TEC37 Webinar: How Modern Workspaces Can Drive Innovation

Technology experts from WWT and Steelcase dive into what’s needed for workspace investments to actually pay off.

September 15, 2016 5 minute read

The modern workspace has the power to help organizations stay ahead of the competition through tighter collaboration, iterative project development and agile learning. But changing how people work isn’t brought about by adopting an open or flexible floor plan and calling it a day.

Making a workspace actually work for your employees means rethinking the office environment in terms of people, spaces and tools. When these three factors harmonize, employees benefit from a culture that encourages collaboration, spaces that bring them together and tools that allow them to interact in ways that make the most sense for tasks at hand.

Below are a few of the key topics our panelists discussed:

  • Workspaces and workforce trends
  • Generational influence on workspaces
  • Open workspaces
  • Technology tools – the effect of soft phones and pervasive video on wireless networks and Bluetooth density
  • The impact of spaces on innovation and collaboration
  • Culture and an agile approach

Watch our webinar on demand. You can also see what was on attendees’ minds by checking out the FAQs.


Isn’t that all just really real estate cost driven?

(Dave Lathrop, Steelcase) I think that’s a very astute observation. When I started thinking about this a number of years ago, we had about twice as much square footage per person as we do today. And clearly, companies have looked at that and said we really could reduce some of our net usage of real estate. So there’s absolute truth in what you’re saying. I would also say that when you walk around most of our places today, it’s still pretty common to find that the way we’re doing it even now is oftentimes underutilized. So there’s legitimacy in saying is this a waste or is this in fact a necessary resource.

Layered over the top of that question that you asked, however, is the larger question of how is it that human beings actually create value when they work alone and together. What we need to be doing is addressing that, within the financial constraints to come up with new solutions by engaging with people of that firm so that the balancing of this, which we talked about, is actually executed well. The only reason we have places, and in fact the only reason we have technology is to support the activities of humans, ultimately creating value for our organizations. So while there is a truth in what you said about the compression of real estate over time, there’s also a need to say regardless of how big the pot is, how do we help the organization use that and its technology to create value for that organization.

Is WWT a Steelcase distributor?

(Brandon Echele, WWT) We are not a Steelcase distributor. Each region has their own Steelcase distributor. Here in St. Louis we use Color Art. On Steelcase’s website there is a partner, distributor locator, which you can visit.

(Joe Berger) And to piggyback on that, part of the reason why we asked Steelcase to join us today is when we bring customers to our facilities and we talk about technology, we are always shocked at how many people say hey, can I take pictures. We say okay, yeah, the video end points or whatever technology they’re looking at, that’s all publicly available. But really, they’re asking to take pictures of the furniture and of the room design because that’s really the experience that customers are trying to get to. How does this all come together to provide that exceptional experience, the feeling of being in the room, being productive, it’s easy to use. You know, when you have new hires walking in they see it. It’s comfortable. They’re excited to be in that type of facility.

(Dave Lathrop, Steelcase) The culture of an organization breathes when the people are together in the building. That’s where it actually exists in a tangible way and places that reflection of the nature of the culture, as it clearly does here with you guys. The mix of the design, the technology, the layout. It all comes together and works well.

In fact, one thing that I’m seeing, if I stand back and squint at it, is to an earlier point that the budgets for the technologies and the real estate are becoming more consistent with one budget at the highest possible level. So the money can move more organically. These are both just tools to support humans doing things. So if we can think of them as one tool or a set of slightly different tools in the toolbox and budget that way, we can drive these kinds of outcomes more successfully.

Where can I go to see all of this in action?

That’s an easy question. So our website’s got a lot of this content, wwt.com, as well as steelcase.com. I believe that you said that the 360 Magazine on Steelcase is located under the research tab.

This has a lot of the information that Dave hasn’t talked about today, as well as on wwt.com we have a listing of all of our workshops, including an archive of this webinar.

(Dave Lathrop) And we’d be happy to host you anytime you happen to be up in the Michigan area. Fall is a beautiful time to come to Michigan. Come on up and we’d be happy to spend some time with you at our shop.

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