Several employees socialising in the Airbnb office pantry, comprised of a bar counter and several stools

Workspace Inspiration: Airbnb Office Singapore

Recently, we had the opportunity of visiting the Airbnb office headquarters in Singapore. Designed by FARM, an interior design firm, the entire office exudes creativity, incorporating elements inspired both by Singapore scenery, Airbnb listings, and the team’s own imagination. Airbnb may no longer be operating in the Singapore market, but their office definitely stands as a major source of workspace inspiration! Although there’s much to love about this office space, we break down our top three favourite features below:

1. Reception & Open Space Concept

First impressions matter, and Airbnb has mastered the art. Exiting the lift, you are immersed in a beautifully-lit reception area, incorporating a cool toned pantry area and a sign saying “Welcome Home.” Adjacent to the cafe is an outdoor deck featuring a tall green plant wall, inspired by Singapore’s many indoor/outdoor spaces. The space is fit with large fans, helping workers stay cool outside in the heat and humidity. Already, we are impressed. Who wouldn’t want to work here?

Beyond the reception area, much of the real work happens in an open plan office arrangement. The office prioritizes large, open spaces rather than small, enclosed rooms (ex. private offices), and is designed to promote collaboration among workers. Naturally, the lack of physical barriers inevitably encourages more interaction. In addition, if workers can receive input from their coworkers without having to schedule a formal meeting, this may allow for better ideas and more creativity across the board. Companies like Airbnb, Facebook and Google are just a few examples of companies leading the open office plan movement, and many offices are jumping on the bandwagon.

An open office layout at Airbnb's office headquarters in Singapore. Two women are sitting side-by-side by a long table and staring at a laptop screen.

 Photos courtesy of VulcanPost

2. Designed for Balanced Workflow

Whenever we look at our workspace inspiration, we always prioritize getting to know the atmosphere. Does it feel social? Are people locked away in rooms, unable and unwilling to interact with other members? Are people friendly? The Airbnb workspace has seemingly struck a very harmonious balance between social interactions and grinding. The workspace gives employees the ability to socialize with a pantry on each floor. Here people gather to chat, eat and laugh together. While accommodating for social interaction, the workspace also gives members the ability to grind in do-not-disturb mode. There are lots of meeting rooms as well as little nooks and crannies that are perfect for heads-down work. It’s the perfect combination for a balanced workflow giving team members space to work undisturbed for an hour or two and then head down to the pantry for a 15-minute break to socialize with colleagues.

A colourful orange stairwell adjacent to a breakout space with a creative wall mural in Airbnb's Asia HQ office

A creative breakout corner at the Airbnb office, with checkered floor tiles and colourful portraits on the walll. Two employees are sitting on a couch and discussing over a laptop.

Photos courtesy of VulcanPost

3. Employee-designed Themed Rooms

Perhaps the biggest wow-factors in the office are the employee-designed meeting rooms and private offices, each with their own unique theme. Our personal favorite was a speakeasy-inspired meeting room. The leather couches, electric guitars, vintage Airbnb logo, and alcohol cart were just a few of the items that transported us right back to the Prohibition Era. For each of these spaces, the unique themes allow everyone’s creative juices to flow. The different surroundings undoubtedly help draw out ideas and inspiration that wouldn’t be found in a traditional cubicle setting.

Final Thoughts

The cool, creative, and balanced atmosphere of the Airbnb office space stems from the ideology of ABW or activity-based working, which promotes a combination of open office design spaces with other task-oriented spaces. Often an ABW office design paired with flexible working (non-assigned seating arrangement) is the perfect solution to counter the problems of an open plan design. For instance, if someone needs to make a confidential phone call, they can simply head to one of the phone booths provided. Having a group meeting? Head to a conference room or grab some comfy chairs in the lounge. A Harvard Business Review article touched on ABW design saying, “Our studies show that the most successful work environments provide a range of spaces — an ecosystem — that allow people to choose where and how they get their jobs done.”

Interested in more Singapore-based workspaces? GorillaSpace offers a wide range of options including coworking spaces, private offices, meeting rooms and event spaces for larger groups. The website is free and easy to use. You can browse hundreds of listings, filter based on your needs, and book on the spot, with no additional fees. Happy space searching!

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