Sep 11

This is a special guest post from Sara Armbruster, Vice President of WorkSpace Futures and Corporate Strategy for Steelcase Inc.

As Steelcase celebrates its 100th year, our research teams are at work forecasting the way societal, technological, and other influences will shape the office in five, 10, and 20 years (and beyond).

In the past century, the workplace evolved from rows of desks in a single room to innovative solutions for collaborating across the digital space. As early as 2000, Steelcase researchers predicted that by 2020, we would see the rise in popularity of team spaces, the evolution of the mobile worker, and the need for a community center that connects people to information and technology. Twelve years later, we’ve already seen many of these things come to be a normal feature of everyday work.

In order to remain competitive and relevant, companies must be deft at collecting these insights and evolving with the changing world. Based on our research, we believe that in the future, the office will adapt to our preferences and will help us unlock our unique potential and what we can contribute through work.

Our expectations for the next 100 years will undoubtedly evolve, though there are themes we see emerging:

·         Be self-sensing – the spaces you inhabit will know who you are and adapt to your needs based on preferences and patterns

·         Make us smarter – the physical environment will collect data that informs and augments our decision-making; this role of physical space will be essential as jobs increasingly demand creativity and critical thinking

·         Be more human – The office will respond to a diverse range of physical, gestural, voice, or other natural interfaces; interfaces will be less machine-based and more human

·         Keep us more comfortable – The office will support a wide range of postures and settings, allowing us to be comfortable for longer lengths of time as the lines between work and life become less distinct

These advancements will influence not only the world of work as we know it, but also the work experience that the next generation of the workforce will inherit. Our hope is to foster in Steelcase’s next century a generation of workers who are more engaged, better supported, and better prepared for finding innovative solutions than ever before.

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Sep 5

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, the typical employee remains with a company for an average of four years. At Steelcase, we pride ourselves on our positive corporate culture that has attracted and retained talent over the years. In some cases, we’ve had employees remain with the company for a decade or more. This includes our CEO, Jim Hackett, who has been with Steelcase since 1981 and in his current role since 1994.

Over his tenure with our company, Jim has grown the business and championed innovative programs that allowed Steelcase to reach its 100th anniversary with great momentum. Within the past few weeks, Jim has shared insight into today’s work environment, his leadership style, and his vision for the company through interviews with Forbes, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

We wanted to share a few excerpts from these articles and encourage you to leave any thoughts or questions in the comments section below.

Forbes, The New Leaders’ Playbook: “Steelcase CEO on How Office Layout Impacts Corporate Culture”

“Steelcase is in the business of creating work environments, offering workplace products, furnishings and services. As CEO Jim Hackett explained in a recent interview, workspace design historically mirrored the organizational chart, with people jockeying to be as close as possible to the seat of all power – the CEO. But now that information revolution has made information the new seat of power, there is much more flexibility in workspace design. Thus, as Hackett explained, the workspace of the future needs to enable and empower information (across) a continuum of “I” and “we” work. People need a range of settings to accommodate focused, collaborative and social work in both open and enclosed environments – in other words, a palette of place.”

The New York Times, Corner Office: “Leadership Never Looks Prepackaged”

“That’s what leadership is for — to look at the chaos and provide a point of view about what needs to be done. At the highest levels of leadership, I’ve seen people who are not comfortable with setting the point of view, and there are others who are extraordinarily gifted at doing this, and people want to work for them. […] It’s this notion of authenticity — that’s what people look for and respect and want to follow. Bob Pew, who ran the company for 30 years, was chairman when I became C.E.O. He said to me, ‘I’m going to give you one bit of advice, which is that if you want to lead others, you’ve got to have their trust, and you can’t have their trust without integrity.’”

The Wall Street Journal, Boss Talk: “Office Furniture in the Age of Smartphones”

“Steelcase, which turns 100 years old this year, tries to anticipate trends by observing people at work. Its 23-person research team, which includes an anthropologist, conducts interviews and surveys, films office activities and uses sensors to measure workers’ use of various rooms and furnishings. One area for growth, says Mr. Hackett, is collaboration via videoconferencing. The company has also developed an electronic device that enables workers in a meeting to share notes and data on a video screen.”

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May 4

Communication Arts Webpick of the Week 5.4.12

Our 100 year anniversary celebration has been in full swing since March, and to the surprise of some – there’s no traditional, 4-color coffee table book in production. The intention with which we chose to use interactive technology to engage in a dialog about the future is evident most notably, in this website.

Within the first month, this site received 22,000 unique visitors from 126 countries/territories. Not only do we feel honored to have brought so many new friends along on this journey of dreaming together, it’s very exciting to have been recognized by Communication Arts as their W.O.W (Webpick of the Week).


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May 2

Film Director Daniel Junge and creative partner Graham Button, Genesis Inc,

Community leaders and film enthusiasts had opportunity to view “One Day,” the documentary that Steelcase commissioned for its 100th anniversary, and meet its director Daniel Junge at a special event on last night at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) in Grand Rapids, Mich. “One Day” presents views of the future as seen through the eyes of 10-year-olds in six countries around the world. Junge’s 2012 Oscar-winning film “Saving Face” about acid-burn victims in Pakistan was also shown. The event was co-sponsored with Genesis, Inc., our creative partner in the 100-year anniversary initiative, as a fundraiser for the UICA.

Nancy Hickey, Steelcase chief administrative officer was on hand to open the evening and invite the audience to join the dialog – in person and online via the Steelcase Facebook page. During lively conversation after seeing “One Day,” audience members described it as “incredibly inspirational,” “provocative” and “unexpected, mind-changing.”

“As Steelcase contemplated its 100th anniversary, we wanted to do something that we believed was characteristic of the company through its 100 years, and that was to optimistically look to the future, knowing that things would change and wanting to be part of that change,” Nancy Hickey explained .

“One Day” is 17 minutes long and available online for public viewing here. It’s been seen by Steelcase’s employees around the world and will be shown at other Steelcase-sponsored events this year.

You can also make your mark on the world ‘dream map’ at .



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Apr 27

The Steelcase Wege Wind Energy Farm

Today, we were honored with a Michigan Green Leader award and recently by being named one of Michigan’s 101 Best & Brightest Sustainable Companies. As we’re forging an integrated path to deliver value across social, environmental and economic platforms, recognitions are a sign of progress and assurance that we’re on the right path. At the same time, we’re always reminded that the scope of opportunities is huge, and being a leader means continuously learning, taking on new challenges and collaborating – within our own company as well as across companies, industries and geographies.

Creating sustainable value for the 21st century is clearly a big, top-of-mind issue in many of the dreams for the future that we’ve collected so far in our anniversary project — whether it’s 10-year-old Siddesh , India, who reminds that “we have to think about the world before making new things,” or 20-year-old Erin Schrode , co-founder of Turning Green who says “the notion of shared value is critical, where the environmental ramifications, social consequences, and economic profits are relevant to all involved,” or sustainability icon William McDonough who dreams of a future when “we don’t just eat the apple, we grow a tree that will feed generations to come.”

A recurring theme is that the social, economic and environmental system that sustains us needs to become stronger. What’s more, the world is fast becoming one big construct of interconnectivity, and businesses have a critical role to play in creating a more sustainable future. A full-spectrum approach to sustainability goes beyond reducing a company’s operational footprint and working towards eliminating materials of concern. It also means investing in social impact initiatives that create lasting solutions. No one can solve these problems alone. So maybe connecting our dreams is a good place to start? Please bring your dreams to this website or our Facebook page, and share your ideas and comments. Let’s unleash our imaginations on the future, together.

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Apr 12

We are proud of the many achievements our company has made over the past 100 years. From securing a patent for the first fireproof wastebasket in 1912, to introducing the Frank Lloyd Wright desks in the 1930s, to launching an HDVC-enhanced collaboration station called media:scape, we have a lot to be proud of.

What makes this anniversary especially exciting is the support we’ve received from colleagues in the design and business media. Over the past few weeks, some of our friends at Core77, GOOD Magazine, SmartBusiness, Grand Rapids Press, The Associated Press and others have highlighted our history and dreams for the future. If you’d like to learn more about the milestones mentioned in these articles, we encourage you to check out our interactive timeline. There, you’ll be able to discover the many turning points in our history that together reveal the bigger picture of who we are and where we’re headed. Our story, our future, is just beginning.

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Mar 30

Although, we may not have actually verified this statement with the folks over at Guiness World Records, we’re pretty sure this is the world’s largest insight symbol and we’re mighty proud of it.

A few fun facts:

  • The outer stainless steel ring of the sculpture is 24 feet in diameter.
  • The center aluminum ring is attached to the large outer ring with 42 steel cable spokes with a tension rating of 1,200 lbs. each.
  • The 100 colorful shapes of the sculpture are manufactured from recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable.
  • The approximate weight of the entire sculpture is 350 pounds and is held in place by 8 cables rated at 900 lbs. each.

Huge thanks to our partners who helped bring the insight symbol (and this video) to life: Designvox, Diversified Data and Metro Engineering.

Click to hear more about the inspiration behind our insight symbol.


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Mar 22

About two years ago Steelcase asked Genesis Inc. to help make the 100th Anniversary really inspiring to everyone whose life is touched by the company, all over the world. We’re a strategic and creative consultancy that works in partnership with Steelcase on ongoing projects, and whatever the assignment, we always begin at the beginning. So we started by uncovering the core idea behind everything the company has ever done. We then expressed that with a symbol, a graphic mark, that would guide all of our creative efforts. This mark represents a single moment in time, one very few companies ever come to experience. And it was designed to celebrate not just a rich past, but a rich future to come. Not surprisingly, we called it the Insight Symbol, because it is insight – into people, markets, and the world of work – that has created the Steelcase we see in 2012.

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Share the Anniversary All Year Long

Mar 21

Relive and remember the 100-year celebration each time you purchase merchandise. It gives you the opportunity to re-create the experience as well as share it with others.

Please visit to place an order for 100th anniversary apparel. For large orders, please contact our apparel supplier:

To order any of these Steelcase 100-Year anniversary merchandise items,
please contact 800.784.0358 (toll-free) – credit cards purchase only.
Hours of operation: M-F (8:00 a.m. EST – 5:00 p.m. EST)
Steelcase customer manager: Devin Wehrmeyer

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A Special Supplement to the April 2012 issue
of Metropolis Magazine

Mar 15

Metropolis magazine has been an authority on all aspects of design for over 30 years. Today, the magazine releases a special issue to celebrate Steelcase’s 100-year legacy and promise for the future.

Available online and in print, the issue provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at Steelcase’s transformation from local manufacturer to globally-integrated enterprise. The issue includes an in-depth interview with President and CEO James P. Hackett, and highlights Steelcase’s research-based design team. Rounding out the coverage and looking into the future, the magazine features the 100 Dreams, 100 Minds, 100 Years initiative that asks children and thought leaders around the world to envision the future.

Susan S. Szenasy, Metropolis’ editor in chief and also one of our 100 Minds contributors, oversaw the project for the magazine.

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Feb 23

Steelcase Timeline Website

Looking back, it’s clear our company has always been about looking forward. Our past, present and future are all about turning insights into innovations that unlock the promise of people at work and make the world a better place.

So now step back in time. Discover the many turning points in our history that together reveal the bigger picture of who we are and where we’re headed. Our story, our future, is just beginning.

Click here to begin exploring.

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