Inside the Modern Workplace

Businesses today are undergoing much development and are beginning to hold greater responsibility. They are expected to be more actively engaged in political, social and environmental issues and decisions. By making opinions in such matters transparent to clients, stakeholders, employees and the public, businesses attract like-minded people that they identify more closely with, thereby creating new communities both within and outside company walls.

The Global Reporting Initiative has recognised that almost 90% of the world’s largest companies are now reporting on their sustainability performance, and statistics from 2018 also show that 64% of people globally expect CEOs to be leaders of social change. One particular study conducted by Deloitte highlights the thoughts and expectations younger generations have of their employers, indicating the direction in which the evolution of businesses needs to move in the future.

In this brief video, the point about the importance of companies making a positive impact on society as well as focusing on employees needs is reiterated. One such company based on these principles is RISC (Research & Innovation for Sustainability Centre), a Bangkok-based business supported by MQDC headquartered at DTGO, a company dealing with international real estate development and voted one of the most ethical companies of 2019. Not only is RISC an excellent example of a forward-thinking workplace, but they specialise in the research and development of sustainable solutions used to enhance the quality of life. With a mixture of scientists, designers and engineers, RISC is a collaborative and interdisciplinary endeavour that both property developers and the public are able to benefit from.

Demonstration Hall, RISC. © Emily D’Silva

I met with one of the researchers and sustainable designers at RISC who was kind enough to show me around the office, explaining the function of each zone, beginning with the Eco-Material Library. While RISC have an extensive online library, they use this in-house space to showcase a selection of environmentally-friendly materials for visitors to see and feel. Mostly for construction purposes, all the materials have been produced using renewable energy sources and are designed to be non-toxic and sustainable, using recycled materials and reducing energy usage and waste. Architects, building planners and construction companies with the aim of producing WELL standard, socially and environmentally responsible buildings are able to find suppliers through RISC and subsequently use LEED certified materials.

Eco-Material Library, RISC. © Emily D’Silva

RISC itself uses some of these materials within the building; the interior walls and surfaces are made from upcycled buttons and eggshells, the café worktop contains anti-bacterial properties to maximise health and safety where food is handled, and the interior paint and décor is free of volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde. These are just a few examples of how the company office succeeds in being a sustainable and habitable environment for everyone working. Biophilic design is implemented from the Inspiration Hall through to the Café Zone, with vegetation being tested for its durability in an indoor environment, thereby learning which plants would be best suited to improving the air quality of the office, as well as productivity and positivity. With an indoor air-monitoring system and sensors in each zone of the office, the RISC team are able to track the internal air quality (IAQ), measuring temperature, humidity, particulate matter, total volatile organic compounds and CO2 levels. As my guide explained, since we no longer spend the majority of our time outdoors, we must bring the goodness of the outside in, to improve the air quality of the environment we now occupy the most.

Inspiration Hall, RISC. © Emily D’Silva

Looking past the immediately visible, other subtle innovative features in the office include a discreet sound-masking system to minimise noise disruption and improve speech privacy in the Agora Zone and Demonstration Hall, both areas of which are open plan and intended for collaborative working and holding talks and presentations. In addition, a smart lighting system uses natural daylight sensors to adjust accordingly to provide optimum lighting for the indoor working environment, while an energy monitoring system measures the energy consumption of the office.

RISC is the first facility in Thailand in the process of achieving WELL certification by the International WELL Building Institute. By prioritising the health and well-being of the team and designing the entire architecture of the office in an environmentally friendly manner, RISC promotes itself as a forward-thinking, sustainable business, and a good example for others to follow. On top of that, by sharing their research and development of sustainable solutions, they aim to encourage other businesses worldwide to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their sustainability performance, positively impacting not only the local community, but also the world as a whole.

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