If you step into SNCF’s newly refurbished office, which opened its door on 6 July 2021, you may have thought you stumbled upon a trendy co-working office space.
No less of a visual feast, the light-filled office comes with plenty of wooden accents, colourful furnishing and sleek fit out — think flat-screen TVs, ergonomic tables and chairs. And since cooperation and collaboration are so intrinsic in SNCF’s practice, much of the interior décor reflects these virtues too.
Flexible furniture and fittings, such as swivel monitor arms, moveable whiteboards and sliding wall partitions, complement the collaborative workspace which is now open-spaced and void of any cubicles — a world away from the corporate, plain vanilla setting of a stereotypical office.
“We wanted to remodel the working environment such that it has the right ambience or mood, encourages creativity, and also echoes the ethos of the co-operative values,” says Ms Maggi Lim, the project lead who headed the fit-out in the third quarter of 2020.
According to Ms Lim, the fit-out project aims to do away with the rigid constraints of a traditional office. The new workspace mirrors the likes of modern co-working spaces, which feature hoteling workstations (or hot desks) that can be used by anyone and everyone and several collaborative areas. The aesthetic, as Ms Lim explains, should come bridled with ‘elements of energy’.
The new co-working spaces gravitate towards agility, flexibility and multi-functional designs, and they empower employees to have the choice on how, where and when to work.
There is a casual collaboration area with vibrant, upholstered settees and sofa chairs, where colleagues can host meetings or hold discussions in the open. There are also two closet-size pods, or phone booths, for staff to take on private calls, as well as a formal working area with ergonomic tables and chairs.
There are also two meeting rooms, which are each separated by a collapsible partition wall and enclosed by sliding glass panels with Moroccan-styled decals to ensure privacy. These two meeting rooms can be merged and converted into a bigger space for meetings.
Ms Lim says: “We wanted to have the right balance of workstations, collaborative zones and social spaces.”
As part of the makeover, the team also incorporated the virtues of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance into the project. Beyond installing recycling bins in the office, the team also removed waste bins at the workstations to encourage staff to think about waste management. In an additional effort to reduce carbon footprint, much of SNCF’s documents are now moved onto the Cloud.
The fit-out team was most excited about the carpet finish within the two meeting rooms. Ms Lim says: “We wanted to break out of symmetrical designs by introducing curved lines and asymmetrical block-coloured carpets.
Due to the unique pattern, the contractor had to manually set out and install the carpet on-site. It was a tedious process, but the final outcome was brilliant. We hope doing so could inject some fun and vibrancy and help facilitate the exchange of ideas during our discussions in the meeting rooms.”