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May 13, 2021

New Seattle space envisions the workplace of the future

Photo by Jules Frazier [enlarge]
The POD Tent from Steelcase is designed to support the desire to maintain some of the privacy and autonomy people have at home while letting them be connected to the action.

Interior solutions provider One Workplace and furniture manufacturer Steelcase on May 3 opened a “living lab” at 51 University St. in Seattle that explores the post-pandemic workplace.

They want people involved in workplace design, technology, office culture and human resources to visit the WorkBetter Lab to “experience the workplace of the future,” One Workplace said in a press release. You can request in-person or virtual tours at https://tinyurl.com/286ds9jk.

One Workplace is based in Santa Clara, California, and is the parent company of the Open Square, Porter and Splice brands, which are all Seattle-based. Steelcase, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, manufactures furniture for offices, hospitals and classrooms. Open Square is the Steelcase dealership in Seattle.

This is the first WorkBetter Lab for the companies.

Kathleen Selke, co-founder and vice president of sales at Porter and the WorkBetter Lab, said that after more than a year of working from home, employee expectations of their work experience have changed. “This means employers must create an experience that's fundamentally different and better than the workplace they left.”

Selke said the elements people liked about the office before the crisis have become even more critical, while those that frustrated people will become an even more significant barrier if not addressed.

Selke said the WorkBetter Lab demonstrates a better workplace — one that is productive yet comforting, collaborative but flexible, and safe and hygienic without being sterile or isolating — for on-site and remote employees.

Steelcase said that, according to its recent research, 87% of business leaders plan to allow more flexibility around how, when and where people work, up 38% from April 2020. It said this has major implications for the design of office space required today to integrate the best of all worlds: the comforts and convenience of home with the community, cultural and productivity benefits of the office. Steelcase said the lab demonstrates how organizations can design their workplaces for this new world of work.

The zones of the WorkBetter Lab are:

TheLiving Room, a residentially-inspired setting that can accommodate small and large group interactions. Its design is natural, hackable and can be broken apart and completely reconfigured.

The Hideaway, which consists of a semi-enclosed POD Tent that satisfies the desire to maintain some form of the privacy and autonomy enjoyed at home, while still helping employees feel connected.

The Garden, a reservable, secluded, small group getaway for incubating ideas. Filled with biophilic elements to support creativity, it also includes residentially-inspired touches that bring the comforts of home to the office.

The Nookcan, which can be booked as a multi-modal space for in-person learning and workshops, virtual learning for employees and their children, or even for play activities as a means of supporting team members with children to care for.

The Oasis, an informal setting that gives equal access to technology and tools and incorporates color and biophilia to stimulate creativity. Residentially inspired, it provides a relaxing, private space to end or begin the day.

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