Furniture | Flooring | Technology
New Workplace A Collection of Insights from Tangram Interiors
Table of Contents
Does Your Work Environment Reflect Your Brand?
The Wide World of Loose Furniture
Commercial Flooring: Brand, Culture, and Choice
Can The Right Interior Design Improve Workplace Performance?
The Co-Designed Workspace: Bringing a Shared Vision to Life
Just Hit Send
How Much Tech Should Offices Really Be Adopting?
Data Privacy. By Design.
The Rise Of Co-Designing Workspaces
Space is no longer just something you work in; itâ€™s something you interact with.
Paul Smith, Tangram Chief Marketing Officer
Does Your Work Environment Reflect Your Brand? Engaged, motivated, happy workers are an organization’s best brand advocates. By Paul Smith, Tangram CMO
The Internet and our fast-paced, highly digital lifestyles have changed the exposure level of organizations. Everything we do is visible, talked about and reviewed. Every employee is a spokesperson. Every interviewee is a potential reviewer. Every customer is a potential referral. But instead of being scared by that idea, we need to embrace the concept of culture, community and communication to create modern organizations that celebrate these new levels of transparency. A brand is now more than a calculated strategic process. It’s an organic reflection of the organization’s beliefs, actions and partnerships. Employee posts to social media are a greater reflection of identity than simply the color of the logo. It is essential that business leaders start looking holistically at key attributes of an organization’s lifecycle, not just for customer and client engagement, but also for the employee or potential recruit as well. 6
Not to get too philosophical here, but these concepts are based on the anthropological ideas of ethos and meaning that form a shared culture. And our cultures have become our brands.
Engaged, motivated, happy workers are an organization’s best brand advocates.
Beyond Bean Bags And Ping Pong A new realization of the importance of the work environment isn’t limited to the world of high-tech anymore. It’s permeating organizations in every market segment. And yes, it’s especially attractive to younger employees, Gen Y and Millennials, for whom the boundaries between the personal and professional are more fluid than for previous generations. They expect to be inspired, to have fun and to collaborate. Moreover, they expect the work environment to be flexible and customizable to reflect their personality and style. But don’t we all? Progressive organizations have come to realize that interior workspaces ought to look and feel like the brand culture
the company wants to project. Space is no longer just something you work in; it’s something you interact with. The first question to ask is: What is the “brand personality” that should be embraced? Fun? Quirky? Professional? Creative? But in addition to reflecting the nature or “form” of the brand, a careful consideration of function is also essential to create an environment that allows employees to work at their highest rate of efficiency, whether they’re in heads-down, small or large collaboration, or presentation mode. It’s no longer enough to simply distribute internal communications describing the organization’s vision, mission, values and so on. That’s a
given. But it’s basically a top-down strategy. The transformation that’s occurring in the modern workspace is having that brand spirit saturate the environment in which people work every day. It’s where top-down and bottom-up merge for a seamless experience of the brand culture by both internal groups like staff members and external groups like customers. Engaged, motivated, happy workers are an organization’s best brand advocates. This is an exciting and invigorating time to bring the working environment in alignment with the overall brand. And who should be at the center of it all? Do you really have to ask?
Future Work What today’s trends are saying about tomorrow From 360 Magazine, Issue 74 Technology is rapidly altering how we live and work. We love the new conveniences that our devices deliver. But as technology becomes a coworker and even a personal companion, we aren’t always sure how we really feel about it. As the digital revolution gains momentum, it’s important to imagine and prepare for what the impacts may be. Because it’s not just about technology; it’s also about our human experiences—including at work where most of us spend so many of our awake hours. The more we productively interact with machines, the more important our creativity, values and passions will become. Are you ready to respond to tomorrow’s possibilities? What patterns for the future can you see in these trends happening today?
The Rise of Machines The hardest things to automate: managing and developing people and applying expertise to decision making, planning or creative work. 8
The Future Factor
Business leaders have identified building the organization â€œof the futureâ€? as their most important challenge.
Machines Canâ€™t Do Everything
AI is made by humans, intended to behave by humans and, ultimately, to impact humans lives and human society. FEI- FEI LI Google Chief Scientist and Stanford Professor
The Talent Imperative
… skilling-up for an AIpowered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, humanities and social sciences will become even more important…
Investing in People
Companies that invest in employees’ technological, cultural, and physical work environments have more than four times the average profit and more than two times the average revenue compared to companies that don’t.
Our collective thinking â€“ developed through years of working with contract and semi-contract vendors â€“ must be recalibrated so that we can design and manage better together.
The Wide World of Loose Furniture Recalibrating our Approach to Ancillary Furniture Curation By Nick Meter, Tangram Director of Customer Experience
The past five years have seen a rapid shift in the design preferences of corporate clients. Empowered by websites that make the envisioning of design options possible (e.g., Pinterest, Houzz, etc.) and fed by the ongoing trend of promoting “residential” qualities within a workspace, clients are increasingly seeking solutions outside of established channels. As contract furniture manufacturers adapt to this trend with new product and material introductions, products from online/retail/ boutique (ORB) outlets are increasingly requested, specified and implemented. This trend is welcome in that it allows for greater eclecticism and texture within corporate spaces. At the same time, it presents a unique (but not insurmountable) challenge to all of the key members of a project team.
Nick Meter, Tangram Director of Customer Experience
I want my office to look like this page I saw on Pinterest. The space needs to look more residential and eclectic. Have you seen the Soho House? Why can’t I just use the same chairs from Restoration Hardware that I use at home?
Our collective thinking – developed through years of working with contract and semicontract vendors – must be recalibrated so that we can design and manage better together. Importantly, our dialogue with clients needs to evolve, so that they can understand that what they may consider a “simple online order” or “15 minutes on Pinterest” is not a substitute for professionally administered procurement and implementation or interior design, respectively. When evaluating movable furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF+E) from online, retail and boutique sources, consider the following:
Architects and Designers Design firms often work more, not less, when specifying ORB products for several reasons. Unlike with contract furniture, there is little to no established market representation to assist with specifications. Therefore, the influence of the design firm canâ€™t be leveraged to drive vendor performance with regard to pricing, lead time and warranty. In addition, samples of product and material are often not readily available and are typically not stocked in a design library. Contacting the vendor through its website, main office or email can be challenging as compared to typical contract sources. Given these issues, clients and designers are often asked to make selections without adequate collateral, leading to a protracted selection process or a dispute when items do not meet their expectations. Clients, not understanding these potential problems, wrongly conceive of the specification process for ORB items as easier, not harder. â€œShoppingâ€? is familiar to them and not seen as an activity requiring professional oversight and assistance.
Clients who find and suggest ORB items themselves are not aware of the necessary follow-up work required to specify the product, coordinate it with interior finishes, and work with the vendor and dealer for procurement and implementation.
Dealers Dealers also typically expend more resources when specifying ORB products due to a number of factors. Reliable manufacturer representation and support is highly variable and providerdependent. The dealer’s influence as a long-term business partner to the manufacturer is not as easily leveraged, making it harder for sticky discussions around shipping damage, warranty and repairs to get “unstuck”. Also, warranties are weaker in general for ORB products when compared to contract-grade providers. Clients might experience low first cost, but will pay for time and materials more frequently during the lifespan of the product. Lead times for ORB items are highly variable, and freight carriers’ standards for timeliness and performance vary more widely as compared to contract manufacturers.
ORB vendors typically require 100% payment up front. This practice negatively affects cash flow, and is a major constraint for smaller, more boutique dealers. As mentioned above, samples are often not readily available or stocked in a design library. Vendors such as Overstock and One Kings Lane do not necessarily keep running inventory of product. As the name suggests, Overstock sells a fixed amount of a particular product and then discontinues selling that product. This practice creates obvious continuity issues for clients.
Project Managers Project managers should also understand several key issues. ORB products can offer attractive cost or aesthetic alternatives to contract lines, and in many cases are viable and worthwhile.
When all the players on a workspace design project are in tune and understand the value each plays, there is a much higher probability that the expectations of the client will be met.
However, in many cases quality, lead time and product inventory continuity are highly variable. Warranty, representation and follow-up capabilities of the vendor are typically more limited than with contract goods. The complexities of specifying, ordering and implementing the product should not be short-sold to the client when discussing the corresponding design fees and dealer markups. Design firms and dealers should be held to the same high standards for execution, but with a nuanced understanding of the issues as described above. The bottom line? When all the players on a workspace design project are in tune and understand the value each plays, there is a much higher probability that the expectations of the client will be met. Tight collaboration is critical to meeting those expectations for cost, quality and timeliness. That includes when and when not to specify ORB items that may look great, but are problematic to procure and wonâ€™t stand the test of time.
If our competition is starting and ending their day at the same time as us, but each individual at Tangram just did one more thing, thereâ€™s no way they would be able to keep up with us.
Just Hit Send Interview with Mitchel Zelinger
Mitchel Zelinger, Tangram Director of Business Development
It doesn’t take long to realize that even though Mitchel has called Southern California home since his college days, he never really left New York. He sits down in a chic office chair, blue jeans, long sleeve crew neck and perfectly polished dress shoes. Zelinger cracks a quick joke, smiles, and asks in a way only a New Yorker could, “So what are we doing here today?” A legitimate question as Mitchel’s crazy schedule has him navigating all over Southern California daily.
After graduating Cal State Northridge in 1985, he invited his marketing professor, Bill Crookston, (who has since become a lifelong mentor and friend of Mitchel’s) to help him understand how to grow the family business. “He was the doctor, and we were the patient!” And the doctor told the patient that Mitchel needed to be the company’s evangelist–make friends and leave the operations to his dad. “He taught me that business starts with seven touches and you can’t do all seven in one day or even one week; things take time.”
The conversation today is about how Mitchel learned to develop relationships, and where he sees the next generation of business leaders needing guidance. Zelinger began his career working with his father, Hugo Zelinger who owned a furniture refurbishing company, On-Site Fabricare.
Zelinger drives home his point with a story of a customer who started with a cup of coffee, then three weeks later another cup of coffee and then dinner, and now one of the largest contracts held by the Tangram
organization. But what really gets Mitchel excited is that they’ve grown so close that, “his kids call me uncle”.
He explains, “If our competition is starting and ending their day at the same time as us, but each individual at Tangram just did one more thing, there’s no way they would be able to keep up with us.”
Mitchel’s goal in mentoring the incoming millennial workforce is to “eliminate the ‘let’s discuss’ mindset and turn it into ‘let’s do’.”
Mitchel smiles again, “So are we done here or what?” And there you have it, Mitchel Zelinger, a force to be reckoned with and one of Tangram’s finest.
He explains, “we’re in the business to provide a horizontal surface to write on and a vertical surface to define the space;” So what’s left? Relationships. He emphasizes, “seven touches, all soft, not rushed, and just right.” The ‘business contact’ then becomes a lifelong family friend. Mitchel goes on, “Work and life is one in the same for me. I genuinely love these people. It was only natural that I found my wife, Ingrid through what I do.” “Your net worth is equal to your network,” and the secret to achieving the network is something that anyone who’s spent any time with Mitchel has heard on repeat, “do one more thing, every day.”
Work and life is one in the same for me. I genuinely love these people. It was only natural that I found my wife, Ingrid through what I do.
The technology integrator’s first priority should always be to gain an insider’s understanding of the client...
How Much Tech Should Offices Really Be Adopting? There are a lot of conversations about technology integration in office spaces, but Tangram Interiorsâ€™ Eric Lockwood says that ease of use and harmonized integration is crucial. By Kelsi Maree Borland, www.globest.com
Eric Lockwood, Tangram Technology Business Development Executive
There are a lot of conversations about technology integration in office spaces, but rolling new technologies into a workspace can be challenges. Eric Lockwood, business development executive for the technology division of Tangram Interiors, says that ease of use and harmonized integration is crucial for successful integration. We sat down with him for an exclusive interview to find out how companies should be approaching technology integration and how they should develop a long-term strategy.
GlobeSt.com: Why is technology integration so important in today’s workspace? Eric Lockwood: Innovative work environments should inspire people to excel, be the best they can be at what they do, and open their minds to think and work in new ways. Technology is an impactful driver for change, inspiration and ideation in the workspace. It is central to fostering engagement, igniting innovation and staying ahead of the competition in today’s fast economy. Workspace technology can promote improved and more natural communications, support mobility, enhance collaboration, untether users from fixed locations
and wired connections, optimize resource utilization, attract and retain talent, and create a unique culture, identity and competitive differentiator for an organization. The implementation of workspace technology should synthesize and harmonize enabling audiovisual technologies with architectural design, furniture, lighting, acoustics, speech privacy, telecommunications networks, building automation systems, visitor management, access control, fire-life safety requirements and a host of other low-voltage building systems.
GlobeSt.com: What do you often companies do when beginning to approach technology integration? Lockwood: Let’s face it, a lot of professionals in the technology integration business are gear heads. So when it comes to a discussion of technology in the workspace, many integrators immediately launch into a recital of product part numbers and specs. In 20 years as a technology consultant representing clients and architects, this is where I would stop the conversation and dial it back to first principles. The technology integrator’s first priority should always be to gain an insider’s understanding of the client—their business, culture, workflow, operations, technology support structure, growth drivers, vision for change and, importantly, the desired user experience as it pertains to any new technology implementations and integration within the space. A default “go to” toward equipment vendors and part numbers is the happy place for many integrators but is entirely the wrong place to start. Those are
potential solutions to problems, but it’s an understanding of the “problem” (opportunity) that needs to come first. That means focusing time on understanding how things are done now, what works and what doesn’t work, current pain points, and so on, as well as how and why things could be done differently from the perspective of the client’s operations, business objectives and vision. This discovery process should at some point also include in-house personnel who deal with technology. Internal “techs” tend to have a unique and measured perspective of their user base wants and needs, and what it takes to support those needs efficiently and sustainably. As for the users themselves, they generally come from a very nontechnical place, which is a good thing. They just want to be able to perform their work as efficiently, effectively, productively and enjoyably as possible, as well they should. To that end, user 25
technology should be simple, intuitive and enabling. Period. Keep in mind that since all organizations are different, and even within a single organization there are always numerous stakeholder groups with different priorities and personalities at the helm. There is never one right way of solving a problem. This is why leading with part numbers is a false start. All kinds of technology solutions, products and approaches are available, and the only constant is change. The range of options for hardware solutions alone is dizzying, and increasingly there are software-based alternatives and hosted (cloud-based) solutions. Finding the appropriate mix to meet the client’s immediate and future needs, while harmonizing with the architectural vision, corporate culture and telecommunications environment, is key to a successful implementation as would be defined by the client.
Regardless of the interface, medium or transducer, simple and intuitive human interaction needs to be the primary design driver.
GlobeSt.com: How should companies approach technology integration? Lockwood: Follow the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. A significant challenge in today’s highly complex tech world is ease of use. This is an area where smart, user-oriented systems design and programming really differentiate excellence from mediocrity in a technology implementation. Setting aside architectural and environmental integration considerations for a moment, an audiovisual solution as a standalone system can be thought of as simply hardware and programming.
configured to operate optimally and as intended, not to mention have its firmware updated and tested. Then, once the equipment is configured, the system as a whole needs to be strategically programmed in such a way that the resulting end-user experience is simple, intuitive and automated. The interface between humans and technology is where the rubber meets the road and often where a system succeeds or fails. That human interface might be a signal connection point, a content sharing app on a mobile device, a touch screen control panel, a displayed image or any one of the many “edge devices” that bridge the electronic world with the physical world, such as cameras, loudspeakers, microphones and room sensors. Regardless of the interface, medium or transducer, simple and intuitive human interaction needs to be the primary design driver.
On the hardware side, the selection of physical equipment is generally determined by factors such as device capabilities and performance, interoperability (with mobile devices, digital networking protocols, software applications and legacy equipment, for example), technology standards and client vendor preferences, and of course physical parameters such as the size of a room, viewing distances and so on. With all of these valid considerations, making informed and strategic equipment choices is clearly a critical part of the process for delivering a fully functional and technically sound audiovisual solution.
Engineering effective interfaces requires thinking as a user and caring about the user. The details matter (particularly to the end user), and every opportunity should be taken to not only include the client in decision making but to co-design the system and the experience with the client. That might mean presenting options for something as seemingly trivial as the labeling strategy for HDMI cables integrated into a conference table.
GlobeSt.com: Once companies have chosen the appropriate technology, what is the next step to successfully to incorporate that technology into the workspace?
Or it might mean developing a full graphical user interface (GUI) mock-up for a touch panel or iPad control app so the client can experience it and steer the design on everything from basic aesthetics (like color schemes and icon types) to screen layouts, page navigation and system responsiveness (does the GUI provide the user with true visual feedback to verify control commands have been executed?).
Lockwood: Arguably even more important than selecting the equipment is programming the equipment. Where many audiovisual integration firms under-deliver is in failing to invest the necessary time to appropriately configure and program each one of those pieces of equipment that comprise the system. Just about every single “box” in the system needs to first be 26
GlobeSt.com: What do you often companies do when beginning to approach technology integration? Lockwood: Keep in mind it’s a lot easier to download “canned” generic programming templates from a vendor website, make a few minor adjustments to “customize” it and call it a day. The integrator that takes this path of least resistance invariably ends up delivering a system that has far too many unnecessary control options, far too much complexity and “noise” on the GUI pages, and far too much opportunity for the user to become confused and frustrated. Unfortunately, this is the path often taken because the integrator has placed too much emphasis on initial equipment selection (and let’s face it, sales) and too little importance on user-centric system programming. The result is that the critical programming element is left to the very end and becomes a rushed effort as the client is moving into their space. In addition, many integrators subcontract this programming effort to third-party programmers whose scope and availability is generally very limited. All of these factors conspire to make inadequate programming, which erodes system usability, a far too common occurrence in technology integration.
GlobeSt.com: Should companies have a long-term technology strategy? Lockwood: For whatever myriad reasons, there is no good excuse for failing to plan the necessary time throughout the system development and implementation process to get system programming done right. The use of in-house programmers rather than outsourcing is strongly recommended as this allows the integrator to retain full ownership of the user experience from the preliminary storyboard to the beta version co-designed with the client to the final implementation, without any piece of that experience being lost in translation by a third-party programmer on a limited scope and schedule. Likewise, there is no good excuse for not including the client in the decisionmaking and system development process. From the initial design concept all the way through to providing users with mock-up subsystems to test drive prior to installation, the concept of collaborative co-design with the client should remain central to the overall
design ethos. The goal is that, by the time the system is installed and commissioned, it simply works and there are no surprises. The client walks in, sees the interface they helped design, knows how it works, and feels an immediate comfort level and ownership of it. They say you’re only as good as your last performance. This holds true for technology integration. Poor planning that focuses too much on initial equipment selection, excludes client involvement from the design development effort and defers programming to the very end of the implementation process can make the very best, “state-of-theart” equipment fail as a solution.
...user technology should be simple, intuitive and enabling. Period.
Fast Forward How artificial intelligence, smart data and the gig economy will transform the future of work From 360 Magazine, Issue 74
It’s rather incredible to consider the first iPhone was sold in 2007, a little more than ten years ago. The work you do has probably changed quite a bit since then—where and when you read your emails, how you contact colleagues, what social media sites you browse to keep tabs on your company’s latest products and initiatives, maybe even the artificial intelligence-curated playlist you listen to as you work through a presentation or expense report.
In another 10 years, the integration of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and human analytics will make your current office look as quaint and unrecognizable to you as the rotary phone that once hung from your kitchen wall. In the future, you may walk about an office full of computers, but these computers will look and feel profoundly different: VR headsets will still create immersive holographic experiences, but more people will choose chic, less isolating
augmented reality glasses that layer virtual information atop the physical plane. Rooms and furnishings will feel different, more intuitive and comfortable, designed to accommodate diverse networks of writers, programmers, designers and scientists who come together to solve difficult problems. Perhaps the most noticeable change will be that the lines between technology and space will blur. Embedded
and changing stations that have become standard features of modern offices. These examples represent a small fraction of the ways today’s companies are adapting spaces to align with human needs and the constantly changing workplace demands.
with smart sensors and speech recognition software, your workplace will take care of much of the administrative day-today: transcribing meeting notes, scheduling conference calls, responding to routine emails and generally serving as a dutiful member of your team. Open, naturally lit spaces designed for your wellbeing will accommodate the varied work styles, privacy expectations and personality types of the teams that occupy them. Your office will feel more like a person, a colleague or life coach, who guides you toward your best self, or at least your best working self.
Tomorrow, organizations will be able to manage buildings, desks and computers as never before, supporting employees by giving them greater control over their environments. The data and AI brokered to orchestrate these changes will teach machines to anticipate and predict desired future states— to go beyond sensing and responsiveness to speak to us intimately, assist with our projects and tasks, and improve our workplace performance, productivity and wellbeing.
At Steelcase, we are keenly interested in how these and other plausible scenarios will affect the future of work, workers and the workplace. Our Foresight Practice, modeled after a design thinking process developed by the Institute for the Future, the world’s leading nonprofit strategic futures organization, carefully analyzes and forecasts how signals of change observed in the marketplace today will frame future states. These predictive scenarios inform product development and manufacturing decisions that conceptualize and create the future. We’ve developed this practice as part of our culture of design thinking: deeply understanding the lives of people at work, as we continually work to improve the employee experience.
In the future, all companies will be tech companies, and your office will look astoundingly different. We invite you to look at what lies ahead.
At Steelcase, we are keenly interested in how these and other plausible scenarios will affect the future of work, workers and the workplace.
The edges of the future are visible today. We see its first blush in the growing number of workplaces providing flexible workstations—whether they are collaborative lounges, treadmills, bikes or adjustable-height sit-stand desks—to give workers a break from sitting, reduce fatigue and stiffness, and boost productivity. We recognize its beacon in a young Palo Alto analytics firm using microphones and sensors, along with email and calendar data, to track employee activity levels, time spent multitasking, and how often associates are in touch with key contacts. We smile at its gleam in the biophilic wood paneled walls and Circadian light arrays of retail stores—the bicycle stalls
Active Agents in the Gig Economy Freelancers already make up 35 percent of U.S. workers, according to a survey released by the Freelancers Union, based in New York City. Another large study released by the McKinsey Global Institute found that 20-30 percent of the labor force in the European Union is made up of independent workers who are self-employed or do temporary work. As the gig economy expands, freelancers and salaried professionals will look for greater diversity in their work experiences and new roles that inspire and challenge them. Companies of all sizes will follow suit as the workforce fluctuates, experimenting with flexible office arrangements, modular workplaces, co-working spaces and new service models for using and provisioning space. Consider this scenario in the not-so-distant future: Your company pays a monthly membership fee for a flexible workplace in San Francisco’s Little Saigon to support its rapidly growing teams with the kind of spaces that fit your culture. You spend much of the first quarter in this custom-built office suite, looking out at a newly-revitalized city park as you sip your fruit water. There is not a PC to be found. What you see, instead, are touchscreen computers for small or large groups—some fixed, some mobile— in open studios. You meet a freelance data analyst from Senegal, who moonlights as a Lyft driver, a tech writer whose byline you remember vaguely from Wired, and a Ph.D. candidate attending Cambridge, who specializes in “topic modeling,” an algorithm used to categorize written text into substantively meaningful categories. You review the terms of a two-week project in an informal space, where softly upholstered chairs, richly grained oak tables and plush rugs make everyone a bit more comfortable and relaxed.
Two weeks later the data analyst is off to New Jersey for a consulting job in population healthcare, but you’re connected on Upwork and he’s easy enough to reach online. One early morning in April you work from home, getting dressed in a suit and tie and slipping on a mixed reality headset to present a detailed project pitch to a potential client in London whose day is halfway through. Their hologram-like images appear, as if by magic, in a virtual boardroom. The Ph.D. candidate is there, too—or at least her incredibly lifelike image is— ready with an impressive word visualization, clarifying past customers’ perceptions of the potential client. You enjoy shifting between work at the new office and your home, feeling free to choose the places that best support the work you need to do.
Navigating Oceans of Data We’re already inundated by massive amounts of information bombarding us from seemingly every direction. And yet we will see more, more and more data being effortlessly collected by growing numbers of sensors and machines. How will we make sense of it all? The rapid growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence systems will move from being a far-away scenario to an everyday necessity as we increasingly rely on these backstage systems to analyze and apply data in meaningful ways to our work and lives. New forms of interaction with data will also emerge; in fact, many predict that AR and VR will become a primary mode of interacting with large data sets in new, visual and immersive forms. “Data” will no longer be 2D strings of information on a blinking screen; it will become embodied through immersive experiences that are powered by AI.
Healthy, Sustaining Spaces Designing the workplace to support wellbeing is a recent focus of organizational behavior models and architectural practice. However, the intensification of work that comes with digital transformation means people will need new ways to maintain not only their physical wellbeing, but also to do their best thinking and feel an emotional connection to their work. Green walls to filter air, sleep pods and sensors to count employee’s stair steps are already a reality in some workplaces.
The primary advantage of this format over a typical computer interface is that displays will no longer be tethered to walls or flat surfaces. A virtual tree will be experienced, in three dimensions, just as a tree in the physical world. Since worlds have height, depth, width and distance, where information is hosted will matter. Digital spatial coordinates will map where content is placed in the virtual world, a representational analog of our own. Associations with places in our world will help us locate apps, programs and tools in the virtual world. If you’ve ever tried to review a giant spreadsheet or book-length manuscript, while scrolling in and out of 10 open Internet tabs on your desktop, you understand the desire to develop such new interfaces. Imagine a future in which you can turn around in a circle and engage with only the data you need, reach out and touch it across three dimensions. This will radically change how information is displayed and manipulated in space. Flat screens and browser windows will become obsolete. We will explore volumetric visualizations of data worlds with broad gestures of our head, arms and bodies. Chairs and other furnishings will operate like joysticks, leveraging our actual body motions to change our physical orientation in virtual space. Numbers will become almost-physical objects that we can, quite literally, play with.
Intelligent Innovation Networks As open platforms and digital networks grow, organizations will be pressed to evolve more rapidly, with greater precision and with increased participation from experts in the world at large. Signals of this change are already underway, transforming healthcare. Take, for instance, the development of The Cancer Genome Atlas, where researchers from institutions across the country are working collaboratively to catalogue all of the changes to DNA and molecules in more than 30 different cancer types. Or the development of OpenMRS, an electronic medical records platform bringing increased care coordination to parts of the developing world where it is needed to treat populations afflicted with AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis. Consider how your office might evolve in a deeply connected, networked space of augmented human interaction in which 100 people contribute 10 minutes of work to a project—a scenario predicted by the Finnish sociologist Esko Kilpi. Spaces will need the flexibility to accommodate fluid teams and complex workflows, while ensuring transparency and access to information across vast networks. In the morning, you’ll work in a private space enclosed in glass that allows for concentrated solitary work but emphasizes a feeling of transparency. Later in the day, you’ll talk to colleagues in Dubai and Berlin in a video-connected conference room where speech recognition and translation software allow you to hear them crystal clear in your native tongue. Large touchscreen monitors that allow for the manual manipulation of apps and programs will invite participation from everyone in the room, and for those who are feeling a bit sluggish in the late afternoon, a condensed synopsis and to-do list will be stored in the cloud, thanks to AI-informed office furnishings.
As businesses plan for a more mobile workforce and increasingly rapid cycles of change, dedicated floors and wings for “resident employees” will give way to elastic concepts that invite change. Furniture will be light, mobile and modular. A diversity of bespoke products and materials—shade lamps, handsomely upholstered sofas, stools, hardwood tables—will make the workplace feel more like home. Your desk, if you choose one, will move according to the needs of a project cycle or team assignment. To assist with creative thinking, it may recline into recumbent positions associated with deep thought. To help your body get the exercise it needs to produce endorphins and burn cortisol, it may have pedals like a stationary bicycle. You’ll see bright graphic murals and living walls of moss and succulents. Your back will feel better because you’ll be standing, sitting, perching or moving for the better part of the day. You’ll get more work done and feel better.
Room as Team Member If you can imagine space as a participant on your team, you may be curious as to how that spatial persona will interact with you and your colleagues. At the far edge of this frontier, we can envision the development of environmental systems that operate like friendlier, more benevolent versions of Hal 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey”: artificial intelligence platforms that, while not sentient and emotionally developed in a human sense, can detect our moods and impulses with facialand-speech-recognition software and brain-reading devices. When we’re losing energy and drifting off in a meeting, they nudge us to get a drink or eat a sandwich and refresh ourselves. In the immediate future, we see the growing popularity of digital personal assistants, such as Cortana and Google Assistant, and smart furnishings, in the workplace. Imagine a conference table equipped with microphone arrays and speech-processing software, which comprehend and summarize conversations happening around it. Through such integrated, intelligent systems linked to the cloud, a room will be able to anticipate the needs of the team within it—bringing up past documents or project logs, for instance, or encouraging equal participation by nudging quiet team members to share their opinions. Privacy standards will need to evolve, of course. As rooms begin to listen to us and data becomes easier to harvest, the security and privacy of employee information will become the concern of every organization. Europe recently has taken the lead in digital privacy by establishing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which lays out sweeping individual rights over your personal data. Controlling digital stimulation by providing places for privacy, rest and rejuvenation in the physical workplace also will become increasingly important. Many open questions remain, but what can be said is that the age of robots has arrived. Bots, virtual assistants and other software agents will act as human proxies, not only querying data but asking questions and accomplishing tasks. Space will become intelligent and conversant. Where’s that year-end report? “Right here,” the tech-embedded room will say. “I’m happy to walk you through it if you’d like.”
Spaces that Know Us Brain science is rapidly advancing to detect and influence our physiological and psychological states. The science is evident in a host of human performance apps and multi-sensory environments that employ selective stimuli—from the visual cues of a beehive to the rhythmic tempo of a musical composition—to frame the state of our feelings, attention, memories and moods. With this new level of detection and analysis, environments hold the potential to enhance human performance by coming to know us intimately. Rooms will become personalized to our software habits and preferences, knowing which platforms, news feeds and applications we gravitate toward. In the same way a FitBit tells us how many calories we’ve burned and hours we’ve slept, augmented rooms and surfaces will track our behaviors through data pulled from our devices and bio-informed sensors—
adjusting lighting, visual privacy, acoustics and temperature with algorithms conceived according to our personal preferences. Over time, the design of intelligent rooms and user inter- faces will become more humanistic and intuitive, articulated in architecture and furnishings reflecting a range of postures, work modes, light levels and acoustic qualities. The introvert may find she does her best work in a private, solitary room encased in soundproof glass. The extrovert may prefer to prepare to do his year-end report in a heavily trafficked café, while listening to The Beatles. Both will come to see spaces as a partner in the generative process. But innovations in biosensing technologies and artificial intelligence will do more than predict our personal preferences and desires; these augmented spaces will learn things about us, how sensory stimuli affect our habits and behaviors. As we gain a deeper understanding of how spaces affect our neural pathways and cognitive and emotional states, we’ll be able to translate these ideas more fully into architectural practice. A multimodal mediated work environment known as Mediated Atmospheres now being studied at MIT’s Media Lab suggests the direction we’re moving: a kind of “consciousness hacking,” in which intentionally designed offices with abundant natural light, distant views and pleasing acoustics inspire clear thinking and creativity. It’s not far away, a future in which spaces prime us for behaviors and states of mind that improve performance.
Virtual Social Spaces Perhaps you’ll recognize this familiar, if less than perfect, scenario. You’re teleconferencing with your friend whom you haven’t seen in years and who lives halfway around the world. His face looks a bit tired, tilted at a strange angle. The better part of you knows it’s a pleasure just to be able to talk to him and see his face. Decades ago you wouldn’t have had this luxury. But the voice in your other ear is less tolerant, dissatisfied with the way this interaction, like many interactions across distance, are mediated by technology. Today’s connective “thin-media” (bits of content we consume on devices like a smartwatch, without opening our phone or computer, such as a notification) may attempt to draw us closer, but this closeness often seems fractured and incomplete. But we believe recent technology is poised to reframe these interactions and build trust in the future through highly immersive and visual experiences. You’ll be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in Rotterdam, Shanghai and Mumbai at an augmented reality whiteboard, moving about and speaking to others in the room as though they were in your office. Distributed global teams are not going away, but the frustrating aspect of your interactions with these teams—the presence disparity created by a two-dimensional screen, ambient noise and distracted colleagues—will wane as meetings are held on equally experienced, common ground. What will be preserved is a diversity of geographic and cultural viewpoints that inform strategic decision making and enrich the character of the workplace.
You’ll be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in Rotterdam, Shanghai and Mumbai at an augmented reality whiteboard, moving about and speaking to others in the room as though they were in your office. Telepresence holds us frozen to the camera and keyboard, much like being seated behind a steering wheel in a car. Now imagine a walk through a park, or a game night with your colleagues—our physical freedom will extend by orders of magnitude: from seated to standing to moving, as well as all the postures in between. Get ready to say farewell to presence disparity. The future of space has arrived.
Long gone are the days when the phrase â€œcommercial flooringâ€? was just assumed to be an ugly, boring, utility-purposed material. 34
Commercial Flooring: Brand, Culture, and Choice The Ground Up By Derek Todero, Tangram Flooring Sales Executive
Commercial flooring is all too often last on the list when designing a space. Yet it can be one of the primary features of a high-impact environment that can be significantly enhanced by the right choices of colors, textures, and functionality. In fact, a case can be made that a good design should start from the floor up. How many times have you walked into a space and had an immediate feeling or impression (good or bad)? Or have you ever been in a room and thought, “This reminds me of...”? It’s an experience that happens to all of us on a daily basis, and we need to consider what impression we’re making with the spaces we create. Whether the organization is in healthcare, corporate enterprise or startup, industrial, entertainment or education, the message and feel can be unique. Effectively integrating commercial flooring with furniture and other elements should be one of the main priorities in designing a space. It’s amazing the impact that the appropriate choices can have.
Derek Todero, Tangram Flooring Sales Executive
Keep The Big Picture In Mind When walking with a client through their space, we start by asking the following fundamental questions:
What is the feeling or story you want to tell your customers and employees when they walk into the building or a specific room?
What impact would you like established for your company brand?
We also ask:
What do you want out of your space?
Who will be using it and how do you want it to be used?
Where do you feel your highest traffic zones will be?
Questions like these help narrow the search for the right commercial flooring solution in terms of both look and function as an integral element in the overall design.
Architects and Designers
...a good design should start from the floor up.
There are several important considerations that apply to many different kinds of environments that should also be addressed up front, such as floor contours and heights, use and wear patterns, damaged areas, entrances and other â€œprotectionâ€? or transitional zones, planned use of moveable furniture and equipment, and areas exposed to water.
A fundamental issue here is to clearly anticipate change, including the unexpected. Approaching a project in a piecemeal fashion over time can end up being 4-5 times more costly. In other words, plan thoroughly and invest intelligently.
Issues concerning concrete floors and slabs may include uneven contours, moisture/drying and mineral leaching, as well as carefully aligning concrete flooring with glass windows and doors. Working with concrete may require leveling and a multitude of carefully selected materials and underlayments as well as moisture testing and even x-rays of the concrete.
Once these kinds of issues are addressed, you can begin to identify materials that provide the best solutions, including commercial flooring.
Identify and Define Spaces The range of potential layouts is as wide as every organization is unique. The key is to identify each area of the facility and anticipate its function and type of activity. For example, a subdued and quiet environment may be most appropriate for the accounting department, while the sales force may thrive in a more vibrant and active ambience. In addition, the open floor plan approach is currently very popular. Yet how can we define the various boundaries of a space without cumbersome furniture or space-cramping dividers? This can be done easily by taking the opportunity to choose the right commercial flooring materials to break up the space and create clear boundaries between main traffic zones, work seating areas, cafés, or lounge-style spaces. Choosing the right materials, partnered with proper maintenance, helps ensure that the investment will hold up and the intended design will look fantastic for years to come.
Planning Commercial Flooring For Specific Facilities and Considerations For: Performance/Entertainment
Entrance areas, restrooms, back vs. front of house, machinery, floors/ levels, resilient/luxury (LBT) surfaces
Moisture/water, wear, equipment, safety (e.g., walking with ice skates), slip-trip areas
Sound considerations (often realized after the fact and costly to fix) like underlayments and other materials along with spacing between ceilings and floors above
Soundproofing in the absence of interior walls through white noise machines and noise cancelling wall panels
Use of color, design, pattern, and material (hard and soft) in commercial flooring to delineate functional areas and help move people in a planned fashion (known as wayfinding) through blended transitions for workflow and collaboration
Application of logos and other artwork
Applying interesting patterns from standard options to soften otherwise harsh lines 38
Sanitation #1, highly regulated, easy to clean, sink/water handling, disposal of substances, antimicrobial materials
Managing traffic flows
Creating an attractive environment in a clinical setting
High traffic levels, safety, easy to clean and replace (not a good application for custom materials)
Acoustic management through “hard” surfaced yet sound absorbent construction
Flexible integration of power for versatile room configurations and changes (e.g. Steelcase Thread power distribution system)
Make Choice Your Ally Choosing the right commercial flooring solution can sometimes be difficult and tricky. Not only is it hard to determine from a small sample how it will look over hundreds or even thousands of square feet, but how do you know if you’re choosing the proper material in the first place?
Recent trends in design have moved carpet and resilientsurface manufacturers away from standard 24”x24” carpet tiles and 12”x12” VCT (vinyl composite tiles) sizes to create products in sizes of 12”x18”, 9”x36”, 12”x18”, 36”x36”, and more. These materials also come in almost endless styles from carpet tiles that look like natural stone to classic hounds-tooth woven textures. Resilient and porcelain floors that can mimic all ranges of aged woods and stained concretes can fool some of the most trained eyes.
Luckily, the world of commercial flooring has seen major advancements in not only function, but design as well. Today’s options are wide and varied, modern, natural, and can reflect a regional or local flavor. Long gone are the days when the phrase “commercial flooring” was just assumed to be an ugly, boring, utility-purposed material. Today, leading designers and manufacturers of flooring for commercial spaces have created beautiful, practical, and adaptable designs across a wide range of flooring options. These range from luxury vinyl tiles and planks, broadloom carpet, or carpet tiles and planks to moisture-resistant or even waterproof materials.
Embody The Culture With all of these selections available, we now have the ability to provide a unique feel, style and culture, whether it’s to bolster employee engagement or wow clients when they walk in the door. Want the look of a multi-stained herringbone concrete installation in your front lobby? Want a one-of-a-kind area rug custom designed to your exact shape and size with a pop of color to match the finish of the chairs in your conference room? Done. In pursuit of that goal, it’s critical to choose the right source for this truly fundamental aspect of a successful commercial interior environment. Do they have the expertise, experience and strong supplier network required for the project? Do they offer a value-added perspective, as opposed to just a catalog-and-cost approach? Do they “own” the solutions they recommend? Are those solutions realistic and transparent? Flooring is the largest canvas in a space, and it’s smart to start thinking about how it can be used to not only make the space beautiful but also deliver the highest levels of performance for the unique needs of your organization.
We try to create workplaces designed for the companyâ€™s mission while keeping in mind basic human behavior.
Can The Right Interior Design Improve Workplace Performance? When workers feel comfortable both physically and emotionally, they are more willing to be open and authentic with their peers, which ultimately leads to better performance, Tangram Interiors’ Joe Lozowski tells GlobeSt.com. By Carrie Rossenfeld, www.globest.com
Joe Lozowski, Tangram President & CEO
NEWPORT BEACH, CA—When workers feel comfortable both physically and emotionally, they are more willing to be open and authentic with their peers, which ultimately leads to better performance, Tangram Interiors’ CEO Joe Lozowski tells GlobeSt.com. Lozowski believes workplace performance also increases when environments have light, flow and technology. We spoke with him about how this works and what should be avoided for maximum workplace performance.
GlobeSt.com: How does workplace performance increase with the right interior design? Lozowski: The right environment is different for every company. We try to create workplaces designed for the company’s mission while keeping in mind basic human behavior. When workers feel comfortable both physically and emotionally, they are more willing to be open and authentic with their peers, which creates better, more trusting relationships, more genuine collaboration and, ultimately, a better performance.
To aid in the physical well-being of the staff, we reduced the size of all workstations, which in turn allowed us to move everyone onto the first floor and place like departments next to each other. We also implemented another design philosophy called Choice and Control, which means giving the employee the ability to choose the position and posture in which they work. All resident workers were given height-adjustable desks and encouraged to work in different places around the office, utilize the walkstations and move around throughout their day based on the tasks at hand.
Over the past few years, Steelcase has released a number of studies correlating space to the emotional, physical and cognitive well-being of employees. In general, there has been a dramatic increase in interest directed toward how different types of people and groups work. We all know that the day-to-day activities of a salesperson and an accountant are very different, so why should their workspace, floorplan and acoustic layout be the same? Instead of trying to apply one solution, we are looking at providing tailored solutions to selected groups of workers that allow for increased satisfaction and performance. Essentially, we’re not working the same way we used to, and the environments in which we work need to evolve as well to satisfy employee well-being.
The changes we made to better suit the cognitive well-being of our employees stemmed from a partnership Steelcase had with author Susan Cain, who published a book called Quiet and produced a very popular TED talk. Susan’s study on the difference between introverts and extroverts led to an increase in spaces specifically designed for heads-down work or as sanctuaries away from the open office to accommodate fully every personality type. As a result, we added several small meeting spaces around the office to allow for impromptu collaboration, a personal call or some heads-down work.
For example, we recently remodeled our headquarters based on this and other market research, and the proof is in the numbers. Our employees were previously spread across two floors, inhibiting effective collaboration. Furthermore, the workspaces they were using were designed 10 years prior, when most resident workers still had desktop computers, an overabundance of paperwork and filing and desktop phones. Real estate efficiency was very poor, maybe not even a thought, and there were little to no small or medium-sized meeting areas close to the workstations. Employees in complimentary departments— and, sometimes even in the same department—were not placed near each other, which caused communication barriers.
Finally, to support the emotional well-being of the staff, we turned what was previously our materials library into a centralized work café to serve as a social hub for employees to come together, eat, laugh and effectively build relationships. We’ve found that there has been a significant cultural shift within the company since the opening of the new showroom. There’s better collaboration, and employees are more engaged in their work and with each other. There are more people in the showroom on a daily basis, both employees and clients, and as a result, we had our best year yet in 2016.
GlobeSt.com: How do light, flow and technology improve workplace performance? Lozowski: Recent studies have shown a very strong correlation between physical surroundings, creative capacity and performance. Benefits such as access to natural light or views of nature can cause the brain to release endorphins, improving mood and increasing productivity. Research has also shown that spaces that create â€œlong viewsâ€? (i.e., high ceilings, minimal visual impediments, etc.) can help workers engage in new ways of thinking and see ideas from a new perspective.
I know we will continue to see the integrations of architecture/ furniture/technology and other building management tools connect via IoT devices so that we can begin to measure and track the optimization of our spaces. Workplace performance is directly related to the environment we react to, the noise level, number of distractions, temperature, lighting, etc., but until recently we have never been able to study analytically all of those platforms together. Additionally, technology systems can also aid in recruiting new talent, especially with the tech-savvy Millennials entering in full force.
Technology in the workplace is ubiquitous in this day and age. However, not all systems or installations are created equal. One of the most amazing transformations we are starting to see is the true integration of furniture and technology into the workplace with the intention to improve and optimize user experience. One example of this is a large project we just completed in Seattle where our industrial design and engineering team in Tangram Studio partnered with our technology specialists to design conference rooms that were perfectly tailored to the user function all while also providing a beautiful aesthetic.
GlobeSt.com: Should companies have a long-term technology strategy? Lozowski: When creating spaces that maximize employee engagement and performance, we advise our clients against gravitating toward any type of extreme. A productive workspace is all about balance: counteracting an open floorplan with adequate quiet spaces, giving employees the access to both collaborative areas and spaces that offer privacy, etc. Outfitting a space with one extreme or another creates a wide array of outliers, which in turn leads to employee dissatisfaction and lower workplace performance. Another faux pas employers often make is not realizing the importance of integrating technology into the workplace. Technology integration not only creates a more cohesive aesthetic, but also improves workflow and, as a result, performance. Additionally, a poor HVAC system and bad acoustics can lead to negative workplace conditions that can seriously affect employee-satisfaction rates.
We are also starting to see workplace technology become easier to use and navigate. Two industry giants, Steelcase and Microsoft, announced a partnership earlier this year around workplace integrations and the introduction of the Microsoft Surface Hub, which is far and away the easiest and most intuitive collaboration tool we have ever used. Their partnership serves as testimony that the integration of technology and the physical space is only just beginning.
A productive workspace is all about balance: counteracting an open floorplan with adequate quiet spaces, giving employees the access to both collaborative areas and spaces that offer privacy, etc.
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about this topic? Lozowski: We are in a very exciting time right now, a true office renaissance, where the cost of manufacturing has been driven down, and the ability to shop for both aesthetic and function is at an all-time high. Customers have the capability today to craft their environments to reflect their brand and culture and engage and empower their workforces. As stated in the Gensler 2017 Design Forecast, â€œIn a values-based world, brands must live their mission every day. Office buildings function as dynamic ecosystems that support purpose and innovation.â€?
When a client is engaged, every aspect of the project can become unique and specific to who they are.
The Co-Designed Workspace: Bringing a Shared Vision to Life By Charlotte Wiederholt, Tangram Studio Creative Director
“Co-designing” a workspace signifies a close collaboration between a client (and others, like an architect) and an industrial designer, to create a space that fits the client’s vision, represents their brand and embodies their culture. To be successful, a co-design project requires a client who wants to be actively engaged and a contributor to the process. For those who are excited about being on the team and those with ideas about what they’re looking, for yet open to collaboration, the co-design process typically starts with the designer asking questions to discover client’s vision, brand, culture, short-term and longterm needs, planned use of the space, practical requirements, and so forth.
Why Has Co-Design Taken Off? There are several drivers behind this trend and why it can be so effective in developing innovative workspaces.
Technology The worlds of information and manufacturing have seen dramatic change due to advances in technology for efficiency and logistics. Moreover, as consumers, we have increased access to products made specifically for us as individuals. The expectation of a customized experience is powerful and becoming ever more pervasive
Charlotte Wiederholt, Tangram Studio Creative Director
The trend to co-design has forever changed the office environment. Clients and designers have the ability to push design further to come up with a distinctive solution.
Do It Yourself There is an ongoing DIY movement reflecting a desire for involvement in the design process as portrayed in all forms of media including television, YouTube, the Internet and magazines. This exposure has filtered into the commercial sector with a desire on the part of clients to engage and be part of the process of creating innovative office workspaces as well.
Educated Buyers In the “old” days before the Internet, an average client relied on a commercial interiors provider to select the finishes from a set of samples and create a design. That restriction is now out the window, with thousands of options for finding what you love and what makes your project unique.
Is The Co-Design Approach Widespread?
What Are Some Best Practices?
Driven by these three factors, workspace co-design is a movement happening throughout the United State and around the world. If we peruse any design-oriented magazine, we’ll see spaces that have been designed in partnership with the user. It’s human nature to want to express who we are as individuals as well as what our organization represents in terms of brand and culture. Access to information and new technologies has made it possible for the average person anywhere to collaborate and be part of that exciting process.
At Tangram, we have excelled at the co-design process because we see a project as not just selling a product. We don’t bring out a catalog of items to select from and hope the client likes one. What we have developed over time is a well-honed process that in the end creates beautifully furnished and highly functional workspaces for people. Starting from scratch on every project ensures that critical input from both client and designer comes together to deliver a successful outcome. About seven years ago, we did a study of our clients to identify who they are, what markets they’re in, size offices, locations, etc. The common thread was that every project had someone from the client and design firm who wanted to create something special and be part of the process. That approach holds true today and has resulted in some extraordinary workspace environments.
The trend to co-design has forever changed the office environment. Clients and designers have the ability to push design further to come up with a distinctive solution. Plus, there can be less project risk if the client is part of the team and a co-creator. Offices are less generic, more curated and tailored these days because of this process. When a client is engaged, every aspect of the project can become unique and specific to who they are.
Data Privacy. By Design. The benefits of a connected world—greater innovation, growth and prosperity—will not be realized unless people can trust that data being collected is managed and analyzed responsibly. From 360 Magazine, Issue 74
The Smallest Actions Can Have The Biggest Implications Every day we trade private information about ourselves inreturn for digital services. We make an online purchase, use a search engine, or download an app, and Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and others harvest data about where we go, what we buy, who we interact with online.
“Privacy in the workplace used to be about audio privacy, visual privacy, territorial privacy and informational privacy,” says Steelcase Senior Design Researcher, Melanie Redman. “These are types of privacy people say they need in order to focus.
For many people this is a reasonable trade, data for services that make life easier, more interesting, more fun. Others are less comfortable about this tradeoff. Yet everyone expects their personal data to remain private and secure.
“What’s changed is how we think about informational privacy: now we think about data privacy and about psychological privacy, because our perception of privacy impacts all of our other experiences. Privacy is more contextual in the workplace, more personal and a topic of growing importance in every organization.”
Privacy In A Connected World Privacy is not a new issue for Steelcase. The company has conducted research on privacy in the workplace for over two decades, and three years ago began to study digital privacy issues. “Organizations have made assumptions about digital privacy, but those assumptions had never been tested. The assumption was that people are willing to trade personal data in return for services, such as web searches or connecting with others via social media, so they would be willing to make the same trade at work. In other words, they would allow the collection of data in return for helpful business services. We wanted to test those assumptions,” says Redman. Steelcase surveyed 3,000 people around the world about privacy concerns in the workplace. A major finding: employees’ attitudes about privacy are remarkably consistent across geography, gender and demographics. This calls into question popular notions about privacy, such as assuming younger workers, who constantly share information via social media, are less concerned about data privacy. It turns out that privacy attitudes don’t vary by age; they vary by the type of organization people work in, and by the ways people work.
As data becomes the key resource for every business, the security and privacy of data becomes every organization’s concern. Stuart Berman Steelcase IT Security Architect
Attitudes about privacy differ, for example, based on how mobile a worker is, how readily they adopt new technology or how collaborative they are in their work. Two dimensions of privacy have moved to the forefront for employees. One is being able to control stimulation and distraction, a fallout from more open workplaces and the use of mobile devices. It’s hard to find quiet, private time and harder to disconnect from work. Controlling stimulation can be accomplished through the physical workplace and Steelcase has many strategies to help companies provide places for privacy, rest and rejuvenation. The second ascendant issue is controlling information. The proliferation of data and the increased ease of aggregating and deriving value from it mean it’s harder to control who has our information and what’s done with it. Losing control over your data causes
anxiety because controlling your information is essential to privacy. “The world is increasingly digital and data driven and we’re rapidly entering a future where everything will be connected. As data becomes the key resource for every business, the security and privacy of data becomes every organization’s concern,” says Stuart Berman, IT security architect at Steelcase. To ensure the responsible collection, analysis, and management of data, Steelcase designs all of its technology products to strict privacy and security standards. “We know how important it is for companies, and individuals, to control their information. So before we developed any digital products at Steelcase, we established company principles of privacy by design, and data security by design,” says Barbara Hiemstra, Steelcase privacy engineer.
We are completely transparent about all the customer data Workplace Advisor collects, how we use it, how we secure it. Shawn Hamacher Steelcase Assistant General Counsel
Meet Steelcase’s Privacy Engineer
This approach stems from Steelcase’s longstanding usercentered design process for developing new products. “We don’t create a chair, for example, based on what we believe the customer wants. We talk to them first, we go into the field, we observe how people work, the issues they have. We draw insights from those observations, and we engineer and design around those insights. So we do the same work before we develop our digital products,” says Redman.
High-profile security breaches, social media user tracking, protecting and securing data from cyber attacks: The realities of the connected world have led to an emerging profession, the privacy engineer, an increasingly common position at web and software companies. Barbara Hiemstra is one of the first privacy engineers in the office furniture industry.
One of Steelcase’s first digital products, introduced in 2017, is Workplace Advisor. It collects data about how the workplace is used in order to help organizations understand how to best use their real estate and create more effective workplaces.
“I’m part of the IT security team that interacts with researchers, designers, software developers, legal experts and others to help ensure that privacy is an integral part of the design process. We recommend privacy-enhancing technologies to mitigate privacy risks, conduct privacy-related risk assessments and help integrate privacy into the software engineering lifecycle,” says Hiemstra.
“We are completely transparent about all the customer data Workplace Advisor collects, how we use it, how we secure it. We want our customers to completely understand the process,” says Shawn Hamacher, assistant general counsel at Steelcase.
Her team also informs users in cyber hygiene: individual behaviors to maintain a “healthy” (secure) online presence. This includes password maintenance, software and virus protection updates, data backups and other strategies. The content is made available to Steelcase dealers, who in turn can offer it to customers.
“Privacy by design means we build privacy into the product. You don’t try to bolt it on afterwards. Privacy is part of each digital product’s DNA.” To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of the data collected by Workplace Advisor, Steelcase uses the Microsoft Azure IoT platform with its strong security and privacy guarantee. In addition, Workplace Advisor systems will be audited against the Service Organization Controls (SOC 2) framework. Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, this includes third-party audits and reports available to Steelcase customers who use Workplace Advisor.
“Big data is an awesome tool, but it comes with big responsibility,” warns Hiemstra.
A Global Standard Privacy standards evolve, of course. For example, Europe recently has taken the lead in digital privacy by establishing the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which went into effect in May. GDPR increases privacy protection for all individuals in the European Union. Steelcase will comply with GDPR for all of its digital products customers, not only those in Europe but around the world. “It’s the most stringent standard globally for data privacy and security, and we’re using it for all our customers’ data. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Steelcase customer in Europe, Asia, Africa, North or South America, any country—our digital products will comply with the GDPR,” says Berman. “We want all of our customers to understand that privacy and security by design means transparency in how we operate, how data is gathered and used, and how we protect that data,” adds Hamacher. “There is no privacy without security. Privacy starts with secure data.” The same applies to all Steelcase digital products, including Steelcase Find, a mobile app that helps people quickly locate workspaces and colleagues, which makes it easier to
Privacy by design means we build privacy into the product. You don’t try to bolt it on afterwards. Privacy is part of each digital product’s DNA. Shawn Hamacher, Steelcase Assistant General Counsel
connect and collaborate, the core work of the innovation economy. “High expectations and tough requirements have always been part of development at Steelcase,” says Steve Rodden, who heads the development team for Smart + Connected products. “As a company, we’re used to dealing with regulatory guidelines, quality standards and different compliance issues for furniture. We want to not just meet basic standards. We want be excellent in those areas, so we set even higher design, engineering and manufacturing requirements of our own. It’s the same with digital products. We want to lead in data privacy and security, so it was an easy decision for us to set stringent data privacy and security standards as part of our development process.”
Business runs on data. Every time we trade information for a digital product, we help fuel the new global economy. Users must be able to rely on organizations to be fully transparent about how they collect, store and analyze that data. “It’s important that our customers understand that the everyday transactions of data in exchange for helpful services rest on a foundation of privacy and security,” says Hamacher. “We’ve stood behind our products for over 100 years and that’s not going to change because it’s a digital product. How we operate is how we’ve always done business. It’s all about trust.”
...the better the design team understands the clientâ€™s needs and the better they educate the client on all of their options, the shorter the process.
The Rise of Co-Designing Workspaces Technological advances and an ongoing DIY movement that increases clients’ desire to be actively engaged and be a part of the creative process are driving this trend, Tangram’s Lindsey Sage tells GlobeSt.com. By Natalie Dolce, www.globest.com
NEWPORT BEACH, CA— “Co-design” of commercial workspaces is a growing trend centered on close collaboration between client and interior solutions provider. The fundamental benefits of this approach are creating a space that fully realizes the client’s vision, represents their brand and embodies their culture. GlobeSt.com took a moment to chat with Lindsey Sage, sales director of Tangram Studio, about trends driving this movement and more in this exclusive Q&A.
GlobeSt.com: How does the co-design process work in designing workspaces? Lindsey Sage: Co-designing a workspace involves close collaboration between a client with their architect and an industrial designer to create a space that matches the client’s vision, captures their brand and embodies their culture. The process typically begins with our designer asking questions that better their understanding of the client’s vision, brand, culture, short-term and long-term needs, planned use of the space and practical requirements. What makes this process successful is a client who desires to be actively engaged by becoming a contributor to the process.
Lindsey Sage, Tangram Sales Director
With advances in technology and automation changing the way we work, innovate and communicate, I challenge readers to ask themselves if their workspace inspires them to produce their best work.
GlobeSt.com: Why has this process grown in popularity in recent years?
GlobeSt.com: What are the drawbacks, if any, to this process?
Sage: There are several forces that are driving this trend. One being that technological advances have trained us as consumers to expect a customized experience in all of our products, including office furniture. In addition, there is an ongoing DIY movement that increases clientsâ€™ desire to be actively engaged and be a part of the creative process. Lastly, thanks to the Internet, buyers are more educated than ever on commercial interiors. Any restriction is now out the window with endless options to make a space that the client loves.
Sage: This process will require a longer period of design development than purchasing standard furniture. In the beginning states of the codesign process, it is imperative to understand budget and the clientâ€™s move-in parameters. The beauty in the process are options with hundreds of materials and finish styles to accomplish an intended vision that meets the established price point. That being said, the better the design team understands the clientâ€™s needs and the better they educate the client on all of their options, the shorter the process. At Tangram Studio, many years of experience have allowed us to develop a well-honed process of communication and design understanding that guarantees a beautifully furnished and highly functional workspace.
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about co-designing commercial workspaces? Sage: With advances in technology and automation changing the way we work, innovate and communicate, I challenge readers to ask themselves if their workspace inspires them to produce their best work. Does your space reflect your brand and culture or does it look like the office across the hall? About seven years ago, Tangram Studio did a study of our clients to identify who they are, their markets, budget, office sizes, locations, etc. The data was vastly varied, but the common thread was that every project involved a client and design firm who wanted to create something special and play a part in the process. This thread holds true today and continues to result in exceptional workspace environments.
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Tangram was founded in 1963. Today, we are the leading interiors solutions provider in Los Angeles with offices in Orange County, Downtown LA, Fresno and Bakersfield.