Designing offices for resilient companies

The impact of Covid-19 has been profound on how Singaporeans live, work and play. For many, last year saw the reintroduction of the traditional office setting. UOB’s survey found that almost half of Singaporean workers are required to work full-time in the office, despite more than 80% of respondents expressing a preference for some form of flexible work arrangement.

Organisations are now having to Champions Way Condo design offices to entice employees to come back to the physical workplace. Research from CBRE highlights that 69% of occupiers surveyed revisited their workplace design standards in light of the pandemic.

NBBJ, a renowned American architecture and design firm, has had a particularly significant role in this. The firm, whose work in Singapore includes high-end condominiums The Sail @ Marina Bay and Gramercy Park, has designed corporate campuses around the world, such as Amazon’s 3.3 million sq ft campus in Seattle and Samsung’s US$300 million headquarters in Silicon Valley. More recently, NBBJ has been working on the headquarters for South Korean banking firm Hana Financial Group.

Head of workplace design at NBBJ Robert Mankin believes the pandemic was not so much responsible for creating new workplace trends as accelerating those that were present beforehand. An ideal office, he says, is one that people want to come back to and that reflects the values of the company, a concept he has implemented in projects such as Hana Financial Group’s 16-storey, 700,000 sq ft building in Cheongna, which is set for completion by 2025.

Making sure the office design caters to a range of employee needs is hugely important, according to Mankin. This means incorporating an array of workspaces such as quiet spots for solo work and reflection and discussion areas for team meetings. The design for Hana emphasises “well-being and community” in this respect and features a 12-storey “ribbon park” that weaves greenery and public pathways into the workspace.

The need for flexibility within the workforce has been further underpinned by the multi-generational nature of today’s employees. Mankin strongly advises companies against a one-size-fits-all approach and suggests firms remain flexible and continue listening to and implementing changes required by their employees.

The role of the office in the lives of Singaporeans and indeed people around the world is changing. Designing a space that employees feel connected to is key to creating a happy, productive workplace. It is for this reason that companies are now placing more emphasis on flexible, human-centric design that strives to reflect the values of the organisation.

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