HBI Inc. :: Blog http://blog.hbi-inc.com Tue, 12 Mar 2019 22:47:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.9 How Data Improves the Employee Experience: Q + A http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-data-improves-the-employee-experience-q-a/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-data-improves-the-employee-experience-q-a/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2019 23:47:26 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19539 Continue reading ]]> How Data Improves the Employee Experience - Q + A

The Smart + Connected Workplace is about giving people the tools to move, think and feel better so they can engage like never before.

How Data Improves the Employee Experience

Today’s Smart + Connected Workplace is more about experiences and less about devices. Technology is acting as our digital concierge or a helpful assistant, providing information to us when we need it. According to Brandon Buckingham, Smart + Connected director for Steelcase, this is a new workplace where technology enables better experiences that allow us to navigate place, time, resources and commitments seamlessly. At the same time, it offers the influencers of how space is used, planned for and acquired detailed information to inform their choices. And, as data is aggregated over time, it provides insights into key workplace issues like culture, innovation and engagement. Buckingham joined 360 to share how this backdrop of technology has evolved  in just a few short years.

360: Technology is moving so fast. It seems like what was a promise not so long ago, is now reality.

BB: The emergency of big data, AI, machine learning and IoT — all words that never were really part of our vernacular — are now staples that come up in every conversation around workplace strategy and engagement. There’s always this question as it relates to space in particular: How do we make sure we’re getting the most out of that space? And, how do we take the data that’s there and a workplace enabled with technology to realize better experiences?

With the rise of mobile devices as well as technology infrastructure embedded in the workplace, there’s a wide range of data streams that can help ups improve the workplace. It’s so different than what it was just five or six years ago. The challenge is—what do you do with all the data? Where’s the most impactful place to start? Seeing the needs of the customer and the people using the space is the best way to uncover where value can be created with technology and data, and we are focused more than ever on user-centered solutions.


Discover how the Smart + Connected Workplace can enhance the employee experience.


360: The way you’re able to harness data today gives companies an opportunity to give back to their people. How does the average person sees these benefits?

BB: It’s easy to see the value that comes from creating a seamless work experience where people can find the resources they need, when they need them. The burden of having to find the best places to go, figure out how to get there, schedule meetings and notify others of those choices is significant. It’s time consuming and adds complication to an already complex workday. With the devices people have access to, people can change the way work happens, how they feel at the end of the day and how they collaborate. Technology and data can help them find their way to spaces, create better startup experiences for collaboration, and give them prompts to move throughout the day — that has great potential to make a positive impact on their day-to-day experience.

Smart + Connected Workplace

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Make it easier for employees to seamlessly go about their day. The Steelcase Find app helps employees find available spaces with the size, tech and amenities they want and invite colleagues to collaborate.

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By displaying real-time availability, Steelcase Live Map takes the guesswork out of finding the ideal workspace, helping people save time, feel more confident and focus on what really matters: doing the best work possible.

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RoomWizard is a scheduling program system that allows people to book and reserve spaces, making it easy to get the most out of their connected spaces.

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Support employees’ wellbeing with solutions that encourage them to stand and move. The Steelcase Rise app elevates the heigh-adjustable experience. It brings personal presets to any desk with an Active Touch controller, provides subtle reminders to change posture and tracks activity toward wellbeing goals.

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Support teamwork by providing employees with the tools to collaborate. Virtual PUCK is a digital collaborative tool that allows meeting participants to share content wirelessly from a laptop anywhere in the room.

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Thoughtfully integrated furniture and workplace technology with media:scape brings people, space and information together to enhance productivity and helps groups excel.

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Steelcase Workplace Advisor is a suite of space measurement and analysis tools which provide facts and insight on space usage revealing opportunities to elevate performance. The data these tools collect lets space tell you what’s happening and what’s possible so organizations can decide what to do next.

360: What’s driving this surge of embedded workplace technology?

BB: There’s a number of forces coming together right now. It starts at home. We’re all getting used to how AI-enabled assistants can help ups with our daily lives. It no longer feels intrusive to ask a device to order something we need or tell us how to get somewhere. These breakthroughs were disruptive and have a lot of parallels to how we experience the workplace. It’s only natural we would bring this comfort with technology to work with us and explore new ways to use data to make our day easier.

Analogous to AI, in some ways, is the fact that people, devices and ideas are more mobile than ever. How can we leverage mobility in ways that make a real impact? We know the workplace contributes to engagement and the types of amenities and resources people have access to play a part in that. If we can help people find the right tools and right spaces while they’re moving from one activity to the next, we can help them be more productive and also add a delightful moment to their day.

360: Can you give us an example of what you mean by delight?

BB: Think about the benefits to having a digital concierge, something that gives you subtle digital nudges at just the right times throughout the day. Whether it’s my smartwatch or phone that reminds me to do something or wish someone a happy birthday, it’s a warm nudge that makes me think, “Wow that was helpful.” Because we’re comfortable with these kinds of interactions at home or at the gym, we also welcome them at work. An app that can gently remind you to stand at preset intervals during the day and pairs with your height-adjustable desk to automatically raise it just to the right level feels like a natural decision of our experience.

360: Turning data into actionable insights is what really matters. How are organizations able to harness the Smart + Connected Workplace to make better decisions?

BB: For someone who is planning space or making decisions about investments in space, there’s tremendous value to understanding how people are using the workplace. How efficiently is space being used? Do behaviors change or shift throughout the year or during different seasons? What trends are becoming patterns over time? It’s powerful objective information. If there’s a project coming up, organizations can easily do a short-term occupancy measurement study and analysis to inform the project. They can also measure over time to make sure they’re on top of what’s next. It comes back to creating the best workplace for people. By understanding what’s being used and what isn’t, companies can create more of what people need and want to get their best work done.

360: How do you envision the future of the Smart + Connected Workplace?

BB: The future is about making technology the backdrop for better experiences. It’s not about technology for technology’s sake. It shouldn’t be disruptive or intrusive. It’s about using technology to create solutions for people at work. The future is about leaning into user-centeredness and creating a vision that brings these pieces of technology together in meaningful ways. It’s the Smart + Connected ecosystem tightening its connections — digital signage, collaboration technology, mobile apps for wayfinding and wellbeing, and space monitoring and services.

In the near term, Wi-Fi-enabled wayfinding standards are coming as is 5G. Both are going to be really disruptive. The pace of change is great. It’s an exciting journey and we will continue to explore what’s next and how it will transform the experiences people have at work.

Explore more information about today’s Smart + Connected Workplace.

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How West Elm Tracks Office Trends: Design Q + A http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-west-elm-tracks-office-trends-design-q-a/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/how-west-elm-tracks-office-trends-design-q-a/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2019 13:00:49 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19500 Continue reading ]]> How West Elm Tracks Office Trends - Design Q + A

Building a practice to track and respond to what people want their spaces to look and feel like.

Tracking Office Trends with West Elm: Design Q + A

With customers in more than 90 countries, there’s no shortage of opportunities for West Elm to learn about how people want their spaces to look, feel and perform, especially with new office trends on the rise. The modern home brand is now working with Steelcase to bring its signature design aesthetic into the workplace.

360 had the chance to talk to Paulo Kos, West Elm vice president of Work & Contract Design. Kos started with West Elm in its infancy, designing and lighting for people’s homes. Three years ago, he was asked to lead design for the company’s workplace and hospitality businesses. He described how West Elm designers create beautiful, compelling products through an intentional design practice. That practice, he says, is powered by a passion for design and putting people first, as well as an understanding of how people live and work.

360: West Elm is known for its close connection to its customers. How do you and your team identify the changing trends around what people want — even before they know it themselves?

Paul Kos: We have a direct line of communication and contact with our customers, and that unique insight keeps us ahead of the curve. There are so many different ways we interact with the customer — through our stores, online and social media — that provide us with a limitless well to tap for insight. We can see what they’re responding to as they respond to it. Some of these sample people work in offices. So, we can see what they like in their homes and bring that into the workplace.

We also have a trend team that travels a lot. Both our designers and trend team travel to trade shows as well as to cities, museums and art galleries for inspiration.

When it comes to the home, we’re constantly building on the looks we’re creating because the reality is people don’t change their homes completely all the time. Homes usually evolve. You might get a new sofa, but everything else might stay the same. It’s about building onto these existing spaces. With the workplace, there’s the same ability to update certain spaces such as lounge areas or the accessories found around the office. That’s something we do constantly to make spaces feel fresh and new.

360: How would you describe you and your team’s design approach?

PK: In addition to first-in-class industrial design, we employ a team of textile designers, artists and sculptors. Their work — combined with our strength in sourcing — provide a unique hand and distinctive material voice within the home and office design space.

360: What was it like transitioning from designing for the home to designing for the office? What similarities and differences do you see between residential and commercial design?

PK: It was daunting, but also exciting. It’s a way to bring what I’ve been doing for more than 12 years into a whole new space. As a trendsetting residential brand, West Elm’s modern design prowess and fast-turnaround product design process are a natural fit for the office application.

You’re taking something that’s completely outside of the office and redistilling it into something new. We’re trying to create spaces where people want to be, where they feel comfortable and at ease. With more and more people working both from home and the office, work is no longer bound to a specific place. Home and the office are more connected than ever.

It’s definitely been a learning experience, and I’ve learned so much from our partners. That’s the great thing about working with Steelcase, they’re the leaders in the industry. Working with them is a great education.

It’s interesting to see what works in both environments, and what we can take from the home and bring into the office to create an inviting space. West Elm has always been about modern design and comfort, so we’re uniquely poised to do that because of the materials, textiles and colors we work with. It’s the perfect palette to bring into the office to create the residential look everybody’s talking about.

West Elm Work Collection

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The West Elm Work Collection represents Steelcase and West Elm’s unique perspective as partners – West Elm’s signature modern aesthetic along with Steelcase’s workplace expertise. (Shown here: West Elm Work Conover Plinth Sectional, West Elm Work Slope Lounge Chair, West Elm Work Boerum Coffee Table, West Elm Work Linear C-Table)

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Steelcase adds to its extensive portfolio with the addition of the West Elm Work Collection, giving designers easy access to a diverse range of options for the new ways people are working today. (Shown here: West Elm Work Mesa Sectional, West Elm Work Lucas Swivel Chair, West Elm Work Lily Pad Nesting Table)

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Since 2015, West Elm has been bringing its residential sensibility and distinct modern filter to the office. Now, the West Elm Work Collection is available through the industry-leading Steelcase dealer network. (Shown here: West Elm Work James Harrison Settee, West Elm Work Lily Pad Nesting Tables, West Elm Work Nolan Side Table)

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The West Elm Work Collection is the latest collaboration within the Steelcase partner portfolio, becoming the industry’s largest network of makers and creators of products for the workplace. (Shown here: West Elm Work James Harrison Settee, West Elm Work Horizon Narrow Coffee Table, West Elm Work Nolan Side Table)

360: What workplace trends do you expect to see in the next year or two?

PK: Companies want to give people more choice in how they work. Historically, you had your desk, you sat at your desk, you did your work for eight hours and then you went home. Today, people are much more flexible. They work from sofas, from home, from taxis. We’re always on the go and online. It’s about taking that, translating it into new ways to work and giving people new tools to work with.

More than ever, we’re bringing the authenticity of our homes into the office. Typically, you find more natural and authentic materials in homes. You might have some vintage pieces or an eclectic assortment of objects in your home, whereas offices tend to have the same look repeated over and over. The modern, forward-thinking workplace will bring that eclecticism — as well as the warmth of the materials into the office. Think — natural woods with real wood grain and plush textiles. Some of our metals are on the raw side, so you see through the finish into the actual steel.

Another constant trend is wellness which isn’t just about sit-to-stand desks or ergonomic ball chairs. Emotional wellness and wellbeing is imperative — making people feel comfortable and relaxed at their place of work. You do much better work when you’re relaxed. Nobody wants to be stressed out.

360: You have a space in Brooklyn where you test and review upcoming products to envision what the store will look like in the future How does it inform your ability to spot and respond to trends?

PK: We’re lucky to have a “mock store” here at our Brooklyn headquarters. On the residential side, we typically work on product about 16 months ahead of its launch. Just before placing orders, we bring all the furniture, textiles, decorative accessories and lighting together and stage it as if it was in the store. It’s an opportunity to evaluate and edit the whole look, to see what we’ve done and where we’re going, and to identify opportunities to chase or develop for a future season.

360: You also use your own office like a lab to learn what people are responding to and how they use your furniture. What are you learning?

PK: West Elm moved into a new building — a renovated warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront — a few years ago. Our previous office didn’t have informal spaces. We were busing at the seams, so everything was benching and desking. Our new space offers a variety of areas with sofas and sections which was different for us. It was amazing to see all of those lounge spaces absolutely full on day one. There wasn’t an empty seat. It was very clear that this what people wanted, to feel more comfortable. They don’t want to be chained to their desks.

360: What are your thoughts on balancing desk work and away-from-the-desk work?

PK: Both are needed because no two people are exactly the same. People want different things. There are people here in our office who are constantly at their desks. They like having the horizontal surface where everything is in one place, and that’s how they work best. Then, there are people who prefer to be more relaxed and sit on a sofa, maybe with their tablet or laptop. Different people and different tasks require different types of environments.

Desks will always be an office staple. There are some types of work that will always need that solution. But, especially in our office, we have so many different types of tasks being done — from design to finance to marketing. Everybody’s doing different things that require different solutions, as well as different kinds of spaces to work in.

360: As a designer, do you have favorite places you go for inspiration?

PK: New York is an incredible place to be. There’s always something to look at from vintage shops to high fashion to art galleries. But, it depends on what you’re looking for. Inspiration tends to hit you when you’re not looking for it.

A portfolio of products from Steelcase and West Elm, the West Elm Work Collection is inspired by residential design and made to withstand the wear and tear of the office. Explore West Elm.

Paulo Kos

Paulo Kos is the vice president of design for West Elm’s Work & Contract division, where he leads the team responsible for developing all contract products for the architecture and design community. A key member of West Elm’s design team at the company’s 2002 launch, Paulo worked on furniture, lighting and functional accessories for the brand prior to joining the Contract division. A graduate of Brown University and Pratt Institute, he has a combined education in industrial design, the arts and architecture.

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Healthcare Redesign: Improving the Patient Experience http://blog.hbi-inc.com/healthcare-redesign-improving-the-patient-experience/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/healthcare-redesign-improving-the-patient-experience/#comments Mon, 04 Feb 2019 13:00:51 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19479 Continue reading ]]> Healthcare Redesign - Improving the Patient Experience

Stacey Chang and Michelle Ossmann discuss redesigning healthcare to improve the experience for patients and providers.

Redesigning the Healthcare Experience

Hospitals were originally created to treat mass infections and serve war torn and poor populations. Today, patients are living with disease. Diabetes, obesity and depression are just a few of the illnesses people live with for decades. For Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School, that’s part of the reason he’s on a mission to improve the healthcare experience. Dell Medical School is a first-of-its-kind institution, a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. It’s funded in large part by the community, allowing Chang to focus on value-based care instead of a more typical fee-for-service model.

Chang sat down with Steelcase Director of Health Environments, Michelle Ossmann, PhD. Ossmann holds a PhD in Architecture from Georgia Tech. Prior to leading the research and insights strategy in the healthcare area at Steelcase, she led her own health design consultancy. She was also a practicing clinician for 10 years, caring for patients as a neurocritical care nurse practitioner and emergency department nurse. Chang and Ossmann discussed the bold, transformative ideas he’s trying in Austin that may redefine the way people receive healthcare in Texas and, perhaps, throughout the world.

Michelle Ossmann: How do you balance human-centered design with evidence-based medicine — the academic approach of, “Prove it to me first, and then I’ll do it?”

Stacey Chang: That really is the heart of a lot of dysfunction in healthcare right now. When a physician used to practice, it was within the limits of their own experience, so evidence-based medicine is a fantastic evolution. But, the problem is that it swung the pendulum in healthcare somewhere between clinical research and the clinical provider. And so in doing so, we’ve lost a focus on the humanity that exists, the primacy between the provider and the patient, which is really where the value in healthcare gets delivered.

So, it’s been really interesting to take a system that’s been designed to be efficient and generalize every human being to a set of statistics, and try to return it to something where it recognizes every patient as a human being.

MO: Evidence suggests that the built-in environment is where one reveals self. How did you approach the opportunity to redesign that at Dell Medical School?

SC: Environments afford certain behaviors. It’s about enabling the exchange between people, not prescribing it. That’s the most important distinction when you start thinking about the built-in environment.

At Dell Medical School, we inherited a shelled-out building. The architects had presumed we’d want a clinical building designed with a bunch of coffin-like exam rooms you could shuttle patients in and out of.

But what makes Austin unique is that the under-served population wasn’t interested in a fee-for-service system. They wanted a value-based care system where the system gets paid only when they make a positive outcome. So, the Dean suggested the architects pull us into the design process. We were very thoughtful about the experience of the patient in the space.

MO: How does that environment support your model of care?

SC: It’s remarkably different. Our appointments with patients don’t last 10 minutes. They last between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The teams huddle and know what their intent is for the patient’s visit beforehand to really advance care for that patient in a single visit. They might get a history and a physical, diagnosis and maybe start of therapy all in one visit. So, we had to design the building to accommodate that.

MO: Environment can signal a whole new way of doing things, without saying a word, right?

SC: Folks walk into the space now and they’re like, “This doesn’t feel like a clinic.” And our response is, “Yeah, that’s exactly the point.” It doesn’t feel like walking into “The Matrix,” which is what it feels like when you walk into most healthcare systems. That creates all kinds of anxiety for the patient. We want the patients to make a lot of decisions, to empower them.

MO: As part of your work with the Design Institute, you’re also working to redesign healthcare outside of the clinical environment. Why?

SC: If we’re really going to address the modern nature of diseases — diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression — we’ve got to move the venue of care to where people actually are.

Instead of going to a clinic where you get treated, what does it mean to be treated for your disease when you’re in a community center? A town square? When you go get food at the farmer’s market and you interact with your neighbors? What does it mean then to actually deliver care in those venues? So those are the things that we’re really thinking about now. Because primary care as we know it is going to evolve pretty dramatically. Especially for the kind of under-served population that we are focused on. It’s really not the medical determinants of care that matter, it’s all the other social determinants – access to food, transportation, economic empowerment and more.

MO: What are you exploring in terms of technology to transform the experience of the clinicians or the patients you see in your practice or across the world?

SC: We’re looking at the role of augmented reality. If we care start to introduce technology into the world we know now, it can start to shift our behaviors and our perspectives and our knowledge in more subtle and encouraging ways, ones that aren’t quite such a distinct experience from life. Would we make poor decisions all the time with regard to our health, if we were getting nudged in ways we almost don’t even notice?

I just read something that suggests we’re going to be wearing ear buds 24/7 in five years. Everything will be channeled through our ears. If that’s the case, how do we use that mechanism to augment our lived experience and nudge us in ways that are actually more healthy? Eating, exercise, our social relationships and mental health, all of those things are opportunities.



Stacey Chang and Michelle Ossmann explore the meaning of design and delve deeply into new ways to deliver healthcare centered around people.

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Stacey Chang

Stacey Chang is executive directory of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Art the University of Texas in Austin. Prior to the Design Institute, he served as managing director of the healthcare practice at IDEO, a global design and innovation firm. Chang holds a B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. degree from Stanford University, both in engineering.

Michelle Ossmann

Michelle Ossmann, PhD, serves as the director of health environments at Steelcase Health. As a member of the Health Leadership Team, Ossmann leads development and execution of the research and insights strategy across product development, marketing and sales.

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Digital Transformation for Workplace Design in 2019 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/digital-transformation-for-workplace-design-in-2019/ http://blog.hbi-inc.com/digital-transformation-for-workplace-design-in-2019/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2019 17:11:22 +0000 http://blog.hbi-inc.com/?p=19453 Continue reading ]]> Digital Transformation for Workplace Design in 2019

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

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

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

Relearning Empathy

Relearning Empathy

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

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

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


Engineered Naturals

Engineered Naturals


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

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

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


Teach Reliance

Teach Reliance

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Nurturing the Human Dimension

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

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

Empathy as a Management Practice

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

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

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

Try This

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

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

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

Rethink Everything About Work

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Company Culture Just Happen

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

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

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

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

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

Questions are the Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Weave Nature into the Workplace

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

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

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

1. Explore Nature-Inspired Materials

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace001-resized

Nature Inspired Solutions Reimaging Your Workplace002

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

Nature-Inspired Solutions: Reimaging Your Workplace

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

2. Greenery, Reimagined

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

3. It’s In the Fabric

It's In the Fabric


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

4. Lighten Up

Lighten Up

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


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

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

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

Creating In and Outside the Box

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

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

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

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

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

One Size Fits All

One Size Fits All


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

Restore Pod

Restore Pod

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

For the Creative

For the Creative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

360: How does this connect to the workplace?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about myfood visit their website.

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

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

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

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

Building the Classroom of the Future001


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

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

Movement Shifts Mindsets

Movement Shifts Mindsets

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

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

Movement Shifts Mindsets001

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

Collaborate to Innovate

Collaborate to Innovate

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

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

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

The Future of Education

The Future of Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

360: What keeps people engaged at work?

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

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

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

360: Can you give us examples that do work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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