A seismic workplace shift requires nimble footwork


Once complete, about 2000 employees will be installed in the new tower which is adjacent to the ANZ’s global headquarters in the city’s Docklands district, at 833 Collins Street.

Built by Lendlease and owned by Invesco and Challenger, the ANZ has taken 12 floors in the $430 million structure, a total of 26,000 square metres of leased space.

But it won’t be business as usual for the bank’s employees in the new building.

They will benefit from several years of workplace experimentation the bank has been undertaking in its vast Docklands headquarters where it has focused on creating different “Agile” work environments.

The campus-style headquarters’ 9000 sq m floor plates have given the property team ample room to fine tune alternative work arrangements.

“We’ve managed to change it, transform it, experiment with things in it,” Ms Langan said.

That includes different types of furniture, ways of displaying materials and giving staff the freedom and flexibility to work in different parts of the building or remotely through hot-desking.

“There’s quite a big push for a much more domestic feel in the workplace. People are much more comfortable to sit in the pantry or semi-private areas and work in teams on shared tables,” Ms Langan said.

About 4000 of the 7000 staff in the group’s headquarters now work in an agile way.

“After all the experimentation in here [at 833 Collins], we thought we needed to nail our colours to the mast and so we’ve created 26,000 sq m of what we believe is the next generation workspace [in the new building].”

From past to present, the key physical difference is in the layout and furniture.

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“All our furniture has become much more mobile, our environment is more open, there is less built space, it’s much more collaborative and much more reconfigurable,” she said.

The bank co-designed small, highly maneuverable “go-desks” that can be raised and lowered electronically with office furniture provider Zenith.

“I can just literally unplug it and take it to another space. This is the kind of mobility we find people are looking for,” Ms Langan said.

Monitors, screens and even storage cupboards are fitted with castors so they can be moved around, repositioned.

The new office has expanded the size of informal spaces and hardwired them for power and data enabling employees to work in what were once regarded as sitting, eating or relaxing areas. It also hosts innovation labs and project spaces.

One floor is given over to a wellness space called The Retreat. It’s festooned with luxurious green plants and dotted with alternative playful, see-through and moveable, “igloo” meeting spaces.

An outdoor terrace on the same level features a basketball/netball court, barbeque, timber lined outdoor retreat for yoga. Nearby are dedicated multi-faith and parent rooms.

The building’s interior was designed by Hassell architects to provide different and complementary facilities to what was available in the ANZ’s headquarters next door, giving it the sense of an extended campus available to all employees.

“We talk about ANZ campus. In this building [833] we have cores A, B and C. Next door [in 839] we’ve created core D. So it has that sense of a faculty,” Ms Langan said.

“It’s their [staff’s] workplace and home. That bridge between work and home is blending much more,” she said.

Property Editor at The Age and BusinessDay journalist for Fairfax’s theage.com.au, smh.com.au, watoday.com.au and brisbanetimes.com.au.

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