Here are 5 Thoughts for the Future of Work


Indonesia Design talks with informed voices about how work—and the spaces where we work–will change in coming years.

Mee Kim

President of CEO Suite

BACKGROUND Korean-born Mee Kim is the pioneer of one-stop serviced offices in Indonesia. In 1997–while pregnant and just before the fall of the New Order–Kim launched CEO Suite in the Stock Exchange Building (BEJ) in Jakarta. Ten years later, her business covers 19 locations in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore.

“As much as the future will change, entrepreneurs will always need business support when they are expanding overseas. With the internet, people can open a business anywhere in the world. What they can not do is to have an office in every country, because it is expensive and risky. What businesses need is local support; someone who understands localities, from the market to culture to partnerships to language. We are the only ones doing this diligently. Our clients are mostly international companies or startups that want to expand into the international market, such as Uber and Twitter.

We might live in 100 years now. Retiring when you’re 60 years old is not an option. What are you going to do between 61 and 100? Eventually, I think everyone will have a business, two jobs or start early with their own business. This means that the market needs to outsource people, and the current trend is already happening –even your lunch box can be outsourced.

Coworking spaces are somewhere between the evolution of a warnet [internet cafe] and Starbucks. However, what people need is not just that. The coworking space business is very much focused on making and working in the space–but what people need is business support with the right contacts, especially when you start a business overseas. The reason is simply because you can not afford to do everything and usually, coworking spaces lack international connections.

Looking to the past in terms of design, offices had limited common areas. In the old days, people wanted a lot of privacy,
so we put in many partitions. Now the trend is changing with the younger generation, with more inclusive spaces, bigger coworking areas and meeting rooms.

We are the first company in our space to use feng shui aspect, which entails the common area, the flow of air, color coordination and natural lights. For this particular aspect, technology is no subsitute. I do believe in feng shui. It affects your performance, because it is all about the flow of energy. This is a very important aspect because we spend most of our time in the office.

Office space is more expensive in Shanghai and Korea than Jakarta. A two-person space in Jakarta equals to a four-person space
in Shanghai. Design-wise, Jakarta has a hierarchial working environment, while in Shanghai it is a team environment. Most are new-generation companies, such as IT companies, and there is not much hierarchy–that changes the set up of the office. It’s a very democratic concept and has a more casual culture. I think the future will go toward that direction. Interior design in each country also has a different style.

Looking ahead, I think design will be very much technology oriented, but because of this automatization people will also feel lackingin the personaltouch, for example, in face-to-face meetings. But in the creative part, this will be the focus and will get bigger, although not as dramatically as people are predicting.”

Naila Djatnika

Principal of designpartners Indonesia

BACKGROUND Naila Djatnika has been working as a workplace designer for almost 30 years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts
in Interior Design from Trisakti University in 1987. When she established designpartners Indonesia (DPI) in 1991, she started big with a 450 sqm office in Wisma Dharmala Sakti for 48 people, believing that workplace design is an important factor in maintaining an effective business and favourable work environment. DPI is now one of the most respected workplace design bureaus in the country, with clients ranging from national entrepreneurs to government organizations and multinational companies.

“The design style of a work space depends on the field of the business. The trend is also influenced by the Gen Y and Gen X workers that favour a more relaxed and mobile setting with open areas for collaboration or casual open meeting spaces. These collaborative spaces are usually located in between work stations. Whether they have a sofa set or communal tables and chairs, the purpose is for people in the department to gather and exchange ideas. The ambiance of this area should stimulate creativity. In addition, modern offices are becoming smaller to offset operational costs. Managers no longer sit in private cubicles. Enclosed offices are only dedicated for directors.

On the same note, the mobility of modern workers also encourage designers to include sharing desks in offices, otherwise known as the “touch down area”. This serves as a meeting point for those who spend most of their working hours outside the office, telecommuters, and also for colleagues from other subsidiary offices.

In addition to collaborative spaces, the concept of creative and colourful offices that offer dedicated areas such as a breakout area, quiet area, lactation area, and even a napping pod, is also gaining momentum.

There are demands of green design concept that hosts the feeling of comfort and the ambiance of a home following the idea that the office is a second home. Office owners also strive for a healthy and comfortable office space to make it worth the commute, considering the bad traffic during rush hours. The popular style is modern, clean, and functional. Natural local materials like timber, bamboo and traditional fabrics are used as aesthetic elements.

Foreign investors are likely to rent offices, while local companies go for strata title offices. Big local companies would prefer to build its own building. Business rows in Jend. Sudirman, MH. Thamrin, SCBD and Kuningan remain the favoured locations for well-established companies. Meanwhile, startups are likely to have their offices in shophouses or office rentals nearby their homes. For companies that hold meetings infrequently, they opt for the campus style, with suburban locations that have access to toll roads. But overall, a strategic location with connectivity to public transportation, big capacity for vehicle parking, and easy access to restaurants, are the three keys of selecting a location.

The creative economy has inspired people to work anywhere; in cafés or malls, as long as there is Wi-Fi. Working from these places makes it easy to meet with and entertain the clients. In the future, I think there will be more co-working spaces in strategic areas that offer Wi-Fi connection, meeting areas, and temporary pods for startups and as a touch down area for mobile workers. Working from home will also be more popular.”

Christian Poda

General Manager, Four Seasons Jakarta

BACKGROUND Hospitality runs in the blood of Christian Poda, whose parents and grandmother all ran restaurants or worked in hotels. A native of Berlin, Poda earned his bachelor’s degree from Emil-Fischer Schule, a noted university specializing in food, nutrition and technology, before starting as a receptionist at the Four Seasons Berlin. After six other postings ranging from Shanghai to Singapore, Poda is the general manager of the Four Seasons Jakarta.

“I think my generation now are the main travellers for business. In another 10 years, it will be the next generation, and naturally there will be a change in needs and demands. Now, as internet connectivity is more important than television, this has changed people. The borders between work and personal life has changed–these all go together now. For example, on a Sunday I do emails, but even on Monday at 12 o’clock, I look at my Instagram. You can see that with travellers too.

However, there is a trend toward casualness. Now, you can not simply put people in social boxes by simply looking at the way they dress. Just because somebody looks Asian, it does not tell you anything. It is my job to talk about this cultural sensitivity and make our team understand the issue, while at the same time not falling into the trap that you throw them all in one bucket.

In the hotel business, we pay more attention to how people work and functionality. For example, it is our standard to have a large working desk, a comfortable chair and lighting and easy accessible power outlets. In general, the rule we apply is: “Get it right, then get me right”. It is important to do that, because as a customer, you want to be served with a good product. As a service provider. we need to see how the person is doing: Does she want to be left alone or should I engage? We should be sensible and able to react to that. This means it requires thoughtfullness in service, but not pretention.
I notice that this term comes up a lot: ‘being alone together’.

I think you can see at the coffee shops all over the world that people want to be in public, but they also want to be in their shell. To illustrate, in our hotel, when someone sits at our restaurant with a laptop to work, it is clear that they want to be alone and do not want to talk to anyone. But they don’t want to be alone in their room.

As how the way people communicate has been changing, the use of apps has exploded. There is an app for everything. Uber, Grab, Go-Jek have changed the way we do transportation.

Here, we have our app where you can make reservations. Some Four Season Hotels are now trialing a ‘chat’ service to change reservations or to order room service–texting someone instead of calling them. Five years ago I would question why would anybody do that?

Our customers are very mixed. Half our guests are from Indonesia, others come from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and North America. Seventy to eighty percent are business guests, simply because Jakarta is a business destination.

Cultural differences used to be a little bit more specific, but are now changing. Travelers are getting younger and people travel more today. In my experience, since I worked in Shanghai for six years, if you ask about the typical ‘Chinese traveler’, I woud ask you: Are you talking about a 60-year-old woman from Beijing? Or a 30-years-old software programmer from Shanghai? The way they grew up and their life experiences have made them completely different people.

Will hotels become more function-based in the future? I’m not sure. I think both worlds can exist. Look at our hotel. It is a luxury hotel with a classic historical design. I think as our world gets more digital and technologically focused, people want to take a step back. Design can be a mood enhancer. The future of design should be very guest-focused. And when it adapts with needs, it adapts also to technology.”

Prapanca Muchtar

Principal of Q Space

BACKGROUND Prapanca Muchtar earned his bachelor’s degree interior design from the Bandung Institute of Technology before starting with Atelier 6 Interior, one of the biggest design firms in Indonesia, in 1991. Launching his own studio, Q Space, in 2006, Prapanca has developed it into one of the nation’s most prominent workplace design firms. In just over a one decade, Q Space has completed more than 1 million sqm in office space.

“Some companies are indeed going for informal, fresh and fun offices, but many are sticking to formal and conservative offices. However, offices these days are more humane and comfortable, because people start to consider their workspace as a living space. Overtime has now become a common thing, or even a habit, so the comfort of workers is the main priority. There was a moment when space, tables and chairs had a hierarchy–the smallest/least comfortable for staff, bigger/most comfortable for the higher position workers and executives. Now, such theories are outdated, as people are conscious that low-level staff sit even longer, so they need equal comfort.

Years ago, the requirement for an office mainly rotated around the workstation. Today, there are private rooms, collaboration rooms, a place to rest, while the fit-out costs
are actually rising. Nevertheless, offices have to be more efficient in terms of space, since the price of office space is continuously increasing. That has become a challenge for workplace designers like me, to make an effective, comfortable and humane design.

Technology plays a big part in the culture of work and workplace interiors. When I started in early the 1990s, architectural firms were full of big drawing tables. Each architect or designer had a drawing table and a desk for writing and sketching. The office needed more storage than today

for compiling drawings, papers and materials. In the early computer era, workstations were L-shaped to house bulky monitors. Today, offices have become more compact, thus more efficient in layout, because of flat-screen monitors and simplified workstations. In the future, interior design depends on what technology will bring.

The requirements for the workplace are more about the space program and ambiance. People are racing to have cozy open offices like Google, while I read one journal that doubts this concept, due to the reduced privacy and increased noise. Privacy has been a very important consideration in office design. Today, people are demanding more open space to allow more collaboration and transparency, but people are starting to feel uncomfortable that they don’t have privacy.

The demand for location depends on the business, but the Central Business District remains the favourite, especially for multi-national and big companies. Companies with less need for meetings would move to the outskirts of the city, considering the lower price and shorter commutes from residential areas. However, these companies usually have a representative office for the top-level management in the CBD, even if it

is small, because they communicate so much with banks and other companies. Although we can see people are leaving the CBD, they may come back soon as access and mass transportation like the MRT, are completed.

According to my clients, renting is still a trend because
it is more flexible. Every five years, companies tend to resize their offices, expanding or minimising. If they buy strata title, it would be hard to expand next door because of the ownership.

Millennials have a more entrepreneurial spirit. Many are self-employed or are working in small groups. That is why co-working spaces have become a big hit. These days, co- working spaces can only cater to individuals and small groups of about 10 people. In the future, we may need larger co- working spaces, complete with furnishings, for a larger groups of 100 to 300 people. I think of this when I think of the rise

of the interior fit-out costs, which can reach 1 billion rupiah for a single office. It also takes a lot of energy and time, while businesses need everything go fast.”

Arun Kumar

General Manager, Westin Jakarta

BACKGROUND Arun Kumar has opened six hotels in a careeer over more than 20 years. As a graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management Bangalore, Kumar got his start with Accor Hotels India as front-office trainee in 1996. His experience covers city hotels, beach resorts and residential apartment. Indonesia Design asked him about how hotels were adapting to the buisness traveler.

“There are eight elements that concern a hotel: The bed, television, writing desk, bathtub, shower cubicle, toilet, and maybe the wardrobe. As we move forward I think it will be cut down to five; there will be no more tv, bathtub, or writing desk.

There are two trends for the hospitality industry regarding how people travel for business. First, is the shift from luxury to four-star hotels and second is the community-living
trend, predominantly with urban hotels. Leading the way
are the three-to-four stars hotels, while luxury hotels will become fewer In other words, the big ones will scale down to something more realistic and more function focused.

When you travel, the needs are always basic: You need
to have a good pillow and mattress to sleep well and a good shower. These are very basic things that everybody always looks forward to. The trend is towards a better shower experience, especially one with good water pressure. The room will be more free of all fluff. I can see that hotel will take away all the bathtubs, but they will have a great shower experience. In terms of real estate, the bathtub is a waste of space per square meter returns. In the Asian market, the utility is not very dominant but in the European market, they still need a bathtub because they have the culture of using bathtub. However, beds will be more comfortable and luxurious because the quality of sleep is important.

As the way people work is changing, there are many reasons for a writing desk to go away. People stay in the room much less, so they don’t have time to set up their own desk to do things. In term of
a design change, people prefer to work on the bed and do something with a portable desk that can be turned around for you to do your work.

In the next fifteen years, television will also go away. It was the right thing to do to have 25-inch box TV 10 to 15 years ago. Now, every two years they change it to make it bigger and thinner–and you can also use it as your computer. What is going on today is that hotels are giving you a smartphone with 3G or 4G for you to use when you are in the city.

Another trend in hospitality is the shift to create a community space, especially in urban hotels. Baby boomers are retiring, and Generation X has a balance between family and alone time. With more and more people as loners, the single travelers checking in want a common space. The common space is different from a restaurant: It is a space with communal tables with a Starbucks environment. People will eat, work and meet people there. I think the reason is because they want
to have efficiency. They like the environment. This type of interaction will grow as people get more casual. For example, if you go to Starbucks, you do not mind sitting with other people. This will be found in the three-to-four stars hotel model, but in luxury, it will take some time.“

Rudy Kelana

Principal of Wahana Architects

BACKGROUND Rudy Kelana was born on 6 May 1968 in Medan and raised in Jakarta. He graduated from Tarumanagara University and with a Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture. He favours how Japanese architects approach design and adapts it into his projects. His designs are best-known for their big openings that connect with nature, play of shadows, well- structured forms, and utilitarian designs, which allows for the character of the building materials to be revealed. Rudy has established his private practice, Wahana Architects, which focuses on residential projects and private offices. Below, Rudy talks to iD about the Future of Work.

“Among the many kinds of workplaces, we have only designed private office buildings so far. Our office projects are spread out in many locations, since people no longer think that offices are to be exclusively located downtown.

People usually choose a familiar location to build a private office. It can be at a prestigious location or a suburb nearby.
The consideration may depend on the business, whereby the office needs to be close to the warehouse or sea port; it is not merely about having an office in CBD. In this digital era, distance becomes shorter thanks to telephones and internet. This kind of technology is not only a trend but a way of life. One of my clients, who is in finance, moved his office from Jakarta to Semarang, leaving a single representative office in Jakarta.

Most of our clients have no specific requests for their offices. We are the ones who offer them ideas that workstations can
be more compact to allow more rooms for formal and informal meetings. In the past five or six years, our office projects have been headed towards a more open office. I remember in late 1980s to early 1990s, office rooms are sealed with gypsum partitions. It can be any shape and design, but it would always be a closed one. In the early 1990s, we started to apply the
open office concept with the use of glass partition. At the time, we aimed to evoke the ambiance of togetherness as a key of success for teamwork, instead of building borders in forms of partition or even massive walls.”

The current trend in office design is for spaces to accommodate openness and communication that would eventually trigger good ideas. This is why as designers, we facilitate communal spaces for people to gather and solve problems together. We make these spaces comfortable, so our clients can enjoy good conversations and think together as a team, and can return to their private space to execute the work.

We see a lot of people working away with their laptop, anywhere, anytime. Twenty years ago, no one would have expected to work in Starbucks with a paper-thin laptop. The working environment will become even more digital as work becomes more virtual.
In designing offices, I can say that dedicated formal desks are no longer a necessity. One of my on-going office projects is influenced by the culture of creative economy. It has a studio and a production house with a fun and informal design. They aimed for a workplace that makes working playful and fun. It affected the space programming, which we were able to simplify. Directors no longer request for a dedicated private room, and instead sit among his/her staffs.

Among the things that are necessary, are the environmental issues. We become more oriented to green architecture, particularly how we manage natural air circulation and transmission of natural daylight. I believe that it is not only a fad, but a new way of life as it stems from an issue that is globally relevant.”

Yves Mudry

General Manager at Raffles Jakarta

BACKGROUND A seasoned hotelier who speaks five languages and who has a deep interest in culture and art,
Yves Mudry studied hospitality at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and earned a Master’s of Business Administration
in International Hospitality from the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Montreux, Switzerland. Mudry’s experience spans Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“As the incoming general manager of the Raffles Jakarta hotel, Swiss-born Yves Mudry indeed truly understands the importance of working space, whether it is for him or in this case, for the hotel’s business traveler guests. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Yves said that an ideal workplace was one that offered privacy and solicitude, was digitally seamless, and which could be personalized to match the unique style of any traveler who resides in the room. He added that at the Raffles Jakarta hotel, whether you are in one of the hotel’s public spaces or in the comfort of your room or suite, peace and quiet are a constant.

Mudry continues. “You can get lost in your thoughts, without worrying about disruption. Our butlers are trained to read body language and pick up on cues. When you look up, they will be there to make eye contact and respond.”

All of the guest rooms and suites are also well suited to the business traveler, Mudry says. “The writing desk and chair are ergonomically designed in such a way that they are comfortable and functional at the
same time. A leather writing pad and a variety of stationery are at your fingertips. Power sockets are conveniently placed
so that cords don’t
get in the way, and connectivity to the television screen is accessed through
the digital panel. The option of both wireless and wired are available complimentary, and the speed is 10 MBps to allow seamless streaming of video and audio. Teleconference service is available in the boardroom at the business center. The telephone features a button to connect to your butler. It is the combination of these elements that makes a working space design ideal.”

Cushman & Wakefield

Nurdin Setyawan, Associate Director, Research and Advisory Department

Mirza Lesmono, Associate Director, Design and Workplace Strategy

BACKGROUND Cushman & Wakefield, founded in 1917, is
one of the world’s largest property consulting companies, with more than 300 offices operating in more than 70 countries. The firm, which has been in Indonesia since 2007, has divisions that cover Investment Services, Research & Advisory, Design & Project Management, Tenant Advisory, Marketing and Property & Facilities Management. Mirza and Nurdin sat down with Indonesia Design for a joint interview.

“In the last 10 years, the selection for location depends on
the business sector. Financial-related businesses still go for a CBD location, while mining, oil and gas industries are going for areas with complete facilities, toll access and close to premium residential areas, such as Jl. TB Simatupang, Puri Indah and
Pantai Indah Kapuk. This trend is predicted to shift to locations with better transportation hubs under the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) concept. Among the many criteria in selecting office buildings, decision makers would mainly center on location and accessibility, building facilities and price. The office market is still dominated by rented offices, but many projects are offering strata title ownership.

Green-building development has been a trend since 2009, thanks to the urging of building stakeholders to actively contribute to environmental conservation and energy efficiency. In the last five years, there have also been more developments that have applied the TOD concept, especially to integrate with the MRT and LRT commuter trains. These developments will yield best quality offices with consciousness about energy efficiency, eco design and transportation hubs.

The demand for meeting facilities is growing, not only in the formal setting. Informal meetings have also come up with their own form inside and outside the working spaces. Communal spaces, for example, act as collaboration rooms and internal meeting rooms. It does not rule out the possibility to have meetings in this area with clients or guests. This affects the demand for meeting rooms. We have done formal meetings for a very long time, but many new things, like team discussions and vendor discussions have become more frequent. As long as there are presentation instruments like whiteboards or glass boards, TVs, projectors and IT equipment, the form of the room can be adjusted, be it formal or informal.

Activity-based workspaces are not exactly new, since they have been present in Indonesia. This agile workspace concept, which has many precedents, has been around these last one or two years, inspired by Google’s office, which was introduced in around 10 years ago. This trend has been followed by many people, and even designers, without comprehension of the core function of the workplace. Some working activities have even been intentionally forgotten in order to achieve that look. Therefore, we need to return office essentials according to their functions. The application of the agile workspace concept depends on the industry and habits of the company.

People are looking for
a functional space with a conducive ambiance that will allow many kinds of activity. The need for collaboration room is increasing. The requirement for new technologies that make work easier will be continued. Therefore, the efficient office is needed. This trend that highlights function will last a long time.

Offices will still go for modern and simple designs. Some offices will do a mix-and-match in their fit out, as the design elements can get along with the simple and modern sense.

In the future, office trends will follow office functions, how people work, the technology used and the need for space in each industry. For example, if we look to the insurance companies five to 10 years ago, they used so much paper and printed documents. There were big tables to hold the daily active documents. Now that the work has become paperless, work tables became compact and the rest of the space can be diverted to other functions.”

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