Thought Experiment: Working Like the Millennials


The millennial culture becomes a trending topic for this year as this generation started their work phase. They changed not only the working habits, but also the working environments. We talked to interior designers Bingah Suseno from CDA International, Deasi Dianasari from Dedato Indonesia and Wiliam Simiadi from Vivere Group about today’s working environment and how they would adapt this current popular culture.

Bingah Suseno

Project Director at CDA International

BACKGROUND Bingah Suseno is a respected Indonesian interior designer who has personally designed over 200,000 sqm of commercial projects. Educated at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, US, she worked in the US and Singapore before coming home to Indonesia. She has over 20 years of experience in designing major commercial, hospitality and residential projects and has been with Citra Duta Artistry International (CDA International) for more than 13 years. The company itself has been in the interior design industry for 25 years and has completed 1,000,000 sqm of commercial spaces.

What kind of office design concept do you think people like nowadays?

For the past two years, interior design in general has been saturated with the industrial-look by using exposed raw architecture materials such as exposed brick walls, concrete flooring, exposed ceilings and reclaimed (or made to look like reclaimed) wooden furniture. Most clients think that by using these sorts of raw materials it will reduce fit-out costs but, in fact, the opposite is true. I think this design trend will taper off soon.

The “Google-office-look” has been referred too many times because the eclectic use of materials, colours and textures that are different from the usual corporate look, creates spaces that are a combination of a home, a social place and a workplace with lots of discussion and collaboration spaces and a more residential/café/hospitality look.

Nowadays, workplaces have fewer walls and fewer barriers. Open working areas are a popular concept with their minimal separations or panels—even for the managers. Therefore, open communication is being promoted. Open areas can lead to a noisy environment, thus having materials with acoustic properties is considered essential. Privacy for confidentiality also requires special consideration.

Biophilic design, or bringing nature (in form, colour and pattern) into the interior, is a good way to make the office alive, fresher, green so that the occupants will feel more energetic and happier and that, in turn, leads to a healthier life. This can be achieved by having natural patterns on the flooring and walls, some planters or even a vertical green wall.

The wellbeing of employees is another big topic these days: how to retain your existing employees, how to satisfy the demands of your millennial employees and how to attract the best talent in the industry by providing a well-designed, comfortable and convenient working space. With those things in mind, employers expect, in return, that employees will be more productive, more creative, healthier and happier.

Please share your thoughts about the current trend for ‘flex offices’.

Working in one of the most chaotic cities in the world in terms of traffic, this has consumed so much of our time being on the road, even if it’s just getting to and from the workplace. Therefore, making oneself a flexible employee who is responsible for their getting their work done is something that comes naturally. A workplace is no longer just a place where you work—you must be able to work anywhere and anytime and in many different conditions and situations when the job demands it.

Co-working spaces are mushrooming in the city, but only a few of them are really good, equipped with top brand ergonomic office chairs, for example. In reality, most of them are basically a café where people go to sip free coffee, to take advantage of good internet/wi-fi connections and to find a place to sit and work for a couple of hours.

I think the workplace concept is moving towards this notion of a flexible office - maybe less so for occupations such as finance and engineering which are still going to be desk bound.

How does technology influence the workspace design?

Technology and the workplace go hand-in-hand. Making the best use of technology definitely enhances the productivity of your workplace and therefore leads to a much better outcome for your business. An example would be Webex/sharing your screen online. When you’re discussing design and space—if you can’t easily point to the exact location on the drawing, it could take a lot longer to explain and there is still the risk that the other person is not on the same page as you. This technology has helped us save time and avoid errors from misunderstandings.

Another example would be the video conference facility, which has been around for quite some time now. This allows people to connect without wasting travel time and cost. Compared with a simple voice call, a video conference will let you see and read the other person’s facial expressions and body language as if they were in the same room with you. This is especially useful for HR interviews.

What criteria do you use when choosing a building - other than the location and price?

Mass transportation is an important factor to consider when our client is deciding on their office location and, besides that, there should also be a back access if the main access is on the odd-even streets. This is why Sudirman Central Business District remains the most preferred area for an office location in Jakarta.

And are there any building amenities that are especially useful or even essential?

Excellent high-speed internet access is a non-negotiable amenity for any office, as well as having a good, co-operative landlord.

Deasi Dianasari

CEO of PT Dedato Indonesia

BACKGROUND Deasi Dianasari graduated from Trisakti University with a bachelor of Interior Design and started her career in PT Dedato Indonesia 20 years ago, where she currently sits as the CEO.

PT Dedato Indonesia specialises in visual identity design, which involves architectural, interior, product, signage, graphic, and artwork design. Within the last 3 years, the company has executed approximately 250,000 sqm of office interior design projects alone.

What kind of office design concept do you think people like nowadays?

The new trend in office design nowadays is called “Agile Working”, the philosophy behind which re-defines the workplace as a place where people carry out the task they need to finish, as opposed to a place where they work. Hence, it also represents the shift of the formal, and for lack of a better word, uptight work culture to a less formal and more comfortable work environment for the employees.

PT Dedato Indonesia defines it as a way of working, with which organizations empowers its people to work where, when and how they choose with maximum flexibility and minimum constrains. Agile working is as transformational tool to allow organizations to work smarter by eliminating all barriers to working more efficiently.

What area the requirements to make that kind of office?

A modern setting of information technology and electronics is very important to have in order to make this concept work, because employees would have to be given access and possibility to work anywhere. The “Agile Working” concept is also a way of working, not just a design concept, it also requires the company to trust their employees completely in the effectiveness and efficiency of their working hours. It should also be supported by a performance driven work culture and an effective line management.

Please share your thoughts about the current flexible office trend.

Nowadays, many companies have shifted from the formal working culture to the new, more flexible work culture in order to increase productivity and efficiency, which leads to achieving their company’s goals and objectives.

I believe that with the constant increase in costs to rent an office space these days, companies have come to a realise that in order to achieve their goals, they do not require all of their employees to come into the office to work at the same time or have all of their employees sit at the same table everyday. Hence, it has become more and more normal to have dedicated and non-dedicated seating arrangements at a modern office. This also means that the company would be able to use less space for their office, reducing their property cost.

In addition to this, companies have also realised the importance of collaborative and breakout areas, providing their employees with the facility to work in a more relaxed environment where they can work alone or in a group whilst having a drink or a bite to eat. This would also encourage employees to socialize and get to know one another, creating a warmer environment at the office.

How does the current technology affect the workspace design?

The current development of technology and IT systems such as: smartphones, laptops and tablet, widespread internet access, telephone and video conference, cloud based data storage, etc. really support the agile working concept. It makes it possible for companies to allow their employees to work at anytime and anywhere.

Where is the most preferred area for today’s office / building location? Why?

Today’s preferred location for an office is still the CBD area and its surroundings, however, since public transport access have been increased in many other places in Jakarta, many other locations have become desirable for business owners. Areas around the main streets of Jakarta (i.e. Gatot Subroto, Sudirman, Setiabudi, TB Simatupang) are certainly very popular.

What area the criteria in choosing building other than the location and price?

Other than the location and costs, usually the criteria considered by business owners in choosing a location for their office are its technology supporting facilities (optical wires, internet connections and available providers in the area), security management and facilities (in case of earthquakes, fire, etc), electronic and security access, public facilities (parking space, praying rooms, sanitary facilities), and access to consumptions for their employees such as a food court facility or equivalent.

Is there any building amenities that area useful or even essential?

Certainly the IT and electronics facilities, including the security access, and internet access.

Please tell us about your most recent office design project.

PT Dedato Indonesia’s most recent projects include Sriwijaya Head Office, ANTV Head Office and Smart Tbk. Head Office.

William Simiadi

Director of VIVERE Group

BACKGROUND VIVERE Group is a multifaceted group of companies which are engaged thoroughly in different aspects of the interior and furnishing business. Founded by Dedy Rochimat 34 years ago, the group commenced its business as an interior contractor company Gema Graha Sarana (GGS), which later gave birth to sister companies: Prasetya Gema Mulia (PGM), Laminatech Kreasi Sarana (LKS), and Vivere Multi Kreasi (VMK), with “Collection by VIVERE” and “Working by VIVERE” as its major sub-brands for retail and trading business. The group is now led by Dedy’s son, William Simiadi who has witnessed the evolution of design himself as he grew up.

How do you foresee the development of office design?

Our first business unit GGS has completed a lot of office fit-outs. Until these days, GGS still remains as a leading as interior contractor in the country for its outstanding service and final result. With 34 years of work under our belt, we have collaborated with many designers, to turn their dream offices into reality. This opportunity allows us to witness the development of office designs—from the cubicle into the current open-plan working spaces. I guess it will remain trendy for some period in the future.

Could you share with us your view on the current office trend?

The collaborating designers made open-plan offices for better engagement among employees – this is surely a good point, and it also comes with other good points. Today, offices also focus on ergonomic design and aim to reflect their corporate identity, so the office is not only built as a workspace, but also as a branding canvas. It is a further effort from aesthetic, as it also has meaning in it. There are design elements in the corporate branding, but the brand itself represents heritage, values and unparalleled quality that is worth an investment.

Certain brands are very responsive to the open-plan concept that they make movable and noise cancelling panels because despite the popularity of the openness, privacy and areas for high concentration work would always be needed.

Speaking of aesthetics, we have gained the trust from our clients; and as a result, we spread our wings into another line of business with VIVERE Working in 2005, to pair with the interior contractor service. Last year, this sister company was rebranded as Working by VIVERE. This company offers design products to help our clients build their corporate identities, and keep them updated with global workspace design issues.

What are the considerations for office furniture selection?

Besides considering good reputation, people would definitely go for the best quality of design, and ergonomic value.

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Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.

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