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SINGAPORE INDESIGN 2015: WORKLIFE ‘THE CULTURE OF WORKPLACE STRATEGY’

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Singapore Indesign 2015, the annual event did without the bus tours to the different showrooms this year. To us, that saved time and elevated the quality of displays. The showpieces were at Red Dot Design Museum and National Design Centre, across a two-day span, which started earlier this week, 9-10 July.

They also held intimate conversations at the auditorium in which we managed to catch all 4 conversations between industry professionals on the panel.

Here’s what you missed.

WorkLife: The Culture of Workplace StrategyConversation One
This segment discussed the idea of an urban campus. Simply put, hot desking, agile working, or segmented areas in the office which catered to different workspaces and that people would be free to do their work anywhere in the office, not confined to a single working desk. It spoke about how this wouldn’t suit every culture or company and they all agreed that there wasn’t a ‘one size fit all’ strategy.

People are sometimes resistant to change especially when it’s forced upon them. An example of change being, from the widely used approach of having your own personal desk at work that you go to everyday, to no longer having a desk of your own. People want to feel like they belong somewhere. They want to know they have an area that solely belongs to them. When you remove that, some may feel disconnected with the company and even lost.

When you implement a change, be it agile working or other strategies to enhance the workplace experience, users or employees need to know the purpose of implementing these changes as well. Employers should also get feedback from the users before implementation. Especially since people often find that their job defines who they are, it’s their identity and they get emotional with their job. It would be challenging if you change something that they already feel so comfortable and strongly attached with.

Michael mentioned that a coffee bar was widely believed to activate people. It’s true to certain cultures and people, not everyone. Matthew added that in India for example, a company spent $20,000 on a coffee machine, which on the press of a button could give you a latte. Sounds like a great investment to increase productivity and creativity amongst the users, sure. But not at that very company where in fact, none of them used it. When asked why, they said that they would still need to take the coffee from the coffee machine which was in a way serving themselves, and that they rather be served. Employers need to know or get the necessary feedback from their users beforehand if not investments like a $20,000 coffee machine would go down the drain.

Matthew gave another example. Ace Hotel in New York. Their hotel lobby was converted into a communal workspace for the likes of the creatives, entrepreneurs, writers and more. This not only created a community but also generated revenue for the hotel since users of the workspace would purchase coffee and sandwiches while doing their work. An added advantage was that the space was now actually being utilised more than the initial lobby was.

When asked what’s the one thing to look out for when implementing something new in the workplace, we really liked Keti’s perspective. Coming from a psychology standpoint, she said, “don’t forget your people”. They are the ones who will work with and for you. One should always listen to their views on things especially if it was going to involve them.

We believe flexible working arrangements are the future of company workplaces as it enhances the working experience. It breaks away from the stereotypical mind set of going to work and gives the illusion of work as a lifestyle, a hobby, an interaction space, an urban campus.FUSSY

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