"Living Office": The Pinnacle of Workplace Design?

There has been a significant shift in the understanding of how people work, founded on elements that are innately human; security, autonomy, belonging, achievement, status, and purpose. These six elements reflect how we tend to experience the world and what motivates us to do our best work. Informed by this understanding, renowned company Herman Miller has recently transformed workplaces to consider the arrangement of surroundings, furnishings, and tools that match the diverse needs of employees while delivering an elevated human experience.

Traditional cubicles and office spaces that many people continue to work in today were very much designed for the workflow, processes and technology from the past. Recognizing the potential for a new kind of office, Herman Miller has identified three key pillars to be considered when designing for “living office” spaces.

1. People

A space where people will work not because they have to, but because they want to should be the ultimate strife of designers and employers in our modern era. When we design to enhance our experience, our workplace becomes a place where we feel content. We must also recognize that everybody is different in how they work – individuals and organizations have their own unique character and activities that may warrant creative approaches to workspace design.

2. Place making

Place making entails creating a place for every purpose, and a purpose for every place (Herman Miller, n.d.). In a “living office,” people are able to choose from a range of spaces that better support their work activities, strengthen connection with colleagues, and help fulfill their specific task at hand. Give consulting firm Deloitte for example. The new Toronto headquarters has approximately 18 different types of workstations on any given floor, enabling flexibility to connect and collaborate with colleagues in a highly innovative and productive way.

Click here to read more on how a number of Canadian companies have begun to overhaul dated workspaces.

3. Furnishings and Tools

“Living offices” also take into account the unique physical environments of organizations, recognizing when a space needs to present more formal than casual, or more uniform than diverse (Herman Miller, n.d.) . By carefully considering a space’s furnishing and tools, this can help create workplaces that reflect the character of people and work.

Another concern that warrants "living offices" is the fact that employees are staying longer in the office. And let's face it, it's very hard and tiresome to sit in the same spot, doing the same thing all day long. In a "living office," employees have the opportunity to re-energize and "mix up" their work day. Although all of these points sound great, other considerations like having spaces where employees can focus without distraction, or having to "claim a spot" is just as important.

What do you think about the concept of a "living office"? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Let us know in the comments below!


Herman Miller. (n.d.). Living Office: A Human-Centered Approach to Work and Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.hermanmiller.com/solutions/living-office/living-office-digital-magazine.html?utm_campaign=living_office_dsc&utm_medium=social-pd&utm_source=linkedin&utm_content=coi_profile

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