A Workplace with a difference
Published on June 10, 2009
SCT's bold departure from office tradition
Within the renovated Green Elephant Building inside the Siam Cement Group (SCG) compound there is a company headquarters where workers are truly treated as if they were at home. There are sofas, refrigerators and liquid-crystal-display television sets and Mama instant noodles or ice cream are ready to be served to staff. There is also a lounge for employees and their guests, with comfortable seating, a piano, a Boss home-theatre system - even a wine cellar.
The office with all the comforts of home houses the headquarters of SCT, the international trading arm of one of Thailand's biggest industrial conglomerates, SCG.
"Recently, there was a petition letter sent from SCG staff to the group's top executive, complaining about the difficulty of being recruited to work here," said SCT managing director Kalin Sarasin.
Kalin, who personally interviews every candidate, is clearly proud that his company has achieved its objective of becoming the "most desirable organisation for which to work".
SCT aims to become Asia's leading global trading company in the core areas of energy, recycling, construction materials and industrial supplies. In line with the SCG group's policy, SCT has geared itself to be an innovative workplace. The office has been redesigned to allow flexible seating and mobile working. Except for the top six executives, who have private offices, managers sit alongside their staff.
Phisanu Milintanush, SCT's manager for building and home products, said the company earlier had problems coping with growing staff numbers. However, the new mobile office design, which eliminates fixed seating, has allowed it to absorb more staff, thanks to the fact that most of them are sales people who work outside office and overseas.
At present, SCT employs about 500 people. About 150 of these are stationed overseas.
It is the only SCG subsidiary at which staff interviews are conducted in English.
More than half of SCT's staff are employees who have joined the firm in the past five years. Kalin said the company's move towards "a new innovative culture" had led some old workers to quit, because they "did not fit in" with the new set-up. The average age of SCT's employees is now 28.
The company has initiated many programmes to encourage innovation, including an idea committee, which is tasked with hearing new ideas and suggestions from the staff. Kalin is chairman of the committee and other members include staff from different ages and levels. There is also an "idea corner", a "show and share" forum, and what is called "the potato club" - a venue for young workers to conduct activities that they enjoy, such as painting, learning cooking and even a weight reduction contest.
"The objective is to create a work atmosphere which has friendship and is informal - and not simply a place where you come to earn a living. We're not keen on studious types," Kalin said.
He said SCT's goal was to introduce new business over the next five years that would successfully lift the volume of its existing business by at least 20 per cent. It is geared towards more value-added products and services.
"[When] there are new things coming up in the world, we want to be the first to implement them," Kalin said, speaking of SCT's aspirations.
The recent renovation of the Green Elephant Building has proven to be a showcase for these ambitions. At the same time as it implemented its mobile-office design, SCT overhauled and revamped the 34-year-old building to make it highly energy-efficient. It has become one of only two buildings in Thailand accorded the Energy Ministry's Gold Label award.
Building and home-products manager Phisanu said SCT was now considering offering its services as an energy-efficiency consultant.
SCT has an annual sales turnover between Bt60 billion and Bt70 billion. Of this, about 35 per cent comes from serving SCG. The rest comes from "outside" clients. This is a sharp contrast from 2001, when 80-90 per cent of SCT's turnover came from clients within the parent group.
SCT's products fall into 15 categories: construction materials, home improvement products, energy products, plastics and chemicals, aluminium, machinery and minerals, agribusiness, waste paper, steel scrap, paper and pulp, non-ferrous and plastic scrap and food and beverages.