1st Jul 2022

A Focus on Steelcase Research: Insights from the Latest 360 Magazine

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Our friends over at Steelcase recently released the spring/summer ‘22 edition of their 360 Magazine, titled ‘Work Better: The New Hybrid Neighbourhood’. It’s absolutely packed with thought-provoking studies, research and insights, so we thought we’d give you a lowdown on some of the main learnings in this issue.

The Future is Flexible

Although it started as a strange and somewhat uncomfortable arrangement, many of us got used to home working during the pandemic. We even started to appreciate certain ‘home comforts’ throughout the working day.

With this in mind, Steelcase suggests that those returning to the office after WFH will expect a similar level of flexibility and autonomy in the workplace.  So employers will need to (if they haven’t already) rethink their office design to support this.

The article suggests that organisations will need to seriously consider this for two reasons:

  1. People expect more individual control, especially when they need to do focus work or take video calls, which are now more popular than ever before.
  2. Organisations need the flexibility to quickly and easily make bigger changes to their space, as they try to navigate what types of spaces their people will need for hybrid work.

A New Office for a New Approach

In the wake of the WFH bubble, many companies are implementing hybrid working policies. However, Steelcase argues that this isn’t enough to truly support your employees, and that “hybrid work policies will work better if an organization’s space changes in tandem.”

To entice people back to the office, companies must ‘earn the commute’ by creating safe, supportive workplaces that meet employees’ needs. Namely:

  • Support hybrid work
  • Establish connections
  • Create a sense of belonging
  • Promote wellbeing

To do this, workplaces should take a step back and do what many would consider to be unthinkable… stop worrying about efficiency. Rather than worrying about how many hard workers you can cram into a space, worry about how the space can support those working inside it, and how you can turn your workplace into a ‘neighbourhood’.

Designing Neighbourhoods at Work

To design a thriving modern workplace, Steelcase argues that we should take inspiration from the neighbourhoods in which we live and grow. When looking for a place to live, we often research the neighbourhood surrounding a house, its schools, parks, community, and amenities, before making a decision. Likewise, today’s jobseekers are more interested than ever in the community and culture in which they will be working.

The best neighbourhoods are supportive, diverse, inclusive, and adaptive, yet resilient, so why can’t our workplaces be the same? The answer is that they can, and should be.

Steelcase argues that four key design principles must be met in order for a work neighbourhood to be successful:

  • Me + We​​: Design spaces to support both individuals and groups, allowing easy transitions between both.
  • Fixed-to-Fluid​​: Create spaces with less emphasis on fixed architecture and furnishings, and more focus on ways to easily adapt in the moment and over time.
  • Open + Enclosed: Open spaces are inherently more flexible which will invite more collaboration. Meanwhile, people want more control over their boundaries, and while they won’t always need fully-enclosed spaces, people need more access to private spaces.
  • Braiding Digital + Physical ​Experiences: This is ultimately what hybrid collaboration spaces are all about. Technology and space need to be considered holistically because that’s how work will happen.

And that’s not all…

This is just a summary of some of our favourite bits from the most recent edition. But there’s much more to read about in the full magazine! You can check out all the online editions of the 360 magazine here, so take a look!


Gemma Ryder

Furniture Project Manager