21st Feb 2020

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

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Our friends at Steelcase recently released the latest edition of their 360 Magazine – ‘Office Remix’ – and it’s packed full of really interesting research. We always enjoy reading the 360 Magazine and getting up to speed with the latest research in workplace design, and this time we couldn’t help but share some of our favourite bits with you.

Why some of the coolest spaces at work sit empty

Over the past few years, office design has moved towards making offices look less like offices, instead making them ‘cooler’ in an attempt to attract the best talent. But a lot of the time these spaces aren’t being used as the designers envisioned.

It may or may not surprise you to know that Steelcase research found it’s because people come to work to actually get stuff done. And unfortunately, these types of spaces often aren’t optimised for productivity. Whilst working in a coffee shop environment might be preferable, it can be loud and distracting. The same as working on a bean bag chair sounds comfy but isn’t always practical for allowing creativity and collaboration.

But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean offices can’t be designed to be both inspiring and relaxing.

According to Steelcase, we just need to take a different approach to office design – one that considers the diverse spaces people need to be productive, as well as how people get their work done and how the space makes them feel.

We’re definitely on the same page as Steelcase here, as we place workplace consultancy and company culture at the heart of every project. It means we can create office space that’s specific to a team’s ethos, culture and goals, as well as ensuring usability and functionality of course.

Are open-plan offices the future?

The media likes to tell us how the open-plan office is doing more harm than good – that it’s stressing us out more and leaving us prone to more distraction with less privacy. But, Steelcase research tells us differently.

According to their research, the open-plan office can easily be a place where teams can thrive. They just need to be equipped a little differently. The key finding was that providing individuals with a little visual privacy can help them to stay focused and concentrate better.

So then, we don’t need to say goodbye to the open-plan office completely, we just need to provide spaces with visual privacy to make sure it’s optimised for productivity.

Workplace burnout

“Workplace burnout” was defined by the World Health Organization and is now considered a legitimate diagnosis (although WHO refer to it as an ‘occupational phenomenon’) caused as a result of stress.

You might be experiencing workplace burnout if you feel an energy depletion, increased negative feelings about your job, or if you’re becoming less productive at work.

Luckily, Steelcase has some suggested ways you can feel better:

  • Get up and walk around! It might sound simple, but research by Stanford University found that walking increases our creative output by an average of 60%.
  • Take some time for yourself. It’s impossible to be ‘switched on’ all the time – we all need some time to rest and recharge. To do this at work, you could find a quiet place to break away or just put in your earphones to give yourself a little space.
  • Humans are social creatures and we feel happier when we have meaningful relationships and a sense of belonging. So make time to chat face to face. You could grab a coffee with a colleague, or see if anybody wants to come for lunch.

Inclusive Design

Historically, workplaces have been designed to satisfy most people, most of the time, but that’s meant that everyone who doesn’t fit the average isn’t considered.

People at work expect (and deserve!) diverse options that allow everyone to have the same opportunities at work. Thankfully, the emerging field of inclusive design is beginning to offer strategies that enable each and every team member to achieve their potential.

As an example, currently, there are few spaces that support people with autism. People with autism require a few small adjustments to the work environment, yet many companies would have no idea of the steps to take. We hope to see more employers seeking offices to suit each and every one of their employees in the near future.

And there’s more

That’s just a summary of some of our favourite bits from the most recent edition. You can check out the full Steelcase 360 magazine here – you won’t regret it.


Rob Day

Chairman & Founder