by Darwin M. Masacupan
Our generation is living in what experts call the “New Economy.” Differentiated from the “Old Economy” by aspects such as the widespread availability of information, technological innovations, and a growing sense of interconnectedness the world over, the New Economy is about challenges to existing norms.
In this era of social, political, and cultural change, businesses find the need to adapt if they are to maintain their competitiveness and viability. Numerous startups have sprung up, forcing the traditional big players in various economic sectors to rethink the way they do things in order to keep up. In simple terms, this is the root of what is now known as “Corporate Transformation.”
A key area where such adjustments are increasingly being made is the workplace. After all, a company is only as good as its people. If their need for collaboration and meaning are met sustainably, employees can drive the company forward to a more certain future.
It is with this in mind that Paperspace Thailand, an interior design consultancy that has created state-of-the-art workspaces for Tech giant global companies, organized a forum entitled “Corporate Transformation for the New Economy.” Held last September 8, 2019 at the imposing Central Post Office in Bangkok, the event gathered together key Thai stakeholders to discuss current trends in workplace strategy and the necessary growth yet to come.
Nurturing local creativity
First up from the speakers during the event was Kittirat Pitipanich, director of the Creative Economy Agency (CEA). Under his tutelage, the CEA guides the activities of The Creative Design Center (TCDC), Thailand’s lead agency for advocating the use of creativity in business incubation and development.
Pitipanich emphasized that if Thailand is to continue on the march to economic development, it must harness the power of its local creative industry. He noted that creative entrepreneurs add value to products through unique and ingenious ideas, and that such products are more likely to stand out in a saturated market.
To help foster local talent, Pitipanich recommended the establishment of the Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) in Bangkok as the capital city’s main creative district. He envisions the TCDC as a collaborative convergence zone that will bring together latent creative energies while overcoming limitations through smarter processes and technology.
The experience of youth
Archawat Chareonsilp, HUBBA chief strategy officer and corporate innovation director, noted the innate potential of Thai youth in creating a startup community that is fundamental to an even bigger network across Southeast Asia.
As Thailand’s first co-working space, HUBBA has been at the forefront of building a new generation of entrepreneurs. It has created a business ecosystem for them through workshops and events, allowing people to exchange ideas and collaborate better.
Based on their experience building HUBBA from the ground up, Archawat highlighted the key role yet to be played fully by Thailand’s younger generation. He focused on the fact that millenials are more open-minded and can adapt quickly to adverse changes, which gives them more capacity and drive to disrupt current norms.
Archawat believes that as they continue to grow in proportion to the rest of the workforce, the youth can spearhead even more innovative startups, ones that will generate creative solutions to age-old problems.
For her part, Dr. Deunden Nikomborirak of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) shared how corporate transformation was applied in their organization. A nonprofit think tank engaged in social and economic development research, TDRI believes that it must maintain global competitiveness through aligning its purpose and strategy with organizational culture.
Dr. Deunden shared that their office shifted from a traditional workplace setup to a modernized one, as designed by Paperspace and collective member Grasshopper Design studio. In the process, TDRI observed noticeable changes in how its people worked — they became more creative, engaging, and collaborative.
Dr. Deunden concluded that putting in place an effective workplace strategy could lead to positive improvements in office culture.
She was joined in that assessment by Sombat Ngamchalermsak, CEO of Paperspace Asia. He emphasized the significance of transforming personal spaces into an open plan that promotes interaction between employees, thus creating a more dynamic workplace.
In particular, Sombat recommended the transformation and development of office areas into Activity Based Workspaces (ABWs). A cost-saving business strategy that is quickly becoming more popular, ABWs allow employees to choose among a variety of areas designed for specific activities. Instead of being locked in to an assigned workstation, employees are encouraged to stay active and move around while focusing, learning, and collaborating.
Sombat also discussed how Paperspace takes the lead on corporate transformation through previously accomplished projects, among them Facebook offices in India, Jakarta, and Manila, as well as those of TDRI and rentals service Airbnb. He focused on the workplace strategy for each project and how it helps clients achieve their organizational goals.
Finding the intersection
Organizations of all stripes cannot content themselves with delivering profits and financial returns to their owners. In this day and age, they must contend with their employees and customers — sectors that increasingly demand for meaning and purpose.
As such, it would benefit companies to consider the intersection between an increasingly younger population, the importance of creativity, and the need to rethink workspaces. Doing so is the only way to truly manage a sustainable corporate transformation in this new economy.