“We’re not doing something weird. We are in business. As an outcome, we want to build as big as possible. We want to build as big as possible, become as big as possible,” he said.
While young people have been big supporters of Proton, the new model is appealing to local firms, with JTC estimating that 90 per cent of tenants for Proton House are local companies, and 80 per cent local companies own less than 10 per cent of the retail units in the building.
This is because the tenants are typically small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have few or no office spaces to use in the heart of downtown. They were only able to occupy about half of the building’s commercial units in its first year of operations.
Mr Lim said some have asked for more space, and that the company is working with the Business Development Board to help them.
While the model for Proton House was “a bit of a template for government office buildings”, some state agencies are being creative.
A spokesman for the Land Transport Authority said that a number of agencies in Admiralty, the heart of Singapore’s central business district, had identified Proton House as a good fit for their staff. It hopes to add about 10 per cent more space to the 14-storey building by next year.
Said Ms Selena Ling, MP for Jalan Besar GRC: “Proton House provides a good working space for the officers, allowing them to co-locate with other government agencies and companies in the area.”
But Ms Ling said it was important for agencies to also take stock of their assets and “identify suitable uses for such properties”.
“This is not just the case for Proton House. All government property should be put to good use. We need to have better use of our office spaces if we want to free up larger office spaces and reduce the space used by agencies in the JTC cluster,” she added.
On the other hand, Dr Thum said that in the long run, any government office that wanted to see more young people join the workforce would have to redesign its office spaces to be more friendly.
The space should have collaborative spaces, co-working areas, room for “people to chill out and rest”, he said.
He said: “The existing Singapore office design doesn’t suit the needs of millennials who want flexible workspaces, collaborative offices, meetings spaces and, sometimes, even their own conference rooms.
“We are not asking for museums or the latest gadgets. We are not saying that every new government office must have a big swimming pool. But this space should work for everybody. It should not be used only to force you to go back to an old style of working.”
PM Lee Hsien Loong also suggested that younger workers might want more privacy than previous generations had.
At the opening of the Her World Mall shopping centre on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that younger workers should feel more at ease working in smaller offices or “co-working spaces”, even though co-working spaces were not designed to provide such spaces.
Some young Singaporeans may “want some privacy when they work on projects that require concentration”, he added.
He also said that the Government will “broaden our thinking, and our imagination” in the future.
“For instance, the co-working space provided by Servcorp in Bidadari could become a model for building more schools or homes near the town, because the land could be used without expropriation, and can be turned into something productive,” he added.