Coaxing a work-from-home workforce back to the office is a challenge with many companies resorting to incentives such as free meals or requirements to work in the office a certain number of days. A different approach was taken by Cushman & Wakefield, which felt that a new concept for an office where people want to return to and work in was in order. It came up with what they call the “destination office”, located in Singapore’s Central Business District.
The first sign that this workplace is not a regular office starts at the lift lobby, where there is not even a nameplate for the real estate services firm, and no doors either. Instead, the reception area opens up to a view over Singapore and feels akin to a first-class business lounge, with coffee and food, tables for guests to sit at and talk rather than be whisked off to a personality-less meeting room. The reason the space feels so much like one of Singapore’s lauded bars is that it was designed by MSDO, the same team behind the Manhattan Bar and Atlas.
Walking on from the large reception lounge is the working area which features adjustable height desks. It is not unusual to see one person sitting down working whilst the person next to him/her is standing up doing the same thing. Some meeting rooms are custom designed without the ubiquitous teleconferencing set up to allow people to just gather and talk. The most interesting part of the office is hidden behind a mirrored door — the Library houses, a long communal desk with wood and leather features, and is a no-talking zone where people can silently get on with their work, free of distractions.
“This is what offices of the future will be, where people want to be in to collaborate, learn, and create, whilst being allowed to have a quiet space to work. Our office is chock-full of amenities. It does not only give off a hospitality feel, it has everything employees need to work effectively,” Andrew Carmichael, Senior Director, Project & Development Services, Asia Pacific at Cushman & Wakefield, told Singapore Business Review.
Designing the ‘Destination’ office
Cushman & Wakefield tapped its own in-house Total Workplace team to brief the creative team, not only on the company’s requirements but also on how they imagine the future office should look like.
Carmichael cited four key visions, the first ones being centred on their clients and workers, whilst the others were focused on creating a high-performance work culture, as well as promoting sustainability.
He shared the firm had to be “purposeful” as it manages over 2,000 employees in its Singapore offices alone.
Cushman & Wakefield, through its facilities and engineering arm, C&W Services, had likewise ventured into reimagining the office of the future when it transformed its office in Chai Chee into a “living lab.” This time, Carmichael said, the company envisioned a “destination office,” where clients and workers, when gracing its halls, would have a hospitality-driven experience comparable to visits made to destination bars and even, resorts.
The new office has a fully tech-enabled environment that allows seamless connectivity, giving employees the freedom to move around as they please. Cushman & Wakefield also updated its desk booking system, developed with Indoor Finders, which the staff could use to reserve desks and meeting rooms.
“The bookable workstations app is a simple, yet intuitive technology. It somehow knows the people the user wants to work with, who is with his or her team—it sends the user in that direction,” he said.
The 11,400-square foot office can be found at the new integrated development CapitaSpring. It features 101 functional work points and workstations to cater to Cushman & Wakefield’s workforce during peak hours.
The company also purposefully dedicated half of its space for collaboration with 17 meeting rooms and phone booths, on top of open spaces that amount to twice the size of the collaboration space Cushman & Wakefield had in its previous office. Aside from its Library, the destination office also features the “Saloon,” which has a cafe setting that allows employees to eat, meet, connect, and work.
“If you don’t want to book a desk, we encourage people to go around the periphery where there is very simple technology,” Carmichael said, noting that some huddle rooms were designed intentionally without any technology, whilst others feature all sorts of technology where workers can simply “plug and play.”