When the freight elevator had to be pressed into service as a conference room, it was apparent the Brooklyn headquarters of Harry’s, a manufacturer and retailer of men’s grooming products, had outgrown its space. The sheer size of the 3,000-square-foot loft seemed capable of supporting the start-up zeitgeist of the six-year old company. But recent expansion caused the management to look for room to improve. Local architects Studio Tractor worked with specialists at Herman Miller to identify the functional and personal priorities of the grooming products group, pending its move into new 26,000-square-foot quarters.

The design team discovered that undifferentiated space didn’t offer staff the structure they had gradually grown to need. Once the various natures of the work tasks were qualified, the team was able to quantify the one-on-one chat rooms, lounge areas, private offices—and real conference rooms— required for all employees to be productive and happy. Herman Miller’s Living Office line of contract furnishings provided the flexibility to support a range of activities, from stand-up whiteboard sessions to teleconferences to formal presentations to potential investors.

Post-occupancy studies confirm the positive outcome of the design. The Leesman Survey, which measures workplace effectiveness and employees’ satisfaction with it, gives the new office 71.9 points—nearly 12 points higher than the global benchmark of 60.1, and a 23.5 point improvement over the 48.4 rating of its original space.