NeoCon 2016: Herman Miller reveals global workplace trends

by Brianna Crandall — July 1, 2016 — At the NeoCon 2016 contract furnishings show in Chicago June 13-15, Herman Miller, globally recognized provider of furnishings and related technologies and services for over 100 years, shared new insights into global workplace trends: how people work, and the significant changes in the way spaces are being planned to support them. As the floorplate continues to shift towards settings beyond individual workstations, Herman Miller has identified six distinct ways that progressive organizations and their design partners are planning space differently – with greater variety, more opportunities for interaction, and a smarter use of resources.

Herman Miller’s Living Office, the company’s holistic offering of knowledge, tools, products, and services designed to help people envision and realize higher performing environments, provides the framework to leverage these trends toward more purposeful and varied settings. The company’s research also reveals that companies that have developed Living Offices are seeing measurable results, with greater efficiency, productivity, and innovation.

Herman Miller showroomHerman Miller has applied these findings to product development, and the resulting introductions at NeoCon 2016 offered versatility and support for a range of activities across a workplace landscape. Products introduced and awards received by the Herman Miller family of brands at NeoCon 2016 will be covered in a separate FMLink article.

Global workplace trends

Twenty months ago, Herman Miller researchers set out to gather meaningful data about how workplace design is evolving. As every organization implements agile and collaborative work practices in their own unique way, typical benchmarking units such as square feet per workstation or workstations per person would not be useful to customers or design professionals, notes the company.

Herman Miller showroomTo take an informative snapshot of changing office metrics, Herman Miller researchers analyzed the workplace landscapes of 120 progressive organizations around the world, from start-ups to enterprises, in a wide range of industries, from financial, insurance, and energy, to not-for-profit, media, and technology. By analyzing 70 distinct data points from each floorplan, Herman Miller has identified six trends in how organizations and their design partners are using Living Office place-making strategies to support new ways of working:

  • Assigned seats are being replaced with flexible work-points: As portable technology allows people to work anywhere, at any time, assigned workstations are unoccupied for up to 60 percent of the day. While traditional floorplans show 97% assigned workstations, progressive workplaces have an average of 41% unassigned work-points.
  • Standard conference rooms are being replaced with multiple group space types: Groups engage in a variety of collaborative activities throughout the day, and workplaces that only offer conference rooms do not support all of them. Progressive flooplans show an average of six types of group settings, versus one in traditional workplace plans.
  • Conference spaces are being precision fit to minimize wasted space: Outsized conference rooms that only support formal presentations to large groups are largely underutilized. Progressive organizations offer a variety of right-sized meeting spaces to more effectively support a range of activities, downsizing from an average of conference room seating for 10 to seven meeting-space seats.
  • Circulation space is being activated to foster connection: Rather than getting workers from point A to point B, circulation space can offer increased opportunities for effective activity and increased connectivity. Progressive workplaces have an average of 47% connective space, versus 33% of circulation space in traditional floorplans.
  • Isolated breakrooms are becoming centralized plazas: While distant breakrooms offer proximity to the small groups they serve, progressive companies want to foster broader social connection and information sharing. With four people per plaza seat versus 16 people per breakroom seat, centrally located gathering spaces encourage fortuitous interactions and help bring an organization’s culture to life.
  • Privacy is no longer a luxury given to a few, but available on-demand to anyone who needs it: Quiet places to think and recharge are beneficial to all, but traditional offices only offer one per every 67 people. A variety of private settings provided throughout the floorplan, at a ratio of 24 people per haven, allows all workers to find a place to focus or have a quiet conversation.
Living Office

In addition to the company’s research into how spaces are changing, Herman Miller researched Living Office workplaces and the employees and leaders who work in them. The results clearly indicate that Living Office has helped people feel more creative, more connected, and more engaged in their work. Companies are seeing greater efficiency, productivity, and innovation.

Herman Miller showroomWith the addition of over a dozen new products to Herman Miller’s purposefully varied offering, the company restructured its presentation of workplace solutions to better support the purpose, character, and activities of the organizations, groups, and individuals that use them. Visitors to the Herman Miller showroom walked through Landscape Systems such as Canvas, Layout Studio, and Public — solutions that offer the adaptability, variation, and modularity to meet a broad set of needs, as well as a cohesive design that harmonizes seamlessly across the floorplate.

Augmenting these enterprise-ready Landscape Systems were Focused Portfolios, discrete solutions designed to meet precise needs of specific teams and their work. Focused Portfolios include Locale for high-performance teams, Metaform Portfolio for hyper-flexible, highly-customizable settings, and Renew Link for high-density settings that support extended periods of focused work.

Throughout the showroom, guests found garden-like respites that showcased the significant expansion of Herman Miller’s soft seating and lounge furnishings offer for the work, higher education, and healthcare markets. In a diverse offering of colors, materials, and finishes, the new lounge collections — including Plex, Striad, Spot, and Saiba — and other product introductions reflected the overall theme of workplace solutions “that look almost residential” that FMLink Publisher Peter Kimmel, AIA, IFMA Fellow and others noted at NeoCon.

For more information about Herman Miller’s findings on global workplace trends and the company’s product introductions, visit Herman Miller’s NeoCon landing site.