On 2nd July, Microsoft invited media in the region to visit the Singapore office. Thanks to Microsoft, I was invited. This is the my first time to visit the operational office of Microsoft. Since last year, Microsoft started to revamp their offices in line with the New World of Work. Microsoft has promised us during the MTC opening that they will showcase their office when it is ready and they have fulfilled it. 🙂
The event was held at Microsoft Singapore with the presence of the Singapore and regional media. Microsoft highlighted 3 keys areas in the New World of Work and I fully agree:-
Here is a short video about the new workplace.
With the revamp, Microsoft Singapore with a employee strength of 1,200 no longer assign desks or private offices for mangers and employees. They can work anywhere in the office by using a PC, handset, webcam or smartphone.
We had Ms Tracy Fellows, Area Vice-President, Microsoft Asia Pacific, to talk to us about the revamp.
The revamp is a global effort to make Microsoft workplace a New World of Work. For Singapore, it started last year and is completed in April.
A few things changed after the revamp. No more fixed desk for employees. They are only assigned a locker. You cannot “Chope” (a Singlish word for booking a place in advance) a place.
There are cultural changes like not to talk too loud as there are open spaces every where. However, with the changes, it frees up more working space and allows more collaboration amongst the colleagues.
And to prove it, Microsoft invited two of their employees to give a first hand experience in the new workplace.
One of the scenarios that Davina mentioned really strike a cord with most Singapore parents. Children get sick easily and most childcare will want parent to bring back their children. With Microsoft flexible workplace, she can work from home and collaborate meetings with colleagues via video conferencing and etc.
Here is another Microsoft employee talking about the expectation of Gen Y.
Following on, we had Dr. James Eyring to give us some facts and figures about current trend on Workplaces.
Here is some facts and figures after the revamp.
- Results of an internal survey of 346 employees based in Singapore revealed that 54 percent of employees reported an increase in productivity levels, 49 percent confirmed they collaborate more with their colleagues and 77 percent reported an improvement in their working environment over the previous one.
- In the Netherlands, Microsoft measured the impact of this New World of Work with a 40 percent improvement in work/life balance over five years and measurable improvements in productivity.
- A study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Vanson Bourne shows that the impact of flexible working goes far beyond employee satisfaction: 73 percent of European workers think their lives would improve if they could work more flexibly. Four in 10 employees said the option of flexible work would influence their decision to accept a new job.
- Microsoft offices and workplaces are now designed to encourage better physical interaction and activity-based work that better reflects the task at hand.
- Microsoft’s Singapore office has no assigned desks or private offices for managers, employees can work anywhere in the office by using a PC, handset, webcam or smartphone.
- By offering both bookable/non-bookable meeting rooms and formal/non-formal seating we have been able to increase our capacity and become more efficient in the usage of space.
- The smart office space promotes productivity and collaboration while reducing the business’ carbon footprint and electricity usage as well as travel expenses.
- People gain more meeting spaces and workspaces, while the office footprint was reduced 16% from 116,575 sq ft to 97,641 sq ft. The facility maintains space for four years of projected employee growth.
- Windows Phone, Office 2010, Lync (IM & Presence, Conferencing and Enterprise Voice), SharePoint and Exchange facilitate working from multiple locations.
- Windows 7 Direct Access allows users working outside the office to connect to corporate internal resources seamlessly without connecting to VPN, enhancing the mobility experience
- The Singapore facility has completely streamlined the desktop by having an integrated monitor/hub with one cable to connect everything from monitor and network to the mouse and keyboard. Employees can now be fully functional on the network in less than five seconds.
- Lync allows workers to track contact availability, send IM, start or join an audio, video, or web conference, or make phone calls through a consistent, familiar interface.
- Microsoft created an app for Windows Phones and desktops which help people find each other quickly and locate empty workspace in the office.
- Microsoft’s New World of Work project has been announced as a finalist at the 2012 IT Excellence Awards in the category of Best Bottom Line IT.
Finally, we had a Q&A sessions. One of the questions was how Microsoft controlled the devices with different manufacturers and OSes in the workplace. The answer is actually quite simple. They will determine the devices base on your position and needs.
Of course, if you own Microsoft products (i.e. Windows Phone), it will be much simpler.
After the presentation, we had a tour around their workplace at the 23rd floor. It was interesting that Microsoft named the first area after the entrance the “landing area”. It has a monitor to tell you the availability of workstations, collaboration space and meeting rooms in each floor.
And it even has a Windows Phone app that you can install to check (even before you reach the office).
From the app, you can check where each person is sitting (after they plugged into the network).
And you can even see the layout of the office to locate a colleague.
You can zoom in to the map if you need.
As mentioned earlier, each employee will get just a locker. And Microsoft has allowed them to decorate them.
From Microsoft, one of the biggest change is the use of access card for their printers. I think this is a good move to reduce the paper usage.
One of the features of the new office is that on a workstation, a single USB that can connect your laptop to three things. They are the Internet, display and also the wireless keyboard and mouse. This is a typical setup. There is a privacy filter on the display to allow some privacy in your work.
Of course, if you don’t need, you can actually many choices to choose from.
And there many collaboration spaces. Here is one of them.
Check out the wall. It is actually used like a whiteboard.
And if you need a little more privacy, there are meeting rooms you can book. They are linked to the network so that everyone can know the status of the room.
Along the walkway or walls, you can see posters done in a local favor.
If you need a space to take some snack or to celebrate some occasion, there is always the pantry.
I love the environment. Bright spaces and greens everywhere.
On our final stop, we visited a conference room where a conference is on-going.
They are using the Microsoft Lync to conduct the video conferencing between Malaysia and Singapore (at different floors).
I like the conferencing equipment. It is the Polycom CX5000 HD or I think they called it the Roundtable.
It has a all round view of the conference room and with Microsoft Lync, getting someone to attend the meeting is a matter of a few clicks.
Overall, it is great to see such kind of office in Singapore. Hopefully, more can follow. Thank to Microsoft for conducting this visit. BTW, the MTC (Microsoft Technology Centre) has got a nice looking SKYPE sofa in it (at the consumer section) 🙂 .