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Talent tops furniture industry wish list

“Increasingly, although you can work from anywhere, companies want you to come and stay in the space,” Walker said. “How do I make the space as much about community and group activities as it is about work?”

An element behind Steelcase’s partnership with Microsoft on the Creative Spaces it rolled out last year was the need to keep employees engaged and productive — which in turn promotes retention.

“Today’s work environments have to provide a range of settings,” Keane said. “We all create differently. With creative work, you have to realize some are more introverts, some are extroverts, and some do their best creative thinking when they lock themselves away.”

Dave Shaffer — CEO of Haworth furniture dealer Interphase Interiors, which has 28 employees and is based in Grand Rapids — said recent studies published by Grand Valley State University and Colliers International West Michigan have said the growth greater Grand Rapids is experiencing means it will be of the utmost importance to keep offices up to date.

“When we’re ranked No. 1 as a place to live, work and play, we’re going to have a lot of good, new furnishings to meet that need,” he said.

Franco Bianchi, president and CEO of Holland-based Haworth, with 2,000 employees, said a one-and-done approach won’t cut it for a generation with so many job options.

“In North America, with spaces designed for the vast majority of offices, workstations were made with panels or cubicles. More and more, our clients are learning to tailor spaces and products to the needs of people. Talent trumps (the old mindset) — a different look and feel, different heights, different level of privacy, different functions, a feel of hospitality in the work environment.”

Walker said the economic outlook for the industry is positive, with a caveat.

To read the full article, visit Grand Rapids Business Journal.