Article: Diageo - Designing a Workplace for the Future

By Leesa Rawlings, Head of Talent Engagement, APAC, Diageo

As the world’s leading international spirits business, Asia presents an exciting growth opportunity for Diageo due to the diversity and vibrancy inherent in its amalgamation of developed and emerging markets. The region is the world’s largest Total Beverage Alcohol market with circa £100bn in sales, representing one third of global alcohol consumption. Asia has a rapidly growing, young and urbanized middle-class population and nearly half of the world’s ultra-high net worth individuals are expected to come from Asia by 2020.

Singapore is our regional headquarters for Asia-Pacific and our recently renovated office is occupied by a diverse and mobile workforce that service and promote our leading brands across the region. Having built a talented and dynamic workforce, our philosophy is centered on embracing innovation to ensure the continued success of our business. As this is highly dependent on the success of our people, it is our priority to create an environment where everyone feels included and able to perform at their best.

Our objective was to create an environment to build meaningful connections between our consumers, brands, partners and people. We therefore set about to design an office that would embody this by bringing to life Diageo’s purpose of “Celebrating Life, Every day, Everywhere”, drawing on elements of the home to create a comfortable and welcoming workplace and to create an environment that would induct and immerse visitors into the exciting bar and spirits scene.

We also wanted to create a flexible workplace reflecting the changes in today’s ways of working. There are no desk top screens, computer or landlines, employees are encouraged to take only the tools they need to complete the work to the office area that best suits the task at hand. Therefore, employees are untethered from a fixed desk and all the stuff that tends to accumulate on them, rather they move through the day and perform various work with typically only a lap top and mobile phone which comes with a certain freedom to choose various different work spaces during the day.


We are particularly proud of having created such a diverse business. In Singapore, 60% of our employees are women. Globally 40% of our Executive Committee and 50% of our Board are women. Additionally, our office in Singapore is made up of 25 different nationalities. Every day we celebrate our diversity and remain committed to creating an inclusive, collaborative culture that caters to all our employee’s working and social preferences. Premised on our drive to “inspire and connect”, our office is a unique workplace that connects employees to our purpose and our brands, while bringing our people closer together. This has been created through a welcoming and open environment that enables all to see, touch, taste and experience our brands in a fully immersive and engaging way. 

We wanted to create a workplace that offers simpler and more intuitive connections with people, reducing dependency on formal and digital meetings. As a company that champions diversity, the office design also promotes inclusivity and greater collaboration within a fluid space. With its open and accessible layout, the space allows employees to seamlessly meet and mix with each other, our customers and partners in the spirit of social exchange and knowledge sharing, nurturing new connections and inspiring new ideas. 


Inspired by the concept of a “house”, the office seeks to provide an experience with a variety of spaces, each with a different purpose, scale and feel. Emulating how certain rooms within a house are more public, lively and social while others are more quiet and private, these design principles have been incorporated into our spaces known as the Store, the Living Room, the Bar, the Studio, the Study and the Conservatory.  

The Store, which alludes to the experience of a liquor store, features a welcoming reception illuminated by wall of bottles showcasing a selection of Diageo’s leading brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness. The Living Room is the main artery and social heart of the workplace, providing an open place for casual interactions with colleagues and visitors. The Bar is the focal point of the workplace and it addresses the goal to create “a bar you can work in, and not a bar at work”. 

The Studio is designed as a consciously creative workspace, flooded with natural light to create a bright and open atmosphere. Our informal and open collaborative settings encourage experimentation and the exchange of ideas. The Study provides a quiet place for uninterrupted focused work and also features an arrangement of phone booths and quiet rooms. Within the space, the Conservatory overlooks a peaceful roof terrace and city park, offering a quiet retreat for rest, contemplation and rejuvenation. 


Building on the success of our Johnnie Walker House, a luxury embassy of Scotch whisky, and its established front-of-house spaces, we wanted to elevate the current experience of our office. This was the motivation behind our incorporation of a world class bar as the principle feature of our workplace. Providing a natural setting to showcase Diageo’s collection of brands, the Bar also creates a social environment to do business in, allowing us to induct and immerse visitors into the exciting world around us within the buzzing central business district in Singapore. 

Leveraging the exciting and diverse cocktail bar scene in the area surrounding our office, we want host and curate a continuous flow of world class bar experiences. With that in mind, the Bar is designed to transition from a casual work environment in the day to a lively event space at night; every Thursday and Friday night, we host our colleagues and friends at our bar nights to celebrate our products and the value of “drinking better and not more”.  

To shape the future of work at Diageo, we pride ourselves on having a diverse and vibrant workforce to create a stimulating and rewarding working environment where everyone can flourish. In order to do so, it is important for our office to place a stronger emphasis on environmental and cultural transformation; such a focus is principally driven by our mission to “inspire and connect” whilst creating a place for everyone to “feel at home” while “bringing the outside in” to enhance our office experience. This has encouraged productive and progressive workplace behavior at Diageo, while igniting a new office culture to inspire innovative and other positive ways of working. 


“I love the concept that on any day I can choose where I sit according to how I feel – the great thing is the freedom to choose every day and throughout the day”

“The space is alive, I am facing people, not walls s there are no barriers. This fosters an openness amongst people”

“I like the flexible open working space, the move away from the traditional fixed desks where people all sat in one spot. Now I am inspired to come to work.”

“Inspires my work by bringing in elements of the external environment into the space which really helps me with inspiration and creativity”

“The space mimics how our brands show up in the outside world, the bars and restaurants”