Reworking Work

Truly global markets; seamless connectivity to people and machines; instantaneous access to information and ideas; a merging of life inside and outside the office and the increasing creative and production capabilities of individuals: these are just a few of the trends that come together to define a new landscape of work.

Written by: The Editors

Artwork by: Daniel Carlsten

An illustration of two men in an outdoor work setting.

It is clear that many of the management methods, tools and technology, and places that have defined work to date, are no longer sufficient in this new era. At Herman Miller, we’re building what’s next: a more natural and desirable way of working that fosters greater performance, engagement, well-being and ultimately greater prosperity for all. Consider the following provocative ideas.

An illustration showing two images of people figuratively shopping for office furniture.

Treat your employee as you would a customer by offering unprecedented value and compelling choices that meet the demands of their work, and help them achieve something greater. Workers should be empowered to shop for the space that best suits them in the moment, and freely and intuitively cycle through these spaces over the course of their day. Workspaces and settings must stay attuned to the “market demands” of the workers using them. For an office to thrive, the customer must always be satisfied.

An illustration showing various images of pears in a work setting.

Once guidelines and purpose are set, enabling individuals to do their best work means relinquishing control – of the work process, the work environment and sometimes of the work itself. There is no such thing as a perfect office, so don’t try to create one. Instead, a managerial and physical environment that anticipates, enables, embraces and to some extent contains this chaos is one which people will naturally occupy, and succeed in.

An illustration of two men in an outdoor work setting.

The human brain is constantly reacting to and processing a bandwidth of inputs and information far beyond our conscious perception. Cues from the environment and each other powerfully drive how we feel and what we do. Purposeful designs can accommodate and harness this “human operating system”. In such a workplace people will immediately grasp what they can do, where they can go, what things are for and why they are the way they are. Productivity and pleasure will come naturally. It will just feel right.

An illustration showing basketball imagery in a work setting.

A successful office plays a role in facilitating and maintaining a symbiotic balance between individuals and their groups. It connects people to their work and to each other. Workplaces must emphasise what can’t be accomplished on a screen or through a device. They must proliferate an atmosphere of trust and fellowship. For workers to reach their potential, the office must always feel like a community worth belonging to.

An illustration showing six images of people in abstract work settings.

The design and management of the office has to begin with a careful consideration of people and their work. There is no one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf solution for an optimal workplace. The solution for each organisation must necessarily be different based on the aspirations and needs of the organisation and its workers. Achieving a Living Office requires perpetual enquiry, solid intuition and decisive action.