When Groups Work

While technology increasingly enables virtual workers to operate effectively outside the office, for group cohesion, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Recognizing this, designers and facility managers are devoting more attention and space to group functions. But, are meetings any more effective as a result?

To explore the built environment’s influence on collaboration and group work effectiveness, Herman Miller and Gensler conducted a joint research project. The findings present valuable insights for workplace design and planning in support of group collaboration.

Meeting Work's Potential

Using a mix of ethnographic observation, interviews and self-reporting, the Herman Miller-Gensler study sought to understand: why meetings aren’t obsolete in a virtual world; what makes an effective meeting; how space can improve the ratio of good meetings to bad ones; and what collaboration would look like if conference rooms weren’t the dominant design paradigm.

In conclusion, the study revealed the kinds of environmental conditions that influence the flow of knowledge through groups, and how workplace design can be tailored to accommodate and even enhance a variety of group interactions and behaviors.

Dorothy Deasy (ddeasy, inc)
Erik Lucken (Gensler—Firmwide Communications): erik_lucken@gensler.com
William Dowell (Herman Miller)
Gretchen Gscheidle (Herman Miller)
Laura Leenhouts (Herman Miller)

Gensler Chicago Office, Christopher Barrett Photography: page 1

Video Production
Fairly Painless—Holland, Michigan: page 2

Learn More
Download “The Built Environment: Exploration Toward a New Paradigm” (PDF)

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