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Herman Miller Introduces Living Office™: the Holistic Solution for the New Landscapes of Work

June 10, 2013

At NeoCon 2013, the modern design leader presents a comprehensive offering of ideas, furnishings, tools and services to help individuals and organizations achieve a new dynamic of shared prosperity

At the outset of the 21st century we are witness to a period of dramatic change; in the global economy, in the structures and cultures of organizations, in workforce demographics and the personal expectations of workers, and in technologies and modes of work. The result is a period of great inflection, with established norms giving way to disruption and uncertainty.

This rapidly evolving landscape of work has left many people and organizations out of sync and with profoundly unmet needs. Too often the established methods and means of provisioning and managing the office no longer empower and motivate. Tools and technology aren’t optimized for the work at hand. Many workplaces are—if not literally, then figuratively—from another era.

As a pioneer of the modern office, Herman Miller Inc. has successfully met this challenge before. The company first established itself as a global leader in workplace design more than 40 years ago, as its groundbreaking Action Office system created a dynamic new office paradigm during a similar era of transformation.  At the forefront of its industry for virtually every workplace innovation since, Herman Miller has embraced this new era of change and challenge as opportunity—aiming for profound and positive impact on the lives of people and organizations.

The company has approached this new office revolution with the proven methods of its past. Working with many of the world’s leading experts and designers, Herman Miller is uncovering new insights and applying this greater understanding of people—how we think, how we are motivated, and how we create and collaborate—to the emergent landscape of work.

Living Office
The result is a different approach to managing people and their work, the tools and products that enable that work, and the places where people come together to do it. A more human-centered integration of these elements creates a total work experience that is more natural and desirable, and within it the opportunity for individuals and organizations to achieve a new dynamic of shared prosperity. Herman Miller calls it Living Office and at NeoCon 2013 the company begins its introduction of new knowledge and services, products, and technologies to realize that vision.

Built on what is fundamental to all humans, Living Office will help both people and their organizations to update their places, tools, and the management of the workplace, to uniquely express and enable shared character and purpose.

Living Office Insights
The office’s longstanding monopoly on work is clearly broken. Powerful mobile tools and seamless information and communications networks  allow work in virtually any setting and at any time. Given those accepted realities, the fundamental nature of office design is shifting. What was once secondary to work—camaraderie, connection, spontaneous interaction, and group expression—has increasingly become primary. Bringing people together, in proximity or direct collaboration, and enabling their ultimate creativity and performance, is the essential purpose of today’s workplace.

For more than two years, across six continents, with multiple experts and organizations and many thousands of data points, Herman Miller has been conducting primary research into the evolving nature of work and place. In the course of its research the company has also uncovered dramatic data on the state of current office space useage and performance: typically private offices are unoccupied 77 percent of the day, while workstations are unoccupied 60 percent of the day; conference rooms are rarely used to capacity; and people increasingly choose ‘social’ spaces over less social areas.

These and other insights have led Herman Miller to design solutions grounded in a deeper understanding of daily activities and new patterns of need in work tools and space. The richer levels of workplace performance that result will create greater satisfaction in both individuals and organizations.

Creating a Living Office
The company has identified and defined ten Modes of individual and group work, as well as ten related Settings essential to today’s global work experience. Herman Miller emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all, off-the- shelf solution for an optimal workplace. Each Living Office is unique, based on the distinctive purpose, character, and activities of its inhabitants and the design ingredients selected to satisfy them.

Settings
Living Office provides people with a variety of spaces that are optimized to support work and interaction. Each of the 10 unique settings are distinct in their purpose, scale, and sociability. Each may be executed in a variety of ways—with Herman Miller’s global portfolio of products—to enable purpose, express character, or enhance the activities of work.

Landscapes
Composed from an optimized selection of settings, each Living Office landscape aims to bring an organization’s strategy to life. To accomplish this the landscape should enable and empower its inhabitants by providing choice and fostering community—not unlike a vibrant city. In a Living Office, Herman Miller envisions that people should immediately grasp what they can do, where they can go, what things are for, and why they are the way they are.

Furnishings
Developed with the world’s leading designers, Herman Miller’s furniture offers unparalleled variety and choice to facilitate diverse experiences of work and workplace—and to facilitate a Living Office. From performance seating that supports mind and body, to adaptable systems that enable dynamic environments for interaction and productivity, to versatile and timeless elements from Geiger and the Herman Miller Collection, Herman Miller’s furnishing solutions serve as a designer’s palette to create each Living Office.

Herman Miller also recognized that the vibrant office of tomorrow has needs for which today’s existing solutions are less than fully optimized. The company turned to its global creative network of acclaimed, independent designers for wholly new solutions.

Public Office Landscape™ designed by Yves Behar / fuseproject
Public Office Landscape is a system of components that offers surfaces, storage, and seating to enable a multitude of work settings—from collaborative group enclaves, to circulation spaces, to individual work points. Frictions in the workplace, from a lack of available meeting spaces to incompatible technology glitches, interrupt productivity. Public is designed to keep an office in the state of “flow,” where people are engaged, focused, and able to move freely between conversations and tasks. Public’s Social Chair is the building block of the system, providing scale and design language upon which all the other modules are based. It also introduces a profoundly new level of ergonomic performance to casual seating, letting the sitter connect, relax, and enabling the ideas to flow. Public is planned for availability in the Winter of 2013.

Metaform Portfolio™ designed by Studio 7.5
Metaform Portfolio offers a collection of modular blocks to delineate space and create a diverse range of Living Office settings. An accompanying array of purposeful accessories furthers the blocks’ utility. Inviting participation and enabling productivity, Metaform’s lightweight and intuitive pieces are easily configured and reconfigured—in the moment—by the people who use them, without tools or rules. Considered by the designers as equipment, not furniture, Metaform keeps pace with ever-changing work styles, postures, activities, and technology.  Metaform also spurs creativity and productivity with active display of work-in-progress, screens, and adjustable power outlets to keep everything in reach. Metaform is planned for availability in the Spring of 2013.

Locale™ designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin
Locale enables the creation of dynamic, high-performance work neighborhoods within open-plan environments. In combination and proximity, a composition of Locale elements encourages the free and intuitive shift from individual work to collaborative and social activities and drives serendipitous interaction. The subtle curvature of Locale’s surfaces signals openness, invites interaction, and is designed to generously accommodate multiple collaborators, work styles, and tools. People move and change positions naturally because of the centralized structure and cantilevered surfaces. With the addition of height adjustability, a push of a button allows an individual to sit down for focused work or stand up to collaborate with colleagues. Adjustability is not limited to surface height—mobile tables, screens, and easels can be utilized as the need arises. By easing physical and experiential transitions, Locale’s consistent and thoughtful design vocabulary contributes to a more seamless total experience of work.Locale is planned for availability in the Winter of 2013.

Each of these designs is rooted in natural behaviors and preferences, serving intuitive modes and settings of work and performing seamlessly across Living Office landscapes. Herman Miller also has further ambitions for still more complementary tools and technologies now in development.

Today’s Future
In the new landscape of work, creativity and idea generation drive value. Humanity is the distinguishing capability. Processes don't create ideas, think up new products, or maintain relationships; people do. By extension, today’s offices need to attract, nurture, enable, and retain the talent that will drive innovation and execution, and bring an organization’s strategy to life. In turn, they must give individuals something that can be had nowhere else: a personal, even spiritual connection to work and colleagues; a platform for increased productivity and effectiveness; and a more naturally human experience of interaction and creation.

This is Herman Miller’s Living Office vision—to see these principles gain universal understanding and adoption while helping people, as individuals in organizations, to customize their methods, tools, and places of work to express and enable shared character and purpose. Living Office is a more natural and desirable workplace that fosters greater connection, greater creativity, greater productivity, and ultimately, 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 more than $1.7 billion in revenue in fiscal 2012. 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. In 2012, Herman Miller again received the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s top rating in its annual Corporate Equality Index and was named among the 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers by Industry Week.  Herman Miller is included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.

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