Enabling Collaboration

If you were to pick one word to describe what’s happening in the most progressive and productive work places today, it’s collaboration.

Steelcase is all over it.

With its Flex Collection, Steelcase offers an office furniture line that “creates dynamic team neighborhoods that are designed for spontaneity.”

“It empowers teams to reconfigure their space on demand, making it easy to shift from a brainstorm to a workshop or from a daily stand-up to a sprint review,” Steelcase says.

Studies confirm that people working in teams innovate faster, achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction, according to a white paper from Steelcase titled “New Work, New Rules.” In fact, companies that promote collaboration are five times more likely to be high performing and more profitable, according to the report.

“But teams are under pressure to move faster than ever,” the report says. “These new teams are constantly collaborating. Their days are filled with a never-ending exchange of information and ideas. Their tasks are interdependent and their projects fluid.”

Traditional work spaces don’t support the ebb and flow that happens with hyper-collaborative teams, the report says, adding: “The best workplaces support the activities of the team while nurturing the needs of individuals.”

Among other things, such workplaces allow workers to surround themselves with their projects and display their thinking and ideas and enable them to quickly switch between team collaboration and individual work, the report says.

Flex was designed after Steelcase observed high-performing, hyper-collaborating teams across the globe to understand how they work and what they need to be their best.

“Designed with interconnectivity and clever details, the entire collection works together allowing teams to reconfigure their space in a matter of minutes,” Steelcase says. “The pieces work well on their own, but just like teams, they work better together.”

Steelcase describes four types of teams with different goals and levels of collaboration that can work effectively with Flex furniture. It identifies them as Agile Studio, Creative Studio, Team Neighborhood and Team Basecamp. (See related story, page XX.)

The operative word with Flex is mobile. All of the components are made to move quickly and easily into different configurations depending on the task at hand and the level of intended collaboration.

Not surprisingly, durability is critical for the materials used for the Flex collection, while appearance remains an important element. Give those requirements, high pressure laminate is the perfect choice for the work surfaces of the tables and desks, which use a plywood core.

“With materiality, we understand that our customers value variety and choice,” said a representative of Steelcase’s Surface Materials Team. “By offering a large portfolio of high pressure laminate on Flex, we are able to offer this choice, as well as the ability to easily blend Flex with other Steelcase products.”

Beyond laminates, material options for the Flex Collection include veneers, textiles, lux coatings and paints.

Elements of Flex include a mobile power station, height-adjustable desks, seated height tables, standing height tables, slim tables, carts, acoustic boundaries, screens, markerboards, power hangars and other accessories.

Here is how Steelcase describes its height-adjustable desks: “Everything you’d expect from a height-adjustable desk, plus it’s designed to move as quickly as you do. It’s stable, yet mobile. Push them together for collaborative work, or move it to a quiet nook for focus time.”

Designed with Anker, a global leader in charging technology, the power stations give teams and individuals the freedom to work virtually anywhere. They are not only functional but beautiful, Steelcase says, inspired by handcrafted ceramic tableware and featuring soft and silky finishes with a 3D texture.

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