Offices so cool you would want to move into them!
When it comes to cool office spaces, tech companies are leading the charge, with Facebook being the pioneer of innovative office designs. And it’s no secret that an engaging office space with a thriving work environment and staff-friendly features go a long way to motivating employees and spurring creativity.
Here’s a peek into the Singapore offices of five tech giants whose fun and aesthetically inviting workspaces are making us green with envy.
Photos: Google, Garena and TripAdvisor
Inspired by the characteristic of old-time Singapore buildings and the actual homes of their most popular and stylish listings around the world, Airbnb’s three-storey office space in Cecil Street is a true-to-life representation of their company’s ethos “where anyone can belong anywhere”.
In staying true to its core objective of connecting people and spaces as a community-driven hospitality platform, Airbnb Singapore started the Employee Design Experience, a programme that allows employees (they call them “Airfam”) to be actively involved in designing part of the new office. Each meeting room has been designed to resemble an actual Airbnb home around the globe as a way to “inspire our employees and bring the spirit of travel into the office,” according to a report when the Singapore office was first unveiled last year. The pimped out rooms include an Andy Warhol-inspired art loft in Bangkok, a villa in Bali’s Kuta and a Parisian apartment in Batignolles.
Featuring some local touches, the café-like pantries (one on every level!) are styled like contemporary kopitiams, complete with old school chairs and Peranakan tiles. Old-fashioned concrete ventilation blocks surrounding a central staircase that connects the three floors is one the feature highlights while décor items were sourced from local neighbourhood shops and designers to give it a more homely feel.
Aside from its open concept working style, cosy corners for breakout meetings or informal discussions, Airbnb also encourages employees to unwind and decompress with movies and gaming time at the entertainment corner. There’s also a tent complete with camping bed for the sleepy ones to catch forty winks.
From sleeping pods and massage services to a well-stocked pantry, it comes as no surprise that Garena, an Internet and mobile platform company, went all out to ensure maximum comfort for their employees (they call them “Garenians”). After all, this is one company that firmly believes that “people are our most important assets” and hence places a strong focus on recruiting, retaining and nurturing talented and self-driven candidates.
“Here, senior Garenians are often roped in to mentor new joiners and fresh graduates, allowing younger Garenians to grow faster and further in their career,” Garena explains.
With spaces demarcated for working, de-stressing and eating, the open-office design at the two-storey office located at one-north’s Galaxis Building is “centred on the idea of connectivity and collaboration” to inspire creativity and increase productivity in their employees.
Creatively designed to align with the company’s mission of “connecting the dots”, design features from the central staircase that connects the two levels, desk arrangements and breakout rooms right down to the carpeting, are deeply focused on the idea of connectivity and collaboration. With floor to ceiling windows that wrap around the entire office, Garenians enjoy plenty of the beautiful natural light that pours in as they work. Not to mention the greeneries scattered throughout the workspace for them to get some well-deserved eye rest.
To foster a fun and lively work environment, Garenians are encouraged to take time out from their busy schedule for a stress-relieving game of air hockey, pool or foosball at the entertainment corner. Plus, Garenians are even allowed to claim expenses incurred from hobbies like basketball, football, running, bowling and table tennis outside of work.
And of course, a well-stocked pantry to combat mid-day cravings is always a winner in any company. Like a convenience store, the shelves are lined with fruits, cereals, chocolate bars, milk, and a wide range of snacks and biscuits. The office also boasts a relaxation area that comes with a dozen sleeping pods, complete with pillows, privacy curtains and bedside lamps for power naps as well as soundproof phone booths for staff to make private calls. To top that off, employees are entitled to a 30-minute massage service, twice a month – for free.
Fun fact: “Did you know that the idea for sleeping pods originated from Garena’s employees? When planning the design of the new office, Garenians actively contributed ideas to make the office a more homely environment.”
Home away from home. That’s really the only way to describe Google Singapore’s new office. The tech giant, whose Asia-Pacific Headquarters is based here had recently moved into their new campus at Mapletree Business City II in Pasir Panjang. With an impressive reception area, huge digital wall made up of small TV screens, open lounges and a labyrinth of play areas, we have only two words for this office: mind blown.
Spanning two blocks and six floors, it houses two canteens, two cafes (with its own resident baristas), multiple pantries, a full-sized gym, and even a wellness centre. Google employees will never have to worry about hunger pangs in between meetings or post-lunch coma from over eating. And if post-meal power naps are necessary for a quick recharge, there’s a nap room furnished with sleeping pods, pillows, blankets and even eye masks.
With a focus on interactive spaces to enhance creativity, encourage engagement and facilitate idea exchange, Google Singapore’s open workplace concept and unorthodox work ethics is a true reflection of its dynamic, fun and vibrant office culture. Employees are highly encouraged to bring their family to work. With plenty of fun activities including a Lego play area and a YouTube wall of fame where YouTubers can doodle and leave their mark, there’s no excuse to be bored at all.
At Google, employees are encouraged to work anywhere so micro-managers can forget about applying for a job here. From wide open spaces for collaborations to nooks for quiet work, “Googlers are empowered to choose the workspaces that best suit their style and the tasks that they need to focus on for the day,” Google explained. And if an alfresco work environment is your preference to hatch creative ideas, there’s also the roof garden with furniture and a cozy setting for employees to do just that. Incorporating a touch of local flair to its HQ here, departments are named after Singapore’s familiar districts such as Newton, Telok Ayer and Little India, while meeting rooms are themed after regions in Asia like Thailand and Malaysia etc.
Googlers are also seriously spoilt for choice when it comes to food. A dining area named “Shiok” with multiple stations serves up a variety of cuisines for breakfast and lunch daily a la hotel style buffet. And if you’re in the mood for some Mediterranean cuisine, there’s even a trattoria to satisfy your palate.
Like a clubhouse, the campus houses a game room with pool tables, table tennis and foosball tables; full-sized gym (with protein drinks for the serious body builders); and a studio where Google conducts daily fitness classes like Yoga, Krav Maga and HIIT for its employees. That’s not all. Googlers can also get their nails and hair done at the salon room as well as indulge in Balinese massages in the middle of their busy schedule. Although employees have to pay for these services, charges are subsidised plus it sure helps to have such amenities right at your doorstep! There’s even a multi-faith room for employees to spend time in prayers and meditation (above). As if casual dress code in most tech companies isn’t already cool enough, Googlers can turn up for work in beach wear, slippers or pyjamas and nobody will give a hoot.
Located at Midview City building at Sin Ming Lane (main office) and Cecil Court (Grab’s research and development centre), Grab Singapore may not boast the most swanky office address or a superbly innovative workspace design to incite the most envy but what the fast-growing startup lacks in style, it makes up for in its culture and values.
At Grab, the phrase “your problem is my problem” is the team’s motto. Driving the company’s ethos of “bringing people together to make life better for all”, Grab employees (known as Grabbers) are deeply invested to foster motivation and teamwork in delivering the best services and experience that make a difference in the lives of everyday people. Truly committed to achieving positive outcomes to meet the needs of its customers and drivers (Grab calls them partners), all Grabbers even get to experience being drivers for a day to help them better understand problems so as to create innovative solutions.
Photos: Grab and e27
To spur creativity and problem-solving skills, all Grabbers, regardless of the department they’re from, are also encouraged to turn their out-of-the-box big ideas into real solutions through quarterly teambuilding hackathons, in what they call “Grabathon”. Hot-desking work environment, cool hangout areas, flexible working hours and a free-flow pantry (employees get to decide the type of food they want!) are just some of the many perks Grab offers to its employees. Plus, everyday is dress-down Friday for Grabbers as they come to work dressed in T-shirts and jeans. And yes, all Grabbers get a weekly Grab travel allowance that they can use for subsidised taxi rides! Nothing like a strong commitment to great workplace culture to lift employees’ spirits and inspire them to give their best everyday.
Fun fact: “All the meeting rooms in our R&D centre are named after superheroes like Spiderman, Deadpool and Wonder Woman. The idea came from our engineers who are all fans of superheroes!”
Yet another travel-themed creative workspace that evokes serious work envy and wanderlust. Located in PricewaterhouseCoopers building at Cross Street, you know you’re in TripAdvisor’s office the moment you’re greeted by a 3D owl logo icon at the reception area that’s designed to simulate a huge birdcage. Work hard and play hard seem to be the pivotal essence of the well-established travel website company’s fun, energetic and dynamic culture.
Featuring an eclectic blend of design elements, cool furnishing in bright hues, and lots of open spaces with plenty of natural light, the Singapore office’s playful vibes is homage to all things fun and positive. “We want everyone to feel like they’re on a great trip that they make the most of each time they come to work, and we bring this out in the way we’ve designed the space and through the office experience,” explained Ms Chris Koh, TripAdvisor’s Regional Manager of Office Experience, Asia Pacific.
Staying true to its travel theme, meeting rooms are named after luxurious island destinations such as Bora Bora and Santorini as well as global famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Taj Mahal and Changi Airport while directional road signs leading to various departments are planted along the passageways. Employees are given the option to work on either standing desks or height-adjustable desks, whichever suits their preference and work habits. And with a fun take on discussion corners, the office has its very own iconic London phone booths designed for use as soundproof meeting rooms. We’re sure even the most boring brainstorming session can become an enjoyable and productive one.
In keeping with the fun workspace element, TripAdvisor regularly organises staff engagement activities such as friendly bake-off challenges, terrarium workshops and pottery classes. A painted scrapbook style collage of a world map also hangs as a stylish backdrop on the wall of their fully stocked pantry. From day-to-day essentials such as snacks, juices and barista-served coffee days to “Happy Fridays” where staff get to wind down with complimentary beverages, as well as pop-up food stalls like Casuarina Prata and ‘llao llao’, TripAdvisor clearly has it all planned. Are you drooling with envy already?
Fun fact: “In an office of approximately 120 people, TripAdvisor Singapore has a truly multi-cultural team spanning across 16 nationalities and 11 languages.”