6 Simple Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation

How to Promote Creativity in Your Organization

Jeff DeGraff is both an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.” Jeff’s thoughts on innovation are covered by Inc., Fortune, and Psychology Today to name a few. Jeff is the Co-Creator of the Competing Values methodology that integrates finance, strategy, management, innovation, and leadership into a system that boosts the business bottom line, and he collaborates with Haworth through the consultancy, Innovatrium.

Every organization has a need to innovate in some way to stay relevant. But it can be hard to figure out just how to begin. It all starts with building a culture that supports creativity and collaboration at work.

Here are some ways to promote a creative culture of innovation within your organization:

1.  Create a safe collaborative space. 
Collaborative innovation comes in many forms and kinds. From brainstorming sessions and innovation jams to crowd funding, these forms of growth all mobilize a diverse group of people with a variety of skills. The benefits to joint innovation efforts are plenty: the global scale of the initiative, the rapidity of experimentation, the reservoirs of outside talent, and the guaranteed wider array of solutions.

2. Avoid getting stuck in the center.
When a large team of people has ideas, and they all share them, there's the danger that everyone will get pulled to the center and ideas will be reduced to something unexceptional. Don't let the multiplicity of ideas at a brainstorming session get flattened out into a mass of mediocrity. Keep challenging yourself and those around you to go outside of the expected limits and boundaries of your project.


3. Surround yourself with people unlike you.
Find the people who can fill in your blind spots and help you with things you don't know. This means embracing individuals you may have nothing in common with: thinkers who see the world differently than you do. Gather the talents of those who can teach you and give you things that you cannot give yourself.

4. Remember the importance of expertise.
Collaboration assumes a horizontal structure of activity. That is, everyone involved is suddenly on the same level. This democratic attitude can be a great thing, yet people sometimes forget the centrality of expertise. Don't just solicit the opinion of the masses when you're building your innovation team—find experts in the fields relevant to your initiative.

5. Stop starting and start stopping.
What if the key to innovation isn’t starting something new? What if the real secret is stopping something old? You don’t have the capacity—the time, resources, or energy—to do new things because you are busy maintaining the old ones. Starting new things is easy. You just add an app or expand your workday a couple of hours. Stopping things is hard. It’s full of feelings of loss, disappointment, and failure. It takes more than creativity. It takes courage to stop what you’ve been doing to make room for the things your organization wants to start doing now.


6. Assemble your innovation advisory board
Assemble a group of bright, energetic thinkers your organization can trust. Use them to brainstorm and bounce ideas off them. Unlike a board of directors, which is subject to influence by outside financial interests like investors, a board of advisers has no vested interest in your company. Rather, they are committed solely to developing ideas and sharing and exchanging knowledge. The advisory board does the work that the organization can’t. Seek out people with extensive experience in their fields or those who can partner with you, such as customers, the community, investors, regulators, trendsetters, and visionary revolutionaries.

Creative collaboration is a must for companies that want to innovate, as are organizational culture and leadership that support these efforts. Starting with these tips can help you begin to cultivate a mindset that will help your organization embrace new ideas and support people with what they need to develop them. Learn more from SPARK about fostering creativity and innovation at work.

De-Stress the Workplace Through Design

Encourage Healthy Behaviors and Support Well-Being

As employers grapple with rising healthcare costs, one area often overlooked as contributing to employee health and well-being is the workplace, itself. Aside from lunchtime yoga and salads on the cafeteria menu, the approach to well-being at work often fails to look at the bigger picture and address the underlying issues that contribute to poor health: a sedentary lifestyle and work-related stress.

“We spend 90 percent of our lives enclosed within one sort of a building or another, and until recently there has been little attention on how to make buildings healthier.”

— Dr. Michael O’Neill, who leads Haworth's Workplace Research and Strategy

So how can a building make people healthier?

Nudge Better Behaviors
With training in psychology and architecture, Haworth’s Dr. Michael O’Neill has spent decades researching the connection between buildings and worker health and performance. O’Neill advocates for a combination of “nudges” and “microcontrols” that help employees make better decisions.

“A nudge is never about taking choice away from somebody. It’s about making the best choice—the obvious and easy choice,” O’Neill says. One way to nudge people to make a healthier choice is by encouraging them to ditch the elevator in favor of climbing stairs. A Harvard study found that taking eight flights of stairs a day lowers average early mortality risk by 33 percent. “The key is making the staircase a central element in the building, so people are drawn to take the steps,” O’Neill says.


Reduce Stress Levels
Beyond movement and healthier choices, the interior design of a building can play a role in reducing stress, the single biggest enemy of well-being. A person’s body reacts automatically to stressful events, like deadlines and production pressures, by releasing hormones into the bloodstream. The most dangerous is cortisol, part of the body’s natural fight-or-flight mechanism. Elevated cortisol levels are tied to a host of health issues, from heart disease to lower cognitive abilities.

“What’s sort of ironic is that you go into work and you have these pretty sedentary jobs. We dress nice, we drink coffee, we chat and have meetings all day. It seems really harmless. It's not like 100 years ago when most jobs were in farming or industrial settings like factories or coal mines, but it’s equally dangerous. And the thing that makes it so dangerous is that work stress is so invisible,” O’Neill says.

Providing opportunities to connect to nature in the workplace can help. Studies have shown that taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel connected with nature will significantly lower stress hormone levels.  


Give Employees Control
Research has shown that an additional way to reduce workplace stress is to give people control over their physical workspace.

At the individual level, it can involve letting people choose a space for the task at hand, so they can do their best individual work. It can be as simple as providing furnishings that can be moved up, down, and around to adjust to someone’s body or workstyle. Giving workers power over small adjustments in their individual work environment ultimately allows them more control over their work process.

At the organizational level, create policies and a culture that give employees permission to choose a workspace that best meets their needs. “If that policy and sense of permission to give control isn’t there, you're going to spend a lot of money on space that you're not getting the value out of. So [employee] control is really a huge idea,” O’Neill says.

The Future of Collaboration

Digital Technology Makes Interaction Easier

Back in the early 2000s, Jeff Reuschel had a wild idea. Reuschel, the Global Director of Design and Innovation at Haworth, wanted to see his team’s entire portfolio of work at once, spread out before him like a desktop covered in papers—only minus the desktop and minus the papers. Reuschel wondered: Instead of looking at Word documents, InDesign files, spreadsheets, and scraps of notes in their digital silos, could he project these related bits of information onto a wall simultaneously? And better yet, could he manipulate those files with his hands as if they were physical objects?

The answer to both questions was a resounding no. Reuschel’s concept was ahead of its time. In the early 2000s, projection technology was becoming more sophisticated, but touchscreens were still nascent. “What I ended up doing was taking a lot of little cards and push-pinning them to the wall,” he recalls.

A handful of years later, smartphones and tablets had become commonplace, and the same touch-screen technology that powered those smaller devices could be blown up to wall size. “They have set us free to operate in much more creative and innovative ways,” says Haworth’s Chairman Emeritus, Dick Haworth. “They’ve dramatically changed the footprint of the office.” So, under his direction, Reuschel, alongside a team of engineers and designers, set out to make software that would power the workplace of the future. Their vision: an interactive wall that displays Word documents, spreadsheets, images, and notes, and can be projected onto a touchscreen surface that employees—both on-site and remote—are able to manipulate in real time, as if they’re using a giant tablet. They called this technology for visual collaboration Bluescape®.


One can think of Bluescape as an amalgamation of past and current workplace productivity tools. “To me it’s a merger of a tackboard, a whiteboard, an internet interface, and my desktop files,” Reuschel says. And like his description suggests, it’s part of a long lineage of tools that over the decades have helped employees work together. If you trace it back, there’s a path from pinboards and chalkboards to whiteboards and Post-It notes. Those low-fi tools were the conceptual precursors to software applications like Slack and Google Docs, which now allow employees to work together even when they’re geographically apart.

For Dick Haworth, who has been with the company for over 50 years, suddenly the need for cross-continental communication was crucial. “We were trying to figure out how to work efficiently and effectively,” he recalls. “The issues are quite different when you’re in one physical space versus an organization that’s spread around the world.”

Bluescape technology is both a work environment that supports collaboration and a communication tool that can bring teams together, whether in one office or across multiple work locations.

Haworth’s remote-working conundrum is familiar to most modern companies today. Over the last decade, the office has dematerialized—or at the very least, vastly shifted in appearance—as more employees are able to work from disparate locations thanks to technologies like Slack and Bluescape. Often, the trajectory of workplace technology is reflected in the office design itself. Closed-door offices and cubicles gave way to open floorplans, and open floorplans in turn gave way to huddle rooms and unassigned seating. Today, it’s common for offices to build out communal workspaces where employees can take their laptops and gather in small groups to do work, but not provide them with desks they can claim as their own. It’s a shift enabled by technology, which has made people available and easy to find, no matter where they may actually be. “That’s sort of the expectation now,” says Kasia Maynard, a researcher at the consultancy Worktech Academy. “You should have connectivity wherever you are.”


A couple of years ago, Boston Consulting Group moved from its midtown Manhattan offices to a new building in the Far West Side neighborhood of Hudson Yards. The new space was built to reflect the modern workplace, which is to say there are virtually no private offices. Instead, employees gather in communal spaces like a café or a long bench table that are designed to encourage “spontaneous collaboration.” They can book private rooms or temporarily be assigned a desk through an app, but there’s no sense in bringing a family portrait to work—no one owns any of the space.

Maynard refers to this as “activity-based working,” where employees meet in spaces that fit their specific needs at the moment. Need to meet with a team? Book a conference room. Need to be heads down on a deadline? Nab a desk. “When collaborating, you might go off to a huddle space, do some work, and then go your own way,” she says. “We’re not just with our teams anymore; we’re mixing with all different types of people all the time.”


For designers, this has necessitated a new way of thinking about office space. More general seating and common spaces are a given, but even tried-and-true work requirements like conference rooms are changing. Scott Poulton, Haworth’s Vice President of Strategic Ventures and Chairman of Bluescape, says he’s seen the design of the conference room morph from a stationary box with a door into something more dynamic that encourages employees to get up, move around, and interact with the environment. “A traditional conference room would be a large room with a big table in the center and maybe a 70-inch flat screen that everyone looks at,” he says. “In the future, the environment itself will be interactive.”

For Dick Haworth, the future is, to some degree, already here. He likens Bluescape to a “world” that multiple team members, thousands of miles apart, can inhabit: “You can brainstorm a project, and then you can begin to work on individual elements of it before implementing and managing those things—the details are all there in this vast space, but in a much more transparent way that enables different team members to easily follow what’s going on in different parts of a project.”

If technologies like Bluescape, Slack, and Google Docs are effectively proxies for in-person interaction; if their aim is to make collaborating with your coworker overseas just as compelling as collaborating with the person next to you, what’s the point of investing in a conference room at all? For some companies, the office will indeed become obsolete. But for Reuschel and Haworth, these advances are a reminder that while technology has enabled personal desks to disappear and offices to shrink, it has also made working together in the same space more rewarding. “I would say we’re getting awfully close to being able to work from anywhere,” Reuschel says. “But right now, I don’t think we’re there yet.”

4 Reasons Companies Should Incorporate Social Spaces

… And how to do it without a major renovation

Lynn Metz, LEED AP, is a registered interior designer and Vice President of Sales, Architecture, and Design, for Haworth North America. With her expertise in space design and demonstrated history of working in the furniture industry, she engages in the understanding of human behavior and realizes the importance and impact it has for a successfully designed environment. As a member of Forbes Business Development Council, she is a contributing writer to Forbes CommunityVoice™, a digital publishing platform that connects experts directly with the Forbes audience by enabling them to create content and participate in the conversation.

Following is her article, Why Companies Should Incorporate Social Spaces in the Office, which first appeared on Forbes.com.

Whether you know it or not, you have already worked in a social space. This phenomenon—providing more than a place to sit and a surface to work at by giving a space an inspiring purpose of putting people at ease and encouraging conversations—seems to be growing fast. It used to be common practice in the office interiors industry to make the ratio of gathering space to private space 20/80. As the open-plan office concept emerged, it was a slow process to change that expectation to 30/70. Now, the ratio has dramatically changed to at least 50/50, and I often see a full flip to 70/30 in highly collaborative environments. Many designers are now consistently using these new ratios in solutions throughout the floorplate. It's also apparent as I see more design specialists specifically focusing on unique products and solutions for social spaces.

Why is this space growing to be so important? Based on my experience at a workplace furniture company, I believe we can attribute this to several factors:


1. Generations and lifestyle
While it's not exclusive to a generation, younger workers may be creating a more comfortable workplace that is also available anytime-anywhere. For instance, many people enjoy working at Starbucks and having the opportunity to sit in more collaborative environments. We also meet clients over breakfast, lunch, or after work for drinks. This engages people in a social setting and often encourages a different dialog than across a desk or conference table. We can and do work all the time and anywhere, and this influences how people use spaces.

2. Member engagement 
As companies strive to attract and retain their best talent, the traditional cubicle floor plan limits the ability for employees to connect with other members of the organization. This can limit the ability for employees to feel engaged. Social spaces are a swing back from that open-plan office setting. By providing a variety of spaces (including the opportunity for privacy), you can help member engagement. You have to match spaces to what people need—there is a time and place for everything, but not generally one option all the time.

3. Collaboration and innovation
Employers are constantly looking to drive their business objectives forward and stay ahead of the competition. A casual, comfortable environment can encourage collaboration and foster innovation. When people get together and start talking, you don’t know where it might lead, and this can be magic for unintentional brainstorming. You absolutely still need structured settings, but there should be a balance. A café, coffee bar, reception area, or lounge areas can be utilized this way. Think about them differently—what if you had a coffee bar and a greeter for your reception area instead of a formal space? By opening these spaces up for employee use, you end up with more usable space back in your floorplate and can help project your brand and culture in a unique way.

4. Tech 
Our internet of things world has enabled faster connections and the ability to work in a variety of spaces. In turn, visual and audio capabilities in social spaces can be a significant positive for a workspace. If you have great collaborative settings without tech or power, they may not be used as much.


It is hard to provide these spaces to an existing environment without some level of investment by the company. However, these spaces can enhance employee flexibility to work anywhere and increase employee engagement. Providing social spaces without a major renovation can be achieved by considering the following:

  • Existing breakroom or café settings can be enhanced by providing areas to work at a computer or sit down with a cup of coffee. Internet capability and access to power are important in these spaces. The space can be enhanced with lights and floor lamps that add an emotional connection and level of intimacy to the space. Enhancement of finishes, colors and textures that are different from the workstation environment can make the space feel inviting to get away and take a break.

  • If the company has an agile work policy and employees don’t need assigned workstations, consider reducing the size of their workstations and converting that additional space with a variety of seating areas. Ideally, social spaces can be enhanced with access to daylight and views. If that isn’t available, an aquarium or faux fireplace can enhance the mind’s ability to wander and reflect.

  • Social spaces should not be in the middle of work areas where employees need to do focus work. Social spaces should encourage interaction and not be disruptive to focused tasks.

  • When creating casual seating areas, consider grounding them with an area rug and lighting. This can help define an area’s use and add a residential feeling and sense of place.

  • If an outdoor space is available, it should be strongly considered as an excellent social space—being outside can enhance well-being. It’s important to consider access to Wi-Fi and power to ensure employees use these spaces.

Social spaces are a great space to work and collaborate. I hope you find one of these comfortable spots to innovate on the next challenge coming your way.

Social Norms in the Office Environment

Unwritten Rules that Guide Behavior

Let’s face it: Change in the work environment can be disruptive for people and processes. For example, a well-planned workspace reconfiguration—intended to achieve a positive end goal—is sometimes challenging for people to accept initially. We feel comfortable with our routines—sitting in the same place, talking to the same people next to us, with everything set up just the way we like it.

But space transformation doesn’t have to be painful, especially when a change management process is implemented. We know this well at Haworth, where we frequently reconfigure our floorplans to support new ways of working, especially at our corporate headquarters—a showroom and workplace that demonstrates our research in a living lab we share with customers.


Involving team members through communication helped them understand the various process stages for the renovation, what space would be occupied, and where the groups would reside. When you implement a change management communication program, you can more easily manage employee engagement and adoption of new ways of working, along with the resulting workspace layout.

Managing change in the workplace, like any successful project, requires a systematic process that guides, prepares, and enables individuals to quickly adopt new ideas to achieve desired business results. Companies that effectively manage change consistently outperform their competitors. Well managed workplace changes help individuals make a positive transition and result in achievement of organizational goals.


People are creative and love to share ideas and solve problems. Providing events, meetings, and communication can help uncover their fears, frustrations, anger, or anxiety. A change management program offers opportunities to minimize these issues, find solutions that people agree upon, and connect teams to cultivate excitement about the change. Who knows what might happen? You may find employees offer new ideas for ways they can improve their own performance.

Haworth Inc. Honors HBI with 2019 Best In Class Distinction

HBI has been designated as a 2019 Best In Class dealership for the 5th time in seven years! The Best In Class distinction is awarded to dealerships based on exceptional performance in market development, sales, customer satisfaction, operational excellence and enterprise development.

“Only through outstanding dealerships like HBI is Haworth able to provide the exceptional service experience our customers deserve.” Franco Bianchi, President & CEO - Haworth


Haworth Inc. currently has 600 partners in its dealership network worldwide. HBI is one of 30 dealerships to be awarded 2019 Best In Class. This is a distinction reserved for those dealers who not only obtain the highest performance levels but are successful in maintaining those rigorous standards over time and against other high-performing dealers.

“The Best in Class distinction is a testament to our extraordinary team members and the exceptional work they perform everyday to ensure that we are satisfying our customers and achieving organizational excellence.” Michael Taylor, President & CEO – HBI

6 Ways to Cut the Ties to Structured Work

The Future is Flexible

Not surprisingly, “flexible” and “flexibility” are two of the most popular search words related to work benefits. The future of how, where, and when we work is evolving at an extremely fast pace. People no longer want—or need to be—tied down to the traditions of the past. Technology is changing the way we work, and today’s business trends are following right along—opening doors to a more efficient, convenient, and fulfilling work-life balance.

See how these six business trends are cutting the ties that bind, making work more flexible—and enjoyable:

1. 24/7 Work-Ability – not tied to a schedule
This is either the most feared or the most welcomed flexibility trend in work today. Those who oppose it, however, may find themselves left behind. Proponents love the ability to work when it works for them—and when their employers are supportive, it makes all the difference. After all, who wants the ability to work at 3 a.m., if you’re still being required to report to the office from 9 to 5 every day?

Used to its full advantage, open availability can work for both employees and employers. The key is finding (and maintaining!) the perfect blend of work and personal life. A Workfront blog article asks, “If you’re in that email inbox by 6 a.m. and still fielding requests at 8 p.m., should it really matter if you disappear from the office from 12-3 p.m.?” Honest answer: Not if you’re getting the work done and supporting your team. Leaders who understand this will find they have happier, more engaged, loyal employees.


2. The Gig Economy – not tied to a job
Millennials graduated from college in an era where jobs were scarce—let alone, careers in their fields of study. They fiercely competed for work and took jobs where they could find them, out of necessity. During that time, temporary work and freelancing became more prevalent as viable income alternatives.

As a result, contract work now seems “normal” to this entrepreneurial generation. To many Millennials, it’s even preferable—especially today, when being a nomadic freelancer or short-term worker offers not only the flexibility of when and where to work, but higher incomes and perks from businesses competing for talent. In fact, according to strategy+business, freelancing and gig work is now beginning to attract the attention of GenZers entering the workforce, while becoming increasingly popular with Gen X and Baby Boomers, as well.

To make the most of this Gig Economy, a Deloitte article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that organizations should offer competitive compensation, programs for learning and development, and more opportunities for people to prove their drive, strengths, and skills.

3. Mobility and Movement – not tied to a space
Our bodies were made to move. Doing so keeps us happier and healthier. Organizational leaders who understand this tend to attract and retain more engaged, productive employees. In an agile environment, work can take place anywhere—even when we’re on the move from place to place.

According to Inc., walking meetings allow employees to break away from their workspaces and build physical activity into the workday. These on-the-go conferences create casual and comfortable communication experiences that yield improved health for decreased healthcare costs and a lower number of sick days, greater inspiration and collaboration for creativity and innovation, and better working relationships between managers and employees as they walk side-by-side.

There are other ways to give employees a little healthy nudge and get them moving too. Offering a variety of inviting spaces for people to choose from encourages them to walk to a new area for a change of scenery, while giving them alternative places to work, collaborate, or just rest and recharge. Incorporating height-adjustable workstations and standing-height tables in the work environment gives people the ability to move around and change postures during the day, as well.


4. Wi-Fi Anywhere – not tied to the inside
As human beings, we’re drawn to nature. We paint it. We photograph it. We want to be a part of it. Now, with Wi-Fi making the outdoors more technologically accessible, there’s no reason we can’t get a little fresh air while we work. In fact, Haworth Senior Workplace Strategist John Scott says that the outside is becoming the new “in.” In A Different Path for Thinking, he explains that stepping outdoors to meet with your team or converse with a coworker has been shown to lower blood pressure, while activating creativity in the whole brain. And happy, healthy teams are more engaged and productive.

Today, according to Slate, giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, L.L. Bean, and Microsoft are embracing the outdoor movement, each experimenting with adding different outdoor settings from botanic gardens to tree houses to green roofs. This lends some credibility to the trend, but these players do have some pretty hefty budgets to work with. All you really need to get started is some comfortable furniture on a Wi-Fi enabled patio, balcony, or rooftop. You may be amazed by how simple it can be to create an outdoor social and collaborative space people will love to work in—or should we say, “out?”

5. Virtual Meeting Rooms and Offices – not tied to a location
In a world where we can now use FaceTime to connect with up to 32 people at once, remote communications capabilities are expanding every day. The “office” is becoming more of a concept, rather than a physical place. However, teams are still expected to come together for collaboration and sharing of knowledge—even if they’re not in the same location. Enter, virtual meeting rooms and offices.

Meetings in virtual office spaces are not standard conference calls—or even videoconferences. They are similar to in-person gatherings, but in digital destinations where invitees can participate in real-time collaborative work in various ways. Virtual tools can help people stay connected and productive, whether they’re a floor away or a world away. Here are some examples:

  • Online community platform, Slack, allows users to create secure channels based on teams, projects, clients, etc. and use those channels to ask questions, share files and feedback, access work tools and services, and generally communicate to get work done together.

  • Haworth’s technology tool, Bluescape, gives authorized users a nearly infinite collaborative canvas for presenting visuals and designs, sharing files and ideas, and even brainstorming, so everyone can see the whole picture and stay on the same page—from anywhere in the world.

  • And then, there are virtual coworking spaces, which encompass all the communal aspects of the office. Some even show you a virtual office floorplan, with avatars and office space for each employee. People can move from room to room for meetings and collaborate, or simply shut a virtual door for privacy.


6. In-Office Mobility – not tied to a desk
When we think of flexibility at work, we often think about our freedom and ability to move from place to place outside our office surroundings. But, what about furniture and tools that have the ability to move around us—within our office spaces? This is becoming more of a trend, providing flexibility and variation for changing workstyles, as well as easy-to-reconfigure spaces.

In-office mobility is no longer just limited to desk chairs on casters, though they are definitely the forerunners of this movement. Now, entire workstations are mobile, allowing people to move from place to place within the office on a moment’s notice. Travelling worksurfaces and whiteboards on wheels bring collaboration tools to any open space.


A colleague recently sent me an article by National Geographic called “Can The Ocean Feed a Growing World” .  The article says that food production will need to double by 2050 to accommodate the world’s population, and that farming fish could be the answer.

But National Geographic isn’t the first organization to talk about the 2050 food crisis.  One of my favourite discussions on the topic is from former commodities trader Sara Menker’s talk at TEDGlobal 2017 .  She offers a simple description of the problem and who it will affect most.  Ms. Menker uses the word “structural” several times in her talk.  I think she uses the word to describe policy and industry reform, which is undeniably crucial, but from my perspective there’s another interpretation: literal growing structure.

HBI has seen a trend in agribusiness to move towards higher yield-per-square-foot facilities.  Really, it just makes sense.  Densifying your assets lowers facility costs and raises profits – an easy sell to stakeholders.  That’s why we’ve been championing high-density, vertical growing equipment for years, and established Bloom Vertical to support sustainable trends in agribusiness.  Vertical Growing is not a new idea but it’s become more popular with the imminent legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada.  This has given us a chance to test our systems against real facility needs.  The results surprised us.

Yes, growing vertical makes sense from a revenues perspective.  It’s also complicated.  Plants need lots of resources to thrive and moving to a vertical system means adapting existing processes to the new structure.  Here are some of the early questions we needed to address with our clients in agribusiness:

  • How do you attach resources to a vertical structure?
  • Can custom brackets be guaranteed for safety?
  • How do you protect lighting electronics from the water being distributed nearby?
  • How do you clean everything in case of disease?

Enter the Grower’s Rack, Canada’s most integrated growing system.

I’m not sure what the whole answer is to solving the 2050 food crisis, but I do know that HBI is doing our part.  Like Sara Menker said in her talk, “We can make a bold commitment to increasing yields – exponentially”.  Sometimes it starts right here at home.

Written by Janelle Sandboe, Strategic Storage Consultant with HBI/Bloom Vertical


Did you hear about the family that donated $1.5M with the Calgary Public Library to support free access to programming, or the dealership that donated $55,000 to the Humbolt Broncos families?  What about the dental hygienist who volunteered her skills … in Haiti?

There sure is a lot of good in Calgary.

And the people behind HBI make an effort to be good community members, too.  That’s why we consider ourselves privileged to support initiatives that embody our values of community and sustainability.  You might not know this about us, but one of our favourite champions is World-Record-Holder Frisby Rob, who tackles physical activity and bullying in schools.  We also offered temporary office space to our peers in Calgary that were displaced during the Floods.  And, we regularly engage with local post-secondary institutions through scholarships and bursaries, because the forward-thinking professionals of tomorrow often need support today.

Stay tuned for our next scholarship announcement later this month!

If you want to step up YOUR community involvement, here are 5 easy ways that your organization can give back:

  1. Know who your dollars are supporting when you choose to work with HBI.
  2. Save unwanted furniture or shelving from the landfill and donate it to a charity or NFP who needs it.  If you’re a charity or NFP, send us your wish list!
  3. Host a Pop-Up Pet Room in support of AARCS.
  4. Ask about what modern workspaces can do to meet their sustainability goals.
  5. Share what your organization does to support community and sustainability, and we will feature you on our blog!

In the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


If you work in a particular industry for a while, you start to think you’ve seen it all.  That’s certainly true for me.  I’ve seen racking tower 40 feet in the air to hold millions of volumes of books.  I’ve seen 250 bankers boxes fit into an 8’x8’ cage.  I’ve even seen Queen Victoria’s Underpants.  But I’ve never seen shelving help to commemorate thousands of women.

Walking With Our Sisters is a travelling commemorative art installation that is beautiful, spiritual, poignant, and private.  It’s being hosted at MRU’s Riddell Library until May 13th, 2018 and honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada and the United States.  To fully respect the art, a secluded space was created on the 4th floor using HBI’s movable library shelving as privacy screens.

One of the most amazing things about my industry, which is strategic space planning (ie: furniture and shelving), is that a little bit of forethought can bring so much adaptability to a space.  When Mount Royal University designed the New Riddell Library, I don’t think they had exactly this use in mind.  But they did design a lot of flexibility into their space by choosing products that could do more than what you first think of.  Simple things like choosing HBI’s mobile and modern-looking library shelving gave them the chance to do a lot more than store library books – without having to buy additional products.

This exhibit is worth experiencing.  I’m so glad that I had a chance to see it and consider the reality of what the art commemorates.  Since pictures of the exhibit are not allowed, I highly recommend you check it out yourself.  You can learn more about the project at walkingwithoursisters.ca and see the Riddell Library Case study here.

Written by Janelle Sandboe, Strategic Storage Consultant with HBI