REACH 2016: The Future of Work & Workplace Design

Find out what some of the industry leaders had to say, see what visitors interacted with and more as we zoom in on some event highlights

How can design energise and drive productivity in the workplace? These were questions at the heart of this year’s REACH, a Herman Miller design festival that saw leaders in the field present their research, know-how and visions for the future of work to their fellows in the industry.

Connection, through open discussion, knowledge sharing, speakers events and playful interaction between people and products, is the aim of the game at REACH, a one-day event that visited five cities this year. REACH kicked off in Beijing on 24 June 2016, then headed to Manila on 21 July, Bangalore on 28 July and Tokyo on 4 August, before finishing up in Melbourne on 15 September.

The events were a great success, bringing together more than 2,000professionals across the Asia-Pacific. Opinion leaders from the likes of the Economist Intelligent Unit, Accenture, Woods Bagot and Gensler, among others, shared market-leading ideas about the workspace, employee engagement, innovation and creativity.

Here, we look back at a few of the standout ideas, moments and designs fromREACH’s five-city tour.

The Speakers / The People

Thought leaders from around the world spoke at each of the REACH events. In Beijing, Ray Yuen of Woods Bagot spoke about how we define work and how we need to rethink the traditional workspace. In Tokyo, DRAFT Inc.’s Taiju Yamashita talked about engaging staff through great workspace design; in Bangalore, Steve Frykholm looked back on 45 years of designing posters for Herman Miller; and in Manila, Richard Stevens explained the thinking behind the Keyn group of chairs.

In Melbourne, meanwhile, speakers included Gavin Harris, design director at Futurespace, who stressed the importance of experience-based workplaces.

“Experiences provide points of connection for people working with and for a business,” says Harris. “Experiences connect workers to each other. This connection and stimulation keeps people interested and at their best for the business.”

Adds Harris, “Experiences create moments that allow change or connection or different thought processes. “If a business wishes to stay ahead of others or retain and attract the best people to work for them, then experiences are part of the story.”

Gray Puksand’s Heidi Smith also spoke at REACH Melbourne, on the subject of how to successfully engage staff, with a focus on face-to-face engagement and social media, among other tips.

“I think businesses shouldn’t be afraid of asking their staff what they need. By involving your staff in establishing the culture, brand and working environment, you create an opportunity to create real and meaningful buy-in, and therefore a more creative and productive workforce,” she says.

“For our recent Australia Post workspace project, we undertook a robust staff engagement programme, which sat alongside a detailed internal change management programme. This approach resulted in a completely new style of working for the business, one that reflects the aspirations of the staff and a successful culture change.”

Want to know more about what the REACH speakers had to say? Click here to find out.

The Products

Visitors to this year’s REACH events also had a chance to interact with new products and services from Herman Miller and POSH, a Herman Miller company, as well as collections from the brand’s partners.

REACH attendees got to play with Passport, exploring its capabilities for themselves. As a technology service, Passport an exciting new direction for Herman Miller, and one that is set to change the way we work by quantifying performance efficiently and effectively.

By downloading a password-protected app – one that’s available for both Android and iOS devices – users can tap into data on the way they and their staff use their workspace. Passport presents this information in an intuitive format, also offering the potential for actionable recommendations.

In terms of products on show at REACH, Herman Miller’s Keyn group of chairs made a strong appearance. Attendees played with its movement-based design, seeing how automotive and aeronautical thinking has been applied to a group of chairs designed for collaborative working.

From POSH came Optimis, a unique desking solution inspired by origami folds that minimises waste by keeping material usage to a minimum. Optimis was on show at various REACH events.

Meanwhile, at REACH Melbourne, visitors were treated to British brand Naughtone’s quality, sustainable and contemporary collections; they got to see them paired with Herman Miller’s pieces in a variety of workplace settings. We look forward to seeing you next time at REACH, where you will once again get access to new perspectives on relevant industry trends and issues. See you there!