Kantar Philippines: Facilitating Office Culture Transformation Through Interior Design
by Darwin Masacupan
In the information age, many companies are starting to learn that workplace culture is everything. Done right, an organisation’s personality can net them more clients, attract new employees, and create a stronger brand that can compete even in saturated markets.
Kantar Philippines Inc. knows this. After all, it’s one of the world’s leading experts in helping clients grow great brands by constantly analysing, understanding, and interpreting the world. They use data-based insights and qualitative, emotion-based acumen to drive successful marketing campaigns.
For Paperspace Philippines Project Director Karen Calalec, working with Kantar is always a pleasure, as this is the fourth project they have worked on in the span of six years.
Impetus for Change
Since 2013, the company has been steadily moving up—from more traditional workplace settings towards Activity-Based Working (ABW). The thinking behind ABW is that employees can become more productive if they have the freedom to choose how and where to work, given a diverse set of environment options. Basically, Kantar aims to match staff members with specific workspace areas that are most conducive to their particular tasks.
As encapsulated in their Think Design global standard, this mindset served as the main driver for Kantar’s new office fit-out, strategically located at the heart of the Ortigas business and commercial district. They were looking to consolidate their various teams from three different locations.
“We wanted to help Kantar’s CEO, Gary de Ocampo, achieve his vision of office culture transformation through workplace design,” Calalec said.
Towards this goal, Paperspace focused on the whole aspect of the space. The team chose not to limit itself to the aesthetic but also to the function of the space, making sure that every corner of the office will be optimised and utilised.
A Breeze to Work With
The team assembled for the task at hand was formidable in itself. Paperspace took the lead in design development, construction documentation, and project management, which includes engaging partner consultants to do the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and quantity surveying work. A member of the Paperspace Philippines Collective, Motif Studio was tapped as well for the design concept.
But more than themselves, Calalec credits the internal stakeholders at Kantar for the success of the project.
“It is such a breeze to work with them,” she shared. “The job isn’t always easy but they’re consistent in supporting us on all project requirements and they have this astoundingly positive attitude. It makes you want to work harder and do better.”
Planning for Space
In line with the principles behind ABW, Paperspace was able to achieve a 1:1.3 ratio. They considered many employees, such as those in sales and operations, are often out in the field and only come into the office once or twice a week—and sometimes not even for a whole day. A sufficient number of lockers and other amenities were allocated in line with this ratio, maximising the existing available space.
Another important decision made by the management team was to place Kantar executives—even its CEO—in the same workplace setting among the employees. No more divisions, as the company believes that facilitating synergy among its members will be worth it in the long run.
“Mr. de Ocampo told us, ‘Leaving our big tables for normal-sized ones is not a step backward—it’s progress because it allows us, leaders, to be more approachable to our staff,’,” Calalec recalled.
Based on directions from the client, Paperspace adopted a “Nature” design theme for the whole project.
With keywords such as ‘flourishing,’ ‘continuous learning,’ and ‘growth’ behind it, the concept reflects Kantar’s desire to develop employees’ potentials to the maximum, as well as its belief in the company as an ecosystem, one whose sum is greater than its parts. A sculptural representation of a tree was strategically placed at the office entrance to embody this philosophy of continuous, interconnected growth.
In terms of aesthetics and in keeping with the Nature theme, natural materials and tones were used in the whole office design. Bricks with a natural finish and a full moss wall greets everyone at the Reception area. A mixture of green and gray tones are also spread throughout the office with timber finish accents.
Because Paperspace has been working with Kantar for a few years now, they were also able to re-use 100 percent of the current workstation and office furniture—especially since they were previously chosen to complement the Think Design initiative. The cost savings from that effort were then channeled into maximising materials and meeting/focus group discussion (FGD) room specifications to a higher standard.
Bumping Into Each Other
Their open plan layout is supplemented by facilities such as a well-designed cafe that doubles as a town hall venue (or even as a work zone during non-peak hours). Several conference rooms were outfitted with audiovisual and video conferencing equipment, while open collaboration areas are available for non-confidential meetings.
“This concept of ‘designed interactions’ leading to increased collaboration is exactly what Mr. de Ocampo wanted,” Calalec said. “With this kind of office culture, he feels confident that if and when he leaves the company, the people would transition easily because everyone will be helping one another to thrive .”
Within a few weeks of moving into the new office, Kantar employees say their workplace culture improved. Enjoying their visits to the office, clients and business partners have also given it a big thumbs-up.
“I am happy that we were able to produce an excellent-looking, multi-functional space through our efforts. We couldn’t have done it without the trust given us by Kantar,” Calalec ended.