No longer a cubicle, the of­fice of the fu­ture is a seam­less in­te­gra­tion of work, play, and com­mu­nity – and it’s start­ing to hap­pen now


The view from the win­dows of Pru­den­tial Sin­ga­pore’s swanky new head­quar­ters at Ma­rina One could eas­ily have come from some fu­tur­is­tic es­capist fan­tasy. Ma­rina Bay’s sky­line, af­ter all, is dot­ted with shiny new sky­scrapers that could con­ceiv­ably be­long in a sci-fi movie.

Dub­bing its new base the PRU Work­playce – em­pha­sis on “play”– Pru­den­tial Sin­ga­pore is tak­ing its cue from Al­bert Ein­stein’s fa­mous adage: “Play is the high­est form of re­search.”

“We sort of drew on Ein­stein’s view that if peo­ple are hav­ing fun, if they’re feel­ing play­ful, then they are more likely to be cre­ative,” says Wilf Black­burn, Pru­den­tial Sin­ga­pore’s CEO. “The work we do is very se­ri­ous and some­how to trans­form our­selves, im­prove our ser­vices, em­brace dig­i­tal, we need to re-imag­ine.”

And re-imag­ine they did, start­ing with the new head­quar­ters. In de­sign­ing the of­fice, Pru­den­tial con­sulted with its youngest em­ploy­ees, who had very firm ideas of how they wanted their space to be. It’s a shrewd move con­sid­er­ing that mil­len­ni­als, iGen, mGen and the gen­er­a­tions af­ter them will be pop­u­lat­ing these spaces in the fu­ture.

PRU Work­playce has flex­i­ble open spaces and startup-in­spired col­lab­o­ra­tive ar­eas where em­ploy­ees can choose the workspace that best suit their work­ing styles and the tasks that they’re do­ing.

There’s a barista and pantry area that al­low for more in­for­mal and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. There are rest pods and re­lax­ation nooks for those who want to take a quick nap or recharge. Meet­ing spaces are not just rooms with four walls. They’re im­mer­sive to en­cour­age outof-the-box think­ing and gen­er­a­tion of ideas, while an am­phithe­atre and lounge es­sen­tially breaks down si­los and hierarchy so that ev­ery­one starts off on a more equal foot­ing.

“The only peo­ple who have desks are the re­cep­tion­ists and the PAs,” says Mr. Black­burn. “De­pend­ing on who I’m work­ing with, I can be work­ing on some­thing with ju­nior peo­ple or heads of depart­ment and the next day, just move around, de­pend­ing on what I’m do­ing.”

To be sure, open-plan isn’t a new con­cept in the workspace – it has ex­isted since the 1950s – nor is in­te­grat­ing work and play a new idea. Tech com­pa­nies have been ahead of the curve, as al­ways. Face­book and Google have of­fices that are the envy of em­ploy­ees every­where. Ap­ple’s new head­quar­ters in Cu­per­tino, re­port­edly built for a cool $5 bil­lion, is a four-storey cir­cu­lar build­ing that calls to mind the dial of an iPod and is roughly the same size as the Pen­tagon. For sure, the in­te­ri­ors will be noth­ing short of spec­tac­u­lar – the brief for the wood to be used is said to run to 30 pages.

But per­haps when an in­sur­ance com­pany such as Pru­den­tial starts re­think­ing and re­tool­ing its workspace to be more in tune with ex­ist­ing re­al­i­ties and pos­si­bly get­ting a jump on the fu­ture, it is time to think about how the workspace or of­fice will evolve into, what it will look like, how it will func­tion.

Sabha Col­lab­o­ra­tive Seat­ing from Her­man Miller

ABOVE Origami-in­spired of­fice sys­tem from Her­man Miller

Sabha Col­lab­o­ra­tive Seat­ing from Her­man Miller

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.