Workplaces changing to suit millennial needs

The open amphitheatre area at Prudential's new office, PRU Workplayce, that fosters greater interaction and communication among employees.
The open amphitheatre area at Prudential's new office, PRU Workplayce, that fosters greater interaction and communication among employees.PHOTO: PRUDENTIAL SINGAPORE
Employees of Anacle Systems work in an open-concept office, with no barriers or cubicles, to facilitate team projects and feedback.
Employees of Anacle Systems work in an open-concept office, with no barriers or cubicles, to facilitate team projects and feedback.PHOTO: ANACLE SYSTEMS

The entry of millennials into the workforce is changing the way workplaces look and function globally, says a new report.

Compiled by software firm Condeco, the report surveyed 500 business leaders in six countries. It found that workplaces have changed to fit the needs of millennials, defined as those born between 1983 to 2000.

Gone are the days of restrictive office cubicles. They have been replaced by open-concept or open-plan workplaces with fewer barriers between desks, which are more suited to the millennials, who tend to favour flexibility in their workplace.

At the office in Fusionopolis of local green technology firm Anacle Systems, which focuses on energy solutions, employees have no fixed desks.

Ms Sylvia Sundari, the firm's chief financial officer, said: "For every project, you'll need people from different disciplines such as account managers, engineers and marketing folks. An open, wall-less concept facilitates this kind of collaboration.

"There are also the window-facing couches and chillout zones that (employees) can go to," she said.

Ms Evelyn Kwek, managing director of consultancy firm Great Place To Work in Singapore, agrees that good workplaces offer a balance of open space and privacy, with "individual work or phone booths".

Insurance firm Prudential Singapore's new office, called PRU WorkPlayce, has an open amphitheatre to get employees to interact and a collaborative work zone for them to to meet and work together.


A themed working zone at PRU Workplayce, Prudential's new office, where employees can meet to ideate, collaborate and co-work. PHOTO: PRUDENTIAL SINGAPORE

Ms Carrie Ann Mathews, a community investment specialist at the firm, said: "Its design and layout makes it easy for me to work and to collaborate with colleagues from different teams. Being a new joiner, the flexible seating arrangement is great as it has given me an opportunity to meet new people across the organisation."

Even though such workplace designs are becoming more commonplace, only 60 per cent of those surveyed in Singapore say that they work in such spaces, the least among the six countries surveyed.

The report calls Singapore "more traditional and hierarchical" and Mr Peter Otto, product strategy and design director at Condeco, said that Singapore's delay in adopting such changes can "hold back companies that are trying to recruit the best international talent or collaborate with firms abroad".

But Ms Kwek believes that Singapore is already trying hard, with many organisations - even in the public sector - changing their look and feel.

  • Additional reporting by Jasia Shamdasani
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'Workplaces changing to suit millennial needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe