Steelcase Shapes Future Office with Microsoft Azure

Steelcase introduces Workplace Advisor and Steelcase Find, built on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform, helping organizations harness big data to create better workplaces.


Today, at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Steelcase unveiled new ways to improve people’s experience at work in front of a crowd eager to learn about the future of technology. Earlier this year, Steelcase and Microsoft worked together to design Creative Spaces, an ecosystem of spaces created to boost creative work. Now, Steelcase is announcing news that represents the continued work it is doing with Microsoft to explore the future of work. The IoT solution, built on the Microsoft Azure platform, will help organizations create workplaces that respond to the needs of people while optimizing real estate investments.

Steelcase revealed its new solution, Workplace Advisor, a sensor-based system that collects anonymous workplace data, with incredible accuracy. It delivers advanced analytics for real-time, 24/7 reporting, with enterprise-reliability and security. Steelcase also previewed a companion mobile app, Steelcase Find, which will access this data to give people more choice and control over where and how they work, and will encourage them to offer feedback about what spaces are effective and which ones need improvement.


Research conducted by Steelcase and Microsoft shows that work today has dramatically changed as organizations require more creative work to drive innovation and growth. Most workers — 72 percent — believe their future success depends on their ability to be creative. Yet, 42 percent of employees do not think their office is a great place to do creative work, citing issues such as lack of privacy, conference rooms unequipped for collaboration and uninspiring environments. At the same time, up to 46 percent of office space may go unused at any time as people search for better places to do their work.

“Organizations and their employees know they need to work differently, yet most offices are stuck in the past. People say they can’t find the right places to work yet valuable real estate sits empty. There’s a lack of real-time data about what’s working in the office and what’s not,” said Jim Keane, CEO Steelcase. “Working with Microsoft we envisioned a digital transformation in which cloud-enabled technology and big data help organizations serve the needs of human beings at work, and create workplaces that can respond quickly to the ways people are actually working. The technology also fosters a feedback loop in which employees can tell organizations what places are successful and why – they can vote with their feet and rate spaces on the app. “

On the Ignite stage, Keane, and Sam George, director, Microsoft Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp., demonstrated how two new workplace technologies embedded in the workplace will augment the experience of employees and the organization.


Workplace Advisor is a cloud-enabled, space sensing network built on Microsoft Azure IoT that collects and analyzes anonymous data to provide organizations meaningful insights about how its people work and how its office is performing. Steelcase then layers its expertise over top of the data, to generate actionable insights into how people are working and how the workplace needs to change.


Steelcase Workplace Advisor empowers organizations to improve their workplace with easy-to-understand, actionable data accessible through an online dashboard.


With the Workplace Advisor dashboard–timelines, charts and tables make it easy to see when spaces are being used, when they aren’t and for how long.


Organizations can track the changes over different days and different rooms. Trends and patterns emerge, unique to each company. All of it is searchable.


Steelcase applies a layer of intelligence to the data to help organizations create meaning and take action to improve their workplace.

The Workplace Advisor Dashboard enables leaders to:

  • Make better decisions about their workplace – 24/7 real-time, online reporting delivers metrics like overused vs. underutilized spaces and scheduled use vs. actual use with the ability to compare this data against historical trends. Workplace Advisor helps leaders gain insight into why spaces are more popular than others, by evaluating room amenities and sharing ratings.
  • Optimize use – Workplace Advisor senses and automatically cancels “no-show” room reservations, making more spaces available to more people.
  • Improve the experience people have at work – The technology presents comprehensive reporting that includes user reviews and advanced algorithms to help leaders identify issues and make recommendations for corrections in the workplace.


Get started now with easy-to-understand, actionable data that empowers organizations to measure the effectiveness of the workplace.

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The Steelcase Find mobile app is expected to function as a workplace concierge to help workers quickly find the people and places they need. Powered by Microsoft Azure, the app accesses Workplace Advisor data, searching based on the size and type of meeting, amenities, tools and technologies needed. A map of each available space shows its schedule for the day and allows workers to find and reserve available spaces in real time then share the room location with others.


Steelcase Personal Assistant mobile app accesses Workplace Advisor data is expected to help people quickly find the people and places they need.


Personal Assistant helps people quickly find an open room with the amenities, tools and technologies they need.


The Personal Assistant “shot clock” alerts people when their meeting is almost over and proactively checks if the room is still available in case more time is needed.


When a meeting is over, Personal Assistant allows employees to rate the room and evaluate things like technology, privacy, distractions and more.


Workers can quickly find colleagues by searching Personal Assistant to see if they are nearby.


The Find app enables people to:

  • Find colleagues – Workers can quickly find colleagues by searching the app to see if they are nearby.
  • Find a room – The Find app will help employees quickly find an available room with the amenities, tools and technologies they need.
  • Rate and improve their experience at work – The Find “shot clock” alerts workers when the meeting is nearing completion and proactively checks future availability in case additional time is needed. When the meeting is over, attendees can rate their experience in the room evaluating things like technology, privacy, distractions and more.

“Microsoft Azure IoT enables companies across all industries to drive digital transformation by addressing business problems in new ways, gain new insights through connected solutions and create greater efficiencies in business processes,” said Sam George, director, Microsoft Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp. “Today’s announcement with Steelcase is an example of cutting edge work in the smart spaces industry that brings together people, technology and place to increase productivity and employee satisfaction.”

For more information on Steelcase Workplace Advisor and Steelcase Find built on Microsoft Azure see Smart + Connected Spaces.

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