Making room for the modern workforce

By
/ EdgeProp Singapore
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December 6, 2019 8:48 AM SGT
The interior of the Nasdaq-listed, US-based furniture company is decked out in fancy fittings: half like a showroom for its offerings, and half embodying the zestful vibe of a swanky co-working space (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Steelcase’s office on 57 Mohamed Sultan Road is a flurry of activity. In a meeting room, some employees are huddled over a desk, standing up. Others are working in an open area on desks divided by cheerful prints. The interior of the Nasdaq-listed, US-based furniture company is decked out in fancy fittings: half like a showroom for its offerings, and half embodying the zestful vibe of a swanky co-working space.
Steelcase has designed its office the way it believes how the modern workforce needs it: mobile, visual, and promoting collaboration.
Giam demonstrating Steelcase’s fittings (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
The furniture company has found, through its study of high-performing teams globally, that the modern workforce is now working at a faster pace, and at an increased level of collaboration. Many of the teams have embodied agile behaviour, which is a set of principles derived from software development, allowing teams to execute swiftly, revisit the project, and iterate at every stage of the process. Such teams shift between different modes of work: holding group meetings and breaking off to attend to individual tasks.
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In line with that, Steelcase has rolled out a collection of furniture and accessories to meet the needs of modern teams, with a focus on mobility. Called the Steelcase Flex, these include movable desks, tables, markerboards, carts and screens. Their mobility is helped by wheels, directional rollers and glides. The fittings are also made of light-weight materials for ease of shifting.
Work desks in Steelcase’s open office area (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
Privacy was also a consideration in the workplace design. Boundaries and screens are adjustable, providing the right amount of privacy for team and individual needs. Employees can also pin notes or write their thoughts down on the screens, allowing for a visual display of ideas.
The new furniture has been designed to deliver control to workers, allowing them to “reconfigure their spaces in a matter of minutes”, comments Samantha Giam, product marketing director for Steelcase Asia Pacific.
Steelcase’s furniture and accessories allow teams the flexibility to change how and where they work (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
Indeed, “to collaborate and work in new ways, teams need the flexibility to change how and where they work”, she adds.
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“Two thirds of our clients have told us that agility and the ability to scale quickly is one of the most important factors for the growth of their business,” said Samit Chopra, executive vice president of enterprise & sales at global office space provider IWG, at a panel discussion at the unveiling of Steelcase’s new collection.
Steelcase has found, through its study of high-performing teams globally, that the modern workforce is now working at a faster pace, and at an increased level of collaboration (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ The Edge Singapore)
Chopra has also observed that more of his customers are working outside of their office more frequently – evidence that mobility is key to today’s workspace planning.
However, current offices are designed based on traditional workplace habits, Steelcase observes. For instance, tables are fixed and do not support the kind of physical movement needed for impromptu group discussions.
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With the changes in working habits, “we will see a lot more technology being used to analyse the spaces – how they’re used, why they’re used”, reckons Toby Rakison, managing director for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, at Steelcase. Data would then help in decision-making on how to best utilise workspaces, he adds.
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