by Christy Heitger-Ewing | photos by Graham Photography

Creating the Best Post-Pandemic Work Space for Your Team

Remote work and open concept workplaces are nothing new; in fact, it’s been a hot topic for companies like Business Furniture + Choreo for the past decade. However, the pandemic has put the ideas into hyperdrive as hybrid work and safe and compelling environments became top of mind for employers everywhere.

“Suddenly, we were all working from home. Some business leaders were ready, and many were not. As a result, we were all forced to take a hard look at our company cultures and spaces and to wonder how we’d survive,” recalled Business Furniture + Choreo CEO and owner, Mary Beth Oakes.

Business Furniture has paved the way as a Steelcase dealer and premier partner in Indianapolis for the last 100 years. The company has seen the area through the changes and trends of work environments, healthcare, and education. Gone are the days of sterile cubicles and desks as employers embrace new technology and remote work options.

Oakes expanded the company services when she started Choreo in 2008, a change management strategy division helping to carefully choreograph change for leaders while improving cost efficiencies and enhancing effectiveness.

“We’ve been helping companies drive strategic change and create spaces that help people do their very best work for a long time,” explains Oakes, “now the need is more important than ever as leaders strive to bring their teams back to the workplace and back to something so much better.”

#BacktoBetter is the crucial message Business Furniture + Choreo is sharing with their partners. They ask the right questions and determine the needs for companies trying to boost their company culture and encourage workers to want to come back after a year of working from home.

“At first, I think it was a nice change, working from the couch with your dog by your side, but as the weeks went on, the distractions mounted. In addition, company culture started to go as employees no longer saw their co-workers or had space for organic collaboration in the office,” says Oakes.

Steelcase research shows employees were grateful to continue working from the comfort and safety of their homes during uncertain times. Many felt it was a bonus to ditch their commute and business attire. Industry leaders knew sending employees home at the height of the pandemic was the right call but worried how it could affect the future of the workplace and employee expectations when they returned.

The research revealed work from home experiences were widely different, and we can learn from that to understand what employees want upon their return and improve the workplace moving forward.

“It’s a shift in our mindsets,” says Oakes. “It’s about creating an excitement about coming back to the office and implementing a workplace strategy that truly allows the office to be the best place for employees to do their best work.”

The concept is in full display at the Business Furniture + Choreo newest showroom, MINDSET, located in downtown Fishers. The breathtaking space was a concept Oakes was passionate about long before the pandemic. Yet, the conceptualization of ancillary spaces and touches of the home has never been more relevant.

“When you walk through the door, you’ll experience work as you’ve never seen it. Plush velvet sofas open up for collaboration and a variety of work environments allow employees what they’re longing for, choice and control of where they want to work that day,” says Oakes.

The showroom is one of its kind in the country, solely devoted to ancillary furniture spaces. It’s intended to inspire and spark inspiration for business leaders to reimagine how we work and find the best use for their team’s real estate and investments.

“It’s a new world; teams are working hybrid and now post-pandemic, we know we can,” says Oakes. “We have to be focused on innovation. #BacktoBetter doesn’t mean things were bad, but we know better now, and our people want to work in an environment that reflects.”

Choreo is working closely with clients to ask the “why”. Then, through workplace research, the teams are developing a unique strategy for each client. From there, Business Furniture utilizes this data to create a design that solves individual needs.

Employers have worried about how they will engage their teams to want to come back. Business Furniture + Choreo believes the secret sauce considers space as an ecosystem with various places to work. Teams need space for collaboration and come up with the next big idea, but they also need space for focus work.

“We believe space shapes your behavior, behaviors shape your culture, and culture is what drives your business results,” says Oakes.

A recent project was the proof Oakes needed to feel encouraged by their work and research. First, a client survey had shown workers only wanted to be back in the office two days a week. Then, after careful strategy done by Choreo and fresh furniture and reconfiguration done by the Business Furniture team – the clients came back to exclaim their employees had toured the space and now wanted to return three and four days.

“That’s when our passion ignites, knowing we are creating spaces where people spend so much of their lives and that the company cultures are thriving. That’s the shift in mindset we hope for and why we are so focused on not just surviving but thriving.”

Visit the MINDSET showroom at 11634 Maple St, Fishers, Indiana, or connect online at