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.
Written by: Mindy Koschmann
Video by: The Work
See how Herman Miller created a Living Office for its people.
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.
“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
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 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
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.
“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
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 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.