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Steelcase’s workplace research and growth outlook

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On his visit to Mumbai, Uli Gwinner, President, Steelcase APAC shared with Buildotech his views on the significance of changing office layouts for enhanced productivity and the company’s global marketing strategy.

According to him, today’s office designs lack in creating social connections among employees. He said, “While, providing social set-ups to increase mutual interaction and shared work stations for optimum utilization of space, maintaining a sense pf privacy is also important, which the employees feel they are losing out in an open plan office culture. Another challenge that a workplace faces is the almost 40% vacancy of workspaces in any given day driving down the space efficiency. However, by using technology for smarter management, the space utilization can be increased bringing down the vacancy levels to 20% or lesser. Steelcase has introduced a web-based room scheduling system that solves the dilemma of connecting workers to private spaces within an open office layout. Using the system, employee can make a room reservation for private work or grab a room for an impromptu meeting. The system automatically releases the room if occupants do not show-up. It also keeps track of space utilization with the analytics console. “

Briefing on the company’s marketing strategy, he stated that it remained consistent worldwide which includes collaborating with leading organizations, architects & designer and real estate advisory firms. He commented, “Globally, Steelcase is doing business in more than 200 countries with USA being the biggest market. EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) is a pretty mature market too. In Europe our business set-up has been mainly through acquisitions. In the emerging markets, where MNCs are making inroads, they prefer to buy products as per their international standards elsewhere. That is how we start with our business there and set-up more infrastructure as the demand grows. This drives down the costs and make our products more attractive for local companies as well,” he stated.

In India, the company had set-up the manufacturing unit in Pune three years ago and 40% of the products sold in India are made in the country itself. They have Worklife Centres in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and dealers in various other major cities.” In Asiapacific we seriously started growing business about 10 years back – in China through acquisitions & greenfield projects, while in India only through greenfielding. As we specialize in large scale workplaces, our business is mostly with firms comprising more than 100 white collar workers. In India, one-third of our business now comes from Indian organizations,” Gwinner stated.

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