HBI Inc. :: Blog http://blog.hbi-inc.com Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:30:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 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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How Leadership Won the World Series for the Chicago Cubs http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-leadership-won-the-world-series-for-the-chicago-cubs/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-leadership-won-the-world-series-for-the-chicago-cubs/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:30:00 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16618 Continue reading ]]>

How Leadership Won the World Series for the Chicago CubsChicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon delivered a team culture built to overcome obstacles.

Facing unmatched pressure, 108 years without a championship and a city of nearly three million people on edge, Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t blink. The culture he created throughout the 162 game regular season empowered his players to overcome adversity and ride an emotional rollercoaster to victory.

What can the business world learn from his approach to leadership? Communicate culture clearly and often.

Play the Long Game

ESPN analysts describe Maddon as “earning his keep at the season-management level.” He spends all season long getting his team where he wants them to be. So, as the Cubs faced a 3-2 deficit in the best of seven series and headed to Cleveland, Maddon didn’t change his style. He didn’t require extra practice hours or more time watching film. He encouraged his team to have a little fun and spend time with their families. He even posted a big sign in the clubhouse asking players to dress up for the Halloween journey to Ohio, according to Sports Illustrated.

Clearly Communicate Culture

Maddon didn’t just ask them to dress up. He actively encouraged it. He clearly communicated his team values by modeling the behavior himself and delivering costumes directly to his players. NBC Chicago reported first baseman Anthony Rizzo wore a superman costume. Maddon was in a top hat and patterned suite. And, Dexter Fowler took advantage of some family time, trick-or-treating with his kids before heading to Ohio. Notably, Fowler kicked off game seven in Cleveland with a solo home run.

Trust and Empower

Despite watching a four-run lead shrink, the Cubs were still up 6-3 heading into the eighth inning. Six outs away from erasing a 108-year championship drought. But, Cleveland wasn’t done. The Indians came back with a two-run home to tie the game. Tens of millions of people watching from their living rooms could feel the momentum shift in Cleveland’s direction.

The Cubs held steady through the ninth to head into extra innings. And, then the rain delay. This respite allowed the Cubs to regroup, rejuvenate and reenergize. But, Joe Maddon wasn’t the catalyst. He had already laid the groundwork for what was about to happen all season long. In the pivotal moment, he trusted his team to do the rest.

Maddon told ESPN after the game, as he headed indoors during the delay, he saw his team gathering to meet. But, he went upstairs to check the weather map, empowering them to carry out the culture he’d supported all season. Maddon had previously been quoted as saying, “I’d much rather the peers carry my message.”

Veteran Jason Heyward was the messenger in game seven. “Just needed to let these guys know they’re awesome. Don’t get down,” Heyward told ESPN about what he said to his team.

“I think it was needed at the time… We could have easily just given up. Things weren’t going the way we wanted them to,” young star Kris Bryan said in an interview with ESPN about the meeting. “It was a supportive meeting for everybody. Knowing that we love each other. We were not just going to give up… We made it this far and we’re going to go out there and win this thing. And, sure enough, we did.”

Shortstop Addison Russell echoed Bryant’s comments. He said Heyward wanted to remind everyone that “we’ve been picking each other up since day one.”

How Does Your Organization Communicate Culture?

Empowerment, trust, teamwork — Joe Maddon managed to communicate all of these cultural values throughout the lengthy baseball season. And, when the obstacles began piling up, his team put the organization’s desired values into play.

At Steelcase, our CEO Jim Keane happens to be from the South Side of Chicago and despite growing up in White Sox territory, he’s a pretty big Cubs fan. He knows statistics can help baseball teams and organizations create a powerful playbook. Afterall, data will arm pitchers and batters with a wealth of information about what’s likely to happen at the plate.

But, he also knows a playbook is just one part of success. You need to create a culture that allows your team to put that playbook into action whether you are in the room or not. As leader of a global organization, Jim has a desire for a more open and interconnected workplace. He worked with Steelcase’s Global Design Team to create a new Leadership Community prototype that uses space as a tool to help communicate the organization’s culture.

This prototype has resulted in radically reimagined ways of working and leading. Read “The New Leader” in 360 Magazine to explore Steelcase research identifying how physical space can help leaders reshape their organization’s culture and performance overall.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Leadership Under Pressure: Inside the Executive Office http://blog.hbi-inc.com/leadership-under-pressure-inside-the-executive-office/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/leadership-under-pressure-inside-the-executive-office/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:30:34 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16597 Continue reading ]]>

Leadership Under Pressure- Inside the Executive OfficeA first-hand perspective on why pressure at the executive level is mounting.

Today’s leaders are walking a path filled with greater obstacles and more frequent hurdles than ever before. The previous top-down management style is no longer keeping up with a global business climate requiring agility and innovation.

The Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace revealed that one-third of employees in 17 of the most important global economies are disengaged. Yet, traditional leadership patterns remain. The Global Report found that 58 percent of executives still work in private offices compared to only 23 percent of employees. While leadership environments such as executive suites remain the norm, Steelcase found that many leaders are taking advantage of technology and mobility to work outside of their traditional office. They know they can’t afford to be isolated from employees who have their fingers on the pulse of the everyday challenges and opportunities in the organization.

These leaders are looking outside of their office doors and their company walls to gain greater understanding about how to engage employees and propel their organization forward. Over the course of two years, Steelcase researchers and designers interviewed executives and observed their work behaviors to understand what obstacles they face and how they need to work differently.

Much of what Steelcase’s team was able to identify is echoed by Tom Henschel’s first-hand experience. Henschel has spent every day of the last 16 years counseling Fortune 500 executives as a leadership coach and founder of Essential Communications. In the last five to 10 years, Henschel tells us, he too, has noticed the growing pressure on executives pushing them to explore new ways to lead.

Moving Fast

These days there’s no taking the foot off the gas. Even companies ahead of the pack can face a course-altering disruption from a start-up they may not have even heard of yet. To respond to today’s economic expectations, leaders need to recognize opportunities for innovation in the workplace and create a culture in which it can flourish.

For those companies reporting to Wall Street, the economic pressure comes quarterly without fail.

“Leaders have to make the company look good in 90 days… There’s a hair-on-fire feeling all the time.”

—Tom Henschel
Founder and Principal Consultant of Essential Communications

This need for agility and speed adds to the mounting pressure executives feel not to squander an opportunity. In an effort to stay in tune with all aspects of the business, Steelcase researchers identified leaders trying to cope with “infobesity.” They can’t count on information always making its way up the chain of command, but they can’t know everything. Leaders have to find a balance between being accessible and visible and figuring out how to sift through immense amounts of information to find what’s of value.

Global Integration

The challenge surrounding globally distributed teams creates yet another stressor. While global perspectives and talent acquisition offer opportunities to add highly skilled workers with new ideas to the organization, the need to engage global teams adds yet another demand for time to an executive’s already jammed schedule.

Steelcase researchers discovered to breadth of the work leaders are doing is resulting in rapid context shifting. Executives move from engineering to communications or human relations to supply chain management in minutes. In some cases, they have to mentally switch from one culture to another in very little time. This pace requires a mental reset for each new meeting in their busy day.

Henschel sees the result of this frequent cognitive gear-shift exacerbated when it comes to global demands.

“The simplest thing I notice from people on global teams are, they’re exhausted,” said Henschel. His clients describe waking up to actionable emails in the morning. Not just perfunctory notes, but real work that got done the night before and was sent for follow up and review. Global teams have late night calls, early calls and leaders are expected to travel to those offices several times per year.

Connection Casualty

All that mobility, time zone hopping and schedule juggling takes a toll. And, while new technologies allow leaders to work from anywhere, Steelcase researchers found a casualty is the loss of connection with people including employees and their executive peer group.

Finding ways to maintain those relationships is not only necessary to run a successful business, it can stem turnover as well, according to Henschel.

He says millennials are ramping up the pressure on leaders everywhere because if they aren’t happy, they will leave. Some companies are already seeing the impact of high turnover and culture clashes. If connections are compromised and employees feel like they are just following orders, Henschel says, their jobs may lack satisfaction.

“Everyone wants to feel like they’re making a difference,” Henschel explained. “I think engagement equates to relationships. The old adage is still true, people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses.”

Space as Body Language

One way to communicate is through the use of the built environment Many leaders don’t recognize what the space around them communicates about their organization’s desired culture.

“Space is the body language of an organization, it’s a way to communicate and a way to provoke desired responses.”

—Julie Barnhart-Hoffman
Steelcase Senior Design Researcher

The two year research project conducted by Steelcase revealed many leaders believe the traditional private office is essential for them to do their jobs citing the need for handling confidential information, but also for being a place where people come together.

Yet, the iconic executive office, can reinforce hierarchy and a top-down power structure. To identify new solutions for today’s leaders, Steelcase is embarking on a living experiment within its own walls. A new leadership prototype has been built around key design principles meant to foster an adaptive culture. To read more about the evolution of the leadership community, read 360 Magazine’s The New Leader.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Finding Ways to Attract Hard to Engage Employees http://blog.hbi-inc.com/finding-ways-to-attract-hard-to-engage-employees/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/finding-ways-to-attract-hard-to-engage-employees/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:30:12 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16564 Continue reading ]]>

Finding Ways to Attract Hard to Engage EmployeesCompared to the global averages, Japanese employees lack engagement, trust and a sense of feeling valued at work. So, what can be done?

The 1%: Finding Ways to Attract Hard to Engage Employees

David Whitelaw Reid traveled nearly 10,000 miles from New York to Hong Kong. His trip ruined his Labor Day holiday plans, but he didn’t mind. His job as the Executive Director of Global Talent Initiatives for the non-profit Asia Society is to help Fortune 500 companies in Asia develop solutions for their talent pipeline. He loves what he does. He brings company leaders together to tackle issues relating to developing, engaging and retaining Asian talent, and in particular, millennials overall and women in senior leadership. Helping leaders develop cultural agility and a global mindset are also key focus areas for Reid’s team. And, depending on the country, some challenges can be bigger than others.

New research suggest Japan faces taller hurdles than its global counterparts. More than in any other nation studied, new data from Steelcase and research firm Ipsos reveals Japanese workers are dissatisfied with the quality of their life at work. Several studies show a lack of engagement, lack of trust and lack of feeling valued at workplaces in Japan. Here’s a breakdown of just some of the numbers that set Japan apart.

Steelcase Global Report: Japan

  • 1% – Describe themselves as highly engaged (compared to the global average of 13 percent). Lowest in the 20 country Global Report.
  • 61% – Describe themselves as disengaged. Nearly double the global average.
  • 5.4 out of 10 – Score for quality of life at work (global average is 6.6). Lowest of 20 countries.
  • 39% – Say their company gets the best out of them (global average is 63 percent). Lowest of 20 countries.
  • 34% – Say their company values and recognizes them (global average is 5 percent). Lowest of 20 countries.

The tough statistics don’t stop there. Ernst & Young’s 2016 Global Generations study found full-time workers surveyed in Japan had by far the lowest levels of trust among the eight countries studied. Only 21 percent of employees had a great deal of trust in their employer, and only 22 percent had both a great deal of trust in their boss and their team and colleagues. The global average was more than double that.

All of these factors make attracting and retaining highly-skilled, highly-valued people a bottom-line business issue requiring needed attention. Reid says many companies in Asia use cash as king to lure and keep people leading a “boomerang effect.” A company hires someone, they leave shortly thereafter for more money somewhere else and then return to the original company in a different, higher paid role. The costs associated with the “boomerang effect” are not always sustainable.

“What some businesses are realizing is they need to find new ways to combat the competition when they don’t really have the cash to constantly re-up against some of the well-resourced companies. How do you handle competition for talent?”

David Whitelaw Reid
Executive Director of Global Talent Initiatives for the Non-Profit Asia Society

Reid says in order to compete for the best people employee engagement tactics beyond compensation are likely to gain traction in Asia rapid capital growth wanes. In Japan, that growth is already in decline. Yet, many Asian companies are still in infancy when it comes to employee engagement.

“There’s a long way to go in terms of maturity on employee engagement in some places in Asia. They are in the beginning stages of developing this out,” said Reid.

Research is uncovering ways to further engage people at the office. Steelcase’s Global Report revealed a strong correlation between how engaged people in Japan say they are at work and how they feel about their work environment.

Steelcase Global Report: Japan

  • 55% – Disagree when asked if they like their work environment. Highest of 20 countries.
  • 37% – Say their company has sufficient meeting rooms. Lowest in 20 countries.
  • 16% – Say their workplace has private space for focus or rejuvenation. Lowest in 20 countries.
  • 94% – Never work away from the office. Highest of 20 countries.

Employees in Japan are tied to their desks. And, overwhelmingly, they report not having the spaces they need to perform at their best each day.

The recent Ernst & Young study echoes these findings. Along with concerns about money and leadership, one of the top five factors it found led to a lack of trust between employees and employers was “a work environment not conducive to collaboration.”

The impact an environment can have magnifies when it came to millennials. One of the top five reasons millennials in Japan would quit a job, according to the Ernst & Young study, was “a work environment that does not encourage teamwork.” That factor landed at 71 percent, nearly tied with too much overtime and not enough wage growth.

Looking at this growing body of research, Steelcase global design experts suggest opportunities for engaging and supporting employees. One strategy: Create a variety of spaces throughout the workplace including rooms for small group work, social cafes, enclaves screened for privacy and large team areas to allow employees to choose the space that best supports the kind of work they need to do.

While Reid flies halfway around the world to build relationships between company leaders hoping to connect and solve problems, the employees who work for those companies want to build relationships too. After all, when you retire, what are you going to miss about work? The people, right? Creating spaces that help people connect and be their best at work can help.

New 360 Research: Employee Engagement in Japan, Brazil + Australia

Japan, Brazil and Australia are new additions to Steelcase’s growing body of research exploring the relationship between employee engagement and the workplace. Find out which country has the lowest report of highly engaged workers and discover key takeaways from each of the new countries studied.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Classroom Makeover Transforms Learning http://blog.hbi-inc.com/classroom-makeover-transforms-learning/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/classroom-makeover-transforms-learning/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:30:18 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16534 Continue reading ]]>

Classroom Makeover Transforms LearningOne year after receiving an Active Learning Center Grant from Steelcase Education, a Michigan high school classroom is taking stock of the changes it’s already seen in students and teachers.

One Year Later: Classroom Makeover Transforms Learning

“When I first brought my class in here, they said, ‘Mr. Yeh, we want to be here everyday. We love this place!'” Elbert Yeh, Forest Hills Northern High School science teacher and department chair, relayed after a classroom makeover for the school’s new STEM Academy.

When Yeh’s school in Grand Rapids, Michigan launched its inaugural STEM Academy focused on science technology, engineering and math, teachers were tasked with creating a new kind of classroom to generate an engaging learning experience. STEM students are focused on learning how to solve problems and the classroom itself needed to support students and teachers in this effort.

Traditional classrooms are geared toward lecture mode and do not foster student participation. The goal for this new classroom was to transform an old computer lab into a space that promoted active learning through collaboration and student engagement.

“With active learning, students have to be engaged and more active in their learning. So that means getting up and moving around, that means talking to one another. Not just relying on the teacher to give them the information and provide them with all the answers,” said Yeh.

Before: Monotonous, Static

Before Monotonous, StaticTo accomplish this lofty goal, the school applied for the Steelcase Active Learning Center Grant to transform its classroom. After being awarded the grant, the transformation began. The soon-to-be STEM space went from stationary to flexible. It started as a room filled with rows of uneven brown desks butted up against each other. Each desk included the same computer, same monitor and same stationary black chair. The room itself was not inspiring or agile. It limited the kinds of interactions students could have with each other and the instructor.

After: Vibrant, Flexible

After Vibrant, FlexibleThe new classroom took shape at the start of the 2015-2016 school year. It included movable, versatile desks on castors which are easy to reconfigure quickly. The desks also came with embedded storage to make sure students always have what they need to perform at their best. Colorful chairs placed throughout the room were also on wheels, making them easy to move around at a moment’s notice and include storage underneath to cleanly stowaway backpacks or other materials.

This classroom gave us that flexibility of moving quickly from lecture space to discussion space.

Elbert Yeh
Forest Hills Northern High School Science Teacher and Department Chair

“This classroom gave us that flexibility of moving quickly from lecture space to discussion space,” said Yeh. “But, also with the size of these tables, we have a lot of workspace. So, students are not just constrained to uneven desks when they put them together. But, this space is just designed for working in groups.”

Forrest Hills Northern principal Jon Gregory believes active learning best prepares his students for the real world.

“Any job they go into, they are going to have to interact with others to solve problems. So, this gives them the chance to do that at the high school level,” said Gregory.

Transforming More than Space

Transforming More than SpaceNow, one year later, Forest Hills Northern teachers and students have seen much more than the STEM Academy classroom transform.

  • More discussion – Teachers report the tables and chairs breed student discussion. With the tables able to face each other, students sight-lines encourage them to talk to each other.
  • Improved lesson planning – Teachers tell us that the environment has transformed lesson planning. Now, they consider how the surroundings can help them cover the materials and messages being taught to students.
  • New ways to learn – With a flexible environment, students are easily able to move from a lecture setting to small group work to large team work. The variation in learning styles invigorates students and keeps them mentally engaged.

“It really affirmed that trying to introduce more innovation and collaboration into our schools is the right way for education,” said Yeh.

Steelcase has received an overwhelming response to its Active Learning Center Grant program. You can sign up to get notified when the grant opens again and to get more insights, research and solutions from Steelcase Education.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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Inspiring Spaces Reinvigorate the Office http://blog.hbi-inc.com/inspiring-spaces-reinvigorate-the-office/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/inspiring-spaces-reinvigorate-the-office/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:30:44 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16453 Continue reading ]]>

16-0068861It’s not just a millennial thing. People of all ages are craving informal, casual and authentic spaces at work. These inspiring, breakout spaces can benefit the holistic wellbeing of workers while helping to promote employee engagement.

Yes, more people have the option today to work away from the office. But, those who predicted the office would go away have been proven wrong. That’s because leaders know the really valuable conversations and collaborations happen when people come together. Business leaders looking to innovate and create a culture resilient to a changing marketplace are looking to the workplace as a strategic lever for innovation and idea generation.

Steelcase global researches surveyed more than 12,000 participants in 17 countries around the world. The outcome was the Steelcase Global Report, where we noted that one-third, an alarming number, of workers reported feeling disengaged at the office. Engagement is a bottom line issue. Disengaged employees become a drain on company resources and a scourge to the bottom line while an engaged workforce generates new ideas and fuels economic growth.

Business leaders are prioritizing this problem, but evidence suggests efforts may be misguided or only attacking part of the issue. Fun diversions such as game tables or a fully-stocked fridge may be addressing the social importance of relationship building in the office, but they disregard the need for a workplace that helps workers perform better. Inspiring workplaces offer spaces for people to collaborate, to focus, to lounge and to socialize. Fun and function need to work in harmony to build an engaging office.

“I don’t need office hover boards or in-house seltzer machines or a shuffleboard court to keep me happy. What I need from my work environment is what most people need, regardless of generation: an atmosphere that is intellectually stimulating, collaborative and respectful of time,” wrote Meredith Bennett-Smith for Quartz.

Bennett-Smith goes on to say it’s very difficult to do this without having watercooler conversations with her co-workers. Apps, instant messaging, texting and email can only get us so far. These forms of communication don’t account for those “accidental” yet valuable hallway conversations. And, many companies aren’t yet harnessing technology to help eliminate the disparity distance can create. Facial expressions and body language are vital components to understanding. Text-only communication is too easily misinterpreted and conversations can be quickly cut off when a new ping hits your nearest inbox.

People are rejecting the sea of sameness many offices have become.

The office is a connection point for groups and teams, and that doesn’t just mean finding ways to relax with co-workers. It means supporting the physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing of workers by enabling them to build trust  with face-to-face conversations and move projects along with important breakout conversations or the ability to concentrate and focus or rest and rejuvenate.

People are rejecting the sea of sameness many offices have become. They want breakout social and personal workspaces to choose from when at the office. That ability to choose where to work gives employees a feeling of control which research shows contributes to engagement. Getting to pick between a private or semi-private workspace that allows someone to focus, a small team room with collaborative tools such as whiteboards and information-sharing technology, and a work cafe for more social conversation creates an ecosystem of spaces engaging works all day long.

“Interacting with my colleagues is one of the main reasons I get up in the morning,” wrote Bennett-Smith.

Led by this research, designers are creating purposeful breakout spaces that help everyone perform their best at the office. View the images below to see examples of these new informal, authentic and inspiring spaces.

Inspiring Spaces

Massaud – Social Space

nullOffices are rapidly moving from cold standardization and efficiency to supporting the wellbeing of people.







Massuad – Collaboration SpaceMassuad - Collaboration Space

Human-centered design brings the outdoors in with touches of nature elements.





Breaking Patternsnull

“Breaking rules and breaking patterns is where new ideas come from.” —Bruce Smith, Steelcase director of global design.




Lessthanfive – Collaboration SpaceLessthanfive - Collaboration Space

Places with inspired of design and solutions lead to inspired thinking.





Together Bench – Social SpacesTogether Bench - Social Spaces

Spaces designed for social interactions can help stimulate the brain and improve creativity.




Lagunitas – Collaboration SpaceLagunitas - Collaboration Space

Thoughtfully integrated, intuitive technology helps make the work experience more human.




Environment for People’s Needsnull

Environments designed with people’s needs in mind help them feel more satisfied, productive and engaged.




Breakout Spacesnull

Blur the edges of the office with breakout spaces.







Big Table – Collaboration SpaceBig Table - Collaboration Space

“In response to the greater fusion of work and life, people want to feel they can identify with the space.” — James Ludwig, Steelcase global head of design.




Hosu – Social Spacenull

Combining design + materiality + performance makes workspaces more meaningful.






Cafe Spacenull

The cafe is the new breakout hub of the office, encouraging community and creativity.





Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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One Designer’s Vision of the Future Comes to Life http://blog.hbi-inc.com/one-designers-vision-of-the-future-comes-to-life/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/one-designers-vision-of-the-future-comes-to-life/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:30:07 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=16420 Continue reading ]]>

One Design's Vision of the Future Comes to LifeAn Interview with George Pritchard of KSQ Design

Steelcase global research shows the workplace can be an important tool in engaging employees. The workplace can do this by placing an emphasis on the wellbeing of people, considering their physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing needs at work. There is a cultural movement in office design to create thoughtfully curated office spaces that are more human-centered — focusing on design, materiality and performance.

This interview with George Pritchard, IV, Director of Interior Design with KSQ Design is an installment in our serious of interviews with architects and designers discussing this evolution of the workplace. KSQ Design restored the historic Gates Hardware Building in Tulsa, Oklahoma where they relocated their 63 person office. Here is what George had to say about KSQ and the design of his team’s new office:

Steelcase 360: KSQ’s mission states, “Our creativity makes vibrate communities possible through the design of thoughtful, inspired spaces that foster a sense of belonging, safety, accountability and awe.” How does that mission guide your work?

George: Creativity and thoughtfulness are essential to our process at KSQ Design. Understanding the end users and how the space will be used is important to us because this knowledge enables us to create vibrant communities. Examining why we do what we do is an important part of our culture. On a personal level, our mission serves as a daily reminder to keep me focused on what is truly important.

MissionSteelcase 360: To achieve a workspace fit for a design firm, what were KSQ’s goals or requirements when beginning the renovation process?

George: It’s not easy to design a space for a room full of designers, but our goals were aimed at providing a space where staff can be creative, productive and comfortable. We also wanted a space we could all be proud of, and a space that would better showcase our design sensibilities and attract like-minded people.

Steelcase 360: Tell us about the history of the building you renovated.

George: The Gates Hardware building was built in the 1920s and housed a hardware store. Throughout the years it’s gone through various phases and tenants and then sate empty and underutilized in an area downtown Tulsa prime for further revitalization. We wanted to contribute to the revitalization of the Brady Arts District, and just be in an arts district in general. It was a gut renovation, but we used the building’s past life as inspiration for the new design. There are nods to its hardware past in subtle and not so subtle ways, like our pegboard inspired gallery wall and the way we embraced the honesty of the building’s original materials. We have exposed brick and steel beams, and we took the original exterior marquee sign and hung it in the two-story, open stairway in our main entry.

HardwareSteelcase 360: How does the design of your office reflect your firm’s culture?

George: We take pride in our creativity, having a family environment and in the way we collaborate. Our space addresses these values in various ways. Our open office / studio environment allows for easy collaboration and discussion. We have Steelcase Node stools along the studio wall with drafting tables and a view of a park outside the window. Our kitchen is fully equipped, oversized and right by our commons area since food is what brings every family together. There’s something inspiring about seeing the green grass of the outfield while in a meeting.

Although we are very serious about our work, KSQ has always had a “work hard/play hard” culture and we wanted to carry over some of our play spaces from the former office. We used to have a conference table that would double as a ping pong table after hours, so the new office has a custom ping pong table we helped design that’s a favorite spot after work each day. The Nerf wars occur late at night, like after a team has worked on a deadline for 12 hours straight, allow us to be playful and competitive all at once. The new office gives us new places to hide/attack during Nerf wars. A lot of our staff are both playful and competitive, so those traits are actually part of our culture too and the reasoning behind some the design decisions.

ping pong tableSteelcase 360: As a designer, where do you find your inspiration?

George: My inspiration comes from studying the details of a given project. I like to study the client and their design goals to come up with a design concept that infuses who they are and what they need into the architecture. This approach produces a design solution with meaning. There’s a spark of inspiration that comes during time spend listening to the client and learning about their passions and purpose; it’s this initial spark that keeps me focused throughout the project.

Steelcase 360: What do you think the future of workspaces will look like?

George: I think simplicity and flexibility is the future. Workspace design allowing people to adjust their work area to fit their specific needs while staying in the context of the overall office aesthetic is what I hope the future brings. And, of course, nap stations.

16-0072745Steelcase 360: KSQ has a really beautiful portfolio – what has been one of your favorite projects to work on?

George: Thank you. My personal favorite has been the renovation of the Gates building. It’s the project I spend the most time in, and even though designing for designers can be a challenge it can also be incredibly rewarding to help design the space you work in.


Written By:

Rebecca Charbauski

For Steelcase


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