When we stepped into the elevator of the Galaxis building at One-North, where Garena’s offices are located on the 16th and 17th floors, I was surprised by the absence of any buttons allowing me to select the desired floor to go up to, leaving only the buttons for the opening and closing of the doors.
I stepped out to realise that the operation of the lift depended on me scanning an access card against a panel outside the lift, then selecting the desired floor from that panel.
The slightly unconventional elevator was an initial indicator of the modernity and innovativeness that the Internet company’s offices would soon further greet me with.
Arriving at the lobby on the higher of the two floors, natural light sweeping into it from floor-to-ceiling windows along the opposite side was not the only thing greeting guests, but also a webbed green and white theme that adorned the carpet and reception desk.
That same theme can be found on wall finishes, frosting patterns, work desks, and even acoustics treatment throughout the two-storey office, symbolising the connectivity that Garena, with services spanning entertainment, communication, payments and m-commerce, identifies as its purpose.
Along the windows on the 17th floor, just after the reception counter, are also a series of meeting rooms paying homage to (by being named after) pioneering figures in Singapore (Lee Kuan Yew) and in technology (Steve Jobs), and memoralising Garena’s heritage in Murray Terrace (in Tanjong Pagar) where it was formerly located. The meeting rooms each embody characteristics for different occasions, from the large and formal to the cosy and welcoming, including a Shangri-La room, so named because it has a ginger and bergamot fragrance (with the aid of aroma diffusers) reminiscent of that found in the chain of hotels of its namesake.
The various teams that work on Garena’s four key pillars, namely entertainment (Garena+), communication (BeeTalk), payment (AirPay) and m-commerce (Shopee), are spread over both floors and have their offices designed and structured for their respective needs.
For example, the developers, whose work centre around programming and coding, have the option of working at standing desks in their office because of the long hours they usually spend sitting down.
Another installation that facilitates their work is phone booths, which individuals can enter to take calls without disturbing co-workers and in which they can speak in confidence.
With 350 employees now based in Singapore (new hires are projected to increase the number to 500), Garena has taken care to provide welfare, incentives, and facilities that would contribute to comfort and productivity.
In the pantry that is really more like a café, individuals can help themselves to assorted snacks and ice cream ranging from traditional favourites such as potong* to modern classics such as Magnum. The company also caters for breakfast and lunch, on a weekly and monthly basis respectively.
Employees can indulge in a siesta in one of the sleep pods (with bed sheets cleaned daily) or enjoy a 30-minute massage from an in-house masseuse (every employee limited to only twice monthly).
With facilities, services and perks like those aforementioned, the office is arguably where Garena employees work and play.
*A Malay word which means “cut”, referring to rectangular popsicles that are cut into portions from a bigger block, with flavours such as yam, durian and red bean