What’s New in the New Landscape of Work

Herman Miller Guest Blog: By Greg Parsons

If you want to understand how much work has changed over the past 10 years, think about where and how you do your work. Today, you can easily check emails at the airport and, depending on the mood of our friends at gogo, even on the plane.

Speaking of planes, I had an interesting experience while flying from New York to San Francisco recently. I’m a world-class procrastinator, so naturally I was watching a movie to avoid finishing an essay that was due. A colleague emailed me and suggested that we write it together—live. In a moment of good WiFi karma, we used Google Docs to do just that. I had the provocation, support, and perspective of someone I trust, and technology allowed us to craft paragraphs together, even though he was in Michigan and I was on a Delta flight soaring somewhere above the Midwest United States.

Whether we have all realized it or not, we are approaching a world in which almost anyone can connect with the people, information, and tools they need to create almost anything—at any time and any place. But for some people, the workplace can be a major roadblock to this seamless connectivity. Especially one that’s been built for standardization and not personalization.

Think for a moment about your office. Does it look different than other places you’ve worked? Does it feel like it’s designed for who you are and what you do?  Does it have spaces throughout that are outfitted with the exact right tools for your work? Do the furnishings recognize you, respond to your needs, and help you stay active and healthy? Does the entire space easily flex and adapt to organizational changes?

At Herman Miller, we believe the answer to these questions should be yes. Over the past four years, we’ve worked with designers, technologists, and people whose brilliance isn’t so easily categorized, to redefine how we design, deliver, and manage workplaces so that the answer can be yes. We call the result Living Office.

Living Office combines our latest understanding of people and how we truly come together to create value with the latest technology to support us. By redefining workplaces from the standardized cubicles and conference rooms many of us know, Living Office provides an optimal mix of new kinds of work settings. These settings have furnishings, tools and technology, and surroundings that we’ve created not in pieces, but as one holistic solution. We’ve designed these settings to constantly evolve to support the individuals and groups using them, as well as their unique work.

This is the context for our new partnership with Logitech. Our friends at Logitech share our belief that technology should serve people, and that it can only do so when it’s working in concert with the other elements in a space to support what people are doing. Organizations can seamlessly incorporate Logitech’s intuitive solutions into environments that allow people to have meaningful interactions with one another—whether they are together in the room or 2,000 miles away from one another.

We’re specifically excited about Logitech’s MeetUp solution, a conference camera and speaker designed for small meeting rooms and spaces where people gather for impromptu meetings. With MeetUp, people participating remotely can see every person sitting at the table clearly. And with integrated audio that’s designed specifically for the acoustics in smaller meeting spaces, everyone can be heard as well as seen. Simple design considerations like this help everyone feel included and involved in the conversation (and we all know how difficult that can be on conference calls).

Solutions like MeetUp might seem small, but this smart design thinking adds up to good things for both people and business. When it’s easier for people to interact, it’s easier for them to come up with better ideas, make decisions faster, and solve problems more quickly. For organizations, this means that their investment in technology and real estate is helping them operate more efficiently, be more productive, and, perhaps, most importantly, attract and keep the talented people they need to compete.

And that’s where it all starts and ends for us—with people. We’re excited to continue partnering with Logitech to create work environments where people want to be, and where they can do their best work. Our future together holds many more ideas, designs, and services that will empower organizations to do more for their people—and benefit more from the results.

Be sure to check out our combined solutions in action this week at NeoCon, Suite 321 in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, and at InfoComm, Booth 2681 in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.