Even when it comes to office furniture, there are ways to integrate technology for a better future. That's why Microsoft announced a partnership with Steelcase, the popular office supply chain, for a concept they dub "Creative Spaces." The partnership involves the launch of five distinct creative spaces that help bring Microsoft's best digital features into Steelcase's sleek and modern furniture.
Creativity is a necessity
Where did this unexpected partnership come from? According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2016 CEO survey, creativity is one of the driving forces behind innovation in companies today. And yet, it's difficult to recruit and retain employees with the coveted trait. It was necessary, then, to think outside the employee and into the products that the employee is to interact with.
The integration brings Microsoft Surface devices into Microsoft products. As the company said in its statement, "Together, Steelcase and Microsoft believe that a thoughtfully designed workplace -- that brings together the right mix of Technology and Space design -- can unlock the creative potential of individuals and teams, stimulate ideas, and accelerate business transformation."
Reimagine the future
It's important to acknowledge that Microsoft and Steelcase's partnership is not about creating Surface-infused desks, chairs, and tables. They reiterate the importance of looking at the future of the holistic workspace; the workspace as a whole. Our lives are changing as individuals and the workspaces among us shouldn't necessarily stagnate and remain status quo. How, then, does Microsoft and Steelcase work together to create creative physical spaces to unleash the creativity within each of ourselves?
Here's an example of the future at work. An individual workspace allows an employee to work alone to get into the zone, but also allows them to shift to two-person collaboration.
This is what Microsoft calls a Duo Studio. It is a way to facilitate collaborative workspaces -- in pairs -- allowing people to co-create shoulder-to-shoulder while supporting individual work with Microsoft Surface Studio. A lounge area allows others to review their work together.
An Ideation Hub allows active participation and equal opportunity to contribute and facilitates collaboration with a distributed workforce using Microsoft Surface Hub.
The Maker Commons is a room for socialization and rapid prototyping, which is essential for creativity. Conversation, experimentation, and concentration can successfully happen within this zone, allowing collaborators to use Surface Hub and Surface Book.
This is another view of the Maker Commons which shows the ease of communicating with distributed workforces.
What this means for Steelcase
Steelcase is now extending beyond its office supply furniture offerings and they will now be reselling Surface Hubs to their customers. Currently, this is available in the United States and Canada, with the United Kingdom and Germany to follow. Additional markets will be announced soon.
That's not all. Steelcase and Microsoft will be taking this further, announcing new technology-enabled workspace solutions built on Azure IoT technology. On top of that, analytics will be built within these solutions so that employees know how to be best productive.
Photo Credits: Microsoft, Shutterstock