Measure What Matters

By Crista Hanser

Six Shifts in the way workplaces are being planned for people

As organizations endeavor to maximize worker engagement and minimize workplace operating cost, we must seek to analyze metrics that focus on data beyond just cost per square foot.  To gather meaningful data about effective space utilization at leading-edge companies, Herman Miller conducted a research program that offers insight into six emerging patterns of space allocation.  These patterns point to a need for a more purposeful variety of spaces. 

What Caused the Shift in the Way People Work?

Mobile technologies, as well as new economic and social pressures ushered in new ways of working.  By 2011, more than 60% of large organizations worldwide had implemented programs and practices that gave people more choice about where, when, and how to do their jobs. 

Forward thinking designers and architects present progressive floorplates to accommodate new ways of working, but clients desire data in order to drive change.  Design and Real Estate Professionals needed to present clients direct costs, in order for them to make decisions on alternate ways of working.  However, data-driven approaches to gathering evidence about the way an organization works to how well the space supports work processes are still relatively rare.  Herman Miller created a unique and ongoing research program to quantify this.

To collect the big-picture data for the study, more than 70 distinct data points from 120 floor plans were gathered.  The organizations studied crossed a variety of industries and geographical locations.  The research and analysis are ongoing, but several significant patterns have been identified.  Here are the six emerging trends.

Six Emerging Patterns

From Standard Conference Rooms to a Variety of Group Settings

As business leaders seek to improve organizational innovation through increased collaboration, we are seeing a growing percentage of the office landscape allocated to group work as well as a greater variety of setting designed to support specific types of group work.

From Assigned Seats to Shared Work-Points

Office environments are evolving from assigned workstations to a variety of shared “work-points” that offer individuals a choice of options for where and how different tasks may be accomplished. 

From Privacy-as-a-Luxury to Privacy-on-Demand

Forward-looking organization are reclaiming underutilized assigned space and redistributing it across the floorplate as open-access distraction-free zones where individuals can accomplish quiet solo tasks.

From Oversized Conference Rooms to Precision-Fit Meeting Spaces

Although collaborative space is in high demand, traditionally sized conference rooms are surprisingly underutilized.  To make better use of the space allocated to group work, organizations are providing a greater number of smaller settings for meeting and collaboration.

From Required Circulation to Desired Connection

Greater percentages of office landscape plans are being dedicated to what has traditionally been referred to as “circulation,” but which is becoming something more aptly called “transitional” or connective” space encouraging movement and supporting unplanned interaction.

From Distant Breakrooms to Central Plazas

More space is allocated to employee-focused social areas and these settings are shifting from back-office breakrooms to centrally located Plazas designed to draw people together and help to align them with organizational goals. 

The data concludes customers moving from traditional plans to a more progressive landscape have shown that purposeful variety not only improves the perceived experience of work and productivity, but it can be achieved in the same amount of space at a similar cost.  Informed decisions about space allocation early in the planning process result in a workplace where every square foot counts.


Crista Hanser


As Vice-President of Strategic Business Development, Crista focuses her efforts on winning new large opportunities for Office Pavilion.  She has worked with Office Pavilion for 20 years and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at Austin in Interior Design.