‘Work, live, breathe’

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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March 6, 2020 8:00 AM SGT

SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - JLL’s CEO for Southeast Asia, Chris Fossick, talks about the firm’s new, 46,000 sq ft, state-of-the-art workplace at Paya Lebar Quarter.

Fossick: If we want to lead that change, we ought to be working, living and breathing that space. If we are talking about the future of work and had an old-fashioned office, it wouldn’t impress our clients very much. (Pictures by: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Fossick: If we want to lead that change, we ought to be working, living and breathing that space. If we are talking about the future of work and had an old-fashioned office, it wouldn’t impress our clients very much. (Pictures by: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
More companies have cancelled “non-essential business travel” as the spread of coronavirus accelerates across the globe. Organisations are therefore tapping technology to stay in touch with their clients, suppliers and even their offices in other countries. Those who had invested in technology and in “future-proofing” their workplace early on are now reaping the benefits of doing so.
One such company is US property advisory firm JLL, which moved its Asia Pacific headquarters to Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) last September. The move was more than just an office relocation.
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The multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art office space spans two floors – the 10th and 11th storeys of the office tower called PLQ 2 – and occupies 46,250 sq ft. It is designed to showcase JLL’s capabilities in interior design, operating and managing the future workplace.
 The client-facing area in JLL’s office at Paya Lebar Quarter.
The client-facing area in JLL’s office at Paya Lebar Quarter.
“We’re in the business of advising our clients on how to use their commercial real estate space,” says Christopher Fossick, JLL’s CEO for Southeast Asia. “If we want to lead that change, we ought to be working, living and breathing that space. If we are talking about the future of work and had an old-fashioned office, it wouldn’t impress our clients very much.”

Investing in tech

While most companies dedicate just 10% of their office fitout cost to technology, JLL has spent 30% of its fitout budget at PLQ on technology. Space, in JLL’s view, has to evolve in tandem with technological innovation. One of the investments is in MultiTaction interactive touch-screens at the client meeting area and the NXT meeting room.
The MultiTaction screen at the NXT room allows JLL to showcase its 3D imaging tools such as MapIT. For instance, the tool allows one to zoom in on a particular office building in a city, for instance Singapore, look at the various floor plates and do a 3D fly-through of a vacant office space. Data on the profile of tenants in the building, the latest leasing transactions and price charts can also be pulled up and displayed onscreen.
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 The NXT room with MultiTaction interactive screen to showcase JLL’s 3D imaging tools. The glass doors can slide open to create a bigger common area for events or screening movies if needed.
The NXT room with MultiTaction interactive screen to showcase JLL’s 3D imaging tools. The glass doors can slide open to create a bigger common area for events or screening movies if needed.
“We can be meeting here in Singapore and connect via Cisco WebEx [web conferencing] with our clients who could be sitting in Hong Kong, Shanghai or New York,” says Fossick. “The client is able to view and participate in the presentation onscreen, and the slides and presentation materials can be downloaded and sent directly to them.”
Hence, while business travel has been curtailed by the coronavirus outbreak, businesses that are considering relocation plans can still do a walkthrough of the office spaces they are interested in, virtually.

Sensors and space utilisation

The NXT room is versatile. Besides being utilised as a meeting room or boardroom, the glass doors can slide open completely, so that it becomes an extension of the common area. This allows the space to be used for client events or for movie screening with a capacity of 200 people.
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In addition to the NXT room, there are 29 meeting rooms with display units integrated with Cisco WebEx units. These meeting rooms, phone booths and workstations are equipped with sensors. Using a JLL proprietary mobile application (app), staff will be able to see which meeting room or workspace is available. It even shows the capacity of each meeting room.
One of the workspaces on the upper floors with phone booths for video conferencing on the right, and lockers on the left.
One of the workspaces on the upper floors with phone booths for video conferencing on the right, and lockers on the left.
“You can even see how many people are in the office at any one time,” says Fossick. “I was sitting in the office at Republic Plaza on Christmas Eve and the person I was speaking to at the PLQ office over here said, ‘Oh, there are 12 people in the office with you today.’ Talk about Big Brother.”
What’s more important is that the app shows room utilisation – which rooms are well-used and which are less popular. The space can then be reconfigured to increase efficiency and utilisation, says Fossick.
The common area on the 10th floor of PLQ 2 is an open space with a concierge desk, café and a variety of seating areas. “This is the client- facing area, and is designed with an inviting and open concept,” he says.

Flexible workspaces and more

The workspaces are located on either side of the communal area. There is also a central staircase leading to the upper level, where there are more workspaces in different configurations. Apart from the interior designers and the 3D designers who have dedicated workstations as they work from Macs, everyone else does not have a fixed desk. “It’s all about being paperless and maintaining a clean desk policy,” says Fossick.
 The staircase linking the two floors is an architectural feature.
The staircase linking the two floors is an architectural feature.
Everyone is given a locker that is big enough to contain files and even a desktop fan or light. The whole space is rigged out with sensors to monitor air quality, and to activate lights for those who are working late. Besides lighting design, JLL has invested in acoustic design too. This includes sound-masking to reduce noise across the office, as well as sound-proofing of the phone booths and meeting rooms.
The air-conditioning temperature is at a moderate and comfortable level throughout the office space, regardless of rain or shine. “Typically, in an older office building, it feels colder on a rainy day and warmer on a hot day,” says Fossick. “But in a new building like PLQ, the air-conditioning has a temperature controller that regulates the temperature within the space.”
Besides workspaces, the upper level is where the social space is. There is a room for zumba, pilates or yoga classes. There is also a pantry area with a long counter for food catering on special occasions, whether it is a birthday or festive celebration.
 The pantry area on the upper floor of the workplace.
The pantry area on the upper floor of the workplace.
There are also four rooms dedicated to nursing mothers. These rooms have curtains for privacy, a comfortable chair for the nursing mother, and a refrigerator. There is also a prayer room available for people of all religions.
Besides the staff of JLL Asia Pacific headquarters, the staff of the non-transactional business units of JLL Singapore are also located at PLQ, for instance, corporate solutions, international facility management, property management, valuation and human resource. This brings total headcount at the PLQ workplace to 555.

Convenience

JLL continues to maintain another 23,000 sq ft of space across two floors at Republic Plaza in Raffles Place, Singapore’s financial district. JLL has been located at Republic Plaza for the last 23 years. JLL’s client-facing businesses such as capital markets, leasing as well as research and advisory are housed there. “We had four locations in Singapore but we have consolidated it to two,” says Fossick.
JLL chose PLQ because it is an integrated development located in a city fringe commercial hub, and is linked underground to the Paya Lebar MRT Interchange Station for the East-West and Circle Lines. “It’s just six MRT stops to Raffles Place and six MRT stops to Changi Airport from Paya Lebar. Because the PLQ office is our Asia Pacific headquarters, going to Changi would be easier for our regional staff as well,” he says.
JLL's multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art office space spans two floors – the 10th and 11th storeys of the office tower called PLQ 2. (Picture: Lendlease)
JLL's multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art office space spans two floors – the 10th and 11th storeys of the office tower called PLQ 2. (Picture: Lendlease)
Although JLL could easily accommodate everyone at the Republic Plaza office, it chose to move the Asia Pacific headquarters to PLQ because of the design and high specifications of the close to a million sq ft of premium office space across three towers. Developed by Australian property group Lendlease and completed in 2017, the integrated development includes the 340,000 sq ft PLQ Mall and the 429-unit Park Place Residences.
Republic Plaza is also linked underground to the Raffles Place MRT Interchange Station for the East-West and North-South Lines. Commuting between the two offices is hence, convenient. Fossick is one of the JLL staff who works out of both offices. “Some people are permanently based at PLQ, others at Republic Plaza, and some of us float between the two places,” he explains.

Better human experience post-move

JLL’s facility management (FM) team manages both the PLQ and Republic Plaza office spaces, as well as the baristas and the personnel at the concierge desk. “JLL occupies more than a million sq ft in Asia Pacific, so we are like one of the clients of the FM team,” says Fossick.
The archway leading to the social space has concealed doors opening to nursing rooms and a prayer room.
The archway leading to the social space has concealed doors opening to nursing rooms and a prayer room.
After moving into the new office space at PLQ, JLL’s Human Experience (HX) score rose to 92 in December 2019, compared to 79 in December 2018. “According to the HX team, 92 is the magic number for a great office,” says JLL.
“It’s very much our strategy to create a conducive place for our staff to work in,” adds Fossick. “And it’s something that our clients recognise too: That the workplace is important for recruiting and retaining talent, as well as to drive productivity and efficiency. That’s why we wanted to showcase our workplace and decided that we needed to live and breathe what we are advising on.”
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