A Space that Speaks

A good friend of mine is a corporate attorney in pristine, photo-ready, no-gum-on-the-sidewalks Singapore. The country sometimes feels more like a picturesque Orlando theme park than it does an Asian nation. It is unthinkable that a candy wrapper might fall to the street, and one can hardly find a flower drooping in a public park. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where it’s probably safe to eat off the ground. Singapore’s high-strung adherence to beauty and civil order is matched only by its stringent emphasis on work.

The importance and prominence of a disciplined work ethic is so deeply ingrained in this culture that it is expected families will employ at least one helper to care for family and home while both parents work full time jobs. A strong work force is critical to sustain this small-but-mighty country’s economy, and every worker matters. The life of a Singaporean is to be educated well, and then to work.

My Singaporean friend recently lamented to me, “I honestly don’t think work can be fulfilling.”

This is a deeply saddening statement when one considers how central and consuming work is to Singaporean life.

Bearing in mind that we both have relatively uninspiring jobs (let’s be honest that corporate legal work is about as thrilling as stock transfer work), it struck me how very different my outlook on work is.

I believe work can be fulfilling and enjoyable. As a leader, I’ve taken up the responsibility to ensure my team experiences this.

We just finished designing a new office at ClearTrust. Every detail is intentional, coming together to create a beautiful environment conducive to collaboration and enjoyment. We designed the office to be welcoming, light-hearted, and energizing. Elevating desks give team members the freedom to sit or stand, exercise boards give them a physical outlet for stress, and an energy room complete with coffee bar, AstroTurf rug and diffused essential oils provides a sanctuary to regroup and refuel.

Needless to say, the team loves our new office and job satisfaction is higher, predictably yielding an even better work product.

But my favorite part is what the office says about work itself. Our new space defies the common drudgery-of-work mentality that plagues not just Singapore, but much of the developed world, and bears witness to the hallowed truth that work is meant to be deeply satisfying and enjoyable.

This space is rich in purpose because it speaks.

It tells the people who work here that they are worth a functional, beautiful space.

It tells the people we serve that they are worth receiving the best possible service.

It tells the people who visit us they are worth welcoming into a positive, energizing place.

We celebrate this new office because it proclaims in physical space that which ClearTrust has always proclaimed in action: people are inherently valuable. This new space speaks of the inherent value of the people who work here, the people we work for, and the people we impact.

Such is the power of intentionality and creativity in designing an office. We have found, with great satisfaction and fulfillment, that it is possible to create a space that speaks.