There was a time when the benchmarks for innovative and inspiring workspaces in Singapore were the offices of multinational tech giants such as Facebook and Google. Recently, more companies are rehauling their offices to help employees feel more relaxed, encourage collaboration and for them to come up with creative ideas.
Mr Brendan Khor, executive director of integrated design and build company ID21, which specialises in corporate and workplace interiors, says space planning used to be about fitting in headcounts and achieving an efficient work flow, but “it’s just not that simple anymore”.
“Workplace strategy is now focused on creating spaces that allow employees to realise their potential. Companies are applying more focus on collaboration between teams and breaking down silos, while bringing diverse expertise and backgrounds together,” he says.
As a result of these new wants, certain design trends have emerged. One is to have flexible areas, where meeting rooms can be opened up to create gathering spaces for townhalls or to host events. Another is having informal collaboration spaces with writable walls and which are usually positioned close to personal workstations for quick discussions to take place. Yet another popular feature is a cafe-like pantry that has more than a water point or a microwave oven. Revamped pantries are stocked with food and beverages and are spaces where people can relax and refuel.
Employee wellness is a key focus, says Mr Benjamin Breen, managing director of design and build consultancy Space Matrix, because offices can attract and retain talent.
“By providing new amenities such as a gym, game rooms and relaxation zones, the workplace can be turned into a destination employees look forward to coming to.
“If staff enjoy spending time in the office, they will in turn be more productive, innovative and creative,” he says.
Because clients are more willing to experiment, design firms say they have done projects that have resulted in unusual features. These include indoor cricket pitches, a sports bar, treadmill desks and even scooters and tracks marked out on the flooring to encourage staff to get moving and have fun.