InspirationMicrosoft and Steelcase partner to boost creative work

Steelcase and Microsoft introduce Creative Spaces — a range of places and technologies to enable the creative process.

The future needs creative thinkers. We face global issues that require all of us to unleash our creative potential to solve problems, make new connections and generate ideas. Creativity is not only the domain of artists and musicians. It is a process in which we all can engage and all need to encourage. That’s one reason why Steelcase and Microsoft announced a partnership to help people enhance these critical behaviors at work. The two companies are introducing Creative Spaces, a jointly developed range of technology-enabled work spaces designed to foster creative thinking at work.

Creativity is a critical 21st century job skill driven by organizations’ need for innovation and growth, and employees’ desire for more meaningful work, according to research conducted by the two companies. Yet, despite the desire to harness creativity, many organizations don’t think about their investments in technology and space holistically. The result: The conditions for creativity at work are often not optimal.

Joint research released by the two companies reveals the pressure people feel about the shift toward more creative work:


There is greater need to collaborate, yet only 25% of respondents feel they can be creative in the places they currently have available for group work.
The study also reveals the connection between creativity and privacy, as employees ranked having a place to work without disruption as the second highest factor that could improve creativity, just behind the need for more time to think.</ br>
“The problems we face at work today are much more complex than they used to be. They require a new creative way of thinking and a very different work process,” says Sara Armbruster, vice president of strategy, research and new business innovation for Steelcase. “We believe that everyone has the capacity for creative thinking and people are happier doing creative, productive work. Together, Microsoft and Steelcase will help organizations thoughtfully integrate place and technology to encourage creative behaviors at work.”</ br>
The companies’ joint exploration of creative work found the creativity process requires diverse work modes as well as different types of technology. People need to work alone, in pairs and in different size groups throughout a creative process, and they need a range of devices that are mobile and integrated into the physical workplace. Additionally, spaces should inspire people without compromising performance.

“Every Microsoft Surface device strives to enable the creator in each of us. Devices like Surface Studio and Surface Hub are fundamentally designed around how people naturally create, connect and collaborate.” says Ryan Gavin, general manager, Microsoft Surface. “With Steelcase, we have the compelling opportunity to blend place and technology into a seamless setting that allows our most important assets, people, to unlock their creativity and share that with others. This is the modern workplace.”

“Most employees are still working with outdated technology and in places that are rooted in the past, which makes it difficult for them to work in new, creative ways,” said Bob O’Donnell, president, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research. “Creative Spaces were clearly designed to bridge the current gap between place and technology and to help creative work happen more naturally.”

Five initial Creative Spaces are on display at the Steelcase WorkLife Center in New York City.

Respite Room


Creative work requires many brain states, including the need to balance active group work with solitude and individual think time. This truly private room allows for relaxed postures to support diffused attention.

Focus Studio


Individual creative work requires alone time to focus and get into flow while also allowing quick shifts to two-person collaboration. It’s a place to let ideas incubate before sharing them with the group.

Duo Studio


Working in pairs is an essential behavior of creativity. This space supports a trust relationship in which two people can co-create shoulder-to- shoulder, while also supporting individual work. It includes a lounge area to invite others in for a quick creative review or put your feet up and get away without going away.

Maker Commons


Socializing ideas and rapid prototyping are essential parts of creativity. This space is designed to encourage quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration.

Ideation Hub


A high-tech destination that encourages active participation and equal opportunity to contribute as people co-create, refine and share ideas with co-located or distributed teammates.