Diego Cervantes
Vice President Sales Mexico and LATAM of Herman Miller

Office Space Based on the Living Model

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:13

As life expectancy increases, people are working longer to maintain their standard of living when retired. This phenomenon means up to five different generations are working in the same space, says Diego Cervantes, Vice President of Sales Mexico and Latin America at Herman Miller. “In this scenario, our research on workplace trends finds that the attraction and retention of talent is becoming a key challenge,” he says. “We provide advisory services for companies to attract and retain talent through their office spaces.”
Famous for inventing the Eames Chair, Herman Miller adapted its business strategy to not only provide luxury furniture for offices but to also act as a consultancy for improving the performance of office space. With real estate being the second-greatest expense for any company, only after payroll, it becomes of utmost importance to have every m2 operating in an optimal way. “We help our clients make the right decision regarding such an important cost,” Cervantes says.
The consulting offered to the end-customer by the company also evaluates equipment performance. “Our goal is for our clients to really use their space in an efficient way,” Cervantes says. This is achieved through what the company calls Visioning Workshops, which contrast clients’ objectives, vision and mission with the technology used and the company’s structure. The visioning occurs when the organization develops a common vision, helping its decision-makers to think creatively, devise strategy and gain corporate alignment as they work toward their goals. “We evaluate the way technology affects their processes by helping them assess the way in which these tools can leverage their business priorities.”
In the process of pursuing an efficient use of space, while retaining talent across multiple generations, the company also finds that offices have become more of a place to interact. According to Cervantes, any place with internet connectivity can now be a workplace but people keep going to the office to solve problems through a collaborative approach. “We need to foster spontaneous spots in which we can make faster decisions,” he says.
Answering this need, Herman Miller developed the concept of Living Office, which is based on a study made across 500 companies. “We came up with 10 different working settings, seven collaborative and three individual,” Cervantes says. Settings are designed to support the specific activities and purposes of the people who will use them.
Once the best settings are defined for a customer, the need to move to a different space that supports it often arises. But as Herman Miller’s expertise is not finding office spaces but transforming them, it must team up with real estate experts. “We collaborate with developers and brokers, such as CBRE, Coldwell Banker, Colliers, Cushman & Wakefield and JLL. Our goal is to work together from the beginning, as we create the need for our clients to move to a new space,” Cervantes explains.
After finding the right model and the right space, it is time to focus on creating the Living Office to foster interaction and productivity. This is when Herman Miller adds the most value with its high-quality furniture, says Cervantes. “I am convinced that productivity rises when sitting in a high-performance chair, as idle times due to discomfort can be avoided.”
Another piece of advice that the company gives is to have unassigned workplaces for staff that spend less than 50 percent of their time in the office. Herman Miller has chairs with sensors that calculate the usage rate of a given space. For example, a company with a specific area for staff that spend more than 40 percent of their time visiting clients is not using the space optimally. “This area is not providing high-performance in relation to its m2,” Cervantes says. “We can help companies optimize the utilization of their spaces for the company to be more efficient and effective.”
To remain at the forefront of furniture innovation, Herman Miller recently launched its Cosm Chair. This is the first intelligent chair, as it identifies when it must be softer for relaxation or more rigid for concentration through the vertical force that the user puts into it. “We focus on visual and physical ergonomics. The user must be comfortable but also like the aesthetics of the chair,” adds Cervantes.