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Microsoft supports creative work with tech-enabled spaces

Thor Olavsrud | March 8, 2017
Microsoft has partnered with commercial architecture and design specialist Steelcase to help organizations better integrate technology and workspaces to transform company culture and better support creative work.

The problem, Armbruster says, is that many organizations today invest in technology and spaces as separate entities rather than approaching them holistically. That results in a lack of cohesion that leads to sub-optimal conditions for fostering creativity at work.

4 maker commons
Copyright Steelcase 2017

The research found that creativity is a process in which anyone can engage, but it requires diverse work modes suited to the type of work employees are doing, and different types of technology to support that work. People need to work alone, in pairs and in different size groups throughout a creative process, and they need devices that are mobile and integrated into the physical workplace.

5 respite room
Copyright Steelcase 2017

A space for everyone

Working with Microsoft, Steelcase has designed five Creative Spaces to showcase how technology and space can be brought together to support specific types of work, creativity and collaboration. They include the following:

  • Focus Studio. This space is designed for individual creative work that requires alone time to focus and get into flow, while also allowing quick shifts to two-person collaboration. The desk seamlessly transitions from sitting to standing— Armbruster notes that the latter is best suited to quick collaboration with a colleague. The Microsoft Surface Studio transitions from an upright position, ideal for use with keyboard and mouse, to a position reminiscent of a drafting table, ideal for touch and pen.
  • Duo Studio. Working in pairs is becoming increasingly common. This space is designed to allow two people to co-create shoulder-to-shoulder, while also supporting individual work with Microsoft Surface Studio. A lounge area includes a Surface Hub that allows workers to bring other colleagues in for a quick creative review.
  • Ideation Hub. This space is intended to bring small groups together to actively participate in co-creating, refining and sharing ideas with a Microsoft Surface Hub. The Surface Hub also makes it possible to bring in co-located or distributed teammates. Armbruster notes the high, backless chairs are intended to encourage people to get up and move around, while the table's rounded curves (rather than hard edges) are intended to remove any perceived barrier to approaching the Surface Hub.
  • Maker Commons. This space designed as a common area amid a hub of offices, is geared toward socializing ideas and rapid prototyping. It's designed to encourage quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration.
  • Respite Room. This area is designed to support work that depends on solitude and individual think time.

"Most employees are still working with outdated technology and in places rooted in the past, which makes it difficult for them to work in new, creative ways," Bob O'Donnell, president, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, said in a statement yesterday. "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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