Herman Miller Brings Living Office to Life
June 9, 2014
A global leader in modern design offers new insights, tools, and furnishings that enable organizations to create their own unique landscape of work
In 2013, Herman Miller introduced Living Office, an enlightened and more human-centered framework to approach contemporary office design. Continuing the company’s legacy of leadership in the design of the modern workplace, Living Office addresses wants and needs that are fundamental to all humans, while adaptive to the unique purpose, character and activities of individuals and organizations. Ultimately, Herman Miller’s Living Office seeks to inspire and enable a more natural and desirable workplace, fostering greater connection, creativity, productivity, and prosperity for all.
Building on the momentum of its Living Office launch, this week Herman Miller unveiled new tools, information, and dynamic new furniture designs to help organizations achieve their own Living Office.
The Power of Place
In a Living Office, place acts as a powerful expression of an organization’s unique culture and a strategic tool to realize its ambitions. The guiding design principles start with those factors that are fundamental to all humans; and because all individuals and companies work differently, diagnostic tools then focus on those qualities that are unique to each.
A Human Experience Fundamental to All
Living Office begins with an understanding of what all people intuitively seek in a workplace. To create offices where people and the business can prosper, Herman Miller believes organizations must develop spaces that balance the experiences and motivations of individuals and groups, as well as their cognitive and physical needs. The Living Office tools for modeling the human experience also account for the natural interaction of these dimensions.
Herman Miller has identified six key work motivations, informed by independent experts and the company’s own primary research, and considers each in relation to the individual, group, cognitive, and physical experience.
- Security: People desire health, safety, familiarity, and competence.
- Autonomy: We naturally seek freedom in our actions and decisions.
- Belonging: Humans want meaningful connection to others.
- Achievement: We strive for excellence and take pride in our accomplishments.
- Status: We want recognition for our contributions.
- Purpose: People want to make a meaningful difference.
Greg Parsons, Herman Miller’s Vice President, New Landscape of Work, noted, “Today’s technologies allow us to work anywhere. So why come to an office at all? Living Office aims to provide to knowledge workers what the stage or recording studio offers to musicians- an environment optimized to inspire and enable people’s ultimate performance. By deeply understanding human motivations and their corollaries in space design, Living Office enhances both performance and satisfaction.”
The company has research-based examples of how these six motivators connect to the design of the office. In Herman Miller’s global study on individual preferences and attributes, people who said they were motivated by connection and belonging cited preferences for a “personal oasis” at work that supports “self-identity and ownership.” They also expressed desire for work environments that “do not look or feel like an office, but seem more like home,” that “flow between casual and formal,” “reflect team space,” and “enable and encourage interactions.”
In the same global study, people who said they were motivated by meaningful and engaging work cited preferences for “busy, interactive” work environments that offered “freedom to explore” and “different perspectives and viewpoints.” Providing people the option to select work settings that best serve the task at hand supports their desire for autonomy.
Purpose and Character
Each Living Office relies on an understanding of business purpose and priorities. Herman Miller defines purpose as what an organization offers the world and what it hopes to receive in return. Business priorities are those things that either impede or aid the achievement of purpose—such as attracting talent and stimulating innovation.
Character is that distinct set of values and traits that best define a person or business in comparison to others. Living Office utilizes a spectrum of character attributes in eight distinct dualities to facilitate a conversation about an organization’s essential nature. They include: Constant to Adaptable, Uniform to Diverse, Formal to Casual, Closed to Open, Physical to Virtual, Local to Global, Independent to Interdependent, and Directed to Self-Directed.
Herman Miller believes that a workplace that expresses character helps people align with common goals and aspirations, while offering a variety of spaces with their own distinct character contributes a feeling of vitality and guides utility.
Because organizations, teams, and individuals all work differently, Herman Miller believes understanding and accommodating the unique activities that comprise work is critical to the design of each Living Office. Its Modes of Work research and associated Settings define and support the entire spectrum of needs as people move through their workday.
Knowledge and Tools
Working with many of the world’s leading researchers, subject experts and designers, Herman Miller is introducing this new knowledge with related services, products, and technologies to support its progressive vision.
Designed by UK-based Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, Locale helps organizations better utilize and manage open offices with a system that enables seamless transitions between work done together and alone, and in seated or standing postures. By removing visual and physical obstacles and condensing the architectural scale of an open plan office into a tightly knit neighborhood, Locale helps people stay better connected to their work and each other. During the design process for Locale, Hecht and Colin drew on their own office for inspiration—a highly efficient space that accommodates different work styles and behaves like an energetic international neighborhood. The design drew upon the notion of a thriving English high street, which serves the community and broader city simply and effectively, by arranging a variety of local activities and services in close proximity.
Public Office Landscape
Public transforms every part of the office—including the individual desk—into places for greater collaboration. Designed by Yves Behar and fuseproject, it’s the first office system to support casual work and provide comfort, at the desk, in circulation space, and in group areas—all within a consistent design vocabulary. Visually uniform and modular surfaces, storage, and seating can be configured into a broad range of settings that encourage fluid transitions between collaborative and focused work. The Social Chair is the core component of the Public system, bringing new ergonomics, functionality and durability to soft seating while accommodating a range of people and postures. Public is a new landscape platform that encourages the purposeful interactions that drive work forward—at the desk, in group areas, and throughout the entire office.
Living Office for All
Living Office offers individuals and organizations a strategy to respond to the new landscape of work. By putting people and their passion first, it is a way to rethink why, how, and where work happens, while recognizing our humanity is an asset, not a liability. For that reason, Herman Miller declares a Living Office isn’t for everyone—but for each of us, with greater prosperity for all.
About Herman Miller
Herman Miller’s inspiring designs, inventive technologies and strategic services help people do great things and organizations to perform at their best. The company’s award-winning products and services generated approximately $1.8 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013. A past recipient of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, Herman Miller designs can be found in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have also helped establish Herman Miller as a recognized global leader. Herman Miller is included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.