IMAGINE playing pool at work or being surrounded by thousands of dollars' worth of art - it sure beats sitting in a sterile cubicle all day.

These days, some employers are paying increasing attention to interior design and staff facilities to keep their workers happy, healthy and stimulated.

Office designers say that the more consideration employers give to their workers' well-being, the better productivity will be.

At first glance, it may seem counter-productive to offer your staff an environment for fun and pleasure. After all, a comfortable cafe or a prettily decorated workspace would surely distract them from their work.

But, as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That is the mentality that appears to have been adopted by some more enlightened employers.

When Kraft Foods, the world's second-largest food company, announced its expansion in Singapore with Cadbury earlier this month, it showcased a newly designed Asia-Pacific headquarters in Keppel Bay Tower featuring four lush cafes.

Each one is named after a Kraft Foods' product brand - such as the Cheez! Cafe and the Oreo Cafe - which Kraft says 'provides flexibility for employees to suit their mood or task, choosing from quiet and calm or sociable and colourful work spaces'.

The quirky Cheez! Cafe, for instance, marries the two companies with dairy-inspired upholstery and a huge slice of what looks like cheddar cheese on the ceiling.

Said Mr Varun Bhatia, vice-president of human resources for Kraft Foods Asia Pacific: 'Everything about our new headquarters reflects the way we operate and interact here at Kraft Foods. Flexibility is not only about using new technologies; it's also about how we think.'

Among other things, the company has a work-from-home scheme and health and fitness programmes including gym memberships, which 'demonstrate our commitment to a comfortable, healthy workplace', he added.

Promoting health and fitness programmes, in particular, is a fast-growing trend among Singapore companies.

Many firms these days offer gym membership allowances to their staff - that is, if they do not already have a gym in their office headquarters.

DBS Bank, for example, opened its new Asia Hub in Changi Business Park in September. It features a state-of-the-art 24-hour gym and dance studio.

Staff based at the out-of-the-commercial-district office can also enjoy a stylish in-house cafe able to accommodate more than 300 people, and open-concept workspaces with 'social hubs' designed to foster greater team interaction.

Taking relaxation one step further, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has a multimedia centre with a pool table, two table football - or foosball - tables, and a television console for video games, catering to a younger, Generation Y team.

SPH digital media editor Felix Soh explained that the idea was to create breathing space for staff - an area where they can take a break, let off steam and unwind - as long as they do not distract their colleagues or create a ruckus, of course.

Contrary to the belief that work and pleasure should not mix, Mr Soh maintained that the play area actually makes the office more conducive for work and less stressful.

'There's nothing better to de-stress than to take it out on a pool ball or to annihilate terrorists in a video game,' he said.

More creatively inclined offices, such as advertising agency Formul8, indulge their employees' interests in line with the company's interests. Founder and owner Fiona Bartholomeusz dresses up her office with more than 15 pieces of art to inspire her team, which she describes as 'less traditional'.

'I think because they're a lot younger and mainly in their 20s, they're more into digital art and manga,' she said, referring to Japanese comics.

'Plus, I have several red sculptures of naked boys by Chen Wenling. That takes getting used to!'

Ms Bartholomeusz probably best sums up the justification for employers to invest in whimsical work spaces.

'I guess everyone likes to work in an office that's creative and not a stodgy, grey and sterile environment,' she said.