INSIGHT

Redefined Workforce Diversity, Evolved Workplace

Work spaces are increasingly designed for engagement as the foremost consideration to increase motivated, productive and happy employees.

Are you actively engaged at work? If the answer is yes, then you are among the lucky 13%[1] (based on the global average). Disengaged workforce has become a global problem, which translates into diminishing profitability, lower productivity and higher turnover for an organisation. The culprit ironically is the workforce itself, one that is in transition.

 
Transform the Workplace

Today’s workforce is transitioning and remains diverse, but of a different meaning. In the past, workforce diversity often refers to culture, racial and gender differences. The definition most relevant today, however, is generational differences. We are now in the quad-generational age, where Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z co-exist and co-work. The concept of work takes a different spin to each generation and individual. To a Generation Z start-up entrepreneur, work is survival and essential part of life; to a Millennial artist, work is passion and inspiration; to a Generation X senior executive, work is problem-solving anytime, anywhere; and to a Baby Boomer retiree, work means life-long learning
 
With the huge differences in motivation, values and work style each of these generations bring, the traditional one-size-fits-all people approach is no longer relevant. A great organisation has to take a personalised approach to each generation and foster a flexible, collaborative and inclusive environment, where workplace design plays an important role.
 
Flexibility

As PricewaterhouseCoopers has succinctly put it, “People are most successful when they have the everyday flexibility they need to meet the demands of their professional life and accomplish the things they identify as priorities outside of their career”[1]. Flexibility does not only come in the form of time, but spaces too.
 

The library in DP Architects’ office doubles up as a meeting  
space for discussions in a tastefully- designed environment.

Hot-desking or flexible workspaces are fast becoming popular choices as employees become a lot more mobile and appreciate more collaboration, especially among the Millennials and Generation Z. Microsoft has redesigned its Singapore office to allow employees to work anywhere in the office by using a PC, handset, webcam or smartphone – no assigned desks or private offices for managers. They can also choose the space that best suits their needs such as work benches or café-styled booths. The library in DP Architects’ office is also designed for flexible usage as a quiet reading corner, a research centre or a group discussion area.
 
Collaboration
For Millennials and Generation Z, company culture determines their loyalty to the company[3]. Not only they tend to look for a strong company culture, they also want to be part of it. Many companies claim that they have an “open” and “collaborative” culture, nonetheless, in reality the executives still sit in big corner offices behind glass doors.
 
Company culture can be communicated in a thousand ways, both subtle and bold, and that includes the workspace design. If a company has a culture that is open, its workspace should reflect the same. A workspace that is meant to be a collaborative work environment should be planned with personal interaction in mind, encouraging incidental interaction between different levels of staff as corporate hierarchies become flatter. The much envied Facebook office in South Beach Tower takes on the open vibe as its company culture where everything, including the facilities, office design and collaboration tools, is designed to help its employees make an impact on their work[4]. Employees feel motivated in an open plan office where they can freely communicate, share their ideas and access to whatever things they need.
 
Integration
With the increasingly mobile workforce, the clear divide between work and play is blurring. More and more community and social spaces are integrated into the workspace design, where employees can meet and interact during breaks. AirBnB’s office design was inspired to portray the home feel to exemplify a comfortable environment that drives productivity.
 
This concept is brought to life with one of our more current projects – Woods Square, where green is actively introduced into the working environment. Integral design features such as sky terraces, rooftop decks, landscape corridors, and the green link bridge offer opportunities for community interaction and allow users to reconnect with nature at work. Communal spaces such as sheltered pavilions are also provided for users to network and impromptu meet-ups for idea generation.

 

A park nestled within the Infinite Studios development fosters and encourages interaction within the community and public.
Green is actively introduced into Woods Square’s working environment. Sky terraces, rooftop decks, landscape corridors, and the green link bridge are integral design features that shape the spaces in which users are reconnected with nature at work.
Infinite Studios, designed by DP Architects, maintains a campus atmosphere with activity nodes and spaces that encourage communal interaction.

Workspace design is no longer a corporate decision, but a decision that belongs to the people. Organisations have to provide the right environment, from where work is done to how it is done, and integrating digital technology to enable the design. Let the workspace become the new motivation at work for people.



Author
Chan Hui Min
Chan Hui Min is a director at DP Architects. Her latest exploration in urban workspace is Woods Square, an integrated office development in Woodlands Regional Centre. Her experience spans a broad range of typologies with a special focus on urban planning.