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Work In Progress

At Herman Miller we’re taking a different approach to how we manage our work, the tools and technologies that enable it, and the places where we come together to do it.

Herman Miller brings a uniquely human perspective to the work environment, especially in the place we call home. We believe that the future is about networks—networks that enable us to accomplish great things. We build these networks both internally and externally, locally and globally.

To further this pursuit, we recently set about transforming our West Michigan home, the Design Yard, into a place that would support an organization of high-performing individuals and their networks. In our vision, the Design Yard would bring people closer together through a shared sense of community and purpose, and encourage people to contribute their most meaningful work.

Our Plaza setting is the vibrant and dynamic heart of the landscape, where people can come together and intuitively take the pulse of the organization. Our Plaza setting is the vibrant and dynamic heart of the landscape, where people can come together and intuitively take the pulse of the organization.
A forty-foot-long coffee bar offers a place to socialize and get work done. A forty-foot-long coffee bar offers a place to socialize and get work done.

I work in a different part of the Design Yard, but I come to the coffee bar as often as I can. I love the light, the openness, and the energy of the people in the space.

Mark Beckman, Engineer

A playful mix of classic and contemporary designs offers a diverse array of places for people to socialize, converse, and work. A playful mix of classic and contemporary designs offers a diverse array of places for people to socialize, converse, and work.
The floorplan is designed to foster creativity, ease collaboration and workflow, and inspire people to do their best work. The floorplan is designed to foster creativity, ease collaboration and workflow, and inspire people to do their best work.

During the course of planning, we endeavored to strip away the disruptions and detours we typically encounter during a workday. We wanted every element of the office landscape to be positioned purposefully to encourage intuitive behaviors. Such a place would serve as a destination where people would want to be and would feel like a community worth belonging to.

We refer to our e-Business team’s space as a Clubhouse—a working neighborhood with a variety of individual and group work points that enable people to move freely between tasks. We refer to our e-Business team’s space as a Clubhouse—a working neighborhood with a variety of individual and group work points that enable people to move freely between tasks.
The new layout is highly collaborative and supportive of an individual’s need for focus. People can retreat to semi-private workstations when they need to concentrate on complex tasks. The new layout is highly collaborative and supportive of an individual’s need for focus. People can retreat to semi-private workstations when they need to concentrate on complex tasks.

We worked closely with the design team to make sure the new space would suit the way we work now and could evolve with us as our team changes and grows. I can see that the planning paid off because people who would normally work at home are spending more time at the office.

Bryan Showers, Manager of e-Business Integration

In the Brand Design group’s Hive setting each team member has a home, and a place to get their individual work done in proximity to others. In the Brand Design group’s Hive setting each team member has a home, and a place to get their individual work done in proximity to others.
Long, centralized benches provide individual work points as well as ample space for co-creation. Long, centralized benches provide individual work points as well as ample space for co-creation.
Residents can stow personal belongings or work tools in storage lining the perimeter. Residents can stow personal belongings or work tools in storage lining the perimeter.

Research and planning helped us identify and implement a series of spaces optimized to support work and interaction. We call these spaces Settings, and they include environments for community and group engagement, enclosed meeting spaces, and spaces for private focus.

These Settings comprise our new office landscape, designed to enable and empower people by providing choice and fostering community—not unlike a vibrant city. People can immediately grasp what they can do, where they can go, what things are for, and why they are the way they are.

This Cove setting—a group space adjacent to the North American Marketing team’s individual workstations—allows people to assemble and engage with one another for a short period of time. This Cove setting—a group space adjacent to the North American Marketing team’s individual workstations—allows people to assemble and engage with one another for a short period of time.
In the design of every Meeting Space, considerations for remote participants are as important as those in the room. In the design of every Meeting Space, considerations for remote participants are as important as those in the room.
Three semi-enclosed Haven settings just off our Plaza offer people places for private phone calls or to power through their work. Three semi-enclosed Haven settings just off our Plaza offer people places for private phone calls or to power through their work.
Havens allow for concentrative, focused work without distractions, and are places where people can retreat and unwind. Havens allow for concentrative, focused work without distractions, and are places where people can retreat and unwind.

Without adding to the existing facility, the new design accommodates 40 percent more people. We increased the number of formal meeting spaces and embedded shared collaborative areas into every work team space.

The materials, artwork, and artifacts at the Design Yard are a visual expression of our legacy, creativity, and our human-centered approach to design.

Mindy Koschmann, Writer/Editor

Designed to support the presentation of content, this enclosed Forum setting has clear points of focus for everyone in the room. Designed to support the presentation of content, this enclosed Forum has clear points of focus for everyone in the room.
Not far from the Plaza, along a highly trafficked pathway, a bar-height counter provides the Customer Experience Team—and others—a place to get work done between appointments. Not far from the Plaza, along a highly trafficked pathway, a bar-height counter provides the Customer Experience Team—and others—a place to get work done between appointments.
A library just off the Plaza accommodates individuals’ needs for privacy and focus. A library just off the Plaza accommodates individuals’ needs for privacy and focus.

The inevitability of change is the primary reason we view the Design Yard as an ongoing experiment—a living prototype where we refine our theories about work and workplaces. We continue to measure the effectiveness of the space with our unique toolset that includes space utilization and observational studies. This ongoing research helps us understand design elements that are working well and identify opportunities for improvement.

Our ongoing refinement of the Design Yard will ensure that it remains a positive contributor to our experience of work. It will always be a place where Herman Miller comes to life and where we can all realize our full potential.

A long, bar-height bench next to the Education group’s space is a favorite spot for quick huddles and brainstorming sessions. A long, bar-height bench next to the Education group’s space is a favorite spot for quick huddles and brainstorming sessions.
This technology-enabled, enclosed Meeting Space offers everyone a clear line of sight when information is shared. This technology-enabled, enclosed Meeting Space offers everyone a clear line of sight when information is shared.
The Executive Leadership Team’s space acts much like a working neighborhood, where close proximity is driving collaboration and decision-making. The Executive Leadership Team’s space acts much like a working neighborhood, where close proximity is driving collaboration and decision-making.
The materials, artwork, and artifacts at the Design Yard are a visual expression of our legacy, creativity, and our human-centered approach to design. The materials, artwork, and artifacts at the Design Yard are a visual expression of our legacy, creativity, and our human-centered approach to design.
With all of the executives working in one place, decisions that would normally take weeks can now be resolved with a quick conversation. With all of the executives working in one place, decisions that would normally take weeks can now be resolved with a quick conversation.
When the team needs to gather, they can retreat to a Cove—a setting that offers comfortable seating, white boards, and technology that allows the team to share information. When the team needs to gather, they can retreat to a Cove—a setting that offers comfortable seating, white boards, and technology that allows the team to share information.
Outside the Executive Leadership Team space, co-workers stop for an impromptu chat in a pair of Ward Bennett-designed Sled Chairs. Outside the Executive Leadership Team space, co-workers stop for an impromptu chat in a pair of Ward Bennett-designed Sled Chairs.

Images by Mark Mahaney.

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