Empowering Employees for Change: Herman Miller Group Retail HQ

Herman Miller used research-based insights to design their new Group Retail Global HQ as a supportive, dynamic workplace network.

The Future of the Office

Through their research into how workplaces must adapt to support employees in a post-pandemic world, Herman Miller discovered that many employers now believe that their workforce can do their job from home and many employees want a flexible work schedule that allows them to choose where to work. In their Future of the Office White Paper Herman Miller predicted that physical offices would become a valued amenity for employees, offering space for the connections and interactions we miss while working from home.

From Research to Reality

In the summer of 2020, with all Retail employees working remotely, Debbie Propst, President of Herman Miller Group Retail wanted to use Herman Miller's insights to create a space where people were empowered to decide when and where they could do their work. She reflected on how her team could work together more effectively—both within and beyond their Stamford, Connecticut headquarters—to achieve even greater business results.

Two people in masks working at a group of OE1 Micropacks with navy Cosm chairs with a blue Framery in the background.

Project Goals


1. Build team culture to energize people for the future.

2. Create an engaging destination for distributed workers.

3. Strengthen the team’s connection to their work and foster new product development.

4. Increase the flexibility of the space so employees can easily evolve it over time.

Capturing New Opportunities

In response to the pandemic Herman Miller updated the company’s flexible work arrangement to include multiple options for working at home with an enterprise-wide WFH program giving employees access to furniture and technology for their home offices. Propst and the leadership team wanted to empower employees to take advantage of these new opportunities, deciding for themselves where to work. The new space was designed to support a more distributed model of working, which the Workplace Performance Services Team will analyze for effectiveness.

An image of an employee cafe with groups of wood tables surrounded by black wood chairs with white shelving lining the wall.

An Adapted Design Process

The design team had to work with each other and the Retail team remotely while the work activities and expectations of the Retail employees were evolving day-by-day. These challenges were viewed as an opportunity and uncertainty was embraced as a design constraint.

People in masks sitting at mineral Aeron chairs at white OE1 Rectangular Tables with navy OE1 Storage Trollies next to the tables.

Designed for Flexibility

A diverse range settings to support individual and group activities were created using Herman Miller's new OE1 Workspace Collection, an agile group of products designed to help people experiment with a space, discover what works in the moment, and quickly make changes on their own.

Three people wearing masks spending time in a lounge area filled with a sofa, two lounge chairs, a coffee table, side tables, and storage.

A New Workplace

Before
• Individual assigned desks
• Large conference rooms on perimeter

After

• Many interactive team settings
• Supports connection, teamwork, and collaboration
• Smaller tech-enabled meeting spaces
• Shared, individual workspaces that can be personalized
• Dedicated quiet space on the 2nd floor

A Successful Space

The new headquarters empowers Retail staff to embrace new ways of working and adapt their space to their ever-changing work patterns. With fewer assigned individual work areas and more shared individual and group spaces, the Retail Global HQ can flex to accommodate a far greater total population than in the past and act as a destination for employees, regardless of their location. Read the full Case Study.

Is Your Office Ready for the Future of Work?

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