HBI Inc. :: Blog http://blog.hbi-inc.com Mon, 07 Jan 2019 17:11:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 Digital Transformation for Workplace Design in 2019 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/digital-transformation-for-workplace-design-in-2019/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/digital-transformation-for-workplace-design-in-2019/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2019 17:11:22 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19453 Continue reading ]]> Digital Transformation for Workplace Design in 2019

In some way, humans have touched every single thing on this planet. We’re stepping into unknown territory. We’re changing everything. Think about that.

Now, think about digital transformation. New technologies are changing how we interact with our environment, how we work, how we play and how we live. Tech tools are being more readily adopted as they get better and more accessible and, as a result our attitudes about them are changing.

These are big ideas. And, they are rapidly changing our work and our workplace. As we look ahead to 2019, 360 sat down with Cherie Johnson, Steelcase global design director, and Julie Yonehara, Steelcase senior industrial designer. Both work with teams in the U.S., Europe and Asia to understand how global shifts are influencing workplace design. Design influences they shared with us for 2018 have continued to evolve. They tell us we’ve reached a tipping point in a few areas that will become even more evident in 2019.

Relearning Empathy

Relearning Empathy

Access to limitless information in a chaotic and changing world has only helped us further filter our perspectives. We can easily mute and unfollow voices and opinions that don’t match our own. The result is more polarization. At the same time, communities are rewriting and reinterpreting their past, present and future and regaining a sense of control and empowerment. As our identities diversify and a lack of trust builds, emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes highly valued as the boundaries between cultures merge.

design impact | “This is where surrealism is brought in. We’re seeing designs in a traditional context with futuristic forms,” says Yonehara. “We’re not letting go of the past, we’re reinterpreting it. We’re seeing designers explicitly show human intention and a rejection of an outright algorithm.”

Designers will embrace differences and focus on the details that help parts come together. This manifests in modular configurations and deliberate mismatching. It’s not about a holistic look. It’s about making a statement, mashing up material choices and the fragmentation of pattern and texture combinations to celebrate the human hand in design.


Engineered Naturals

Engineered Naturals


The boundaries between what is natural and what is synthetic have begun to blur. We see throughout our ecosystem. Jungle animals have evolved to become nocturnal in order to avoid human contact. The use and acceptance of GMO crops is becoming the new normal as the planet strives to feed 7.8 billion people (projected by 2020). We are biohacking our health — editing genomes to seek a cure for cancer and fight genetic disorders. And, we’re developing synthetic senses — creating prosthetics that feel pain and pressure because pain is a survival trait.

“When we recognize that every territory on our planet has been affected by human intervention, we have to ask: What does authenticity mean?” says Johnson. “Authenticity is changing. It’s become about self-expression.”

design impact | As an aesthetic, Johnson and Yonehara are seeing a tension between the natural and the manmade. It’s a type of eco-brutalism, robust forms with raw and precise features. There’s a willingness to replicate raw materials such as wood or stone if the end result is a more satisfying human experience. The palette is one of reactive materiality — showing the juxtaposition of the natural and man made (digitally printed leather or dyed veneer, for example) with patterns that reinterpret nature by blending the natural and artificial.


Teach Reliance

Teach Reliance

We’ve reached an era of peak screen time. The average American spends close to 11 hours a day staring at some type of screen. We have a relationship with what we’re consuming. Right now, screen time limits our impact with the physical environment, but that’s changing. Help is coming from our technology. We’re being made increasingly aware of how we spend our time. Apple’s newest iOS helps us track how much we use our phones and to what end.

Our relationship and reliance on technology is changing as it improves at a rapid pace. Since 2016, computer speech recognition has dropped its error rate from 8.5% to 4.9%. It’s now three times faster than a human typing. Since 2010, image recognition error rates went from 30% to about 4% (HBR). Our behaviors, attitudes and adoption is changing as technology advances and we merge the digital and physical.

design impact | “Digital content is taking on a more visceral and tangible part of our physical world,” says Johnson. “Our spaces will become less about passively consuming what’s on our screens and more about how we interact with technology. We’re already seeing adoption accelerate and impact the design of our spaces.”

This acceleration will become evident in the merging of the physical environment and sensorial experiences powered by technology. Augmented reality and virtual reality will provide hidden layers to our spaces. Objects surrounding us will be digital, yet artisanal. The palette and patterns will promote surreal layering of materials using filters, overlays, texture and color transitions. Synthetic compositions include everything from subtle sounds to pillowed upholstery to sensorial surfaces.


“In 2019, our relationship with technology is fundamentally changing how we feel, how we work and where we get our work done,” says Yonehara.

“Understanding where these changes come from helps us stay ahead of the implications for workplace design and allows us to support people with what they need before they know they need it.”

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The Future of Work: Redesigning the Work Experience http://blog.hbi-inc.com/the-future-of-work-redesigning-the-work-experience/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/the-future-of-work-redesigning-the-work-experience/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2019 13:00:11 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19435 Continue reading ]]> Nurturing the Human Dimension

Steelcase CEO Jim Keane joins the Global Peter Drucker Forum to explore redefining the work experience to help people do what they do best.

Nurturing the Human Dimension

Today, people need to do what computers cannot. Machines are freeing people up to focus on things like creativity, social connectivity and emotional intelligence. So, how do leader redesign the work experience to help people do what they do best?

As part of its 10th annual conference entitled management. the human dimension, the Global Peter Drucker Forum put together a panel of distinguished academics, company leaders, researchers and authors to offer ideas about how to approach the blended future of work.

Empathy as a Management Practice

Steelcase CEO Jim Keane shared his first job — an elevator operator. The instructions were simple. Pull a crank to go up, push it to go down, and never talk to the people riding. Ten hours a day. Every day. To battle the boredom, he broke one of the rules. He started talking to his customers and learned he could quickly figure out how they were feeling, if they were having a good day or a bad one.

Today, computers have turned elevators into the first autonomous vehicle. Machines are taking over mind-numbing, back-breaking and dehumanizing jobs leaving people to celebrate the things that make them human. Keane focused on empathy.

“We have to learn about technology. But, we also have to reinvest in ourselves by building new management practices that make empathy something we don on a routine basis,” Keane says.

Try This

Keane gave an example from his first leadership meeting after becoming CEO. Instead of standing at a podium and trying to convince his team to follow a plan, he broke them into small groups, and sent them into nearby buildings and plants to listen to people and ask three questions: What’s getting better? What’s getting worse? How does that make you feel?

The managers came back together with a new perspective on the company and its culture. Keane didn’t have to convince them changes were needed. They were now persuading him.

As an ongoing practice, whenever he travels, he always blocks an hour of his time to meet with people he’s never met before. He says he gathers tremendous insights from those unstructured conversations.

Rethink Everything About Work

Reskilling and lifelong learning are two commonly batted-about buzzwords in business today. John Hagel, co-chairman, Deloitte, Center for the Edge, says we need to rethink those ideas. He encouraged leaders to ask: What should work be? If it’s about scalable efficiency, specialization and standardization, then machines can do it better. But now, he says, technology gives us a chance to revisit that fundamental question about work.

“Our belief is the work that will drive the growth and prosperity of economies around the world is a very different kind of work,” says Hagel. “Rather than routine tasks, it’s focusing workers on identifying and addressing unseen problems and opportunities to create more value. That’s a very different form of work.”

Try This

He says we need to reframe the conversation from reskilling, which he suggests is just teaching people new, process task, to developing new competencies which are more fundamental and able to be translated to a variety of contexts. Capabilities, he says, have to do with curiosity, imagination, creativity, emotional and social intelligence. Capabilities are like a muscle, he says. We all have it. For some, it’s atrophied and is just waiting to be exercised.

When it comes to lifelong learning, he says it’s not something you can require. People need to be driven and motivated to learn all the time. He calls it “the passion of the explorer.” Replace the goal of “worker engagement” with that of the “worker passion”. By redesigning the work experiencing with the primary goal of accelerating learning and performance improvement, the workplace can look very different than it does today. Companies can shift from a win-lose model, where employees are told what to do, burnout and ultimately lose, but the company may win, to a win-win model, where workers get to do the work they should be doing and the company wins.

Don’t Let Company Culture Just Happen

Culture is another popular topic these days, but a tough one to get right. Yves Pigneur, professor of Management Information Systems, University of Lausanne, says he sees more and more students who are seeking out small companies or startups over large, more established organizations.

His advice — intentionally design your culture. Observe and map out existing behaviors to develop an As-Is Culture Map. Then, consider what kind of behaviors a human-centric culture requires. Well-intentioned organizations are appointing chief happiness officers, forming innovating teams or sponsoring hackathons. But, he says, these efforts will start or die if they don’t align with the overarching culture.

Try This

People who work in a culture created with them in mind have a passion for their work, take ownership, collaborate and help others, trust their team members, help people grow and listen to ideas that bubble up from their teams.

A new culture isn’t something you can declare. You have to make concrete changes to processes, routines and rituals,” explains Pigneur.

You cannot just declare a new culture. You need a concrete change process, routine and rituals. What does it look like? Pigneur encourages leaders to test some things and watch for the impact. Some of his ideas: no compromise hiring, teleworking, fair and competitive compensation, risk acceptance, open door leadership policy, less meetings and leadership by example.

Questions are the Answer

In the world of artificial intelligence and digital transformation, our ability as human beings to ask the right question is the capability that will help humanity succeed. So says Hal Gregersen, executive director, MIT Leadership Center, MIT Sloan School of Management.

The foundational issues facing business today such as globalization, transformation and innovation operate on the edge of uncertainty. Computers can’t ask the right questions. Gregersen says we have to keep our ability to question deeply and vibrantly alive. His team interviewed more than 200 leaders over the last few years to discover how they ask the right questions. He says you need to be willing to be wrong, be uncomfortable, be empathetic and listen and be fully present.

When you do these things, questions emerge that open up windows of opportunity.

Try This

Once CEO he spoke with said he actively seeks out passive data. He operates a logistics company. When he flies somewhere, he isn’t picked up by a limo or a taxi. He has one of the company drivers pick him up. Through these conversations, he’s learned critical things about how to improve his organization.

Another example involved a creative director for a major movie house. Before any idea gets a green light, it goes before a “brain trust.” For three hours, colleagues have the responsibility to give you complete candor and tough feedback. According to one director, it’s this process that turns movies that suck into blockbusters.

So, what questions are you asking when you show up to work? What questions is your company asking? Are you creating the space for conditions to thrive and allow people to ask tough questions? These are not the routines of a machine environment. These are the places that create the most human of the human future.

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Four Ways to Weave Nature into the Workplace http://blog.hbi-inc.com/four-ways-to-weave-nature-into-the-workplace/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/four-ways-to-weave-nature-into-the-workplace/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2018 13:00:31 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19390 Continue reading ]]> Four Ways to Weave Nature into the Workplace

How biophilic design promotes employee wellbeing through natural elements, such as wood.

How to Weave Nature into the Workplace

It’s true. We spend 90 percent of our lives indoors. And, most of that time is spent glued to some sort of screen, tending to our fast-paced jobs. In fact, a recent study revealed that 50 percent of employees check their work email before even getting out of bed; quite a jump from the eight percent reported in 2002.

So, while we’re busy bonding with our inboxes, we’re neglecting that human-nature connection we innately crave. Because it’s those elements — fresh air, lush greenery, natural lighting — that re-energize us, increase our productivity and improve our wellbeing. (Read: Restoration Office) It’s no wonder why many organizations are embracing biophilic design, a method that brings the outdoors in.

Here are four ways to weave this approach into the workplace.

1. Explore Nature-Inspired Materials

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace001-resized

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace002

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace003-resized

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace004-resized

Today’s workplaces are embracing the authenticity employees are seeking by incorporating materials inspired by nature. Wood, for example, embraces the natural imperfections, enhancing the uniqueness, beauty and character of every piece. Materials such as laminate offer the appearance and warmth of wood, while stone and Corian can bring in nods to natural landscapes.

Nature-Inspired Solutions: Reimaging Your Workplace

Mackinac helps people move, think and feel better, supporting the ways leaders and their teams work throughout the day. Available in a wide range of material options, inlcuding Corian and wood veneer (pictured here). Request Your Wood Solutions Lookbook.

2. Greenery, Reimagined

The calming effects of plants have been proven to reduce employee stress and anxiety. Living walls are modular, flexible and scalable, and design options are endless. Sagegreenlife, a Coalesse partner, helps companies create that “oooh” moment in the office that inspires people while bringing them closer to nature in a completely new way.

3. It’s In the Fabric

It's In the Fabric


A more subtle way to incorporate biophilic design is in the fabrics you choose for your space. Steelcase brands Coalesse and Designtex partnered to create a series of organic patterns, calming colors and natural textiles that reflect nature’s soothing properties.

4. Lighten Up

Lighten Up

While we all crave natural light, not every office comes with windows. Steelcase has partnered with renowned Italian lighting designer FLOS to offer a line of unique, modern lighting solutions. Featuring pendants, scones, table and floor lamps, each piece combines beauty and technology with a sense of play to transform any office.


Discover new wood solutions to make the places we work more like the places we love to be.

Request Your Copy

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Creating In and Outside the Box http://blog.hbi-inc.com/creating-in-and-outside-the-box/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/creating-in-and-outside-the-box/#comments Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:00:58 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19366 Continue reading ]]> Creating In and Outside the Box

HOK designers get creative, get messy and design their own IRYS Pods

Creating In and Outside the Box

With creativity front and center in the work people are doing everyday, spaces that optimize the creative output of teams and individuals are increasingly important. The creative processisn’t limited to large group brainstorms and open plan collaboration — having access to spaces for focus to work or smaller, uninterrupted conversations is just as crucial to unleashing a team’s full creative potential. As workers’ varying needs shift throughout the creative process, an ecosystem of spaces is necessary to support their needs. To address this issue, Steelcase partnered with Microsoft to develop Creative Spaces, an immersive collection of spaces that thoughtfully integrates place and technology to fuel creativity.

In a friendly competition at design and architecture firm HOK, designers explored how creativity applied in the workplace with fresh and inspiring applications connecting Creative Spaces and IRYS Pod, a freestanding enclosed solution for today’ workplace.

For designers at HOK, the task was simple. Teams were asked to uniquely design their own IRYS Pod to function as one of the five Creative Spaces originally developed by Steelcase and Microsoft. These spaces were designed to support the different steps in the creative process including focus, ideation, small group collaboration, experimentation and respite. The entries showcased the range of spaces essential to the creative process, as well as the ability of IRYS Pod to meet workers’ diverse needs for collaboration, privacy, focus and regeneration.

Designers were given two weeks to design their application — a nod to IRYS Pod’s lead time. Their personalized submissions were evaluated on presentation, application of Steelcase and Microsoft research around Creative Spaces, self-expression and creativity. A team of designers from Dallas took first place with their flexible workspace, designed to allow the environment to be easily reconfigured. One judge commended the winners for the versatility of their design, saying, “It was great to show IRYS Pod morph to support varied activities required by different roles.”

Whether collaborating, getting into flow or taking a moment of respite after a long morning, the following HOK Design Competition entries suggest a solution can often be found in IRYS Pod.

One Size Fits All

One Size Fits All


This flexible design utilizes the IRYS pod as a diverse ecosystem to implement the creative ebb and flow of the individual and the team. It transforms seamlessly to welcome different members of the team and their different spatial needs throughout the day. The team drew graphic color inspiration from a collection of Andy Warhol polaroids, among other things, and their overall solution was based on a real life client. “Each of the leaders needed something very different from the space and we thought it presented a fun creative challeng for the IRYS Pod competition,” says HOK Designer Rachel Rouse.

Restore Pod

Restore Pod

This space, modeled after a Respite Room, provides an indoor park=like setting to help people refresh and refocus on the tasks at hand. Outside the “Restore Pod” is the front porch, a small collaborative area for one-on-one conversations or a quick catch up. “The design was based on the need we see for private, restorative spaces in today’s workplace,” says Mary Kate Cassidy, HOK designer. “When the work day gets hectic, this concept for the IRYS Pod provides a calming retreat to nature. The organic and playful finishes of the “Restore Pod” help employees reset their intentions for the day and refocus on the tasks at hand.”

For the Creative

For the Creative

Designed to boost creativity through the use of furniture, materiality and technology, this IRYS Pod encourages the sharing and exploration of ideas. HOK Designer Kloe Katubig incorporated the Microsoft Surface Studio to help people generate new ideas along with vertical real estate to keep inspiring artifacts and sketches nearby. The use of IRYS Pod brings privacy to the open plan, allowing for a Focus Studio to be adjacent to a space for collaboration.

Explore photos and information about each of the Creative Spaces developed by Steelcase and Microsoft. Plus, discover how IRYS Pod meets the diverse needs of workers today.

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Office Agriculture: A New Employee Wellbeing Concept http://blog.hbi-inc.com/office-agriculture-a-new-employee-wellbeing-concept/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/office-agriculture-a-new-employee-wellbeing-concept/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2018 13:00:56 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19348 Continue reading ]]> Office Agriculture-A New Employee Wellbeing Concept

A start-up is encouraging companies to create an easy way for people at work to grow their own food.

As people work longer hours and in more intense ways, many organizations are seeking to support employee wellbeing in the office. It’s no secret that food can reenergize people and increase social connections. But, in the Strasbourg area of France, a start-up company called myfood is encouraging companies to go a step further.

Myfood is creating an easy way for people at work to grow their own food. They call this concept “office agriculture.” It not only aims to improve the quality of what people eat, but also adds a place for people to connect with nature and with one another. 360 spoke with Matthieu Urban, partner and co-founder of myfood, about this new idea.

360: Why are you drawn to the mission of reconnecting people with food?

Matthieu Urban: Across the world, citizens are worried about the consequences of industrial agriculture: soil depletion, loss of biodiversity, transportation, excessive pollution, pollinator decline, food waste, GMOs, tasteless food, low nutritional value, food security and more. By the year 2050, the percentage of people living in urban areas is expected to increase to nearly 70 percent. The time has come to find solutions to avoid a future food blackout. We need to find new methods to keep food production closer to home. Permaculture, sustainable and self-sufficient agriculture ecosystems, and soilless farming having emerged as possible solutions.

The team at myfood believes every individual in both urban and suburban areas should be able to produce his or her own food locally. Unoccupied urban zones or buildings, rooftops and offices are now turning into growing spaces thanks to new urban agricultural growing techniques. We may never meet the demand, but the gap is being reduced and we are bringing people closer to nature.

360: How does this connect to the workplace?

MU: According to Terrapin Bright Green, 10 percent of absenteeism can be attributed to the fact that employees are disconnected from nature. There is a what we call a big “green disconnect.” People in cities and offices have fewer interactions with nature and almost none with food production. With an urban garden in the workplace, we’ve found people come to work less stressed and with more joy. We believe this can result in improved productivity in the workplace.

Horticulture therapy is a process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirit of those people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Horticultural therapy is currently being used in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, disability services, skilled nursing facilities and a range of community settings including people’s homes and community gardens. One main factor is that amongst the five senses, touch is the one that has the strongest ability to reconnect people to the present moment. When gardening, you become fully connected to the present moment, thus cutting off negative thoughts.

360: Where is this idea of “office agriculture” being introduced?

MU: Disruptive initiatives toward urban agriculture in the office are not emerging from small green startups, but from global organizations like Google, Microsoft, Ebay and Paypal. These tech companies are illuminating the path to some of the best methods that bridge urban agriculture with corporate social responsibility. Let me share a few examples:

During the annual Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) summit in Amsterdam, myfood researchers met with the director of urban farming at the Compass Group. The Compass Group contracts with Microsoft to manage its farming projects. They shared insight into the quiet, green revolution growing in the middle of Microsoft’s Café 34. Under plasma lights, lettuce thrives in hydroponic towers. Meanwhile, microgreens are cultivated in a cooler behind the organic salad bar. In Microsoft’s urban farming experiment, microgreens are used as a topping on pizzas and other dishes served at the café. They’re also often the finishing touches to entrees served in the adjacent restaurant.

Microsoft is not alone. Google’s campus includes many gardens, and their Farm to Table program looks for ways to educate people about the food industry. One highlight is a shipping container at the Googleplex called the Leafy Green Machine. And, at eBay’s corporate headquarters in San Jose, California, employees can take a break from their computer screens and get their hands dirty by working at the campus vegetable garden. The program started in 2013 as an initiative of the local eBay Green Team, a group of eBay employees committed to making their worldwide operations, campuses, and communities more sustainable. The Green Team partnered with StartOrganic, a Bay-educational programming for employees.

360: This movement goes beyond organizations too. Tell us about how some governments are getting involved?

MU: Beginning in 2016, the city of Paris kicked off a major initiative  called “ParisCulteurs” with the objective to connect urban agriculture projects with available rooftops. Twenty-five companies and agencies such as RIVP, the public housing agency of the Paris region, soon volunteered to participate in the project. They offered their unused rooftop space to welcome sustainable initiatives, biodiversity and involve their employees in gardening. We should soon see productive greenhouses topping the architecture of the French capital. Myfood has recently installed greenhouses for restaurants, hotels, schools and retirement homes in addition to companies.

360: How do you work with companies to get people closer to producing their own food while at work?

MU: We want to make food easy to grow. We also know people want fresh, organic, nutritious food that tastes good. We’re able to do that by helping companies install freestanding vertical gardens and smart greenhouses. We believe in clean, local and environmentally friendly agriculture, food accessibility for all, reconnecting with nature and improving wellbeing. Myfood makes it simple for organizations to achieve food autonomy in a small footprint.

For more information about myfood visit their website.

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Building the Classroom of the Future http://blog.hbi-inc.com/building-the-classroom-of-the-future/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/building-the-classroom-of-the-future/#comments Thu, 01 Nov 2018 12:00:56 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19312 Continue reading ]]> Building the Classroom of the Future

How one university is using Steelcase Education classrooms to prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

21st-century skills — adaptability, empathy, global awareness, creativity, innovation — they’re the skills employers are looking for, and the one’s students at the Munich cultivate and grow. Located in the city-center, UAS is the largest university of its kind in Bavaria with almost 18,000 students and one of the largest in Germany. With more companies on the German Stock Exchange headquartered in Munich than any other German city, UAS exists in a business ecosystem that is rip with entrepreneurship from startups to international powerhouses. With a strong connection to industry, the school’s curriculum integrates practical, hands-on work experience into the student education journey, living the belief that knowledge is gained through active participation in the classroom versus the traditional lecture-based passive role that university students play.

This behavior shift from passive student to active learner is what Dr. Klaus Kreulich, Vice President of UAS, is trying to accomplish with the Classroom of the Future program, a transdisciplinary project that deals with the impact of physical space on the quality of teaching and student learning. The program is an element of a major project the university won called Fit for the Future provided by the federal and statewide ministries of education to develop quality learning and teaching programs. “The main idea was that all throughout the university should be classrooms which allow developing soft skills. And which in the second step, should be equipped with digital technology,” says Kreulich.

Building the Classroom of the Future001


Soft skills are an emphasis for Kreulich, as they are one in the same as the 21st-century skills so often discussed. “The university and I are convinced that soft skills are very important in the future, more important than 30 years ago,” he says. Kreulich divides soft skills into three main dimensions — entrepreneurship, sustainability and interculturality — and knew the traditional learning environments and teaching methods at UAS needed to change to foster them. “To develop competencies in these interdisciplinary fields, of course, we need special learning methods, special concepts, and special learning environments, classrooms which allow us to build skills in these fields.”

Professor Peter Duerr, chair of knowledge and communication management, is another key change agent for updated educated environments at UAS. He knew from the moment he arrived that the classrooms would need to change if students were to thrive. “When I started 10 years ago at the university, I was absolutely depressed by the environments that we were performing our teaching tasks in. So little has changed in education environments, what happens in the average classroom is the same as it was in the middle ages.”

Movement Shifts Mindsets

Movement Shifts Mindsets

After experiencing success working with Steelcase Education to create the Steelcase Creative Hall in the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, UAS knew Steelcase was the right partner to develop ideas for innovative education spaces. The university formed a cross-functional group of professors, facility managers, information technology professionals and experts in education space design from Steelcase Education to evaluate needs and goals. The result — move forward creating three new classrooms, changing spaces in traditional departments like mechanical engineering. “Before with the blackboard, the goal was to tell as much as possible in our hour. But now, based on this new room, more and more of the mechanical engineering professors want to try new teaching methods. I’m very sure that we will, step by step, develop more creativity within our mechanical engineering students and that’s great.”

It’s the movement and flexibility of the Steelcase Education furniture that creates the right environment for UAS. “In one room we used the Node chair, which is one of the popular elements and did something very simple,” describes Duerr. “We created two fronts. We have a digital front, which is the beamer projection front, and we have an analog front which is where we write on the wall. You can only realize these new kinds of setups if you have the furniture that allows you to turn and change your focus. That is the physical realm, changing the perspective for me is equivalent to the mental realm, the cognitive realm.”

Movement Shifts Mindsets001

As students shift their chairs and tables, they simultaneously shift their mindsets. “To have flexibility in a classroom, which gives the teacher the chance to act more as a coach than as a teacher is a big thing from my perspective,” says Kreulich. “That means that students work together, talk together. They are activated. They leave their role as listeners and change to active people.” Duerr echoes Kreulich, saying the biggest change in students in the new classrooms is that they, “become creators and not consumers. It’s that simple.”

Collaborate to Innovate

Collaborate to Innovate

Collaboration sounds simple, but traditional classroom setups with the teacher at the front talking for an hour while students sit in chairs that only face forward hinder the ability for students to engage. “If you have a room where the chairs and the tables are fixed to the ground, and you ask the students, “Talk to your neighbor,” and they cannot move, they will do it for a few minutes, but after five or 10 minutes, everybody is working by themselves,” says Kreulich. By swapping fixed furniture for Steelcase Education solutions, UAS influenced both the students and professors to change bad habits. Students no longer walk in and expect the professors to do all the work during the lecture and professors don’t see the classrooms as a place to preach what they know, but a place to engage students in the material through movement, interaction and collaboration.

Kreulich identifies collaboration as the most important aspect of creativity, critical to the key soft skill of entrepreneurship. “The most important thing to build up creativity is to solve problems together with other people. That means, we have to offer learning situations in which students can work through problems, and people with different kinds of knowledge can come together.” Movement again is what UAS identifies as a catalyst for the entire classroom, sparking ideas and opening up new avenues for conversation. “There’s a completely different kind of conversation that happens if you don’t stay in in one place, but move around, walk around,” says Duerr. “Having different people lead the conversation, changes the dynamics of the conversation. Movement is essential because it’s the only thing that brings the students out of this passive role of consuming input.”

When it comes to sustainable entrepreneurship, creativity is vital to innovation — another crucial skill students need says Kreulich. “After finding an idea, it is important to bring this idea into life. Students need to reflect where it could be used and who can profit from it and that means innovative thinking.” Experience innovating is where UAS’ close ties to industry leaders comes in, providing a differentiating factor for students. “To develop innovative thinking, we bring students in contact with companies. We ask the companies to get into a discussion, figure out new methods of problem-solving and how the students’ ideas could be used in the company. So, design thinking, for example, is a very important method.”

The Future of Education

The Future of Education

To get professors on board with the new classrooms was no easy for Kreulich. “There were a lot of skeptics. It was more a favor for me to try it from the perspective of the department, but later on, when someone from Steelcase Education came to Munich to open the room, they introduced and explained all the things the professors could do in the room, that was a great starting point,” explains Kreulich. Duerr says today the redesigned rooms are the ones in highest demand by professors experimenting with innovative teaching formats.

UAS sees more changes for their university and education in general as the future of learning continues to evolve. “The whole idea of space will be more permeable, inside and outside, public and private space will be much more interlinked. There will be no strict distinction between formal and informal learning,” says Duerr. “You could even claim the university that we know today will disappear. This whole concept that education has to take place in a separate facility could be outdated. Then, maybe what the university is today, will be a different kind of place. It will be one of encouraging specific kinds of interaction that is more similar to the old Greek agora than to the church schools of the middle ages.”

Kreulich also underscores the idea that learning will move beyond university walls and the nature of the university itself will change. “Learning will accrue at every place, at every time, it will not stop at the moment when you leave the university. Knowledge is everywhere. A lot of people think this will end up in a situation where everybody is learning by himself, but I’m absolutely convinced that one important part of learning is the social environment,” he says.”

It’s this continuous learning and thirst for education that UAS hopes to ignite in their students. “Every time I see learning situations in the Steelcase Education room, my perception is that students are move motivated, enthusiastic.” With Steelcase Education classrooms UAS is getting students excited about learning and instilling the skills of collaboration, creativity and innovation which they will continue to hone throughout their lives.

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The Secret to a Happy Workplace: Ron Friedman Q+A http://blog.hbi-inc.com/the-secret-to-a-happy-workplace-ron-friedman-qa/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/the-secret-to-a-happy-workplace-ron-friedman-qa/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:56:40 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19279 Continue reading ]]> The Secret to a Happy Workplace-Ron Fiedman Q+A
There’s a strong business case for creating a great workplace and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

“The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”

DR. RON FRIEDMAN | Author, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace

Dr. Ron Friedman is an award-winning social psychologist, author and leader of ignite80, an organization dedicated to helping leaders improve employee engagement in their creative spaces, Friedman’s book, The Best Place to Work, turns thousands of academic studies into practical tips anyone can use to transform their office into a happy workplace. He sate down with 360 to share what works and what doesn’t when it comes to offering people a great place to work.

360: What’s the connection between a great employee experience and the success of a business?

Ron Friedman: There’s a business case to be made for building great workplaces. Research shows when people like their jobs they’re more creative and more productive. They invest more of themselves and find the work more interesting so they get more done. You have better customer service when people are happier at their jobs. That tends to improve their customer’s experience which leads them to spend more and be more loyal. You also get lower turnover and fewer sick calls. There has never been a more important time for companies to be aware of the benefits of creating a great workplace that helps translate to greater profitability.

360: What is the number one myth when it comes to creating a great employee experience?

RF: The biggest myth is that it costs a lot of money. There’s been this trend by a lot of companies you recognize to invest in outlandish extravagances like swimming pools, volleyball courts and 30 restaurants and cafés. They get the impression that to be successful they’re going to have to build an all-inclusive resort. Nothing could be further from the truth. At the core of a great workplace experience is the satisfaction of basic, human, psychological needs. You can satisfy those in a way that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

360: What are some of the mistakes you see leaders make when they try to improve their teams’ experience?

RF: There are a lot of mistakes and they’re all well-intentioned. The most common ones are people thinking in order to motivate, they need to pay people a lot more. So, they implement all kinds of bonus structures that are, in fact, so motivating they work better than we anticipate. When you give people an outcome you’re looking for and put money behind it, they’re going to do everything they can to reach that goal even if it means bending rules or doing things that may not be in the organization’s best interest.

Another mistake can be rewards. You often see companies name ‘Employees of the Month’. Those tend to backfire because it turns recognition into a competition. And, even if you do win, the chances of you winning again next month are slim to none. Another thing I see is that often new managers make the mistake of rewarding an employee who’s done something well with additional time off. That sends a signal that work is punishment. A far better approach is actually to reward people with additional responsibilities because that motivates people to want to do more, enhances their competence and gives them more control over their work.

360: What keeps people engaged at work?

RF: One motivator is our basic human need for competence and it’s not simply doing a good job. It’s also having the sense of growth as your role in the organization grows. If you can make people feel like they’re growing their skills over the years, they’ll be more engaged and more invested in the work they do. That doesn’t require more money or a bonus. It doesn’t require having a swimming pool. People just want to get the sense that they are doing a good job and growing their skills.

360: What prevents organizations from doing a good job motivating people?

RF: In many cases, managers and leaders have the goal of doing their job well. That often involves getting new clients, delivering presentations or speaking to the press. They don’t have time to worry about whether every single person in their organization is feeling sufficiently motivated every single day. It’s really critical to have practices in place that automate this. And, when I say automate, I don’t mean having a computer program run something. I mean having it happen without you as a leader having to worry about it.

360: Can you give us examples that do work?

RF: Simple ideas don’t have to cost a ton of money and can lead people to experience growth on the job on a regular basis. One idea is to provide every employee with a reading budget. Imagine if once a quarter you could buy a book that is relevant to your job. It’s when we’re exposed to new ideas and fresh perspectives that we feel our competence grow. When we’re able to apply that to the work that we do at the office, we feel like our skills are growing. It’s such a simple and basic thing and yet so few organizations actually do it.

Another idea is to start a “You Don’t Have to Read the Book, Book Club.” One person is charged with reading the book and sharing concepts from the book. Then, you can have a discussion over what ideas resonate. It opens it up for conversations in a way that’s not threatening. And, if everyone reads one book a year, you’re not asking too much from anybody, yet everyone is still learning. If every employee comes up with one good idea per year as a function of having purchased books, the program pays for itself.

360: Beyond continuous learning, what other benefits do you see as motivators?

RF: Radio Flyer has done something that’s interesting. They provide mileage reimbursement to people who ride their bikes to and from work. It’s not just for people who drive their car for business. Now, if you’re exercising with a bike, you can log your mileage and receive a financial incentive for having exercised at work. And, we know there’s so much research showing that exercise is not just something that lowers our weight, or makes us look or feel good, it actually improves our mental acuity at work.

Another example is this growing number of companies that reward people for not working around the clock. Rand Corporation in California figured out a financial formula so that people get a set number of vacation days and when they’re on vacation, they actually get paid time-and-a-half. It’s a very clever approach to getting people to actually use their vacation because as we know a striking number of Americans do not. And, we know restocking our mental energy enables us to perform at a much higher level.

360: How do you encourage organizations to put permissions in place that let people take advantage of these benefits?

RF: There’s no greater granting of permission than modeling the right behaviors. It doesn’t matter what’s in your handbook. What matters is what the people at the top are doing. We often have companies bring in all of these athletic facilities that nobody uses because it’s perceived as wasting time during work hours. What we should be doing is having leaders take walking meetings. If you do that, then it encourages other people to move during the day and movement improves their stamina, mood and energy.

In the second part of our conversation “How is Our Work Experience Changing,” Friedman tells us what’s changed since his book was published four years ago and what remains at the core of a great workplace experience.

Dr. Ron Friedman is an award-winning social psychologist who specializes in human motivation and top performance. He’s the author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace. And, leader of ignite80 — an organization dedicated to improving employee engagement by giving leaders and their teams science-based practices for enriching engagement and improving everyone’s experience at work.


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Drawing Elements of Home to Create Happiness at Work http://blog.hbi-inc.com/drawing-elements-of-home-to-create-happiness-at-work/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/drawing-elements-of-home-to-create-happiness-at-work/#comments Mon, 01 Oct 2018 12:00:59 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19255 Continue reading ]]> Happiness at Work-Lessons from HomeShared experiences help create the sense of belonging we need together whether we’re at home or at work.

By Dr. Tracy Brower, PhD., MM, MCR

Happiness at Work: Lessons from Home

Thanks to technology and mobility, our work has come home with us.

So it’s only fair that home should come to work, right?

It would seem logical that if people sit in front of a TV on the sofa at home while they work remotely, employees would be thrilled to have a similar set up within their office. However, in the workplaces where we’ve seen companies install couches and big screen TVs, those work spaces are almost never used by employees. Those companies missed the bigger picture. Home is as much an emotional experience as a physical one. It’s more than just about comfy seating or watching the game.

Work isn’t where you go; it’s what you do. Home is similar. Yes, it is a place you go, but more than that, it’s an experience you have. Similarly, the best workplaces create memories, capture events and tell stories. In the classic Management by Storying Around, David Armstrong advocates for more storytelling by leaders who want to cement experiences, communicate values, and reinforce membership in the organization. Shared experiences help create the sense of belonging we need whether we’re at home, or yes, at work.

Family sociologists like to invoke the Anna Karenina rule, named for the opening line in the Leo Tolstoy book: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Not all home life is happy, but there are some shared principles that work really well when we take them to work. Belonging, trust, and safety make the list, but there are more to these.


Clearing the Table

At home, we have a role to play. The best home experiences aren’t where we get to do whatever we want, but where we’re counted on for specific tasks and contributions. In our home, for example, our son and daughter alternated clearing and wiping the table after dinner each night. While they detested the chore and would argue about whose turn it was (and still do), deep down they knew they were important to the household and had a contribution to make. Work is like this too. In an effective workplace, we each have a role to play and having meaningful work gives us purpose. When we’re valued for what we do, recognized for it and held accountable, we see how our contribution matters to the business.

No Dirty Socks

I’ve always thought if we’re not driving our kids crazy, we’re probably not doing our jobs as parents. We ensure they rinse their cereal bowl before putting it in the dishwasher and don’t allow them to leave their dirty socks laying around. The best home life allows us to truly relax and just be ourselves, but it also holds us accountable. Work should be like this too. A culture is defined by the worst behavior it is willing to tolerate, and a workplace where we’re held accountable for what we do and how we do it is one where performance and people get the payoff.

We once worked with a client who believed there were brilliant ‘people-to-people’ – those good at building trust and teams, and there were brilliant technicians with pedigree and stellar resumes — who also happened to be jerks. The brilliant technicians weren’t held accountable for how they approached other people. The environment quickly turned toxic. As they built their way to a more constructive culture, it was important that all employees were held accountable for how they treated others and how they achieved results. No one was allowed to leave their dirty socks around for others to pick up.

Teenagers and Toddlers

They say the times where home happiness declines are during the toddler and teenage years. That’s because these are the years children test limits and push boundaries most significantly. While challenging, these are also the times when humans are growing most into themselves, finding their voices, and exercising autonomy. These are the things that make for healthy adults – and as it turns out, healthy workplaces.


Putting home into work involves giving people more choice and control. In Steelcase’s global study on engagement (Engagement and the Global Workplace), we found highly engaged people also tended to have more choice and control in their work experiences. Workplaces that offer choice in where people work, when they work, and how they work (what they work on) have the right idea. They are places where people get to be grown-ups and make meaningful contributions.

Being Appreciated in Spite of it All

Perhaps most of all, at home we’re able to just be ourselves. It’s a place where people know us well, and beyond liking us because they know us, they like us in spite of what they know about us – warts and all. The best workplaces are like this too. Employees at one company we worked with said they felt like they had to ‘put on their armor’ when they walked in the door. This is antithetical to a great experience. Creating the emotional experience of home at work means people feel safe to truly be themselves and they can trust others to hold them in positive regard.

Our daughter’s university rowing coach likes to say to her perfectionist crew, ‘You will never be perfect, you will have to settle for being excellent.’ This is the idea. Work doesn’t allow us to be complacent. It spurs us to be better and to stretch and develop. When we bring home to work, we are able to bring our best selves and our fullest selves to work. In turn, the workplace brings out our best and pushes us to be better.

At the end of the day, home is a place where we have an attachment. It’s our territory and our cocoon. It’s a place where we care about the people and the circumstances. This is the best of the work experience, too. Just like the Anna Karenina rule, great workplaces have similar characteristics. At its best, the workplace engages us, pulls us in, and requires our passion. Slacking isn’t fulfilling, but being challenged to exercise our skills and talents is. This is the best of bringing home to work: a workplace that creates conditions for us to be our best, alongside colleagues whom we value and who value us.

Dr. Tracy Brower is a sociologist focused on work, workers, and workplace. She is a Principal with the Applied Research + Consulting group at Steelcase and the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations (2014). Tracy contributes as a board member with the IFMA Research & Benchmarking Institute as well as an executive advisor for Coda Societies and for Michigan State University’s Graduate Mathematics Program.

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Coaching Students for the 21st-Century http://blog.hbi-inc.com/coaching-students-for-the-21st-century/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/coaching-students-for-the-21st-century/#comments Mon, 17 Sep 2018 12:00:10 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19204 Continue reading ]]> Coaching Students for the 21st-Century

The Institut International de Lancy and Steelcase Education join forces to break the traditional classroom mold.

Settled in the international hub of Geneva, Switzerland, the Institut International de Lancy (IIL) is a school at the forefront of change. With students who represent over 90 nationalities and span from 3-18 years old, 80 percent of whom are bilingual, IIL brings a new meaning to the term diversity. Beginning as a small French-Catholic school, the school has transformed its curriculum, campus and philosophy to become a thought-leader when it comes to the future of education.

“The traditional lecture-style classroom with a blackboard and the teacher up front leaves little room for creativity. Creativity needs space and mobility such as you might find in a start-up modern office building,” says Norbert Foerster, General Director of IIL. As a trained child psychologist, Foerster has had a successful tenure promoting this bold vision for IIL. He implemented the school’s English international section, advocated for technology to be woven into IIL’s DNA and pushed for the necessary evolution of the campus to teach 21st-century skills such as creativity.

Breaking the Mold

Breaking the Mold

“We wanted to move away from the traditional classroom set-up,” notes Foerster. When initiating change he and his staff comprehensively researched potential partners. The school realized that to prepare the students of today for the workforce of tomorrow, the classrooms needed to be redesigned. “That’s where Steelcase came in,” says Adrian Hirst, a robotics and coding teacher at IIL. “The kind of furniture and the design of the spaces to which our students now have access to in the Steelcase classrooms are well adapted to the types of task they are asked to carry out, these being independent, student-driven, student-centric challenges.”

Breaking the Mold001

These challenges are steered by the school’s desire to mirror life off campus and to encourage students to practice skills like collaboration, critical thinking and digital citizenship, which is hard to do in the traditional learning environment. “In a traditional classroom with traditional furniture, unfortunately, it’s very difficult to break out of the mold of a traditional teaching style,” describe Hirst. “We’re moving further away from a traditional school setup and into a realistic, collaborative and productive environment where students are working toward goals which are relevant to them in the real world.”

A Fluid Learning Experience

A Fluid Learning Experience

A Fluid Learning Experience001

A significant influence at IIL is the permanence of technology. IIL was the first Apple Distinguished School in Switzerland and implemented the first one-to-one iPad program in the country. Each student has their own mobile device and technology is fused into the way lessons are structured. Hirst says integrating technology is vital to IIL’s success because “as a school, we are obviously expected to prepare our students for the real world. If we are not reflecting that, we are left behind. That’s why we made these decisions as regards to furniture and the way the spaces were designed. They allow students to perform in a completely different way.”

A Fluid Learning Experience002

The integration of technology at IIL, coupled with a variety of spaces to study, meet and collaborate outside of the classroom, is what makes the entire campus and immersive learning experience. Students are encouraged to use the diverse mix of spaces and choose a place between classes and during breaks that best suits their needs. Learning is fluid, emulating the real world at Hirst describes. With mobile devices, mobile furniture and the choice and control students have to explore an ecosystem of spaces, ILL fosters teaching and learning beyond the formal learning environment.

This emphasis on a dynamic and flexible environment is critical to the classrooms’ updated design. The Steelcase Education Node chairs, now used in many IIL classrooms, were a deciding factor for IIL. The chair’s mobility and personal worksurface allow teachers to practice an active learning pedagogy where technology seamlessly blends in. Teachers take on the role of a coach with their students, which is central to IIL’s philosophy towards education, by guiding them towards autonomy and allowing them to manage their devices.

A Fluid Learning Experience003

A Fluid Learning Experience004

Caroline Duret, a teacher at IIL, describes the Steelcase Education classrooms as the third teacher, a theory that emphasizes the major role space plays in any learning environment. “Here learners do not turn their backs on each other. They can talk and communicate as they wish. The classroom is also decentralized, the teacher is among the students,” which Duret notes is how she often teaches, sitting side-by-side with her students in a Node chair. Another highlight for Duret is the rhythm of learning that the classroom fosters, which she says keeps students engaged. “This rhythm of learning is very important; students are more active, they get less bored, they get up and move. When I see smiling students who are happy at school, they don’t need to tell me they enjoy learning, their body language speaks for them.”

A Fluid Learning Experience005

An Organic Evolution

A clear sign of success that the classrooms are effective is the reaction staff get from students. “Students are completely at ease and have adopted the classroom as their own,” remarks Foerster. Instead of rushing out to leave school, he says that students are specifically asking if they can stay and continue working well after normal school hours. Hirst seconds Foerster, agreeing that students use the classrooms in ways they didn’t predict. “This is a great sign that things have worked and will continue to evolve almost by themselves in a very organic way.”

As early adopters of technology in the education environment, IIL believes it will play a significant role in the future of education, a future where learning is more personalized and teachers coach students to discover and acquire new skills and knowledge for themselves. The future is impossible to predict, but Hirst knows change takes an open mindset and that’s what the school is creating in their own revolution. As he says, “Education needs to change. We’ve been doing our best to follow the evolution of education but has been said many times before; we don’t need an evolution, we need a revolution.”

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Headquarters Invigorates a Company’s Culture and Image http://blog.hbi-inc.com/headquarters-invigorates-a-companys-culture-and-image/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/headquarters-invigorates-a-companys-culture-and-image/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2018 13:01:47 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19168 Continue reading ]]> Headquarters Invigorates a Company's Culture and Image

Growing a business is essential to success. But as a company expands, other aspects of the organization may lack for attention. Communication and collaboration decline when silos form in the organization. The company’s culture and brand can suffer, too.

Company Culture and Image

As GeoBlue grew from start-up to a major player in the insurance industry, organizational issues began to emerge. “We had four different offices in three different buildings, and we ended up with the little mini-cultures” says Andrew Conn, GeoBlue COO.

“We needed to get all four hundred of our employees back together, not only for efficiency, but to make sure everybody got the benefit of the same company culture. Plus, we needed to be able to handle future growth.”

In a company of this scale, people have varied roles. GeoBlue claims processors are focused on heads down work. Other workers spend the day on the phone, taking calls from customers all over the world. Salespeople are mobile, meeting with companies by phone or in person, and making presentations. Meyer Architecture + Interiors understood GeoBlue’s new workplace had to support a wide variety of work and workstyles and to communicate the company’s organizational culture. “We designed in the new building to create connection points for people, to make it easy for them to meet, work together and continually feel a part of the larger organization,” says Deb Breslow, principal at Meyer.

A New Way of Working

A New Way of Working

Answer systems furniture 120º workstations support task work, collegial collaboration, seated privacy, and more.


Employee workstations in an open plan are a foundational element. Built with Answer systems furniture, the 120-degree workstations “are not like traditional rows of workstations or cubes; they are more dynamic, and it’s surprising how much workspace you have in the configuration,” says Laura Price, Meyer furniture and resource manager.

“People were concerned initially about having such an open workplace, but once they moved in they realized that they do have a level of privacy. We also have small rooms and enclaves where you can go for a private call, or just work closely with someone. Sometimes people work in one of the collaborative spaces because they just want to work in a different location,” says Lynn Pina, GeoBlue’s chief marketing officer.

media-scape collaborative setting001

Dozens of collaborative and private work areas are integrated into GeoBlue’s workplace. This media:scape collaborative setting, with dual monitors and a standard-height table, encourage active engagement between coworkers and content.


media-scape collaborative setting002

media:scape Lounge brings GeoBlue staff together to collaborate. “People marvel at how easy it is to connect,” says Lynn Pina. “They were kind of shocked. ‘Okay, I just plug this in and press this button, and it appears on the screen.’ People love it.”


Throughout the 110,000 square foot workplace, GeoBlue staffers have access to dozens of shared spaces: enclosed conference rooms, collaborative settings equipped with media:scape technology that integrates technology and furniture to bring people, space and information together for a greater collaborative work environment, lounge spaces, pantries with tables and stools, phone rooms, and various open and enclosed spaces for groups of two or six people. “Having so many options where people can work together is important to encourage a collaborative culture,” says Jessica Nixon, Meyer senior interior designer.

Helping People Move, Think and Feel Better

Helping People Move, Think and Feel Better

Booths for dining, meeting or relaxing, built with Regard module lounge furniture. The café connects to a training room via movable walls so GeoBlue can hold quarterly all hands meetings and other events.


GeoBlue’s headquarters reinforces the company’s focus on health and wellbeing with a fitness center, catered lunches in the café, and various spaces for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Greenery throughout the space contributes to a healthier environment. Daylight bathes the open plan thanks to exterior glazing and glass fronts on private offices on the perimeter. Employees are encouraged to move and use spaces that offer seated, reclined and standing work postures. Together with a design that encourages interaction, collaboration and teamwork, this is a workplace that reflects one of GeoBlue’s core beliefs: “An enjoyable company culture is central to delivering positive employee experiences.”

Environmental branding tells the GeoBlue story though wayfinding, graphics, color choice and meeting spaces. Large conference rooms are named after the cities around the world where GeoBlue does business. “We have a story to tell about our brand,” says Pina. “This workplace is a great representation of our company, what we believe in, how we work.”

Side-by-Side Collaboration

Collaborative and individuals work, side by side: a conference room with cobi seating, Brody WorkLounges with adjustable worksurfaces and ergonomic seating.


COO Andrew Conn says the company’s new workplace has become an effective marketing tool for GeoBlue. Prospective employees are wowed during building tours. Customers are equally impressed. “We work on a business-to-business basis and it’s a very competitive market. We had a final presentation for a large company and we brought the prospective customer into our new space. We wouldn’t have done that before. This workplace helped us show how we’re a credible contender for a new business project.

Collaborative Environment

An essential element of a highly collaborative environment, informal spaces are used for discussion, relaxation, or just as a change-of-pace place to work.


“Our new space allows us to present ourselves in a very specific and professional way, a way that’s unique, and that demonstrates who we are as an organization.”


Design: Meyer Architecture + Interiors

Steelcase Dealer: A. Pomerantz & Co.

Steelcase Inc. Products:

Answer systems furniture
Elective Elements
media:scape collaborative settings
cobi, Jenny, Scoop and Think seating
Brody Worklounge
Regard modular lounge system
Akira height-adjustable tables
Campfire Paper Tables
Slatwall worktools
FYI monitor arms

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