Working From Anywhere — The Role Of Physical Offices In A Post-Pandemic Singapore
What do physical office spaces look like in a time where hybrid work arrangements are the norm? We take a peek into the new offices at JLL at CapitaSpring and WeWork 21 Collyer Quay to find out.
As restrictions continue to ease, and more of us head back to the office, you might find yourself yearning for more flexibility in your working arrangements. If you do, you’re not alone.
In a 2022 survey conducted by human resources solutions agency Randstad, 77% of 1,000 local respondents indicated that they value the importance of working remotely, while 42% of respondents would reject jobs that don't allow for remote working.
Companies, too, are gravitating towards office spaces with flexible leasing terms, or are switching to renting co-working spaces. In the second quarter of 2022, co-working space WeWork’s revenue was USD$815 million — an increase of 7% quarter-over-quarter, and 37% year-over-year. On 6 September 2022, WeWork unveiled their 14th location in Singapore at 21 Collyer Quay — their largest regional space to date, spanning 21 storeys and 220,000 square feet.
For many companies, this post-pandemic period is a great time to revamp the workspace and start afresh. Take global real estate firm JLL for example. This year, after having been situated in their former office for 24 years, they moved into their snazzy new space that spans the 35th floor of CapitaSpring.
Like most other pre-pandemic workspaces, their previous office space was designed for practicality and efficiency, with fixed employee workstations, but their new CapitaSpring office is designed with sustainability, employee wellness, and hybrid work in mind. Think flexible, tech-enabled spaces built to energise and cultivate a sense of community among employees in the workplace.
Here, we take a closer look at both spaces to find out what new features they boast.
1. Boosting innovation and co-creation
“Post-pandemic, the role of the office has been redefined to focus on more high-value activities like innovation and co-creation,” Balder Tol, General Manager (Australia and Southeast Asia) at WeWork, says. “When we look at employee engagement, the physical office space should meet our basic needs for connection and social interaction, and provide us with opportunities to learn or network, and create a sense of belonging.”
In light of this, one major trend in both JLL at CapitaSpring and WeWork 21 Collyer Quay is the rise of hotdesking. Rather than having dedicated desks for each employee, hotdesking allows employees the flexibility of working from different areas within the office, encouraging collaborations.
Additionally, the plug-and-play format of hotdesking also better supports hybrid and mobile workforces. As companies impose partial work-from-home measures, and business travel resumes, hotdesking provides conducive workstationsfor employees coming into the office or colleagues visiting from abroad, while also keeping the space flexible for other uses or users.
An example of flexible, shared spaces can be seen in JLL’s CapitaSpring office. Chris Archibold, Country Head of JLL Singapore, says that their new Capita-Spring office is all about “productivity and wellness”, with 15 types of shared workspaces, in-cluding meeting rooms, discussion and collaborationareas, and hotdesks. Most of them have sit-stand tables so that employees can work seated or staning.
Apart from hotdesking, another common feature that can be found in modern-day offices are cus-tomisable spaces that come in the form of enterprise suites and packages, like the ones that WeWork offer in their many locations, including 21 Collyer Quay.
2. Accessibility, on demand
“On a typical day at work, I’ll usually head into a WeWork location that is aligned with where my colleagues and key leaders are going that day, and who I’ll be meeting with for in-person collaborations,” Balder shares. “Sometimes, the work days run through to the evenings, or across multiple territories, time zones, and functions.”
When global workspace collaborations like these happen, it’s important to have a space that is accessible on-demand to facilitate conducive online discussions. Furthermore, with the return of business travel, there has been an increased demand for flexibility for employees to move across different countries and locations.
This is why WeWork launched its monthly All Access subscription service, allowing members to unlock any WeWork location in the world, on-demand, with pay-as-you-go access to WeWork meeting rooms and workspaces, as opposed to only having access to a single fixed location.
At JLL at CapitaSpring, employees can use their mobile application, Jet, to book meeting rooms, access the building, and make use of the smart lockers available within the office space.
Larger common spaces like WeWork at 21 Collyer Quay's Business Centre (L) and Auditorium (R) can be booked via WeWork.
Image courtesy of WeWork.
3. Enhancing the employee experience
“Apart from facilitating social interactions, what’s also important in keeping employees motivated and happy to come into the office are amenities that can further enhance their experience and wellbeing,” Balder says. “They’re designed to create a more holistic experience for our members, and also promote a good work-life balance."
This could be as sim-ple as having a wellness centre or gym in the office, or fancier features like WeWork 21 Collyer Quay’s Sky Bar, where employees can enjoy a tipple and views of the Singapore skyline after hours, or the barista-hosted coffee bar and beer tap at JLL’s CapitaSpring office that provides complimentary drinks for all employees. Doubling up as the office’s main reception, the coffee bar is the perfect space for JLL’s employees to mingle or meet clients, all while enjoying a cuppa or pint of their choice.
Additionally, CapitaSpring boasts a rooftop Sky Garden that houses Singapore’s tallest urban farm, and is accessible by all employees. The JLL office is also home to a Green Moss wall and over 200 plants to enhance employee wellness and support their ambitions for sustainable living.
As Balder tells us, flexibility is no longer a “good-to-have” for companies, but a “must-have”. Chris seconds this senti-ment, saying that the key to a good office space in the post-pandemic era is about “designing innovative, efficient, and sustainable workspaces that keep employees engaged and agile”.
Navigating the world of hybrid work isn’t easy, but it’s become a necessity. The future might be uncertain, and the way that we view and use office spaces might change as the needs of workers continue to evolve, but one thing that will always remain are physical office spaces in some shape or form. Whether for get-togethers or to facilitate collaborations, every company still recognises the importance of a physical office space, no matter how often employees gather in them.
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