Credit Suisse’s Campus at One@Changi

Credit Suisse’s Campus at One@Changi City leverages ‘smart working’ to create a highly agile, collaborative and efficient workspace.

In May 2010, Credit Suisse launched Smart Working as a global strategic initiative sponsored by the executive board to focus on how to use policies, technology and space to best address changing work patterns, workplace preferences and the increased flexibility afforded by new technology. The goal of Smart Working is to better support how people need and would like to work, while also ensuring the business delivers results and is run in a cost-efficient manner.

The implementation of Smart Working was a deeply researched design exercise that essentially outlined new strategies including the introduction of a variety of workstation typologies, real estate zoning and furniture ratio guidelines (specifically, it was determined that in a non-assigned desking arrangement, 100 people would ideally share 80 desks), and the synergistic integration of physical spaces and the latest technology. These guidelines were developed towards aspirations for greater efficiency, collaboration and connectivity, as well as human well-being at the workplace.

The concept was piloted in Zurich, then implemented in London before it came to the Singapore offices – the largest overhaul to date, scale wise, involving a reshuffling of staff from its existing six offices into the present three. Most significantly, a cross-section of staff was engaged in a one-year test phase in one of its Singapore offices prior to the actual setting up of the new Credit Suisse premises at ONE@Changi City.

Andrew Poole, Credit Suisse’s Director of Corporate Real Estate and Services, recalls the testing phase: “The level of research and staff engagement was intense. We questioned everything – space utilisation, work-setting performances, function of built elements – and worked directly with our users to design solutions to make their workplace more effective, collaborative and efficient… all that analyses directly informed the design of the Changi campus.” He further notes that the pilot was crucial as a change management tool as users were moving from an assigned desk environment to full free-address solution. This was a radical transformation, “like going from zero to 100 in one premises move”.

“Globally, the firm was very emphatic about running a pilot, as it meant our staff could get directly involved in designing their workplace for the future,” Poole says. “Smart Working is not a one-size-fits-all model, and pilots allow for local variation based on tasks performed, and include design aspects reflecting regional culture.”

The floor plates spread as wide as 200mx4Om over three stories. Space was broken down into a series of neighbourhoods – each with its desk-based home zone equipped with workstations that are free for use by anyone. Even on busier days when about 80 per cent of the staff is in the office, there are enough workstations to go around. In fact, the office can still seat everyone at 110 per cent capacity, albeit utilising the various alternative work areas around the office.

It certainly helped that Credit Suisse had decided on ONE@Changi City at the early stages of the building’s construction. This allowed them to make modifications to the base building. For example, the team took the idea of the shophouse air well and translated it into vertical voids and volumes – most interestingly, as open stairwells placed at either ends of both floors.

“As we were appointed during the technical due diligence stage – while the building was only just coming out of the ground – we were able to implement major enhancements to the base building design that would subsequently underpin the interior Smart Working design as well as the greater occupancy loading envisaged,” says René Hillig, Regional Director at Faithful+Gould, the appointed project management consultant.

It is no doubt that this campus is considered a finely tuned workspace that does not merely stand as an interesting exponent of new workplace typology, but one that has been so rigorously examined, trialled and implemented.

Credit: Yvonne Xu, Cubes magazine (published by Indesign Media Asia)