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Trusting the value of youth, to build a workplace where it is easy for young people to work

A global recruiting firm specializing in the energy industry

[Spencer Ogden] Singapore, Singapore

Spencer Ogden is a young company, founded in 2010, that specializes in global energy-industry recruitment, and one which has seen strong growth. It introduces specialists in petroleum, gas, electric power and renewable energy to client companies around the world. From its headquarters in London, Spencer Ogden has expanded to offices in Glasgow, Manchester, Houston, Dubai, Aberdeen, Calgary Berlin, Cape Town, Perth and more. Its most important Asian offices are in Singapore and Hong Kong.

When you step into the Singapore office designed by Space matrix, the wide space inside is covered in green turf—it looks like a golf course. Bonita Spencer, wife of CEO David Spencer and the person in charge of the office design, talks about the office.

“When my husband and I founded Spencer Ogden, we thought that we would create a company where young employees in their 20s and 30s could work energetically,” she says. “That way of thinking can also be seen in the layout of the office. In planning for the Singapore office, the most important thing we were thinking about was to have an environment that can energize the employees. As we walk through the office, we naturally gain energy from our contact with the greenery. That was the kind of environment that we thought about bringing into the office. To do that, we used a carpet that mimics turf and looks like a green lawn.”

Surveying the office, young employees are actively working across the open green space. “To make sure that employees can enjoy their time in the office, we paid a lot of attention that it not be an environment where people felt they had to sit up straight all the time,” Ms. Spencer says. “For example, the boardroom has a design like a British gentlemen’s club, while the meeting rooms look like a dining room. The company is consistently formal, but the design brings in the informal, so the atmosphere is of a place where there’s excitement in the work.”

CEO David Spencer had more than 20 years of experience in recruitment when he founded the company. His previous company, naturally, had gray carpets on the walls, separated by gray partitions. That experience was very useful in the planning of the Singapore office.

“The desks also benefitted from that experience,” Ms. Spencer says. “If you look around the floor today, you’ll see that the desks aren’t square, but instead are round. The reason for this is that round desks encourage lively conversations. We do have fixed desks, but every six months our regular employees change their desks to keep things fresh. Managers do not have fixed desks, and like other employees, they use round desks to do their work. The fact that we have managers sharing the same round table as other employees use is one indication of how we want, as much as possible, to eliminate hierarchy in the organization.

Spencer Ogden continues to grow around the world. The Singapore office focuses on the electrical energy industry.

Founded: 2010
Sales: €53 million (US$83.5 mullion)
Employees: 308 (2013)
http://www.spencer-ogden.com

Within the office is a space where employees can practice their putting.

  • One floor of the office, covered with green carpet. There is excellent lighting, and the opening feeling gives the sense of being outdoors within the office.

  • Within the office are many of these round tables. This is one method to encourage lively conversation in the office.

  • The boardroom, designed to look like a British gentlemen’s club. The effect is to create a relaxed mood.

  • A meeting room in a Chinese style. This is part of the expression of the company’s multi-ethnic diversity.

It’s not just the office environment. Attention was made regarding the office location as well on behalf of the employees. “Naturally, good access for commuting is part of this, but also the availability of bars to go out for a drink after work and places to enjoy shopping are also important,” Ms. Spencer says. “Locations like industrial zones are taboo!” Some 60 different locations were proposed during the process of selected the Singapore office, with the points outlined above kept in mind as the final location was selected.

Young people today strongly hope for a stylish place to work; they are not strongly committed to salary but also tend not to stay long in one job. For that reason, a number of unique incentives were introduced by the company. Employees who meet monthly goals for three consecutive months are rewarded with a business trip.

“They are sent for one week to locations close to resorts,” Ms. Spencer says. “For that week, the employees commute to an office, but as part-time workers. These kinds of incentives are all part of the strong culture of the company, and help make employees feel glad that they are able to work in the company.

We saw a number of other methods the company uses to increase employee enjoyment. Every day one hour is allotted for what is called the Power Hour; during this hour employees have to work standing up. Bodies that get stiff from deskwork can loosen up by doing this. For “Dress-up Friday,” the theme when we visited was 1980s style, so employees dress up as they like before coming to work. There’s something of the unexpected in the office environment, guaranteeing an invigorated feeling on the floor.

But why is it that Spencer Ogden stresses the office environment for young people? One reason is the connection with the company’s HR strategy. “It’s because we focus on individual training for our employees,” Ms. Spencer says. “When we hire new college graduates, we begin a thorough training program. Of course, new graduate employment and training is something that the company invests heavily in, but we put more emphasis on increasing the number of employees who have been educated in the company way of doing things.”

Spencer Ogden has created a number of plans, such as the creation of company spaces where employees can find inspiration. Because of this, employee motivation naturally is quite high. “We put in a lot of energy and investment in the planning stages for the office,” says Ms. Spencer, “and the employees appreciate the environment that was created—we often receive personal letters of thanks.”

Despite this, however, one small problem emerged. “People got a little too comfortable in the office, so when it got to the end of the day there were some employees who wouldn’t go home!” Ms. Spencer says with a laugh. “It got to be a bit of a concern because the cleaning staff had to push them out so they could get to work. But that really made us happy!”

The company founder, David Spencer – Percival, worked very hard in his youth. Because he can understand the way in which young people can throw themselves into their work, he also put extra effort into ensuring that there would be an office environment where they can have fun. Looking around the office, that sense of liveliness and fun is very evident.

Data
Consultancy for work style & Office interior design:
Space Matrix Design Consultants Pte Ltd

An open kitchen is located near the main floor. Employees holding casual conversation with coffee in one hand is a common sight.

Located within the building housing the office are a sports gym and pool, which employees may use as they like

Young employees, busily working in the office.

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