Steelcase and Microsoft Intro “Creative Spaces”

Steelcase and Microsoft have joined forces to explore the future of work, developing a range of technology enabled spaces designed to help organizations foster creative thinking and better collaboration. These spaces seamlessly integrate the best of Microsoft Surface devices with Steelcase architecture and furniture. Today the companies unveiled five new “Creative Spaces” showcasing how Steelcase and Microsoft can help organizations unlock creativity for every employee.

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Additionally, Steelcase and Microsoft announced:

  • That Microsoft is expanding its partner network into the world of design by bringing in select Steelcase dealers as authorized Surface Hub resellers.
  • Steelcase and Microsoft are working together to develop technology-enabled workplace solutions built on Microsoft Azure IoT technology.

“The problems people face at work today are much more complex than they used to be. They require a new creative way of thinking and a very different work process,” says Sara Armbruster, vice president of strategy, research and new business innovation for Steelcase. “We believe that everyone has the capacity for creative thinking, and people are happier doing creative, productive work. Together, Microsoft and Steelcase will help organizations thoughtfully integrate place and technology to encourage creative behaviors at work.”

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The Problem: Fostering Creativity as a Business Advantage
According to joint research conducted by Steelcase and Microsoft, creativity is seen as a critical job skill driven by organizations’ need for innovation and growth in addition to employees’ desire for meaningful work. However, today many organizations invest in technology and space as separate entities rather than approaching them holistically. The lack of cohesion creates sub-optimal conditions for fostering creativity at work.   

The research released today (of 515 US and Canadian companies with 100+ employees) reveals the pressure people feel about the shift toward more creative work:

  • Seventy-two percent of workers from diverse fields including Health Care, Retail, Education, Financial Services and Manufacturing believe their future success depends on their ability to be creative. 
  • Seventy-six percent believe emerging technologies will change their jobs, requiring more creative skills as routine work becomes automated.
  • There is greater need to collaborate in business, yet only 25 percent of respondents feel they can be creative in the places they currently have available for group work.
  • The study also reveals the connection between creativity and privacy, as employees ranked having a place to work without disruption as the second highest factor that could improve creativity, just behind the need for more time to think.

Creative Spaces
The companies’ exploration of creative work found that creativity is a process in which anyone can engage and requires diverse work modes as well as different types of technology. People need to work alone, in pairs and in different size groups throughout a creative process, and they need a range of devices that are mobile and integrated into the physical workplace. Additionally, spaces should inspire people without compromising performance. 

“Every Microsoft Surface device strives to enable the creator in each of us.  Devices like Surface Studio and Surface Hub are fundamentally designed around how people naturally create, connect, and collaborate.” says Ryan Gavin, general manager, Microsoft Surface marketing.   “With Steelcase we have the compelling opportunity to blend place and technology into a seamless environment that allows our most important asset, our people, to unlock their creativity and share that with others. The future of work is creative.”

“Most employees are still working with outdated technology and in places that are rooted in the past, which makes it difficult for them to work in new, creative ways,” said Bob O’Donnell, president, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research. “Creative Spaces were clearly designed to bridge the current gap between place and technology and to help creative work happen more naturally.”

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