-role-in-the-creative-process/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/design-thinking-and-its-role-in-the-creative-process/#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:23:37 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18406 Continue reading ]]> Design Thinking and Its Role in the Creative Process

Creativity is a numbers game. Take one look at Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and record holder of 1,093 patents. That’s 1,093 brilliant ideas, from which only a single handful of feats were realized. Add to that the unimaginable number of ideas which didn’t make it to patent stage, and it’s clear that even the most creative people rarely succeed on the first go.

But, that doesn’t stop them from consistently generating ideas. And from those ideas, newer, more developed, ideas grow. It’s a calculated trial and error process, in which innovators are able to learn from each failure and iterate by refining, altering and building each new version. And in a time when the importance of the creative economy is fast emerging amidst a volatile and changing world economy, the ability to innovate has never been more important.

360 FOCUS: Creativity, Work and the Physical Environment

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Design Thinking and Creative Process Role

Excel with Empathy

With the drawn of the fourth industrial revolution, intervals of innovation are shortening at a rapid pace. Businesses are scrambling to emulate the speed and ingenuity of emerging companies, and are vying for consumer attention in an already saturated market. Now more than ever, creativity and innovation have become critical skills for achieving success in developed economies. Where technological advancements continue to change the business landscape and automate job roles as we know them, employees have the opportunity to excel by leverage empathy through thinking critically, analyzing situations and offering emotional, creative and intellectual value where computers cannot.

Ideation Hub - Excel with Empathy

This Ideation Hub is one of five initial spaces designed by Steelcase and Microsoft to support the creative process. It is a high-tech destination that encourages active participation.

Enter design thinking – not a new concept, but one which has embedded itself in a growing range of industries around the world in recent years. For the innovator, design thinking represents an approach which minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation. In focusing on rapid iterations of an idea and actively engaging the customer in open dialog throughout the process, a company is better positioned to understand the root cause that really needs addressing and the product or service features that they need to deliver to meet that need.

Think Like a Designer

When we think like a designer, we are able to transform the way we develop products, services, processes and even strategy. Drawing on logic, systemic reasoning and imagination to explore the possibilities of what could be, design thinking approaches creativity from a different angle, cycling between divergent and convergent thinking. This means building up as many solution-focused ideas as possible, and then narrowing the decision of how best to move forward.

With design thinking, our ideas are constantly evolving with each new attempt and each new insight drawn from the users need at hand. Iterative and repeated often from numerous angles, the creative process is not a linear one, and should never be treated as one. And it is highly social, with some of the best ideas eventuating as result of empathy, interaction and exchange. It should come as no surprise that our workplaces play an integral role in enabling the creative process and ensuring employees have the support, inspiration and adaptive environments needed to interact and innovate.

Maker Commons - Think Like a Designer

Steelcase and Microsoft designed the Maker Commons to support the socializing of ideas and rapid prototyping – essential parts of the creative process.

More and more we are seeing larger, more established organizations strive to emulate the innovative culture of “startups.” However, scaling creativity and innovation methods requires structure and process, and the same mindset and practices which help make large organizations well-oiled machines, can often be the main barriers which stifle the innovation and creative processes.

Foster a Creative Culture

When our working experiences and environments foster a culture of choice and control, then the likelihood of attracting globally minded, innovative thinkers increases considerably. As does the propensity for achieving the golden ‘aha’ moment when a transformational insight is discovered.

Duo Studio - Foster a Creative Culture

Working in pairs is essential for creativity. Steelcase and Microsoft designed the Duo Studio for paired and co-creation as well as for individual work on individual devices.


It’s about offering a variety of individual and collective work spaces and postures which support employees and teams through the various modes and stages of the creative process. An important part of this process in ensuring employees have the choice over how and where they work throughout the day based on the task at hand. This also means providing space to unwind and rejuvenate. When the mind is relaxed and solitary, it can wander freely and open the inner stream of the creative voice more easily.

As the race to accelerate business calls for organizations to deliver bigger, faster and better innovations, design thinking is proving an important tool to help employees gain greater clarity and to find viable and desirable ideas in the creative process. Beyond the innovator, it can benefit every function in an organization, forcing user-centricity and continuously encouraging employees to seek new ideas, insights and concepts in order to help design solutions that will delight and engage while also providing meaning in our daily lives.

Kim Dabbs is Director of Applied Research + Consulting for Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) at Steelcase. She is based in Munich where she helps customers by connecting them to Steelcase’s extensive workplace research to help them achieve organizational success. Previously, Kim has been the Director Regional Learning Group in EMEA and helped launch the new Learning + Innovation Center in Munich. She holds a Master of Public Administration, Nonprofit Management from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Art History from Kendall College of Art and Design. She presents nationally on social innovation and design thinking at venues such as the Guggenheim, the Aspen Institute and TEDx.

Written By:

Kim Dabbs

For Steelcase


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10 Things I Love at Work (and Want at Home) http://blog.hbi-inc.com/10-things-i-love-at-work-and-want-at-home/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/10-things-i-love-at-work-and-want-at-home/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 00:35:55 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18337 Continue reading ]]> 10 Things I Love at Work (and Want at Home)

The workplace feels more like home these days and I find myself coveting things I’d love to bring home.

I’m in love. I’m not talking about royal fairy tales found in Buckingham Palace or romances made for the movies. I’m talking about where I spend a large part of my waking hours – my workplace. The office used to be a vast sea of uniformity. But, it’s gotten to know me better over the years. It’s learned what I like and what makes me feel good in my creative space. These days my workplace feels a lot more like home. And, I find myself walking from space to space coveting things at work I’d love to bring home to meet the family. Here’s 10 pieces I’m in love with right now make your office feel like home.

Enjoy the Moment

Enjoy the Moment

SILQ’s alluring silhouette makes me want to sit down and enjoy the moment. An innovation in materials science created a chair that’s both light and strong — eliminating most of the mechanisms typically associated with office chairs. Surface Magazine calls it the chair “you’ll never want to get out of.” My home office couldn’t ask for more.

Sit Back

Sit Back

No matter how many times I want to rearrange my living room, Umami seating, tables and screens are up to the task. Umami has an endless variety of configurations and its flexible, modern design creates spaces unique to whomever uses them.

Light Up

Light Up

Lighting helps set the mood in a room. Inspired by criss-crossing power lines in London, Michael Anastassiades designed these String Lights by FLOS. They come in both a cone and round version.

Step Up

Step Up

Rugs bring texture and warmth into a space. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams have a simple mission: to provide comfort for all at home or their home away from home. Designed with a neutral color a palette, their rugs add a touch of luxury and style to any room.



This shapely Field Lounge Chair from Blu Dot feels like an updated version of a classic leather chair. Its gently recline and sumptuous leather invite me to unwind while its sculptural base gives it a striking profile.

Gather Round

Gather Round001


Gather Round003

Bassline Tables by turnstone make it easy to create a table that’s just for me. I can choose a standard top and finish or show off my personality with a custom top. They are built to inspire and I never fail to notice them.



The Enea Cafe Wood Stool by Coalesse is where residential meets social. Its warm, modern design gives me a place to perch, reenergize and chat with friends and coworkers.

Pull Up a Seat

Pull Up a Seat

Campfire Pouf by turnstone adds a touch of comfort and style to any space. It offers sturdy, support for a natural connection with friends. Plus, its lightweight construction and small side handle make it easily portable.

Kick Up Your Feet

Kick Up Your Feet

Hosu by Coalesse is a comfortable oasis in the midst of any space. This unique, convertible lounge helps me relax and focus.

Restart and Restore

Rest and Restore

Who wouldn’t want a Respite Room at home? This private, protected environment offers me a place to relax, allows my brain to rest and to form new connections.

Find out more about Inspiring Spaces.

Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Three Perspectives on the Future of Higher Education http://blog.hbi-inc.com/three-perspectives-on-the-future-of-higher-education/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/three-perspectives-on-the-future-of-higher-education/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:00:23 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18316 Continue reading ]]> Three Perspectives on the Future of Higher Education

How will flipped learning, 21st century skills and virtual and augmented reality change how students learn?

By Robert Talbert, Grand Valley State University

The following article is contributed by Robert Talbert. A professor of mathematics at GVSU, Talbert is on a year-long sabbatical working at Steelcase as a scholar-in-residence.

Nearly 1000 years have passed since the founding of the first university. For most of this time, higher education has looked and operated in many of the same ways. However, changes in technology and globalization have altered the nature of learners and the world in which they operate. How will higher education respond, and what does the future of higher education look like?

These questions were the focus of a session at the recent EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) conference in New Orleans entitled “A Flipped Future? Lightning Talks on Teaching.” I was one of three speakers who spoke on the future of higher education, sharing the stage with MJ Bishop, Director of the Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation at the University System of Maryland; and Kyle Bowen, Director of Educational Technology at Penn State University.

The Future of Higher Education

Flipped Learning

My talk focused on flipped learning, a pedagogical technique in which lectures are mostly removed from class meetings. Students gain first contact with new material through structured self-teaching. Reclaimed class time is then used for active learning experiences. Through flipped learning, students discover how to learn on their own and gain experience solving difficult problems in a way that promotes collaboration.

Flipped learning in higher education emerged in the early 2000s and has seen rapid growth since the beginning of this decade. In my talk, I proposed four “grand challenges” for flipped learning to continue this upward momentum over the next several years:

  1. Craft a common definition of flipped learning
  2. Product a body of rigorous empirical research that establishes big results about the effectiveness of flipped learning
  3. Create a global library of open educational resources that support flipped learning in critical subject areas
  4. Build a global network of local communities of practice

21st Century Skills

MJ Bishop followed my talk by speaking about the importance of “21st century skills” – collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. He advocated flipping the curriculum for these subjects by offering digital certifications or “badges.” Students could learn specifically about these skills in addition to the content needed for their majors by developing portfolios showing competency in those areas. Those material can come from existing coursework or could be the result of extra, or co-curricular activity, rather than as part of a dedicated course. Through this evidence, the learner can earn a digital badge that can be affixed to their  LinkedIn profile. Employers and other interested parties can click on the badge and see the portfolio.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Finally, Kyle Bowen spoke about virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR). Bowen noted that until recently, it would have been preposterous to think of people strapping a computer to their faces. Today, however, relatively simple and inexpensive technology allows users to completely immerse in artificial worlds. The applications to higher education are numerous. For example, he noted, learners studying agriculture in northern states like Pennsylvania can only study crops for a few months out of the year due to weather. But with AR/VR, lifelike simulations of crops can be studied year-round and without the expense of equipment and chemicals. Bowen noted that we have only just begun to seriously study the implications of AR/VR in higher education, and in the near future universities may need to have “virtual plants” to go along with their current physical plants to manage AR/VR resources.

All of these talks and the discussion that followed had several points in common.

  • The future of higher education will be more individualized and student-centered than in the past. Where traditional higher education has focused on mass transmission of information through lectures, future higher education might allow for differentiated instruction via flipped learning, individually tailored digital certifications, and AR/VR technologies.
  • The future of higher education will focus less on content coverage and more on skills and experiences that go beyond content. Higher education has traditionally operated on a scarcity model of information, with professors acting as gatekeepers to knowledge. The reality is much different today, and in the future of both pedagogy and technology will assume free, 24/7 access to information.
  • Teaching techniques that rely on transmitting information will thus be obsolete and the focus in learning will shift to meta-skills such as problem solving and collaboration, aided by technology.
  • The role of learning spaces in the future will evolve along with pedagogy and technology. With large lectures becoming obsolete, the makeup of learning spaces will change to designs that support ubiquitous technology, collaboration, and personalized learning. Such spaces will be designed with flexibility and adaptivity in mind, as there will be as many ways for learners to interact with ideas as there are learners and ideas.

Higher education with these and other changes will retain some of the best aspects of the past centuries of the university, such as rigorous academics and challenging creative work. But, it will do so fully embracing pedagogies, technologies and spaces that serve the needs of the individual student. That is a future worth looking forward to.

Written By:

Robert Talbert

For the Mathematics Department at Grand Valley State University


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What Workers Want http://blog.hbi-inc.com/what-workers-want/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/what-workers-want/#comments Mon, 26 Feb 2018 13:00:49 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=18253 Continue reading ]]> What Workers Want

People know what they don’t want at work—a sea of bland, uniform spaces where ideas to to die.

In fact, a recent Steelcase study of global office workers found that although 77 percent of people have their own assigned workstation, the vast majority—87 percent—spend two to four hours every day working someplace else. We wanted to know: Why are people migrating away from their desks? What kind of spaces are they looking for? Is it as simple as adding some sofas and a barista bar to give people the kind of workplace they want?

As it turns out, monotony is a huge motivator—just over half of people (51 percent) say they need an escape from working in the same place during their day, whether they were alone or with others. They’re also seeking deeper relationships with colleagues, and 43 percent believe informal spaces can help build more trust.

What people are looking for at the office...

Desire VS. Reality

People give lackluster scores to the ancillary spaces their companies provide today. Digging deeper we saw what’s behind the ho-hum ratings:

Desire vs reality

How to make informal spaces better

The Age Factor

Younger and older generations agree—everyone likes informal spaces and use them regularly—but for different reasons. Millennials are more likely to use dining/bar spaces to do focus work while older generations use these spaces for collaboration and socialization.

Lounge spaces are used by millennials as a place for privacy while older generations use these spaces socially. Millennials are also more likely to use a wider range of informal spaces and to adjust their furniture, where older employees tend to pick favorite spots to use and leave their furniture settings alone.

Culture Shift

In China and India, people spend far less time at their primary workstation than in other countries. Organizations appear to be more progressive and provide more informal spaces to their employees.

India and China also offer the lowest percentage of I/Owned workstations and the highest percentage of We/Owned and We/Shared workspaces. This further promotes mobility in the workplace and people in these countries are more likely to seek out other spaces to work.

Organizations in the United States and Germany appear to be more traditional and provide considerably more I/Owned workstations; organizations in India and China are more progressive and offer more We spaces.

Primary Workstation Type by Country

The More the Better

It shouldn’t come as a surprise: Companies that offer more casual, inspiring spaces are perceived as being significantly more progressive than those who don’t.

Availability of Informal Spaces

Hierarchy of Office Needs

Just as people have basic needs in life life food, water and safety, people have different needs at work too. In the office, organizations must provide people with technology, a diverse range of spaces that support different types of work and permission to use these spaces if they expect them to thrive.

According to the study, most organizations only provide people with the technology and permission to work in informal spaces. But what’s missing is the range of spaces where people want to work that support their physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing.

Hierarchy of Office Needs

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