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In order to keep up with the changing world of work, when designing the new Philips APAC Center, Philips also decided to introduce a new, flexible and agile way of working.
Tan Lee Choo, head of human resources, Philips ASEAN Pacific said: “Since we first started operations in Singapore 65 years ago, our company has evolved to encompass a rich and diverse workforce, with professionals from different disciplines, backgrounds and cultures.”
“At the same time, the world has become a very different place today, and in order to keep up with the changing times, we had to change the way we work. With the opening of our new Philips APAC Center, we also introduced a new way of working – what we call Workplace Innovation or WPI.”
This new way of working entails a redesign of the workspaces within the Philips’ office to take on a more open concept design, enabling employees to be more flexible and agile.
Low Cheaw Hwei, head of design, Philips ASEAN Pacific said: “Technology today has liberated and reshaped the way we work, hence we need to rethink how the office environment is able to facilitate these new workstyles.”
“Through collaborative digital technologies, as well as through informal meeting and work areas, we have moved away from the traditional desk-bound work environment,” Tan explained.
At Philips, it is believed that collaboration between various disciplines and work functions can foster innovation, and collaboration can only happen when people are connected.
“This is why our office design features ample connecting facilities such as sky bridges and balconies indoors, and we even brought a street indoor – which not only serves as the main connector for the building, but also serves up ample opportunities for employees to meet and interact. After all, the street is the oldest architectural element used to connect people and activities,” Low explained.
This open layout helped foster a friendlier environment within Philips by not only encouraging collaboration but also more interactions across different teams and departments.
“We have a mix of open and private spaces, and even workspaces that cater to employees who prefer to stand when working. It reflects our culture of inclusiveness, and respect for our employees’ diverse working styles and encourages open communication,” Tan said.
At Philips, it is firmly believed that the physical office environment can have an influence over employees and can have the ability to change people’s behaviour.
“If we provide a creative work environment that cultivates different workstyles – whether it’s formal, casual, spontaneous, introverted or extroverted – employees will naturally become more engaged, more motivated and more productive,” Low said.
Tan agrees, explaining that open workspaces make it easier for employees to communicate and interact with one another, allowing for the immediate exchange of ideas and knowledge and eventually for fostering new ideas.
“At the same time, the new Philips APAC Center is filled with private and open focus and meeting rooms to cater to different occasions, from group discussions and team meetings, to quiet, confidential conference calls,” she said.
“With seamless wireless connectivity throughout the whole building, employees have the freedom of working in spaces that suit their specific task or activity, whether it’s at The Grand Café, various Coffee Coves or at The Terraces with their team or alone,” she added.
As the head of design at Philips ASEAN Pacific, a piece of advice Low has for companies that are looking to redecorate their offices is to understand the intent of redesigning the office, to plan well and ahead, and to engage the right professionals.
“First, understand the intent and purpose for wanting to redesign your office, and most importantly, ensure you capture the needs of your employees,” Low explained.
“Invest time and effort to engage with and involve various teams in contributing to the change, and create ownership of the project,” he added.
He pointed out that companies should resist adopting trend-based design solutions and consider how the office space can serve future needs, as well as how the space is a reflection of company values.
“For example, we refrain from the use of decorative and luxurious materials just because they look good. On the contrary, our use of materials and the attention to detail are deliberate. With each choice we make, we need to ensure that each serves a functional purpose,” he explained.
He highlighted the importance of planning well and planning ahead in order to achieve the desired quality on time and within budget.
“Finally, always and only engage the right professionals with the right skillsets to help you do the job,” Low said.
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