DBS Bank Edelman

AT big corporate offices, the best spaces in the office are usually given to management staff. But not at Singapore's largest bank, DBS Bank, and public relations firm, Edelman, where regular employees come first.

Since June, staff from DBS Bank have been moving into their new office, DBS Asia Central @ Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3. By October, over 4,800 employees will be based here. The bank occupies 18 storeys of the 46-storey Tower 3.

And while senior managers usually get the best views of the office, the 180 degree view of the Marina Bay area is shared by all employees. The managers' rooms are located near the centre of the office floor, while employees sit in sections near the full-height glass windows, giving them views of the Marina Bay area. Cubicles are done away, as the bank wants to create an environment that mimics a communal hive where ideas are freely shared.

While office pantries tend to be hidden away in a corner, at DBS Asia Central, they are given "prime space". Called social hubs and found on all 18 floors, these are located next to the lift lobbies and have unblocked views of the Marina Bay area. There are snack and drink vending machines, which feature the DBS Brew, a special blend of coffee designed for the bank.

Colourful furniture are placed at the social hubs, and to reflect the bank's Asian heritage, little details such as a Chinese vase, bales of fabric and wooden lattices adorn the area. The social hub also has a modern feel thanks to the use of glass walls installations, which double as whiteboard space.

The social hubs have become popular spots for staff to gather during lunch, and with their prime location, they also serve as vantage points to check out the fireworks display during the recent National Day Parade.

Singapore country manager Sim S Lim says: "Unlike the traditional office, our new office incorporates many elements that underline the workplace of the future."

When public relations company Edelman moved into their new office at Somerset Road in July, extra floor space was dedicated to its staff area. Located near the back of the office, it has a large dining area which is usually used in the mornings and during lunch. The space is also used for informal internal meetings, rather than heading to the conference room, and is also where staff birthday parties are held.

A curved wall in this area serves as a notice board, where photographs of staff at various events are pasted. There is also a foosball table by the side.

"We took into consideration what staff liked and wanted when designing this office," says Edelman's director of finance and human resource Agatha Gomes. She worked with interior designer Chittin Montatupalin from Think Inside Out on the office design.

Over at the staff work area, desks have low partitions and are arranged in a honeycomb pattern, which encourages more collaboration and interaction, says Ms Gomes.

Staff are also encouraged to draw on the windows and glass walls of some of the rooms, which help to make the office less formal but a more fun place to work.

More colours, in the form of colourful carpets and wall panels have also been added to the office, which has been given a thumbs up by the 80-strong staff.

"Everyone likes how the office feels more comfortable now," says Ms Gomes.