HBI Inc. :: Blog http://blog.hbi-inc.com Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:30:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 Staying Connected at Work: 1900s to Now http://blog.hbi-inc.com/staying-connected-at-work-1900s-to-now/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/staying-connected-at-work-1900s-to-now/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:30:46 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=17058 Continue reading ]]>

Staying Connected at Work

Since the world’s first skyscraper went up in Chicago in 1885, people have converged to work together for a common goal. Companies and how people work together have changed dramatically since then and, in recent years, these changes have come fast and furious.

Phones, dictation machines, personal computers — over time, the ways people stay connected to get work done has evolved in parallel with the cost, size and distribution of technology. The workplace has also adapted to accommodate communication tools as they became more prevalent and bigger and, then again, as they shrank in size.

Archive photos reveal how designers have created work environments since the first high rise to bring people, place and technology to help people work better. And, now, for the first time, Microsoft and Steelcase are coming together to develop new spaces designed to unlock creativity at work.


1900-1950: Limited Technology

In the early 1900s as organizations grew, more and more people began working together. Businesses transitioned from a craft economy to a capital economy, and we began to see new philosophies around organizational structure. The efficiency of Taylorism in the early 1900s gave way to more creative work in the 1920s and ’30s. Communication tools advanced as well. Phones and dictation machines were all dedicated to the most powerful people within the organization.


Limited Technology1This 1907 office was likely used by an organization’s leader. At this time, only the people with the most seniority had access to a telephone. The office also includes a letter tray and a place for an assistant to sit and take dictation.


Limited Technology2George Davis, owner of Stow & Davis Furniture Company, sits at his executive desk in 1912. His secretary is likely writing shorthand. Their desks are in close proximity to facilitate dictation. Steelcase later acquired Stow & Davis.




Limited Technology3Larger desks, like this one in the 1920s, helped to accommodate a telephone and an increasing amount of paperwork.




Limited Technology4As the cost of telephone dropped, organizations were able to add more of these tools into the office. As organizations focused on efficiency, some rooms were designed for people to sit closely together and move paperwork from their in-box to their out-box.


Limited Technology5The Ediphone, a dictation machine, was used in offices in the early 1900s.


1950-1980: Democratized Technology

During World War II, the government developed systems to process reams of information quickly and efficiently. Following the war, business leaders adopted these efficiency to speed up repetitive work, like sorting punch cards and data entry.

At the same time, the distribution of technology became further democratized. More people had access to phones and multi-line phones became commonplace. Additional technology meant added connections and wires that all needed space within the office. In the mid-to-late 1970s, panels and moveable walls changed the way work environments were designed to accommodate the wires and allow for easy reconfiguration.


Democratized Technology1In the 1950s, Steelcase employees had phones and typewriters at their desks. Desks were set up with efficiency in mind.



Democratized Technology2This photo from 1956 shows a desk for a middle range manager. A side chair is in place to accommodate quick collaborative conversations.



Democratized Technology3Working from home isn’t a new concept. This 1959 office blurred the lines between work and home — created in someone’s living room.




Democratized Technology4This photo from the 1950s illustrates the overload of paper in offices at the time. Desks were set up with in-boxes and out-boxes to move paper from one to the other throughout the day.


Democratized Technology5The 1958 Swingstallation desk was designed to integrate a phone. At this time, companies began to move away from switchboard and start installing phones at individual desks.



Democratized Technology6In this 1958 photo from Steelcase’s 36th Street headquarters, phones were installed before the furniture.



Democratized Technology7Big computers handled punch cards and other large amounts of data in the late ’60s. This Datacase Computer Console desk and chair dates back to 1968.




Democratized Technology8Punch cards ran mainframes like this one from 1965. Big batch data processing stayed in place until the mid-’80s.



Democratized Technology9This workspace from 1970 was designed to accommodate a typewriter, desk calendar, phone and storage unit.



Democratized Technology10Workplace furniture became more mobile in the 1970s. This desk from 1972 incorporates file storage, a typewriter and a phone.



Democratized Technology11This wood desk from 1977 was designed to conceal phone wires.




Democratized Technology12Moveable walls like those seen in this 1977 photo helped conceal wires and create privacy without requiring architectural changes.



Democratized Technology13Organizing vast amounts of paperwork was a challenge before the digital age. This Paperflo system from the late 1970s included six trays to help with organization and productivity.


1980-1990: The Personal Computer

In the 1980s, advancements in technology were paralleled by improvements to the work environment. More people had access to computers as the decades progressed and furniture helped support the modern worker — designed to allow people to connect to power right at their desks. The rise of the personal computer coincided with a shift in the workforce. It diversified the kinds of roles available, including a dramatic influx of whit collar workers.


The Personal Computer1A major advancement in the mid-1980s introduced power into workspace panels. This removed the technology from the architecture. Now, people didn’t have to drill holes in walls to reach power source. (1985)



The Personal Computer2Computer support furniture in the mid-1980s created more access and mobility for computer equipment.




The Personal Computer3By 1986, the entire design of the workplace had changed. Wires under the floor allowed power to be accessed from anywhere.


1990-2015: Embracing Networks

In the 1990s, the flow of information accelerated and the speed of business sped up as well. Organizations began to see themselves in terms of social networks and cultures, as much as structures. The world was introduced to the internet, while collaboration around technology became an important part of the workplace.


Embrancing Networks1 This wood-paneled private office included Stow Davis furniture designed to support a personal computer, phone and storage for a busy executive. (1990)



Embrancing Networks2This Smart Stuff furniture from Steelcase allowed people to work next to one another while still having their own computer, phone and storage. (1995)


Embrancing Networks3The Avenir furniture line from Steelcase enhanced personal privacy. At the same time, a technology wall and ports gave people access to power and data almost anywhere. (1998)




Embrancing Networks4The Kick Freestanding desk and chair allowed people to work on their individual tasks and then turn around within the same space to collaborate with colleagues. (2002)


Embrancing Networks5By 2010, the internet and laptops were common threads throughout businesses worldwide and people were connected across geographic boundaries instead of within a single office.


Embrancing Networks6The 2010 FrameOne Bench was designed for sleeker devices, smaller power cords and greater collaboration.


Now: Smart + Connected

In today’s workplaces, thresholds to and from space are being minimized. Smart + Connected Spaces are connected distributed global teams no matter where they are working. People, place and technology are intricately linked. At the same time, technology is poised to take on repetitive tasks, leaving people to create and problem solve driving growth and innovation within organizations.

Until now, many organizations haven’t thought about their investments in space and technology holistically. In order to help people reach their creative potential at work, Steelcase and Microsoft have introduced Creative Spaces, a jointly developed range of technology-enabled work spaces designed to foster creative thinking at work.

Ideation Hub

The Ideation HubThe Ideation Hub is a high-tech destination that encourages active participation and equal opportunity to contribute as people co-create, refine and share ideas with co-located or distributed teammates.

Focus Studio

The Focus StudioThe Focus Studio supports individual creative work which requires alone time to focus and get into flow. It also allows for quick shifts to two-person collaboration. This is a place to let ideas incubate before sharing them with a large group.

Duo Studio

The Duo StudioWorking in pairs is an essential behavior of creativity. The Duo Studio supports trust. Two people can co-create shoulder-to-shoulder, while the space also supports individual work. It includes a lounge area to invite others in for a quick creative review or to put your feet up and get away without getting away.

Maker Commons

The Maker CommonsThe Maker Commons is designed for socializing ideas and rapid prototyping — both essential parts of creativity. This space encourages quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration.

Respite Room

The Respite RoomCreative work requires the need to balance active group work with solitude and individual think time. The Respite Room is a truly private room allowing relaxed postures to support diffused attention.

Explore Creative Spaces and the Microsoft and Steelcase partnership. Plus, read what Steelcase CEO Jim Keane says about the future of work with Microsoft.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Place + Technology Drive Creative Performance http://blog.hbi-inc.com/place-technology-drive-creative-performance/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/place-technology-drive-creative-performance/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 11:30:27 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=17004 Continue reading ]]>

Place + Technology Drive Creative Performance

Despite what you may have grown up believing, people are not born creative. People don’t grow up destined for careers as artists or musicians. Research tells us creativity is an iterative process in which anyone can engage, and not restricted to a type of person.

This week, Steelcase and Microsoft announced a new partnership that will help people reach their creative potential at work. Both Steelcase and Microsoft believe we all have the capacity to create. But, joint research by both companies reveals while people feel more pressure to produce creative work, the conditions for creativity are sub-optimal in most work places:

Creative83% People who say they are asked to be creative at work either weekly or daily.


72% Diverse group of workers say their future success depends on their ability to be creative.


40% Less than half of workers say they have a culture that encourages creativity.


44% People who feel like they could be more creative at work if they had a place to work without distractions.


25% People who think they can be creative in places available for group work.

Rhythm of Creativity

Work used to be very linear — a process focused on efficiency with repetitive tasks where people could specialize. But, the need for more creative work requires a much different rhythm. While there are a variety of models for the creative process — as early as 1926, when social psychologist Graham Wallas published “The Art of Thought” — researchers have identified common elements. Creativity is the ebb and flow of activities that involves working alone, in large and small groups or in pairs. The process is fluid and ideas evolve as teams iterate in an organic way.

Ignition to Implementation

Creativity is an Iterative Process

Creativity is an iterative process. Work used to be driven by efficiency. The process was intentionally linear and divided into parts in which people could specialize.

But, the problems we face today are so much more complex. They require creative thinking and a very different work process in which people and ideas diverge, converge and iterate.

The Disconnect between Place and Technology

To support this creative process, we need a new set of creative places and technologies. Until now, space and technology in the workplace have often been planned separately by different teams with different objectives. That’s why Steelcase and Microsoft are working together to develop Creative Spaces, an immersive ecosystem that brings together space and technology to help people generate new ideas and move them forward.

This new set of Creative Spaces includes a range places and technologies to enable a creative rhythm. A balanced ecosystem includes technology that is both mobile and integrated into the physical environment as well as spaces designed for individual “me” work and “we” group work.

Technology and Places

A Diverse Ecosystem

People need an ecosystem of interrelated places and devices to support the different stages and activities of creative work. A diverse ecosystem includes mobile and integrated technology, as well as spaces designed for individual “me” work and “we” work.

Five initial Creative Spaces are on display at the Steelcase WorkLife Center in New York City.


The Ecosystem of Creative Spaces includes:

The Focus Studio

The Focus Studio is where ideas incubate before sharing them with a group. It supports individual creative work time and the ability to get into flow quickly while also allowing quick shifts to two-person collaboration.

The Focus Studio

Key Features

Posture: The Gesture® chair supports the range of postures people assume when using the Surface® Studio to create. The AirTouch® table lifts to switch quickly from sitting to standing to encourage movement and boost energy.

Privacy: The space keeps information private and reduces visual distraction. V.I.A.® walls keep ambient noise out so you can stay in flow.

Proximity: The table facilitates brief, shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration, sharing content from Surface® Pro 4 or Surface® Book or to see the big picture on Surface® Studio through wireless projection. Storage with integrated lighting slides open and becomes an extension of the work area.

The Duo Studio

The Duo Studio was created with the knowledge that working in pairs is an essential behavior of creativity. This space helps build trust — two people can co-create shoulder-to-shoulder while also support individual work. An informal lounge setting creates a place to relax and re-energize during intense work sessions.

The Duo Studio

Key Features

Posture: Ology™ height-adjustable desks are side-by-side, making it easy to sit or stand, work individually in parallel or lean over to collaborate, maintaining flow and consistency using Surface® Dial and Surface® Pen. Umami™ lounge creates a place to relax and recognize during intense work sessions.

Privacy: V.I.A.® walls help mitigate distractions and allow private conversations. The “I’m Done” security feature on Surface Hub™ safety removes all content from the previous session to encourage rapid starts for new collaboration.

Proximity: The configuration is an intimate environment that supports easy access to technology, storage, analog content and your teammates. It offers an informal, theater-like setting for reviewing work at the integrated Surface Hub™.

The Maker Commons

The Maker Commons encourages quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration. Here, people can socialize ideas and engage in rapid prototyping — essential parts of creativity. To achieve privacy and focus in open areas, a work lounge with privacy screens creates a cocoon-like environment where people can bring their mobile devices and do focused work.

The Maker Commons

Key Features

Posture: This space supports a full range of posture — seated, standing, lounging, perching — encouraging movement without breaking flow.

Privacy: Brody® Worklounge is a micro-environment for privacy and focus in open ares including integrated lighting, power and bag storage. The Brody screens create a cocoon within the open plan to sketch or take notes on your Surface® Pro 4 between brainstorms.

Proximity: Centrally located in the ecosystem, this space is a communal atmosphere to gather and play with new ideas. It allows people to shift easily from “me” to “we” activities and through the different stages of the creative process.

The Ideation Hub

The Ideation Hub is a great place for brainstorming. It’s a high-tech destination that encourages active participation and an equal opportunity to contribute. Here people can co-create, refine and share ideas with co-located or distributed teammates.

The Ideation Hub

Key Features

Posture: Stool height seating encourages movement and quick shifts from interaction with personal devices to group collaboration at the Surface Hub™.

Privacy: V.I.A.® walls integrate the Surface Hub™ and provide unparalleled acoustic privacy to prevent disruptions and enhance remote user particpation.

Proximity: The furniture elements are scaled to allow ample circulation and the ability to engage or step back from the action and reflect or gain a different perspective.

The Respite Room

The Respite Room is designed with the understanding that creativity requires balancing active group work with solitude and individual think time. Here, people may generate their own ideas without interruption or spend time absorbing information they just heard.

The Respite Room

Key Features

Posture: Relaxed postures can support diffused attention, allow the brain to wander and lead to ‘eureka!’ insights. It also supports active brainstorming while away from your personal workstation allowing quick switches between typing and working with digital ink or touch.

Privacy: V.I.A.® walls create acoustic privacy and visual relief reducing external stimuli, allowing the brain to rest, form new connections and generate new ideas. Easily switch brain modes to active work and focus without disruptions.

Proximity: Thread® Modular Power makes it easy to charge devices. Massaud Ottoman opens to provide a place to store personal items. The highly adjustable LED Dash® light allows you to control the light level.

Explore Creative Spaces and the Microsoft and Steelcase partnership.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Why Materials Make a Difference to Your Workplace http://blog.hbi-inc.com/why-materials-make-a-difference-to-your-workplace/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/why-materials-make-a-difference-to-your-workplace/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:30:16 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16965 Continue reading ]]>

Why Materials Make a Difference to Your Workplace

Paint, texture and fabric can breathe new life into an old space. It’s why so many people paint their walls as soon as they buy a new house. They want to make it their own. Details within a space tell a story and it’s those details that can make a space feel like home. More and more people are looking for that same feeling while at work. Warm, humanistic and natural materials are being layered together to create inspiring spaces where people want to work.

“We see interests in making spaces more eclectic, not so monolithic in colors patterns and settings,” says Bruce Smith, Steelcase director of global design.

Smith reminds us words like “warm, humanistic and natural” conjure up different ideas for different people. With thoughtfully-designed spaces and a layering of materials, designers are able to appeal to more people within one particular space. Here’s a look at four ways to combine materials to enhance the workplace.

Encourage Authenticity

Encourage Authenticity“The things that are really compelling to us are things where you see, or think you see, the hand of man in creation,” explains Smith.

People are drawn to a diverse set of surface materials with complex patterns and textures found in nature. Knots, visible grain and color variations that used to signal imperfections are now exactly what many customers are seeking from their wood surfaces.

These nods to biophilia support a natural, authentic feeling within the workplace. Research tells us these links to living things help people feel and think better.

Promote Personalization

Promote PersonalizationMaterials can help organizations advance individuality and brand identity. Scientists in the Journal of Environmental Psychology published research showing that personalization contributed to employees’ positive cognitive and emotional wellbeing and led to enhanced thinking and better coping skills.

Sophisticated paint colors, for example, can create an original atmosphere. New Lux Coatings from Steelcase include finishes pulled directly from nature, such as Obsidian, which is indicative of volcanic glass.

Supports Sustainability

Supports SustainabilityCreate a place with purpose by combining materials that don’t just make the office a better place, but make the world a better place as well. Two new entries into designer’s toolkits from Steelcase are born from materials that used to end up in the waste basket.

The New Black fabric collection is made of 100 percent recycled materials, creating five distinctly beautiful patterns. Boucle yarns bring a warm, comfortable, human feeling and sustainable textiles to the workplace. Planked oak and walnut veneers are crafted with leftover wood pieces that previously failed to meet high standards of uniform perfection. Now, it’s the imperfections that shine as designers seek to highlight the unique characteristics of wood.

Improve Emotional Wellbeing

Improve Emotional Wellbeing“The most successful organizations are now turning their attention to employee wellbeing as a way to gain emotional, financial and competitive advantage,” says Tom Rath, a researcher, author and filmmaker who studies the role of human behavior in business, health and wellbeing.

By creating a workplace where people feel like they can be themselves, where they feel like their environment is trustworthy and authentic and where they feel purpose in their work, leaders can enhance emotional wellbeing. A human-centered design that includes warm, comfortable and informal spaces can help.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Your IT Department is Changing http://blog.hbi-inc.com/your-it-department-is-changing/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/your-it-department-is-changing/#comments Mon, 13 Mar 2017 19:12:14 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16944 Continue reading ]]>

Your IT Department is Changing

Every company is becoming a software company. Think about the vehicle you drove to work today. Was it a car? Or a series of sensors and computers? Think about your television. Is it simply receiving a series of images and sounds? Or is it also transmitting, storing and delivering data about your preferences, interests and habits? In this world where every product is digitally connected, every company must become a technology company. These changes are sweeping across all industries and forcing the information technology professional to work differently.

‘Most Important Change’

“In 34 years at GE, this is the single most important change I’ve ever driven inside the company,” Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO, told Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft’s WPC 2016 event.

Immelt is referring to what’s happening inside GE — transitioning the organization from an industrial company to an industrial internet company. Immelt says the realization was one that evolved over time. Jet engines were no longer only made up of mechanical parts, they now include dozens of sensors and digital components.

“To be a better industrial company, we can’t allow our digital future to be created by others,” Immelt said. As a result, he set out to make GE into a digital company by getting the right talent and creating the right culture.

Innovation It

Companies around the globe are trying to figure out how to follow suit. In Fortune Magazine’s 2016 survey of Fortune 500 CEO’s, the “rapid pace of technological change” received the most mentions as the single biggest challenge facing companies today. And, Deloitte’s 2016 Tech Trends report concludes, “Forward-thinking CIOs are progressing beyond the traditional single speed delivery models that are good for high-torque enterprise IT but not high-speed innovation IT.”

Ben Gibson is seeing the shift from the inside of the IT industry. He brings 20 years of IT experience to his current role as Chief Marketing Office at Aruba Networks.

“There is a growing trend among enterprises that is moving IT departments away from their traditional roles as cost centers and technology facilitators to crucial positions as revenue generators,” he wrote for Wired’s Innovation Insights. IT departments, Gibson says, are being asked to add to the bottom line by innovating and enabling the use of new technologies for internal and external customers.

Strategic Asset

Leaders recognize they can’t pay someone else to take on this work. Steelcase Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Terry Lenhardt, relates it to advent of the internet. It wasn’t long after the internet made its way into the workplace before it became a thread within the fabric of every company.

“Technology embedded in product solutions and the accompanying data and data-driven insights will become pervasive. Traditional IT functions are rapidly evolving to keep pace with product design and launch functions. You can’t outsource something that is part of who you are,” says Lenhardt.

Changing the Help Desk

As technology becomes more pervasive, employees are becoming increasingly tech savvy and discerning. With the power, personalization and choice that comes along with mobile devices and thousands of apps at their fingertips at home, users expect a similar experience at work and they expect that experience to be smooth and user-friendly. It as drastically changed the paradigm of the historical help desk. Rather than outsourcing help desk support to the lowest bidder, companies are reinventing the function into a consultative role.

New IT Teams

As a result, IT functions in companies all over the globe are quickly evolving. The new IT is about creating deeper partnerships with the business, increasing collaboration across the groups and transforming the IT work experience that attracts and retains the latest generation of talent. It’s adopting agile practices, encouraging curiosity and valuing short sprints in addition to long-term goals.

Lenhardt points to the softer skills becoming more important. These new jobs need more than good software engineers. They need people who can communicate, collaborate and empathize with an end user.

“It’s our opinion that if you have a bad day with technology, you have a bad day at work,” says Lenhardt.

All of this requires a new way of working and new questions leaders need to ask. Do I have the right people? Are they in the right environment? Are they supported by the right tools and the right leadership style? Are they adhering to the right processes? It’s a lot to consider and solve for, but the advantages for those organizations that get it right are tremendous.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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4 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Your Next Workspace http://blog.hbi-inc.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-investing-in-your-next-workspace/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-investing-in-your-next-workspace/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:30:52 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16884 Continue reading ]]>

4 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Your Next Workspace


New ways of working are driving the demands for different kinds of spaces at work. People are looking for more informal, comfortable places to get work done. Workers want to feel like they can be themselves at work leading them to seek out spots that remind them of home. But, while a couch and a coffee table might look inviting, they don’t all survive the rigors of the workplace.

There are four questions you need to ask before investing in casual spaces. Whether it’s a bench, lounge chair, coffee table or something else — what works for a seating area at home doesn’t always work at the office.

Does it Feel Good?

Does it Feel GoodJust because it looks good, doesn’t mean it feels good. But, at times, the lure of a cool vibe or a relaxing setting can cause people to set aside their physical wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Design, engineering and ergonomics need to all work together to make something beautiful that also performs,” says Rob Battey, Steelcase engineer. Battey and his colleagues spend a lot of time focused on improving performance.

A global posture study conducted by Steelcase sent people out with cameras to a number of cities including Munich, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, New York and Lose Angeles. The images gathered allowed engineers and designers to see how people were using different spaces without any preconceived notions. As Battey tells it, people always surprise you.

“We went out to try to understand people and space. We wanted to let user behaviors inform the space solution.” The results of these global observations helped inform solutions for a variety of workplace behaviors such as collaboration.

Engineers also work with ergonomists to evaluate chairs, lounges and bench seating. Erognomists live in the realm between doctors and engineers and are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating the best comfort and fit. It’s one thing to create a nice sitting area where someone can host a quick, informal conversation. It’s quite another to create a work area where people can gather, spend time together and get real work done.

By applying the science of ergonomics to the new ways people want to work, it takes these settings up a notch — allowing them to be both beautiful and comfortable.

Can You Plug In?

Can You Plug InIs the area you’re planning to add to your workplace designed for working or waiting? If it’s for working, people need to be able to use the right tools to get their job done. On average, people carry three devices with them during the day. As mobile devices multiply, power needs escalate. If an area isn’t designed with the person in mind, you’ll end up finding people stuffed in a corner or sitting on the floor to get closer to power.

A well designed seating area considers how people need to work with technology. Power can be embedded in the furniture or stationed conveniently nearby to make sure people aren’t having to stoop under a bench or awkwardly reach behind a chair to access an outlet. In addition, there should be considerations given to the accessibility and ease around using the right technology. For example, is there a place for a laptop at the right height so that someone can comfortably sit, type and see the screen? These are some of the details that make the difference between creating an area for work versus an area to sit.

Will it Hold Up?

Will it Hold UpNever underestimate the creativity of the user. True, some people use spaces as they were intended. But, every time something new is developed, new user behaviors are discovered. That’s why Steelcase engineers turn to heavy users to do vigorous testing.

Field testing is done in college common areas and 911 dispatch centers. These kind of places, like a workplace, get extreme use in a short period of time.

“Users can almost never tell you what they really want because they don’t even realize they have a problem,” says Battey. It’s only through years of observations and testing that designers and engineers can understand the problems they are trying to solve and provide solutions that will last.

Can You Be Proud of It?

Can You Be Proud of ItEvery new investment is an opportunity to pay careful attention to people, our planet and the living things it supports. Products designed for circularity avoid and eliminate materials of concern, optimize performance throughout the life cycle and provide end-of-life strategies. Providing great solutions should begin by ensuring they’re the best solutions for our environment. That’s why you should consider each step of the product’s life cycle — design, manufacturing, delivery and end-of-use operations. When you choose to invest in something new, you also have the opportunity to communicate to people how important they are and how important our world is.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


]]> http://blog.hbi-inc.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-investing-in-your-next-workspace/feed/ 0 What Football’s Big Game Can Teach Us About the Workplace http://blog.hbi-inc.com/what-footballs-big-game-can-teach-us-about-the-workplace/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/what-footballs-big-game-can-teach-us-about-the-workplace/#comments Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:30:37 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16848 Continue reading ]]>

What Football’s Big Game Can Teach us about the Workplace


On Sunday, more than one-hundred million people will watch football’s biggest night and many could care less about who wins. In fact, fewer than half, a full 40 percent are not football fans and only about one-third say the actual game is important. So, why does everyone commit an entire Sunday to this pigskin pursuit?

Here are a Few Reasons…

  • Friends: 49% of Big Game fans plan to throw a party, attend one or watch from a bar or restaurant.
  • Fun: Hallmark Cards calls the Big Game the top at-home party event of the year, even bigger than New Year’s Eve.
  • Connections: People wrote 25.3 million tweets during last year’s game connecting about the plays, commercials and the halftime show.
  • Food: Football’s biggest night is the second gluttonous day of the year, according to the Calorie Control Council, bested only by Thanksgiving.

People crave social interactions. Coalescing around a common theme, such as the most important professional football game of the year, helps foster communication and encourages connections. The same is true in the workplace. Leaders seeking to innovate and attract and retain highly-skilled talent no longer equate socializing at work with a loss of productivity. Instead, there’s an understanding that socialization is a balanced part of the workday and can improve employee wellbeing and engagement.

Socializing Improves Your Work By:

  • Stimulating the brain and improving creativity
  • Nurturing a sense of belonging and fostering strong connections between people.
  • Helping people see their relationship to the organization, which leads to a sense of purpose in their work.
  • Supporting frequent movement throughout the day for physical and mental vigor.

Design for Socialization

Traditionally, offices were focused on uniformity and standards. The majority of space was dedicated to individual workstations, separated into departments, where people spent the majority of their time working alone. A cafeteria provided a place to eat lunch and large meeting rooms were used mostly for planned collaboration.

But, by rejecting this sea of sameness, leading organizations are finding better ways to support the new ways in which people are working. An ecosystem of spaces includes special, collaborative and focus areas allowing people to have the freedom to choose how and where to work. A social tub, which may have previously been underused as only a cafeteria, now shifts to become a place for workers to connect and collaborate throughout the entire day.

scroll1Social spaces encourage spontaneous interactions between colleagues.


scroll2Social spaces should be designed with performance in mind. Places for laptops, ergonomic seating and outlets for power allow people to spend time working together.


scroll3Social spaces can be used to express authenticity and inspiration creating a greater sense of belonging.


A winning workplace design embraces and encourages socialization as a part of the overall picture. For the same reason people all gather together to watch the big game on Sunday, connections and relationships matter. When people feel connected to their colleagues at work, they are more engaged and feel good about coming to work each day. Just like people have more fun watching the game together, even if they don’t know the difference between Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.


Written By:


For Steelcase


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Changes to Offices in a Technically Advanced Workplace http://blog.hbi-inc.com/changes-to-offices-in-a-technically-advanced-workplace/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/changes-to-offices-in-a-technically-advanced-workplace/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:30:46 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16779 Continue reading ]]>

Offices Changes


Office construction and remodeling numbers are up in the United States. An office renaissance is underway and changes are happening fast. Steelcase designers and researchers offer insights into five key reasons we’re seeing changes now.

Somewhere between Dilbert and The Jetsons, our workplace changed. We went from private executive office suites and rows of cubicles to open floor plans and a mobile workforce. And, the pace of change has only continued to accelerate. Recently, business leaders began moving the success conversation from wealth to wellbeing. And, as a result, offices are seeing a renaissance and changing again to support the new way work is done.

The focus is all about you. Cafes are coming to life, becoming hubs of conversation. Multi-media rooms are transforming previously static spaces to allow for real-time interaction with remote workers. And, quiet spaces are being reimagined to support rejuvenation and ideation.

Office construction numbers in the United States support the underlying feeling that changes are happening. According to the United States Census private general office construction increased 19.9 percent in one year from June 2015 to June 2016. And, those numbers have continued to rise throughout 2016. IBISWorld‘s recent market research report showed the commercial property remodeling industry is benefiting from large increases in demand. In the last five years, office rental vacancies have decreased and consumer spending on office remodeling has gone up.

What is causing so many companies to decide to rework their space? Steelcase designers and researchers exploring this office renaissance point to five key forces accelerating this change.

1. Where and How Work Happens Has Changed

Where and How Work Happens Has ChangedRapid advances in technology allow people to work anywhere, anytime—which led to people working everywhere, all of the time. It’s clear that the old paradigm, one person working almost exclusively in on individual workspace, does not support the ways people are working today.

2. Shift to Creative Work

Shift to Creative WorkNew pressures to compete and grow businesses shifted organizational emphasis toward work that requires creativity and a new innovation process. “Breaking rules and breaking patterns is where new ideas come from,” notes Bruce Smith, director, Steelcase global design. Many workplaces were designed to support an outdated process, and did not make spaces for creative collaboration a priority.

3. The War for Attracting and Retaining Talent

The War for Attracting and Retaining TalentEmployees with coveted 21st century job skills, who can help organizations innovate and grow, are a limited commodity. They often choose organizations that offer the most meaningful work, and the best working conditions, rejecting anything that makes them feel like a cog in the wheel of industry. This is true for both attracting new employees as well as retaining existing ones.

4. Employee Disengagement

Over one-third of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged, according to Engagement and the Global Workplace, a study conducted by Steelcase and global research firms Iposos. The study found a positive correlation between workplace satisfaction and employee engagement; the most highly disengaged workers were also the most unsatisfied with their work environments. They did not feel a sense of control over where and how they work. Workplaces designed with a strong focus on uniformity don’t empower people to give them a range of diverse spaces to choose from. This creates a crisis for organizations that need to be agile and resilient.

5. The Promise of Technology

The Promise of TechnologyConsumer technologies are a game changer for the office. People leave smart homes and drive smart cars into offices that, for the most part, offer little in terms of technology to help them work and feel better. The internet of things, a concept in which essentially anything electronic — home appliances, cell phones, headphones, watches, wearable — is connected to the internet and other devices, is something people have come to expect in their personal lives and opens new possibilities at work. Technology, thoughtfully integrated in the physical environment, holds the promise to make people’s work experience more human centered.

These forces are all converging to cause both individuals and their organizations to recognize that something fundamental has to change. So, close your eyes. Think back to what your office looked like five, even ten, years ago. If it’s changed, changing or needs to change, you’re not alone. What we do and why we do it is different and our environments are adjusting to support us.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


]]> http://blog.hbi-inc.com/changes-to-offices-in-a-technically-advanced-workplace/feed/ 0 How Design, Materiality & Performance Create Inspiring Spaces http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-design-materiality-performance-create-inspiring-spaces/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-design-materiality-performance-create-inspiring-spaces/#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:30:41 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16752 Continue reading ]]>

Design, Materiality and Inspiration at Work


Why are some parts of the workplace always buzzing with activity — social spaces with constant clusters of people, rooms that are always booked or desks and enclaves that are always taken? What makes people choose to work in one space over another? Increasingly, people at work are searching for something. They’re looking for spaces that allow them to feel comfortable, help them think better and support their ability to solve problems.

These informal, authentic and inspiring spaces are creating workplaces where people want to gather, collaborate and perform at their best. The workplace is experiencing a rebirth to address the new ways in which people are working. Because technology allows people to work anywhere, the workplace is being reinvented to give people what their homes and cafes cannot — successful spaces providing places for focus, collaboration and socialization. These new spaces are human-centered combining design, materialitity and performance to feel good, perform well and inspire people.


DesignDLR Group, an integrated design firm in Houston, understands what people are craving from their spaces today. Using a human-centered approach, they’ve designed their offices to focus on the wellbeing of people by allowing choice and control over where and how their people get their work done.

“We want to allow more choice in the workplace and create a place that will spark innovation and collaboration,” says Autumn Gloetzner, senior designer with DLR Group.

Gloetzner modeled the design of her team’s office after the advice she gives clients. “By providing different types of spaces, we have choices. We can choose where and how we do our work. Offering choices drives performance,” she says. Their space includes social spaces, focus spaces and collaboration spaces employees can choose from based on the work they need to do.

“Offering choice drives performance.”
Autumn Gloetzner
Senior Designer, DLR Group


MaterialitiyMateriality helps deliver a genuine, personal feeling within a space. Just think, when you wake up and get ready for your day, what you decide to wear tells a story about yourself. The same is true in the workplace.

What you decide to wear tells a story about yourself. The same is true in the workplace.

“Most of us think about materiality as decoration or superficial. But, it’s always more than that,” said Bruce Smith, Steelcase director of global design. When we think about material, Smith explains, we often focus on color, texture and patterns. But, in experience, we appreciate material with much greater depth by assigning it meaning, relevance, associations and performance.

Smith further describes this concept: There’s an aspect of feeling and an aspect of knowing, he says. If we see a sleek, black base to a stool, we known it’s going to be hard, cold and solid. We’re confident it will hold our weight. We can make a decision about how something makes us feel by observing the material.

“Most of us think about materiality as decoration or superficial. But, it’s always more than that.”
Bruce Smith
Global Designer Director, Steelcase

The kinds of things that are attractive to Smith and his team right now are warm, humanistic and natural. He admits these words are vague because they mean different things to different people. That may be one reason why he says, “We see that our customers have interests in making spaces more eclectic, not so monolithic in colors, patterns and settings.”

“People want to feel a connection to the places where they work, where they can see themselves in the space, versus something that feels imposed upon them,” agrees James Ludwig, Steelcase vice president of global design.


PerformanceIn addition to looking good and feeling good, a space also needs to perform to help people do their best work.

“We’re designing work environments that are harder working generally than our home environment,” says Ludwig.

Sofas and chairs, for example, need to be smarter — encouraging a range of postures so people are comfortable and energized and created in a way to promote ergonomic and active sitting so people can move and shift postures to prevent stiffness and pain. People need access to power and worksurfaces so that they have the tools they need to do their job at their fingertips. And, the furniture needs to stand up to the riggers of the workplace including frequent use and consistent cleaning.

“Design, materiality and performance layer together in everything we do,” says Smith. This is the human experience, one that is plural, inclusive and full. How a space performs is just as critical as how it looks and feels.

Steelcase’s global design team delves deeper into the strategies for the creation of thoughtfully-curated destinations that blend design, materiality and performance in the latest issue of 360 Magazine.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


]]> http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-design-materiality-performance-create-inspiring-spaces/feed/ 0 NEXT Student Design Competition Sparks New Business http://blog.hbi-inc.com/next-student-design-competition-sparks-new-business/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/next-student-design-competition-sparks-new-business/#comments Mon, 26 Dec 2016 12:30:40 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16687 Continue reading ]]>

NEXT Design CompetitionThe reigning NEXT Student Design Competition winner is using his new skills to start a bussiness.

Caleb Amundson, Kansas State masters student, remembers what it felt like when he won the Steelcase Design Alliances NEXT Student Design Competition. The competition challenges undergraduate students to create a space of the future to win a chance to be selected as a semi-finalist to visit Steelcase, present to professional judges and ultimately compete for prizes.

“I was in a room with four of the most talented human beings I’d ever met in my life,” Amundson recounted. “I was completely awestruck when I found out I’d won. It was really humbling to get to be a part of this team of people.”

Hot Concept

Using the concept of a forge and hearth, Amundson was honored for focusing his design concept on how occupants of his coworking space can take raw business and project ideas, refine them, and then refuel before starting the cycle over again. His project also recognized the strength in foster collaboration to ignite ideas that aren’t possible in isolation.

This is a look at the sections of Amundson’s design concept called “Hearth”.

Amundson7 Amundson6 Amundson5 Amundson4 Amundson3 Amundson2 Amundson1

This year, the Steelcase Design Alliances NEXT Student Design Competition is challenging future designers to create the design studio of the future. Melissa Hanley, principal and co-founder of Blitz Architecture and Interiors, is one of the expert judges looking for this year’s winning design.

“I will be looking for clarity in concept,” Hanley said. “It’s very important that the students focus their efforts and provide a clear vision for their design.”

It’s Not All About Winning

Now in his final year at Kansas State, Amundson says it wasn’t winning that meant the most to him. It was going through the competition’s process. By developing, producing and presenting a strong concept, he gained skills and confidence.

In fact, just one week after he won the competition, Amundson’s friend approached him with a business idea. He wanted to open a coworking space in Manhattan, Kansas and he needed help. In just 13 short weeks, the friends went from idea to reality and opened their new business venture called The Fellow.

“I don’t think I would be in this position had I not had the opportunity. It wasn’t the success that came from the project. It was working on something of this quality — quality research-based design really pushed my ability to apply it to a real-life situation,” said Amundson.

Competition Advice

Amundson has some advice for this year’s crop of students. He highly encourages students to visit at least one space that is a relevant precedent study for the project.

“Seeing something in operation will drastically change your perception of designing for people, instead of just focusing on the logical decisions that can be made from researching,” Amundson suggested.

He stress the importance of having a really strong concept and practicing your presentation to peers and professors who will give you honest critique. He also says it’s a great idea to reach out to professionals you know in the industry to help with feedback and to push the design further.

Hanley has some advice as well. She knows narrowing down a number of iterations to one good idea is challenging. “Edit,” she said simply. “It is the hardest thing to do, even as seasoned practitioners, but it is vital to a project’s clarity and, often, beauty to be as reductionist as possible in the process to ensure all of the design moves are supporting the project concept.”

For more information on the Steelcase Design Alliances NEXT Student Design Competition including frequently asked questions and official rules, click here. Submissions are due December 9.


Caleb AmundsonCaleb Amundson is working on his thesis program at Kansas Sate for his masters program in interior architecture and product design. He previously won the Steelcase Design Alliances NEXT Student Design Competition and he co-owns The Fellow, a coworking space in Manhattan, Kansas.


Melissa HanleyMelissa is the principal and co-founder of Blitz, an architecture and design practice based in San Francisco. She is one of the judges for the upcoming cycle of the Steelcase Design Alliances NEXT Student Design Competition.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Active Learning Center Grant Launches Third Cycle http://blog.hbi-inc.com/active-learning-center-grant-launches-third-cycle/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/active-learning-center-grant-launches-third-cycle/#comments Mon, 19 Dec 2016 22:52:20 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16666 Continue reading ]]>

Active Learning Center Grant Launches Third CycleOld norms are giving way to a deeper, broader and more individualized perspective on what student success is and how to achieve it. Many educators are rethinking their teaching methods, curricula, support services and technologies, all with the aim of developing a more relevant and strategic approach. The Active Learning Center Grant from Steelcase Education is launching its third cycle to help educators create the most effective, rewarding and inspiring active learning environments to meet the evolving needs of students and teachers.

Following a passion for understanding how learning best takes place and how smarter, active learning spaces help, Steelcase Education has already awarded 25 classrooms through the ALC Grant. Craig Wilson, Steelcase Education director of market development, leads the ALC Grant program. Once again, he and his team are looking for up to 15 new schools to add to the ALC Grant community.

As Steelcase Education launches this latest grant cycle, we asked Craig to answer a few questions.

Steelcase 360: Why is it Important to Steelcase Education to Offer the Active Learning Center Grant?

Craig: We know that space alone can’t guarantee student success. But, if you combine the right space with inspiring teachers and effectively deployed technologies, the environment can help drive better results. Learning spaces can help students think better by supporting the natural capacity and constraints of the brain. Environments can also help students be healthier by supporting active behaviors. And, spaces can help students feel better by providing a strong sense of belonging, optimism and community which, more often than not, leads to engagement. Engagement then leads to student success in school and beyond.

Yet, many classrooms are not designed to support active learning. At Steelcase Education, we invest in research and design to create spaces built to support the way teachers can best teach and students can best learn. During the time of year our team gets to review the ALC Grant submissions, there’s a palpable excitement in the air. We love working with and understanding how educators are inspiring students. And, we take selecting the recipients very seriously.

Steelcase 360: What Does it Mean for Recipients with Steelcase Education?

Craig: We know educators have a lot of options when it comes to investing time to applying for a grant. That’s why we wanted to be sure this was built to support a partnership between a school and Steelcase Education. Teachers and administrators not only have the opportunity to win an active learning classroom worth up to $65,000, but we also provide them with much more. We offer follow up training on education strategies, access to research learnings and connections with other grant recipients, in addition to marketing opportunities through Steelcase Education.

Steelcase 360: What Results Have Other Grant Recipients Seen?

Craig: With 25 grant recipients already experiencing the results of having an active learning classroom, we’ve seen tremendous results. Once the classroom is installed, schools measure results in the way that means most to them. We’ve been able to visit grant recipients all over the country to see the impact the ALC Grant has had on them.

Julie Marshall, a seventh grad teacher at Saluda Trail Middle School in Rock Hill, South Carolina says the Active Learning Center classroom brought new life to her school, engaged students and made them excited about learning. Today, the school boasts some of the highest student engagement levels and has positively impacted test scores.

Elbert Yeh, Forest Hills Northern High School science teacher and department chair, credits the grant to helping his classroom achieve more student discussion, new ways for students to learn and improved lesson planning for teachers.

In addition to the middle and high school levels, we’ve seen results at the university level as well. The University of Arizona shared with us their ALC Grant transformation. Their partnership with Steelcase Education helped them introduce collaboration learning spaces throughout their campus. Teachers are engaging and having fun in their new classrooms and students are participating more as they learn.

These are just a few examples. We’ve been so energized by what we’ve seen and we can’t wait to see what happens for the next round of grant recipients.

Steelcase 360: What Advice Would You Give a School as They Fill Out an Application?

I would tell an educator or administrator who is considered applying to go for it. We ask school leaders to think about and describe their goals and how a Steelcase Education Active Learning Center may be able to help. We’re looking for schools who know what they are trying to achieve and are willing to partner with us to measure those results.

We also want to encourage educators who have applied before, but have yet to receive a grant, to apply again. A few of our recipients last cycle were actually second time applicants. In fact, one school told us when they didn’t get the grant the first time around, it was the best thing that could have happened. They spent time before the second ALC Grant cycle to research active learning and how it could impact their students and teachers.

Steelcase 360: How Does a School Get Started?

Craig: We encourage interested educators to get started right away. We receive hundreds of applicants each year and we personally review every submission. To help support educators who want to write a successful grant, we’ve created a series of resources including a frequently asked questions document and two helpful webinars scheduled for December 13 and January 10 at 11am (ET).


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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