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 CHICAGO, June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Steelcase Inc., the world's leader in office furniture, is teaming up with Wireless Enterprise Systems of Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT), the world's leader in wireless technology. Steelcase and Motorola today announced their collaborative effort to explore ways to significantly reduce the cost of relocating office workers and more fully support teamwork in organizations.
 The announcement on the integration of furniture and communication networks for more effective office environments was made at NeoCon, the annual national exposition of contract furnishings held at the Merchandise Mart.
 Steelcase said it would be developing office furnishings products using Motorola's Altair Plus wireless Ethernet product. Steelcase did not disclose specific products or an introduction date.
 Citing work process issues, including flexible reconfiguration of space and more collaborative team environments as key elements in its new product development process, Steelcase North America President Rob Pew said the relationship with Motorola was a natural extension of both companies' work.
 "Flexibility, collaboration, privacy and control are critical factors in understanding today's office environment challenges," Pew said. "We recognize the important contribution computer technology -- particularly wireless technology -- has made to these elements. We believe this collaboration with Motorola is ideal for bringing the maximum level of network communications flexibility to the office."
 Sharing electronic information, communications tools, databases, and software across multiple locations can be difficult and expensive, according to Bernard R. Smedley, senior vice president of Motorola, Inc. and general manager of its Wireless Enterprise Systems.
 "We believe our joint effort will ease the process and lower the cost of interconnection," Smedley said. "Altair provides a high degree of flexibility, reducing PC network reconfiguration costs and speeding the change of facilities management. It brings a freedom of movement, layout and planning to the office environment."
 Both companies said changing work processes are having a significant impact on workspaces.
 "There is a fundamental change occurring in space planning," Pew explained. "Today, facility space is allocated to save money. We're changing the paradigm to allocate space to help people work more effectively. That means project clusters for groups or teams, as well as individual space. Integrating wireless technology and furnishings will enable organization facilities managers to relocate office workers with minimal communications downtime (as little as 20 minutes) and also reduce life-cycle/reconfiguration costs."
 The Emerging Knowledge Worker
 In addition, Steelcase and Motorola both recognize the importance of supporting the emerging knowledge workers -- a designation for those charged with the thinking, learning, creating and collaborating work within an organization. Flexible technology and furniture are needed to support their unique work styles.
 "Knowledge work demands both concentration and collaboration," Pew said. "It also needs space -- and space tools such as furnishings -- to support it. If we can reduce or eliminate basic barriers to individual and team productivity, we can help improve organizational productivity."
 Facilities management, telecommunications management and management information systems (MIS) personnel have a collective challenge in bringing communication to workers when and where they need it.
 "Knowledge workers and the office population in general can now be freed to rapidly form work groups with the family of Altair wireless products," Smedley said. "It's the beginning of a whole new way of thinking about communications."
 Currently, the two most common approaches for interconnection are wire-based, and Structured Distribution Systems (SDS) or pre-fabricated harnesses.
 Wire-based connections consist of twisted-pair wires, coaxial cabling, optical fiber, or some combination. Wires are often snaked through walls, floors, ceilings, wiring closets, and furniture -- making changes or reconfigurations difficult and expensive.
 SDS or pre-fabricated harnesses provide computer connections through a "saturation" approach, pulling communications wiring in advance to all possible locations from which network access may be desired. These systems provide added flexibility within the confines of the SDS environment, but can also require high initial up-front costs and a long planning cycle.
 More Flexible Technology
 Both types of wiring methods can limit flexibility -- an increasingly valuable element in office work -- and over time, can present escalating costs for reconfiguration, moving, employee downtime, and the material and labor required to accommodate change. What is needed is an economical and flexible extension to cable-based or SDS systems for networks that cannot be designed to meet every networking layout.
 Altair Plus wireless Ethernet, Motorola's wireless Local Area Network product, is a major development in helping support a more flexible office workplace. The system includes radio-based User and Control Modules.
 Steelcase has several major research efforts under way which address work process issues, particularly those facing knowledge workers.
 "We understand no one single element can meet every work process need," Pew said. "The combination of furniture, technology, interior space planning and process can make significant contributions to effective workplaces, particularly for knowledge workers. No one understands this better than Steelcase."
 Motorola, Inc., with total revenues of $11.3 billion in 1991, is one of the world's leading providers of electronic equipment, systems, components and services for worldwide markets. Products include two-way radios, pagers and telepoint systems, cellular telephone systems, semiconductors, defense and aerospace electronics, automotive and industrial electronic equipment, computers, data communications and information processing and handling equipment.
 Steelcase Inc. is the world's leading manufacturer of office furniture with 1991 sales of nearly $1.7 billion. The Steelcase family of companies offers the broadest range of products, services and information available in the industry. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., Steelcase has sales and manufacturing locations throughout North America, Europe and Asia serving 68 countries.
 Motorola, Altair and Altair Plus are trademarks of Motorola, Inc.
 -0- 6/8/92
 /CONTACT: Peter Jeff of Steelcase, Inc., 616-247-2277; or Cheryl Beck of Altair Product Operations, Motorola, Inc., 708-632-2853/
 (MOT) CO: Steelcase Inc.; Motorola, Inc. ST: Michigan, Illinois IN: CPR SU: JVN

ML-JG -- DE018 -- 7954 06/08/92 12:52 EDT
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Date:Jun 8, 1992

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