Microsoft and Steelcase have launched their WorkLife Centre in Singapore – with high-tech office spaces designed to maximise creativity and output

If you’re bound to your desk without access to advanced tech at work, it’s limiting your creativity – at least according to Microsoft and American office furniture company Steelcase.

As a solution, the mega companies have collaborated to create what they say is the ideal workspace of the future.

Last Thursday (Dec 6), they unveiled the Steelcase WorkLife Centre in Singapore at Mohamad Sultan Road – the first “Creative Spaces” showroom to open in Southeast Asia.

Spanning 5,100 sq ft, it comprises five different spaces which contain sets of office furniture and technology. These “Creative Spaces” – which feature Microsoft devices – are supposedly designed to aid employees’ creative processes.

Companies which take a liking to any set of furniture within a Creative Space in the WorkLife Centre can apply for and purchase either the entire set, or deploy architects and designers to work with Steelcase to customise their own space for the office.

Business Insider was invited to view these five unconventional office set-ups during the WorkLife Centre’s launch in Singapore. Here’s what we found:


1. Duo Studio

This small space is designed to fit only two people, enabling them to co-create shoulder-to-shoulder and bounce ideas off each other.

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The studio fits two desks and two chairs snugly. And when an idea strikes, participants simply need to swivel their chairs round to write it down on a giant whiteboard.

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The height of the desks can be adjusted. 

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There’s also a sofa designed for additional people to sit on for a quick creative review. It faces two 55-inch Microsoft Surface Hub screens, which are primarily used for presentations.

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2. Focus Studio

This studio is meant to provide a seamless transition between working individually and working in a group.

It’s named the Focus Studio because individual creative work requires alone time to focus and get into the flow, the companies say.

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Apart from a gigantic whiteboard wall, the Microsoft Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 is also installed in this space.

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The room also contains the 55-inch Microsoft Surface Hub.

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3. Ideation Hub

Similar to the other rooms, this space houses a blend of traditional and modern ideation methods – a whiteboard wall is built right beside the Microsoft Surface Hub, providing workers different creative methods for idea expression.

The Microsoft device forms the centrepiece of the Ideation Hub. As the room’s name suggests, this high-tech space enables workers to create and share ideas with co-located or distributed teammates via the Surface Hub.

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4. Maker Commons

The Maker Commons is designed to encourage quick switching between conversations, experimentation and concentration. 

And of course, the space features the 84-inch version of the Surface Hub. This bigger model of the Hub supposedly enables more immersive presentations.

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On top of providing a blank canvas which acts as a whiteboard, the Microsoft device also allows presenters to pull up websites, images, and even a digital map.

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Beside the wooden desk is a relaxing lounge area.

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5. Respite Room

This cosy little room with a chair from Steelcase’s designer Massaud Collection is where burned-out employees can retreat to.

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Just one chair, a foot stool, 10 minutes, and a whole lot of greenery is all one needs to lean back and unwind.

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In the showcase, there’s also a window which allows users to relax at the sight of lush greenery.

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The WorkLife Centre also features glass sliding doors – but not the ordinary kind. Watch the screen in the room darken as the glass doors are closed.

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Made by Steelcase’s  interior textiles and applied materials company Designtex, the Casper Cloaking Technology is a layer of architectural film for glass walls that obscures digital screens to outside view. It ensures data privacy while providing the peace of mind to collaborate freely in any working environment. 

Similarly, to protect employees’ privacy, Steelcase has designed a work lounge station which can only fit one worker at a time.

By blocking out distractions from one’s surroundings with walls, the station – called Brody – is designed to allow isolation for the purpose of focused work.

Sean Lim / Business Insider

It looks very much like a business class seat on a plane, especially the arm rest/table beside the cushioned seat.

Sean Lim / Business Insider

While its materials are customiseable, there is no charging station on Brody, as it’s not designed for long hours of use.

According to Steelcase, Brody is one of its most popular products. One organisation in Japan even bought 300 units at one go.

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