Case Study

Haworth Leadership Community Space Renovation

Customers are always asking how we address the changing nature of work at Haworth. One way is by applying our research and knowledge to our own workspaces. Our global headquarters, One Haworth Center (OHC), is a living lab where we try out solutions to help our customers envision their own workspace. And our leaders are not exempt. In 2016, we renovated the Leadership Community Space to continue our learning, adapting to executive leaders’ changing needs while fostering a culture of collaboration.


Holland, Michigan


Cultural Shifts and Dynamic
Workstyles Drive Change

The Leadership Community Space is one of several initiatives implemented at our headquarters since it was renovated in 2008 to support and demonstrate our knowledge around the changing nature of work. It’s part of an overall master facility plan to provide an effective and inspiring workplace for Haworth employees, whom we call members. Several drivers influenced our workspace design.

“I actually prefer to stand in my individual workstation. It helps me think faster on my feet—keeps the energy and the juices going.” — Todd James, Vice President Global Sales

“This building is one of the best recruiting tools we have. People aren’t secluded in some far-off corner of the building— they’re in the midst of the action. It sends a message that we are indeed open and available.” –– Ann Harten, VP Global Human Resources

“Our design process really starts with empathy and understanding the user’s unmet needs—not just what they say, but observing how they behave.” — Michael Warsaw, VP Global Design & Innovation

“Not only does this office have to work for me individually, but I also have to consider the stakeholders that I interact with. It needs to be transparent so I can make eye contact and acknowledge our members. But it still has to reflect cultural needs from around the globe in terms of expectations of fellow officers.” — Matthew Haworth, Chairman


Foster Open/Collaborative Culture

Enable connection by providing a mix of focused and collaborative work areas that support the executive team’s needs and the people who interact with them.

Opportunities to increase value and drive innovation within the organization are supported through more collaborative spaces that foster transparency and accessibility to the entire organization. Nurturing a culture that empowers people to choose where to work helps attract and retain the best talent.

Integrate New Technologies

Offer a higher level of mobility and connectivity within the office and across the globe through technology.

Enhancing the collaborative experience by transforming spaces with state-of-the-art technology ensures leaders are engaged to interact with Haworth members and external partners.

Increase Interaction

Invite interaction and facilitate space utilization—not just for executives but also for members across the organization.

Haworth office staff members have choice in where and how to work, and they’re invited to work in the Leadership Community Space. Accessibility is enhanced with glass walls that allow people to see when leaders are available. They are drawn to inviting spaces that provide access to daylight and views.

Spaces that Flex

The refreshed Leadership Community Space is a reflection of both our design point of view and the Haworth brand. To serve the people who work there, spaces should be inspiring while enabling performance. Our Organic Workspace® approach to planning is designed to embrace change, flexing with people’s needs through quick, efficient reconfigurations of raised access floors, movable walls, and modular furniture. Through this approach, the Leadership Community Space was easily redesigned to offer more variety and choice, not just for our executive leaders, but also for our members, who are encouraged to use the space as well.

Range of Workspace Solutions

—from Individual to Group

The redesigned Leadership Community Space shifted from a 40/60 (collaborative/individual) ratio to 60/40, with a range of office sizes. Designing leaders’ offices based on individual needs and preferences accommodates a breadth of organizational functions—from finance to sales. While adjacent collaborative space increased without changing square footage, individual offices shrunk by 30 percent.

Individual Choice for Where and

How to Work

People are no longer tethered to their technology. Offering spaces that support unique, individual ways of working— ranging from large, formal spaces to informal, smaller spaces— gives people the freedom to choose. Office size is based on function—from various individual tasks to holding confidential meetings.

The Space Fits the Need

Smaller offices are intentionally cozy for one-on-one interaction, as requested by the primary occupant. Comfort and color help make the space inviting while user preferences determine appropriate work tools.

Room to Move

Larger offices have double-glazed glass walls for acoustical privacy and confidential meeting spaces within the offices. They also provide enough space for movement to accommodate a variety of tasks.

Closer Proximity

Administrative support personnel are located closer together, allowing for ease of interaction among team members as they collaborate. Workstations are height-adjustable to foster wellbeing; research indicates that the option to stand during work can enhance people’s energy and mood. Access to daylight and views further supports an environment that promotes well-being.

Variety of Collaborative Spaces

Work happens everywhere, so leaders are equipped with advanced virtual collaborative technology tools to connect with members and external partners. When they need to meet face-to-face, shared spaces are mixed in among private offices and supported with the technology required for interaction. The Front Porch, overlooking the atrium, provides a place to engage with others or do focused work.

Multi-use Spaces

Larger offices double as meeting spaces, and the flexibility in the furniture allows leaders to secure personal items when they are away. Virtual technology is integrated into the space to allow for collaborative work from anywhere in the world.

Lessons Learned

To build our knowledge, Haworth conducts pre- and postoccupancy surveys for workspace renovation projects. The Leadership Community Space research yielded positive results:

Many survey respondents reported an increase in visual distractions. Due to the central location in the building, occupants experience a higher level of foot traffic in their vicinity—but it is balanced by serendipitous interaction with people all across the organization.

Change Happens

Protocols were also in place to help people navigate through change. We used our Change Communication Playbook as a guide to create a change communication plan early in the process and continued to share information throughout the renovation. This approach assured people that their needs were taken into consideration, which made everyone more comfortable and confident.

Change Communications Tactics