Monthly Archives: April 2018

Belonging at Work

Create workplaces that connect people to each other and to the organization.



Experienced as inclusion, affiliation, acceptance, and social validation, belonging is one of six fundamental human needs that motivate us at work. When a person’s need to be part of something bigger than themselves is fulfilled, they are more satisfied and perform better. This, in turn, helps organizations retain valuable employees and achieve business goals.

As part of our ongoing pursuit of human-centered workplace design, Herman Miller’s Living Office® helps organizations and their design partners create work environments where people feel connected. Proprietary studies conducted with our Living Office Research Partners indicate that successful and proactive organizations enhance belongingness by providing a variety of settings that encourage social interaction, and by carefully planning physical proximities, traffic paths, and sightlines across the landscape. Incorporating purposeful visual cues that welcome, engage, and inform a diverse employee population also promotes inclusion and esprit de corps.

Make Room for Socializing
Research has established the positive effect of face-to-face communication on team performance. Studies with our Living Office Research Partners indicate that successful organizations purposefully allocate and design space to encourage social interaction.

In addition to centralized Plaza Settings where people from all areas of the company can gather over food and drink, our Research Partners provide a variety of settings, open and enclosed, where informal interactions can take place. Placing Landing Settings with café tables and chairs outside of Meeting Spaces and locating Coves with comfortable lounge seating near work team areas encourages and supports ongoing conversations and contributes to social bonding at work.



Plan for Proximity
Studies show that physical proximity is a potent factor in creating and maintaining social connection. Our global investigation of knowledge workers found “proximity to fellow workers”—along with support for “mobility” and “collaboration” —to be a significant feature of workplaces that enhance a sense of belonging. Organizations can exploit the power of proximity by locating team members and teams based on important work relationships. Settings where anyone can touch down to work for a few hours bring together colleagues who don’t often see one another and give them an opportunity to meet up or run into each other on a regular basis. In addition, organizations can promote opportunities for helpful connection throughout the workplace by paying careful attention to lines of sight (ensuring coworkers can easily see one another) and providing furnishings that allow for convenient, spontaneous interaction.

Cue Inclusion
In today’s highly mobile and global business world, physical proximity is not always possible. Important team members may be located on the other side of the country—or the world. In the absence of shared physical context and opportunities for informal face-to-face communication, a sense of belonging deteriorates, along with cooperative and helpful behaviors. Careful planning of workplace settings used for videoconferencing can restore some of the lost benefits of face-to-face interaction. Separate monitors to display people and presentation materials allow remote participants to see what on-site viewers are looking at. Furniture arrangements that encourage participants to share a common seated or standing posture—so no one is blocking anyone’s view— prompt equal participation in discussions and provide more direct social connection for all.

Finally, an inclusive work environment plays an important role in mobile and contingent workers’ sense of belonging. For these employees, it’s important to provide a place they can call “home” when they’re in the office. Drop-in Jump Space Settings located in high-traffic areas allow those who aren’t often in the office to work alongside colleagues and bump into people they don’t often see. Smart, connected furnishings that remember and respond to individual preferences offer a sense of comfort and familiarity, even in a workplace where most workpoints are unassigned.

Plan for Prosperity
When individuals have a strong sense of belonging where they work, they are motivated to cooperate, help each other, and share in the risks and rewards of creative thinking that propels corporate profitability to new heights.

Autonomy at Work – Create workplaces that give people the freedom to choose where and how they accomplish their goals

Autonomy—the freedom and the opportunity to make self-determined choices—is one of six fundamental human needs that motivate us. Research shows that autonomy at work correlates with greater commitment, creativity, and job satisfaction for people, as well as improved attraction and retention rates and productivity levels for organizations. We help organizations realize these benefits by determining the right variety of settings, and encouraging individuals and teams to test and explore how, when, and where they can work to achieve the best results. As part of our ongoing pursuit of human-centered workplace design, Herman Miller’s Living Office® helps organizations and their design partners create environments that support—rather than control—people and their work. Proprietary studies conducted with our Living Office Research Partners1 show how forward-looking companies are using workplace design to maximize freedom of choice and prosperity

Provide Purposeful Settings

An environment that offers people choices in where they work clearly supports the need for autonomy. But purposeful selfdirection requires a variety of purposeful settings aligned with the unique character and activities of an organization and its people. Living Office Research Partners identify and prioritize essential traits and activities for support and then allocate space accordingly. They use meaningful landmarks and planned adjacencies between workgroups to differentiate settings and guide individuals to the spaces that best suit specific tasks and work styles. Given these design considerations, post-move studies of our Living Office Research Partners found a relative percentage increase of 100 percent in employee agreement with the statement, “My work team and I have the ability to choose where we work in our workplace.”

Offer Variety in Tools, Posture, Mood

Two different people performing the same task may have very different ideas about the best way to accomplish it. A Living Office workplace accommodates diverse preferences by offering support for a variety of tools and postures. Our Research Partners make provisions for connecting and charging various types and quantities of personal technology. They also ensure that analog tools like whiteboards and tackable surfaces, as well as places to display work-in-progress and symbolic artifacts, are available. Accommodations for different postural preferences and choices of formal or casual seating arrangements contribute to a sense of autonomy, as do flexible, mobile furnishings that people can position themselves. Landscapes that offer sensory variation let people choose settings that stimulate or calm, depending on changing moods and task requirements.

Accommodate Flexible Schedules and Contingent Workers

Flexible work schedules, a growing number of permanent part-time employees, and a rapidly expanding contingent workforce of contractors, consultants, and temps requires an agile and dynamic workplace that can accommodate fluctuating numbers of workers on a day-to-day basis. Our Living Office Research Partners use well-appointed shared work points to provide equitable accommodations for both full-time staff and contingent workers so that everyone feels valued and integral to the team. Centrally located Plaza Settings that offer enticing amenities and comfortable and convenient meeting and work locations encourage information exchange and camaraderie at all hours of the day.

Plan for Prosperity

When people have choices about how, where, and when they accomplish their work activities and goals, they are more likely to feel motivated and empowered to perform their best. Organizations that design their work environments to support autonomy in alignment with business goals and values are poised for ongoing success. This adds up to prosperity at the broadest and most personal levels. If you’d like to explore how Living Office can work for your organization and your people, visit hermanmiller.com/livingoffice or contact Widmer to find out how we can help your business work to their best ability.

Rockford Showroom

Trends change faster than gas prices sometimes. That is why we update our showrooms to keep track on what is trending and letting you see what some of our new manufacturer partners are coming up with. Our Rockford, IL location recently had a nice facelift that was all designed by our very own interior Designer Molly Johanssen. We knocked down a wall and added a glass wall from Trendway, painted, got new flooring and a lot of new furniture in fun fabric patterns and colors. Stop by to see for yourself how different it looks and enjoy the pictures below!