HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Amy Picanço

Millennials redesigning the workspace in Singapore


In Singapore, with a changing workforce demographic comes a change in workplace preferences, attitudes and expectations.

Innovative spaces do not dictate or restrict process and creativity, but instead open new ways of communication and sharing. It is those new ways that lead to new and exciting ideas. Successful collaborative spaces thoughtfully consider the range of activities and provide the right kind of spaces to support unique activities.

Take for example, Ben and Saranta Gattie, a brother-sister team of The Working Capitol. Their branding and design of the spaces meet demands for a greater diversity of working options for both new and traditional businesses. They see a place beyond the physical – they look at the humans who drive businesses and evolve organically. Through colours, textures and clever use of space, The Working Capitol manages to facilitate collaborations, put personal wellbeing and professional growth towards positive business outcomes.

Which resonates with Millennials.

Millennials and co-working spaces
Millennials Believe In Shared Economy
Shared economy is an economic ecosystem built to support the sharing of human, physical or intellectual resources and opens up new opportunities to collaborate. Millennials choose to help each other by questioning status quo and contribute to society by sharing knowledge and the resources.

Coworking Spaces Don't Cost As Much & are great for networking
Coworking spaces are almost always cheaper than renting conventional offices especially if you are a small outfit, plus the benefits of networking are huge.

Instead of spending the startup budget on renting offices, young entrepreneurs/solopreneurs flock towards coworking spaces that provide them with a great working environment at a lower cost. However, when you want to create your own culture and space - an office that has its own branding does facilitate creating projects and discussing ideas from different perspectives.

Independence and Flexibility
This generation places a special emphasis on creating and tending to a strong work/life balance, so they actively seek out working environments that foster this priority.

Office Space as Hospitality Product
The office space is now a hospitality product, where coworking brands are employing the best interior designers in the world to create happy, immersive, productive spaces for everyone to feel in control of their lives: from budget to identity.

Over the past 10 years in Singapore, these spaces—such as research institutes, incubators, accelerators, innovation centers, co-working spaces, start-up spaces and more—have grown. Take for example PWC which has a space at Collective Works and Unilever Foundry has a co-working space at Level3.

Why have these big brand names reinvented a part of themselves? A gig economy drives the younger generation. At the same time, the ambition to remain cutting edge has driven established leaders of the industry and their architects, down the path of creative experimentation in design.

 In reinvigorating the brand via a more vibrant space, young talent is encouraged to grow and resonate with the brand. Fostering a collaborative work setting requires going back to the basics: taking a hard look at the value that an organization places on collaboration. Organisational culture, commonly described as a company’s set of values, assumptions, attitudes and behaviors, is the invisible code that makes one company soar and another sink. As the millennial generation focuses on working when it fits their schedule, companies have to go to great lengths to express a culture of collaboration, diversity and empowerment instead of hierarchy, control in their designed spaces.

How would you refresh your brand’s physical space to retain millennials?
Branding schemes are all about creating a memorable, inspiring, and immersive experience. Branding has become a way of telling the company’s story—what the company is about and what their core principles are—and conveying this through the environment. Colour palettes, furniture, environmental graphics, and built narratives all contribute to this story.

In choosing to work at a co-working office, you are automatically aligning yourself with the brand qualities of the co-working movement, collaboration, networking, using tools on the go, flexibility to work at your own pace and time, work-life balance. This is a huge step in itself in representing your brand for both internally for staff, and externally for clients.

A significant and recognizably branded interior of your own organisation can reinforce corporate values and processes while also inspiring the staff and branding is most effective when it is used to illustrate a narrative while creating a branded ‘lifestyle.’

A sense of community and loyalty through branding within the workplace can be a concept that’s sometimes literally woven into the fabric of the office furnishings with colours.

Employees are more productive when given a variety of beautiful, creative & collaborative places in which to work. Collective works has a huge planter wall and 4 mac screens with a black and yellow sleek colour scheme throughout. Over at 1880 at Robertson Quay, textures of the walls, the mood lighting indicates a different room and creates a different mental state dependent on the type of space.

Employee costs are the largest expense for any company, in making staff comfortable, benefits the bottom line.

Forging understanding between the generations is important in this era of transition. While Boomers are often still the ones making long-term decisions about real estate and workplace strategies, they may retire before the end of a 15-year lease, therefore, it’s important to raise their consciousness level around the lasting effects of their workplace decisions, as the subsequent generations Millenial Singaporeans will be the ones to live with those decisions.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Amy Picanço

Amy Picanço

Amy is the Founder and Managing Director of Aym Design. Originally trained as an Interior Architect in the UK, she became deeply inspired by the diverse mix of cultures and styles that Asia offered. After a move to Singapore in 2009 she finally founded Aym Design in 2013. Over the past 4 years, Aym Design has established a reliable reputation for creating highly efficient planning solutions and branded office and hospitality concepts.

She is currently a Honorary Secretary of the Interior Design Confederation of Singapore and a member of the British Chamber of Commerce. These provide opportunities for her to curate and speak at industry events where she shares her experiences can express her support for young, emerging designers in Singapore. 

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