Six Vital Characteristics of the Most Productive Workplaces



Research and analysis are ongoing; Herman Miller has identified several significant patterns in the way organizations and their design partners are using space to support new ways of working. Based on observation and study of the evolving workplace, Herman Miller’s Living Office provides a basis of understanding and a framework for adapting needs for effective use of space.


After years of study, Herman Miller has gathered more than 70 distinct data points from 120 different floor plans. These plans represent organizations across a variety of industries.  This research has yielded six significant trends in successful workplaces.


This is the sixth: From Distant Breakrooms to Central Plazas


We’re tracking big changes, not only in the number of square feet allocated to employee-focused coffee bars and eating areas, but in the quality and location of these spaces within the office landscape. These well-appointed gathering spots are usually situated at the center of the floor plate or at heavily trafficked areas near elevators or main entrances.


A survey of “Best Companies to Work For” found that they “intentionally considered the benefits that come from creating a community ‘focal point’ where employees can gather to relax, eat, share information, and celebrate special events”. A vibrant social (Plaza) setting with enticing amenities and inspiring artifacts also provides an organizational benefit by helping to align people around brand, purpose, and business goals.


The Upshot: Design for Purposeful Variety


Taken together, these emerging space-use patterns point to a need for purposeful variety in workplace design: a customized mix of defined settings arranged to support the unique work practices and goals of a given organization.


An examination of data collected by the Leesman Index analysis tool confirms flexible plans with high choice consistently outperformed the others. For example, 74% of respondents in high-choice environments said that their workplace helped them work productively, compared to only 30% of those working in low-choice environments.


Analyses 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 per person. Greater productivity and greater satisfaction at nominal cost.


The nature of work has changed. To provide a platform for the best work and results, the places we work, learn, heal, and collaborate must evolve as well. Speak to a workplace specialist by clicking here. Read the full Herman Miller white paper Measure What Matters here.


Six Vital Characteristics of the Most Productive Workplaces; (condensed from Herman Miller’s white paper Measure What Matters); SIX of SIX