It’s easy for large companies to talk of change, and many do, but it’s often the employees that are last to benefit from these management led initiatives. Not so in the Tsuen Wan headquarters of the Chinachem Group, on four floors of Nina Tower. There, a striking transformation has taken place, one that perfectly reflects the company’s bold ambitions.
Gone are the multiple corner offices for management, the rabbit warren of cubicles, and the drab institutional décor. And in has come light, clean air, an egalitarian layout, and places where congregation and socialising are actively encouraged.
Describing the new environment, CEO Donald Choi explains, “This is not only about work, but about work life balance and creating a comfortable place for everyone. It is really user friendly, almost a home, rather than a workplace.”
The process of entering the offices, has itself been turned into a theatrical journey, with a dedicated elevator speeding visitors non-stop to the 38th floor, where one steps out into a curving spacious lounge bathed in natural light. There, amongst the low level leather sofas, the expanses of timber and stone, you’re greeted by ambassador Shawn, who seems genuinely pleased to see you, offer you a coffee or juice drinks from the bar and make you comfortable whilst the person you’re meeting is located. All very civilised indeed.
But it’s not just the public areas that have been lavished with attention, natural materials, and copious fresh plants. Workspace design experts M Moser have created an incredibly welcoming working environment for the 600 or so who make up the Chinachem headquarters team.
Each of the four floors are now linked by a central staircase, a seemingly traditional feature, but one that creates connectivity between departments, encourages social interaction, and of course contributes to the health of those using it every day.
Group COO, HH Wong explains, “We really wanted to create a workspace that the staff can enjoy. You’ll notice that each on each of the four floors, we've got a social hub, a place where they can interact with other staff and enjoy their time.”
These hubs, are very generous in space and seating, with Italian coffee makers, filtered water dispensers, a large fridge, and a vending machine where healthy snacks are dispensed, paid for by the company themselves, in scheme called ‘Snack ‘n Social Credit’. Everywhere you look, there are natural materials and finishes, and plants abound. In fact, a combination of clever design and new technology has improved air quality within the workspace by 40% against the previous office. And there’s now screens throughout the building that show live values for temperature, humidity, AQI and Ozone.
One would imagine these many features would come at the cost of space, however clever planning by the designers has delivered 40% more workstations than the old scheme. And each desk is now 100% height adjustable, that can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button.
But it’s not all work work work at Chinachem, there’s room for play too. CEO Choi explains, “We have social spaces on all the four floors. And on the 35th, this floor is actually a playground for all, the most favourite place for everyone.”
Here we find employees on beanbags, clustered around a big screen, excitedly chatting, absorbed in a video game tournament. And there’s even space for a pool table, which is on order. So, as you can see, the desire to change that the company announced a couple of years ago, has not just resulted in projects like Central Market, and initiatives like their sustainability report. This change has transformed the working lives of those who make the company run, day to day.