Designing an Office that Sparks Innovation

Designing an Office that Sparks Innovation

by
Gaurab Banerji and Yan Renyi

Head of Digital and Office Transformation, Prudential Singapore; Yan is Head of Talent & Development, Prudential Singapore

How does the workspace impact employees? Two Prudential leaders share the inspiration for their new office, Workplayce, and how it impacts employees.

How Workplayce came to be

Inspired by Albert Einstein’s famous words that play is the highest form of research, Prudential’s Workplayce is our innovation hothouse.

We believe that to play is to create. Design plays a large part in conveying this idea in the physical work environment. We believe that the physical environment in which you work has a big impact on your thinking, performance and, sense of well-being.

At Workplayce, we use different elements such as colours, furniture, and layout to inject the theme of playfulness with a purpose. For instance, our employees have a variety of activity-based working options and areas for experimentation and exploration of ideas. There are also social spaces for greater collaboration and connection among colleagues such as open lounge areas and café-like pantries on each floor.

Technology is a key enabler in helping our people become more agile in the way they work.

Employees are equipped with digital tools such as mobile devices and laptops with remote access, allowing them to work from any location. We also use new tools and platforms to cut down repetitive work tasks and to allow our people to focus on higher-value work.

To promote ideation from within, we also set up Ignite, an in-house innovation platform which garnered close to 500 participants and 112 fresh ideas, to inject new perspectives into the way we look at our business.

The spaces that Prudential employees want

In designing our new Workplayce, we conducted focus groups and surveys with our employees to find out what they would like to see in the new office. Survey questions include the types of activities they would like to participate in, as well as the types of spaces in which they would like to work.

For instance, our people requested to see more green lungs in the office, along with more spaces for recreational activities to foster greater bonding among colleagues. There was also a call for a more open-spaced office with fewer separating levels, so that the majority of employees can work on the same floor, promoting greater collaboration and interaction among the various departments.

The responses guided the design of our inclusive work environment where collaboration, self-initiation, and innovation are encouraged – a place where work and play can be integrated.

The most popular request from our people was to offer a wider array of healthy food options in the pantry; and we have answered their request by stocking our pantries with health bars, nuts, vegetable chips, whole wheat crackers, fruit-infused water, and fresh fruits.

We also have an in-house café which runs on a pay-as-you-wish scheme, where all funds will be donated to charity.

Our café-like pantries lie in the heart of both levels of our new Workplayce, where social interaction is at its highest. Just a stone’s throw away are the collaboration spaces where more focused discussions take place, while rest pods are thoughtfully placed near the corners of each floor to ensure greater privacy.

This deliberate set-up keeps interactive activity around at the core, and filters out noise from the hustle and bustle as one travels towards the outer circumference of the office.

How we see the future of work

People want to work for an organisation with a cohesive set of values, driven by a common purpose that aligns with their individual values and identity. At Prudential, we are building an outcome-based work culture that is based on our values of Accountability, Collaboration, Trust and Empowerment and Innovation.

Our people are empowered to customise their daily work schedule according to their needs, while being personally accountable for their deliverables. They are encouraged to innovate, to experiment, and to create something new that can make their lives and the lives of our customers better. They are given shared goals so cross-team collaboration comes naturally.

Prudential’s Workplayce is designed to support our culture. Besides encouraging improved work efficiency and higher productivity, the physical space of the office – coupled with the new culture of working – will ultimately inspire greater innovation among employees.

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