Steelcase Worklife, a living showroom
Steelcase, the global leader in office furniture and layout design, has made its own office into a showroom.
Since 2003, Steelcase has been based at 23 Boulevard Jules Ferry, in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. This ‘Worklife’ on three floors is both a showroom and the French headquarters of the group.
Worklife, a living showroom
Worklife is a demonstration in situ of the way Steelcase thinks and organises work spaces.
On the ground floor, the Workcafé offers a new-age work environment to those associated with the group and to visiting colleagues: a co-working space which is both stimulating and friendly and promotes exchange and productivity. “At the Workcafé the rule is you have to accept that you’ll be bothered and interrupted.”
Organised around a central atrium, it’s surrounded by around 30 meeting rooms. The dominant black and white décor promotes a zen atmosphere, while the orange and red touches galvanise the space.
The third floor hosts the ‘Learning Centre’, a space for active learning where Steelcase shows off its latest innovations in higher education and professional training, like the Node chairs with an integrated tablet holder. The space can be rearranged and is mobile; it can be adapted to different teaching methods.
In the basement, there are large meeting rooms and a room entirely dedicated to project work: the Team Studio.
Steelcase defines a type of organised space according to two main axes: from the singular to the plural and from the assigned to the shared, depending on the number of participants and the mix of teams and functions required. Each work space corresponds to a part of this matrix, and together they create an eco-system.
During a visit, the customer can appreciate the furniture as it is being used by Steelcase employees. More than just an area to present products, Worklife is a living space for demonstration and experience.
Diversity of spaces, positions and presentation methods
Worklife offers a diversity of spaces, more or less open-plan, offering different degrees of intimacy, mixing individual and collaborative tasks – like the Workcafé. Some meeting rooms are designed like a theatre to allow exterior interactions, while other individual spots allow people to isolate themselves.
Steelcase products invite the work force to utilise a diversity of positions: standing up, sitting down, even lying down – a position especially conceived for Generation Y. This variety is strategic: studies carried out by Steelcase show that changing position is physically galvanising and psychologically stimulating.
Finally, the audio systems and video-conferencing facilities allow workers a diversity of presentation methods and the possibility of working from other physical spaces.
This triple diversity originates from the philosophy of Steelcase, according to which individuals are more productive when they can decide on their mode and location of work, adapting to their needs and their own personalities. Steelcase defines Worklife as an ‘ecosystem of interconnected and interdependent spaces which meet the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of individuals.’
Well-being at the heart of the strategy
The ultimate objective is the well-being of the worker. “Workspaces can, and must, give people the chance to leave their office in better health than when they arrived in the morning,” says Nancy Hickey, Experienced Business Executive at Steelcase.
Both furniture and technology must be at the heart of this quest for well-being. “Cognitive well-being is the second biggest challenge for businesses after innovation.” An example: having noticed that workers waste 30 minutes a day looking for a meeting room, Steelcase created an interconnected tablet which books a room easily.
Linked to this holistic approach of well-being at work, Steelcase publishes the magazine 360° which contains research on the wider problems of workspaces.
The major strength of the Steelcase model is to have made its own office into a showroom. The solutions for improving well-being and productivity of workers are instantly visible to the customer.
As a living workspace, Worklife fits perfectly into Steelcase’s mission statement: “to give working people a memorable experience.”