The workspace giant Steelcase

What Steelcase promoted at the time did not become common practice until now

December 2017
The first offices rooms that were intended exclusively for working at desks emerged around 1800 as workspaces for merchants, government officials and tradesmen. By the early 20th century only 3% of all employees held office jobs, while today, this figure in Germany is around 50%. The development of the office landscape was influenced by different factors and was often based on ideas from the United States. The workspace giant Steelcase sheds light on the crucial office trends. ‘There is a misconception that all individual offices and thus also the prestigious executive office gradually gave way to the growing trend toward the open-plan format. The executive office still exists in companies around the world, and an executive’s status is usually defined by the size of his/her office,’ says Marc Nicolaisen. ‘In 1996, our management team moved from individual offices into open spaces, which was quite unthinkable at the time. James Hackett, our CEO, spearheaded this development in order to trigger a fundamental change in leadership culture. All executives have supported the decision to the present day.’
What Steelcase promoted at the time did not become common practice until now. A new generation of managers has gradually moved up in the ranks and they generally pursue a very modern leadership style. For Generation X and Y millennials, status and traditional hierarchies tend to take a back seat, while network-based structures and information communication on an equal footing is becoming more and more important. In the years to come, the use of technologies in the office of the future will go far beyond current possibilities. ‘People, workplaces
and technology will become even more closely networked, thanks to sensors and the Internet of Things,’ predicts Nicolaisen. ‘At some point, the entire company will be linked and networked — from appointment calendars, furniture and the room booking system, to individual employees and even the conference room. The smart office will thus support users and organisations in their work in the best possible ways.’

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