Fun. Tongue-in-cheek. Whimsical. The new Asia Pacific headquarters of energy recruitment agency Spencer Ogden has turned the traditional notion of the corporate office on its head, and here’s how.
30 April, 2013
If the key to productivity is to keep staff happy, and so at home in the office that they don’t ever want to leave, then the new Asia Pacific headquarters of Spencer Ogden in Singapore has hit the nail on the proverbial head.
“It is definitely the project that questions the design of most corporate workplaces,” says Eduard Moix, Project Designer at Space Matrix, the design consultancy who worked on the project.
Spencer Ogden’s Design Director and wife to the CEO, Bonita Spencer-Percival, had a very clear and strong idea of what the new office had to be. What she found in Space Matrix was the right partner to help drive home that vision.
“There was a real meeting of minds,” says Bonita, recalling the collaboration with the team at Space Matrix. “We had an intense relationship, because it had to be that way. There’s so much work that has gone into the office, that unless somebody gives that much, this [end result] doesn’t happen.”
Similar to Spencer Ogden’s other ‘super hubs’ around the world, the new office fuses the company’s British origins with local design influences – in this case, Singapore.
This is most clearly evident in the Club Room and Boardroom. Here the furnishings are a combination of items sourced from local antique and vintage shops, and pieces selected from Bonita’s and her husband’s former country home in England.
The main workspace, on the other hand, is strongly aligned with the company’s brand and global image. The open floor plan invites interaction and collaboration amongst staff; the astroturfed floor gives the space a relaxed, outdoor vibe that’s enhanced by the generous amount of daylight streaming in through the full-length glass windows; and the 1950s style American diner kitchen adds a homey touch.
Spencer Ogden has also done away with traditional work desks, opting instead for huge round tables to be shared amongst staff.
“My husband doesn’t like hierarchy,” explains Bonita. “He likes the roundness [of the tables because] then everybody is equal.”
“Also, I do a lot of dinner parties and have always found that in our homes, round tables really create fantastic cross table conversations. There’s a lot of energy; the energy doesn’t seem to dissipate but seem to come into the room.”
Another reference, adds Bonita, was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table – a nod to her husband’s love of English heritage.
Employees get to shoot basketballs through hoops when they find themselves in need of an energising activity, and also strike a gong and play their own music over the office system when they make a deal. Then there are the tongue-in-cheek details such as a homage to the British Queen (below).
“We try to inject as much fun into a very hardworking environment,” says Bonita.
The company is now also working with Space Matrix on a similar project for its Hong Kong office.
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