Going Against the Grain

10271407_685325231504469_209637825723840856_oWhen designing our new factory in Siem Reap, creating a pleasant, safe, and efficient working environment for our team was a top priority. While this may seem obvious, so many factories in Cambodia – and indeed around the world – consist of cramped, poorly lit, and badly ventilated workshops, and we felt strongly that we could – and should – demonstrate a better alternative.

To ensure our new factory balanced our needs for function, environmental sustainability, and team wellbeing, we worked with Stuart Cochlin, a British architect based in Siem Reap. Together we incorporated recommendations from Better Factories Cambodia – an International Labour Organisation partner – into the factory’s blue prints, in doing so we ensured that our new factory prioritized the people using it.

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Smaller Workshops

Rather than building one large warehouse-style production space, we have divided up our factory into smaller single-storey workshops arranged around a landscaped courtyard. As well as creating a relaxed, home-like atmosphere in comparison to an imposing warehouse, these smaller buildings allow us maximize natural lighting and ventilation, which is much better for our team’s mental and physical health than spending a full day working under artificial lights.

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Meeting the Needs of Our People

Along with leveled concrete walkways and accessibility ramps, our single-story workshops also ensure that our Siem Reap facility is able to accommodate disabled team members throughout the entire site. This was of particular importance to us during the design process, as we are dedicated to providing equal employment opportunities to all members of the surrounding community, regardless of physical disability.

Many of the Pactics team in Siem Reap come from rural areas, so it was crucial to create a natural setting which would be familiar and comfortable for everyone. In addition to the courtyard garden, our workshops and staff areas are joined by open-air covered walkways which are surrounded by smaller gardens. These provide enjoyable green spaces for our team to relax during their lunch break, as well as pleasant views from the workshops throughout the day.[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]

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Reflecting the value we hold for our team, staff areas are the focal point of our Siem Reap facility rather than being tacked on to the side of our production workshops, as with many traditional factories. Our large open-air canteen provides a space for eating, relaxing, and socializing, and is set away from the production workshops so it is easier for our team to mentally detach from work while they are taking a break. The canteen is also large enough to host social and celebratory events during special occasions such as Khmer New Year.

Staff areas also include a training and computer room, a medical room, a crèche, and a nursing area for team members who are breastfeeding. Often in Cambodia new mothers are forced to leave employment as they cannot find someone to take care of their baby, or cannot afford to buy powdered milk for their baby to drink while they are working. Providing childcare and allowing mothers to breastfeed throughout the day creates peace-of-mind for Pactics mothers, and allows us to keep valued members of our team. 

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Good Business Sense

We believe that having a pleasant and safe space to work in is not only important for each team member’s health and wellbeing, but also makes good business sense. As well as our own observations, numerous social responsibility studies show that when our team is happy in their environment they can concentrate easily, work quickly, and suffer from minimal work-related illnesses or injuries. Happiness at work also ensures a very low staff turnover, meaning our team is made up of skilled and experienced workers.

At Pactics, it is important to us to prove that doing business well means being good to both our people and our planet. We believe our factory sets a positive example among the manufacturing industry in Cambodia and beyond, and we are proud to call it our home in Siem Reap.