Do office surroundings affect how people feel about work--or how well they perform their job? Think employers notice?

You bet they do.

"Our customers are leading organizations that understand in an increasingly complex and competitive global environment, place matters," says George Grix, an IT consulting application engineer at Steelcase. "These companies want to unlock the full promise of their employees by creating great experiences at work."

As the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world, Steelcase has been helping companies design creative and inspiring workplaces for more than a century.

And according to Grix, Steelcase is also where research and real-time operations combine to drive continued workplace innovation.

Researching the workplace

"Our extensive research helps differentiate Steelcase's products and services," Grix says. "We study how people work, what they need in the workplace, and how physical surroundings can influence their productivity and engagement."

At Steelcase, the power of place is quantifiable.

For example, Steelcase commissioned a survey conducted by the global research firm IPSOS, that shows a strong correlation between employees' satisfaction with their work environment and their level of engagement. Those most engaged were also the most satisfied with their work environment. (Check out the company's online 360 Magazine.)

Digitizing the supply chain

Real-time operations also play an important role at Steelcase--especially when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Timeliness is a crucial factor at many job-site deliveries. Larger shipments typically require coordination with facility schedules, and it's not uncommon for customers to have installation crews standing by for product arrival.

"Our customers expect our products to be delivered on time," Grix says matter-of-factly.

At the recent SAP Leonardo Live event in Frankfurt, Germany, Grix spoke specifically about how Steelcase has streamlined its shipping processes. This included implementing a transportation management application. "We had different transportation planning processes across our three global regions," Grix explains. "We knew there were opportunities to manage our logistics operations in a more efficient manner."

Steelcase is using the transportation management solution to help plan inbound, outbound, and intercompany shipping; select the most efficient routes and carriers; perform track-and-trace on a global basis; and handle settlement payments to carriers. And as a result, reducing costs.

"We're picking the right carriers and driving fewer miles," Grix says. "But best of all, we know exactly where our customer shipments are at any given moment."

Preparing for the workplace of the future

Grix and Steelcase are already looking forward to the next wave of innovation.

Technologies such the Internet-of-Things (IoT), machine learning, and artificial intelligence promise to reshape the future of transportation management and shipping logistics--and undoubtedly, the workplace too.

"We are always evaluating new technologies and seeing how they could fit into the Steelcase portfolio," says Grix. "It was exciting to look at some of the ways that you can capture sensor data and bring it into the cloud."

No one knows for sure what tomorrow's workplaces will look like. But the well-designed office continues to be a valuable asset that can help organizations create, innovate, and drive growth.

In fact, Steelcase calls the workplace "an opportunity waiting to be discovered."