Innovating in the workplace yesterday, today and tomorrow

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The stark awareness of living in the midst of a workplace revolution feels unique to 2020, but in reality, it’s only the latest evolution in the journey of how people work.

With each diversion from an existing path, businesses are called to respond to technological advancements and societal shifts leaving only the most adaptable and forward-thinking to survive. Those who can use research-led insight to predict turns and take charge are those who thrive.

Founder, Tony Schiavello, knows this first hand, leading the Australian commercial furniture industry through the most significant workplace developments of the last 50 years. With the help of his son; present-day Managing Director Peter Schiavello, the two tackled every possibility with diligent research, collaborative partnerships and passion for advancement.

From a humble manufacturer producing demountable partitions in 1966, to collaborating with a Global search engine corporation on a precision engineered bespoke meeting room: innovation has been fundamental to Schiavello’s elevation onto the global stage.

As we sit on the cusp of substantial change, eagerly awaiting what is next, we look at the role the family-business turned multinational pioneer has played in shaping the workplace, yesterday, today and tomorrow:

Computer-fuelled innovation in the 80s

The personal computer forever changed the workplace and with it, Schiavello Furniture. Inspiring one of the company’s modern-day areas of expertise and cause for acclaim: ergonomically-considered design. When the Federal Government required height-adjustable desks to accompany computers in 1982, Schiavello developed, not just the first in Australia, but among the earliest workstations worldwide, that were fully adjustable for the user.

By the mid-80s, further considerations were required by the ever-more popular technology and the ground-breaking ‘Interstat’ was astutely designed to be the machine’s perfect partner. The workstation system responded to the needs of the era, offering privacy, a space for concentration and hidden cable management, embodying the mix of practicality and style now synonymous with the Schiavello name.

1980s Computer and Desk
Krossi Workstation Standing

Setting the industry sustainability standard

Schiavello’s readiness to proactively respond to future needs extends past those of the market, but to those of the planet. As science was better understanding human impact on the environment, Schiavello didn’t wait for legislation or even funding to act, partnering with RMIT Centre for Design in a two-year Eco Redesign program in 1993.

The knowledge gained through this exploration led to the development of the Schiavello Hot Desk, a sit to stand solution that extended the life and sustainability of the typical standard desk by offering total mobility.This innovation, and the appointment of a dedicated environmental scientist to lead policy, accredited Schiavello with ISO 14000 Environmental Certification and the responsibility of an industry educator in sustainability.

Pushing a behavioural psychology pursuit

At the turn of the century a subtler shift swept the industry, though it’s impact just as penetrating. The questions thought-leaders asked of their workplace design innovators was no longer ‘what’ and ‘how’ but now ‘why’. And just as the conversation moved from physical to psychological, Schiavello’s research into workplace psychology was born to gain knowledge and specialise in this evolving field.

Analysing human behaviour, wellness and culture’s role in our spaces, the data-driven team was felt more than seen, connecting traditional office furniture with behavioural research to help clients improve staff engagement, productivity and create a healthier place to work.

Delivering post pandemic pathways

Prior to the pandemic, technological advancement continually improved the possibilities of flexible and remote working.

Then COVID-19 happened and this steady exploration became an overnight necessity for even the most change resistant businesses. And, just as they had time and time before, Schiavello responded agilely to the needs of both business and the broader Australian community.

First, utilising the malleable nature of existing workplace furniture while introducing a more comprehensive range of hygiene solutions as immediate interventions for essential business. Then, adapting the way we sell, creating pathways for the quality and comfort of Schiavello furniture to be available in employees' own homes to guarantee consistent ergonomic support.

Now, as businesses look forward to a return to the office, with many employees longing for routine and connection, Schiavello’s People & Culture team investigates and educates the industry on how to approach this stage. Sharing insight to understand the mental health and wellbeing lessons this exceptional time has taught us, and to question what role the future workplace will play for both your business and your people.

However, Schiavello’s most exciting innovation to come from this period, is a unified working platform called Nura Space, a technology initiative designed to understand, redefine and optimise the future workspace. Once again leaps ahead fuelled by the latest research and tomorrow’s technology.

Some things never change

Schiavello, with its 70,000 square metre manufacturing facility and headquarters in Tullamarine and a growing presence worldwide, remains committed to the values that established where it is today.

Committed to continual advancement, challenging past thinking, questioning, researching and trialling in collaboration with clients and industry experts to understand and service them better than before.

Committed to meeting the future needs of tomorrow’s workplace through innovation today.

Hand Sanitiser Stand staircase
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