Big On Nature
You can take a nap – openly – at work if you are one of about 1,000 employees at insurance firm Prudential Singapore, which opened its new corporate office at Marina One East Tower earlier this month. Staff can do so in rest pods that look like magnetic resonance imaging machines, and which provide the user with privacy. There are also three mothers’ rooms across the 80,000 sq ft office, which is spread out over two floors. These rooms can be booked ahead of time, so mums need not stress about whether they can keep to their milk-expressing schedule because the room is occupied by someone else.
Such new amenities are a result of the company’s attempt to transform its workplace into a “Workplayce”, where work and play are integrated.
Mr Gaurab Banerji, head of digital and office transformation at Prudential Singapore, says the new office promotes a work culture where “everyone has the autonomy to decide on how, when and where work gets done”.
In other words, an open work environment where the walls of hierarchy are broken down and where creativity and collaboration are encouraged. Prudential is one of the top life insurance companies in Singapore, operating here for the past 86 years. Its old premises was a typical office with cubicles and a fixed desk structure. The new one has no assigned desks for staff – not even Prudential Singapore’s chief executive Wilf Blackburn.
If they wish to refuel, staff can head to a “barista bar”, a cafe that serves anything from fresh fruit juices to sandwiches. It runs on a pay-as-you-wish scheme and all funds collected are donated to charity. The renovation was done by local design and build consultancy Space Matrix. Nature is a key inspiration in its plans. Blue and green accents bring to mind water and forests. Located at central linkways are a water tunnel and a lush green tunnel. The former has water cascading down the sides of the walkway, while the latter showcases an array of plants and motion sensors set off sounds of birds chirping.
Other nature-inspired nooks include reflection pools surrounding elevated meeting rooms, which give the impression that the rooms are floating above water.
Space Matrix’s managing director Benjamin Breen says: “Design elements can help turn normal spaces into a destination that encourages connectivity and collaboration to boost productivity, and help to create a relaxing environment for employees.”