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A building that signals the future

The 28-storey Globe Tower in Bonifacio Global City is the new high-tech, highly connected, environment-friendly and LEED-certified home  for 4,226 of the telco’s 5,800 employees. Its facade mimics the signal bars on a cell phone.

If you stand across the street and study the façade of this 28-storey, brand-new building in Bonifacio Global City, there would be little doubt in your mind what the structure houses inside (assuming, of course, you don’t see the company logo on the top floors).

The façade, in blue glass and gray concrete, features horizontal lines or bars that cut through the expanse of the building in diminishing proportions as a slanted gray line visually cuts across the building.

These lines look exactly like what you see on the top corner of your cell phone every day — signal bars.

This is the new home of Globe Telecom, called TGT (The Globe Tower), designed by Jojo Tolentino of Aidea Philippines.

In the next few weeks, 4,226 of Globe’s 5,800 employees will begin their move in three waves from their old offices on Pioneer St. in Mandaluyong to this high-tech, LEED-certified, environment-friendly building.

An innocent observation of how exciting but difficult it must be to move one’s headquarters across the metro answered several questions: No, they did not have to move hundreds of desktop computers, servers or paper filing cabinets because all employees use laptops that are cloud-connected, and yes, Globe has been striving to be totally paperless for the past years.

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No, employees are not allowed to bring the accumulated office knick-knacks or files from their old desks beyond what they could fit into one banker’s box (issued with an apron, presumably to protect their clothes from dust when packing up). After all, their new workstations are beautiful with LED bulbs running on top of the low dividers for spot lighting (overhead lights will be turned off at 7 p.m. to save on energy).

Yes, each department head submitted a wish list to the committee during the design phase (the communications team requested for a media room where they could monitor print and TV media or hold crisis meetings; the human resources department wanted an employees’ lounge, etc.).

No, employees can no longer entertain visitors at their desks. Instead, the basement, called The Forum, acts as a visitors’ lounge  with its 21 meeting rooms that range in size from four- to 20-seater, coffee and food bars, alcove seating, and an open space that can accommodate 600 standing people for events, launches, and company meetings.

As Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu likes to say, “TGT is meant to be experienced.”

And an experience you will have, starting at the ground floor where the lobby is seven meters high and clad in glass — its walls and steps leading to the Globe Store on the mezzanine and The Forum below. It would be no surprise if it gave you a sense of déjá vu, like you’ve been in something familiar and similar — like the Apple Store on Fifth Ave. in New York looking like a gem lit from the inside with its glass walls and floors. As it turns out, part of the inspiration is an Apple Store — but the one in The Louvre, we were told.

Cu adds, “Globe commissioned Huawei to provide end-to-end integration service solutions including LTE in-building and power supply system for TGT. The in-building system guarantees optimum network performance which will enable Globe employees to provide the best customer experience to subscribers.”

Even as technology plays a huge part in the design of the Globe Tower, this is a building meant for — and encourages — human interaction.

At the ground-floor pub and restaurant Hungry Hound, with its warm recycled wood planks evoking a thousand stories, social interaction is done over food — pub fare reinvented and a couple of extras thrown in. Right next door is Bar 917 (Niner Ichi Nana), referencing of course the first three digits of a Globe mobile number, with its tufted leather sofas and bookcases.

Both the restaurant and bar are owned by Erik Cua, Rob Pengson, Erwan Heussaff, Carlo Trillo, Marc Soong and Kim Yao. The Hungry Hound is accessible from 32nd St. and is open to the public every day. While cash and credit cards are accepted here, G-Cash card users will enjoy special discounts. 

On the mezzanine level is the full-service Globe Store, which can be accessed through the lobby and Bar 917. Globe personnel here were dressed by Rajo Laurel in  uniforms inspired by Paris.        

If the human need to interact is met in the public areas, it is even more so in the offices where traditional office walls and cubicles are scrapped (only the Globe president has a private office). Employees’ workstations (stylishly equipped with Herman Miller chairs) use an open office concept from floors 9 to 28. On each floor, there are “huddle rooms” (apart from meeting rooms) and breakout areas for informal meetings, coffee breaks and relaxation.

Facilities for employee interaction and wellness include an employee center, a gym, and outdoor roof gardens.

“Each floor’s unique brands represent the different places of the world that capture the essence of the diversity that Globe represents,” says Cu.

Meeting rooms are venues for scheduled formal meetings and presentations. While there are total of 109 meeting rooms for exclusive use of employees, there are also 15 meeting rooms in The Forum and six at 2nd Floor The Loft, and one with Telepresence room for use of employees and guests.

A total of 101 huddle rooms with two to four seating capacity are located in the office areas near hallways and lift lobbies. Designed for impromptu employee meetings, they feature acoustically treated walls, glass whiteboards, Wi-Fi connection, and a speaker system. They can also be used for confidential phone calls — remember, the VPs and bosses are now on the floor with their staff and no longer enclosed in the traditional corner office with a view. This time, everybody has a view of the Taguig environs.

On the 8th floor is the Dining Hall, called Taste, which has a medley of international and local cuisines through six food stalls and nine kiosks including Starbucks Coffee.

The food and beverage outlets in the 600-seat hall are operated by veteran restaurateur Rikki Dee and his company Foodlink Group. “Globe wanted a glamourized cafeteria for its employees and we followed this direction in Taste by providing value meals with style,” Dee says.

Value meals, for instance, start at P59 and the pricing caters to all tastes and budgets. And for those who prefer to pack their lunches, there are microwave ovens for heating.

Dee admits, “It is very challenging to try to please the thousands of employees, so we need to continuously adjust to the requests of Globe  to keep them happy.”

No cash is used in Taste or the Globe Store — everything is paid for with G-Cash, something Globe employees are used to and find convenient.

The Globe Tower also has gardens inspired by the Lantern Bar of Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. The gardens are on the 8th floor (Refresh), 21st floor (Breathe) and 27th floor (Chill) with a tropical resort feel, thanks to wood awnings, a charming mix of granite, marble and brick materials on the floors and walls, palms and bamboos, elevated areas, spot lights, outdoor furniture made of metal wire, aluminum, and faux wood.

The gardens also function as an alternative venue for internal Globe Telecom events, employee town halls, safety health and environment program as well as VIP and senior leadership gatherings. 

Located on the 19th floor is the Employee Center, furnished with café-style round tables, warm circular lights and geometric carpets; it provides various services such as an after-sales service of IT tools, a prayer room, a clinic and pharmacy, a mom’s room, a breakout area, pantry, a banking center as well as Globe Telecom’s boutique—all for the exclusive use of employees.

Indeed, it is a building that paves the way for future, high-tech, environment-conscious structures in the Philippines —  with an eye out for the very human needs of its people.

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