Our Blog


web dev

How Do You Create a Living Office?

When it comes to today's office space, there isn't a one-size-fits-all model.

Not everyone works the same way, and their needs may change from day-to-day based on their project. Some people prefer sitting at a desk, others prefer standing.

Some people require some privacy for their task at hand, others need to collaborate in a group setting.

And that's what brought about the Living Office approach to office space design.

Living Office, a concept created by furniture company Herman Miller, caters to the office needs of everybody. It's designed for high-performing work atmospheres with the goal of helping businesses achieve their objectives — keeping in mind that each organization has its own unique goals.

The fact of the matter is: Most offices contain at least a little bit of chaos. And Living Office embraces and enables that chaos. The Living Office philosophy encourages office space design based on the way people naturally work.

A space for collaboration

More and more, as millennials take over today's offices, collaboration is becoming an integral part of today's workplace. The idea is that bringing people together helps to stimulate creativity and increase performance — which is the goal of every business. And Herman Miller has conducted research that supports the idea that collaboration is now king in the workplace.

In a 2013 survey of hundreds of organizations across six continents, Herman Miller found that between 75 to 99 percent of office managers indicated that creating spaces that facilitate employee engagement was a priority.

Not to mention, every year, dedicated individual workstation spaces decline by between 11 and 22 percent (depending on the region), while non-dedicated team areas are on the rise.

Why? Well, according to Herman Miller's research, the typical workstation is unoccupied 60 percent of the day, with private offices averaging 77 percent vacancy. Meanwhile, conference rooms are rarely used to capacity.

That's because informal is the new norm for modern offices. Workers today — millennials in particular — prefer to work in an open office that's conducive to collaboration. That means open workstations, lounge areas, and mobile task chairs. Gone are the days of formal business meetings at a conference table — for millennials, anyway.

Benefits of Living Office

So just how is Living Office improving today's workplace? Let's start with the obvious:


Just in case we haven't stressed it enough already, collaboration is an essential part of today's office space. And that's what makes Living Office unique: It creates an environment that encourages collaboration among workers. Collaboration stimulates creativity, which is essential to a successful business.


Living Office is malleable depending your type of work. It offers office landscapes for all kinds of businesses, from architects to publishers. You can choose your landscape to create an individual or group setting. The end goal, regardless of the business, is to optimize productivity.

Everyone belongs

Because Living Office is so flexible, it creates an environment in which everyone can feel like they belong. Not everyone wants to work in a group setting. Some people are more productive alone. And Living Office facilitates productivity by catering to everyone, regardless of their working habits and needs.

10 modes of work

According to Herman Miller, there are 10 modes of work — and those work modes have influenced the company's Living Office designs. So every office setting corresponds with different modes. Seven of these involve working collaboratively:

  • Chat
  • Converse
  • Co-create
  • Huddle
  • Divide and Conquer
  • Show and Tell
  • Warm up, cool down

And the other three modes call for an individual setting as opposed to group:

  • Process and Respond
  • Contemplate
  • Create

Each design is based on work behaviors typical of all people — regardless of their industry. There's an ideal setting for everyone.

How to create your own Living Office

Here's the thing: Connecting Elements is not a Herman Miller dealer. We just happen to have a lot of respect for the pioneer of modern office furniture.

While you certainly can use Herman Miller furniture to achieve your Living Office, you don't have to. Each space has a purpose and should be designed with that purpose in mind. Think multifunctional furniture, such as a seating unit with a high-back that serves as a counter-height work surface on the other side. Now here's how you can transform your workplace into a more collaborative and creative place using the Living Office principles:

  • 1. Hire a commercial interior designer or space planner to evaluate your existing space, the jobs performed there, your growth timetable and your budget. A designer can help you ensure your layout makes sense for workflow and efficiency while applying Living Office principles.
  • 2. Consider modular benching systems to help you get started. They're equipped with built-in power/data, and come in a variety of shapes and heights to meet your needs. Modular benching can be set up to include a built-in soft seating area for small impromptu meetings, while your storage cabinets can come with a cushion top to serve as seating as well.
  • 3. Invest in multipurpose tables. They should be nesting and mobile, so you can decide how, where and whether to use them. Your multi-purpose table can be a hot desk or conference table — or even a table for your break room or events. Even a smaller model would be useful as an extra multipurpose work surface.
  • 4. Sometimes people need a little more privacy for a task. That's where groups of comfortable seating with built-in power come in handy. This offers people a place to work alone in privacy, or a group of two or three to grab a seat and brainstorm. High backs provide a sense of privacy without closing people off completely.
  • 5. Add these mobile benches to your space for an all-in-one unit that can hold your belongings and move from place to place with you.
  • 6. Sharing is necessary for collaboration. Consider a Sharewall, not only for strategizing, but also for fun notes, greetings, well wishes, silly drawings and anything your creative work family comes up with. Whether it’s one small wall or your standard rolling whiteboard, the idea is creating a space that's comfortable and fun for everyone — and that is the essence of Living Office.

Find an office space that works for you

Find out how office space designers at Connecting Elements can help you achieve your own ideal work space. Send us an email, or call us at one of our three locations:

  • Columbia, SC: 803-779-3442 
  • Charlotte, NC: 704-525-2770

Office Furniture

Browse our wide selection of office furniture available in both our Charlotte, NC and Columbia, SC locations.

Learn More
Previous Article How to Create the Ideal Hot Desking Space for Your Employees
Next Article Making the Most of Small Start-up Office Spaces in 6 Easy Steps
6484 Rate this article:
Please login or register to post comments.

Theme picker