99 Things You Need to Know Now
at the Munich LINC
for learning, innovation and community
Team Leader, Steelcase Learning, EMEA
a vibrant community of employees, partners and customers
from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With a
very diverse group of people working alongside each other,
this international hub has served as a catalyst for change
through rapid learning and creative work.
But lately, fewer encounters and informal interaction led to
a slow erosion of the feeling of community, remote work
affected the mutual trust that is critical to innovation and
the intensification of video conferencing resulted in the
emergence of new space needs.
together a large, cross-functional team of designers,
researchers, product specialists and HR leaders.
They decided to bring employees who had previously been
distributed across three adjacent buildings into two buildings
to increase density and proximity, which invigorates the
space and strengthens people’s sense of belonging. The
designers drew inspiration from urban planning to create an
array of interconnected neighborhoods that will enable
people to easily flow from one work mode to the next and to
interact with each other throughout the day.
“The goals are clear,” outlines Jessie Storey, Steelcase
design director EMEA. “We want to promote learning and
innovation, rekindle the sense of community and enable an
intuitive hybrid work experience for our employees and
guests at the LINC. The best way of achieving this is to
reduce our footprint and rethink the existing spaces.”
The neighborhoods throughout the LINC have been
designed to support a more humanized employee
experience by creating spaces that are more equitable,
engaging and easy to use. They also leveraged four key
principles to address people’s new needs: Me + We, Fixed-
to-Fluid, Open + Enclosed and Braiding Physical + Digital.
Designers intentionally approached the project with a learning and innovation mindset. “In an innovation center like ours, learning is tightly connected to our ability to foster innovation,” explains Storey. “We thought very carefully about transitions and circulation paths to enable as many creative collisions as possible.”
To encourage these creative collisions, the team created ‘shared attractors’ to give employees the freedom to work anywhere in the building, depending on their needs and activities. Spaces include places for focus work or rejuvenation (personal spaces), collaboration and social spaces, and both formal and informal learning spaces. People want to have control over where they work, and this gives them more choices.
Use of spaces such as single-person rooms where people can take a video call and hyper-collaborative team neighborhoods, which offer a lot of opportunities for cross-pollination, have seen a sharp increase. The new environment helps activate behaviors that foster interaction with other people and their work, which in turn contributes to innovative ideas.
A key change is the reimagined first floor. This strategically-positioned space has been transformed into a community hub.
“We dismantled three meeting rooms to open up the entire floor. The first floor is now a multipurpose co-working space where we can nurture the sense of togetherness,” says Steelcase EMEA Interior Design Director Noga Lasser. “It is also where we relocated our Environment, Social and Governance team, as a constant reminder of how important these values are for our community and our company.”
“We have fewer workstations than team members because they’re rarely all together in the office, but we created several ‘spillover spaces’ for peak days,” explains Lasser. “These assets are located at the junction of two team neighborhoods and shared by teams with similar work modes. Their work tools and furniture are specific to the needs of the teams for which they were created. For example, HR and finance engage in focus work at fully-equipped workstations and high-performance task seating, and the Global Accounts team collaborates informally with visiting guests at a communal table. To make sure this approach would work, we leveraged the desk-booking system of our partner GoBright and established protocols in collaboration with the teams.”
With so many different types of hybrid collaboration happening, people need more than just one type of meeting space. A study by the Steelcase WorkSpace Futures research team provided insight into how people use meeting rooms and revealed a gap between intent and behavior. “We have transformed our meeting rooms to create a more equitable experience for everyone and we will continue to learn and adjust,” says Lasser. “We’ve equipped enclosed one-person rooms with easy-to-use technology for a better hybrid experience and easier connections, and we have refitted medium-sized meeting rooms either for active and generative meetings or for content-sharing. We have been very intentional about the positioning of cameras and furniture so people sit at eye level and their faces are at the right height for natural eye contact.”
“This transformation offers us a lot of opportunities to innovate,” adds Storey. Steelcase recently partnered with Logitech to explore a concept called Project Ghost, an extended-reality experience that blurs the lines between the physical and digital to create a more human, immersive connection. “We were very excited to install our first prototype at the LINC. And all this creative energy gives us ideas for future design explorations.”
Design Director, Steelcase EMEA
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