On Monday, the first of 2000 staffers of global property and construction giant, Lendlease, will move into the group’s new headquarters on Sydney’s Barangaroo South.
Their new workplace, over 12 floors of International Towers Three, is part vision of the future and part showcase.
It includes hero elements like 5000 plants in Australia’s first “breathing” wall, a large cafe kitchen, a 3D immersion theatre and a wellness hub. And the cost, though not disclosed, would be more than $70 million.
Lendlease chief executive Steve McCann said the new headquarters would be a “very cost-effective outcome” given the workspace density and the employee benefits that Lendlease’s team-based environment could “comfortably” deliver across the large floor plates.
“The benefits include the health and wellbeing enhancement from the world’s most sustainable buildings and the best food and beverage and public space available to commercial tenants in Sydney,” he said.
“It combines the best of both traditional workplace strategies and new ways of working – connecting people, knowledge and teams to deliver more seamless communication and better results,” he said.
Lendlease developed the Commonwealth Bank’s offices at Darling Quarter in Sydney and learnt from the bank’s experience with activity-based working.
“We recognise it [activity-based working] is not for everyone,” Mr McCann said. “We wanted flexibility but a bit more feeling that you are part of a team.”
Lendlease uses the term “agile” to describe its new workplace. Each employee belongs to a team neighbourhood of 15 to 20 people and each neighbourhood has a range of work spaces, as well as near-at-hand lockers.
The focus for each team is a technology enabled team table, and the neighbourhood has a variety of other work stations such as enclosed pods for more individual work. Forty per cent of the work stations are stand-up desks with the furniture sourced from UniFor and Haworth.
Lendlease put two years of research into the space, finding that 41 per cent of the staff occupied a seat in the office at any one time with 36 per cent away on external sites, and 23 per cent in the office but away from the desk.
On that basis, the new workspace is actually pretty generous. Lendlease will have 10 work seats for every 11 staffers, which is a “low agile ratio”, according to the head of Lendlease’s workplace programs, Cate Harris.
Lendlease will fit its 2000 employees into 24,500 sq m, which is an overall work place ratio of just over 12 sq m per person. Within the neighbourhoods the work space ratio would be much tighter, because the overall ratio allows for extensive additional collaboration and client spaces, the wellness hub, the kitchen and an event space capable of holding 250.
Global design firm HASSELL worked with Lendlease Design on the fitout. HASSELL managing director Rob Backhouse said the new Lendlease office marked the next evolution of workplace design from activity-based working to agile working.
“With a split of fixed standing and sitting desks, the workplace actively promotes healthy working and will provide a leading example for workplaces to follow.”
Lendlease has work space clients like the CBA, NAB, Telstra, Aurecon and WeWork. “This is a concept we hope to roll out to our clients in the next couple of years,” Mr McCann said.
“Our breathing wall actively pulls air through the module and over the leaves and growing medium,” Junglefy founder Jock Gammon said. “This active ventilation offers all the benefits of a traditional green wall or pot plants – reducing carbon dioxide levels, filtering out air pollutants, and cooling and humidifying indoor air – but at a much greater level of efficiency.”
He noted that the Plants and Environmental Quality Research Group at the University Technology Sydney, found that that the Junglefy Breathing Wall removed a high level of carbon dioxide, over 24 litres an hour.
Lendlease already has a 6 Star Green Star Office Design v3 rating from the Green Building Council of Australia for the building and will apply for Green Star and WELL ratings for the workplace.
Helping the Wellness rating will be Food Rascal, a division of the Alder Road Food Group, which will operate the cafe, kitchen and collaboration space as well as a barista-style bar.
Food Rascal managing director Dave O’Brien said it was the biggest cafe kitchen in the city, staffed by a team of six, along with the waiters, baristas and the events team. Mr O’Brien said the quality would be “easily a one-hat rating, two hats in a year”.
And the cost? “On a sq m basis it was not unreasonable,” Mr McCann said. “We want to promote it to our clients, so the cost per sq m is well under some other fitouts in Sydney, and the cost per person is not that great.
“It’s about creating the best places …This incredible space showcases Lendlease’s capability – owned by a Lendlease-managed fund, built by our building business, in a precinct transformed by our urban regeneration business and in a tenancy that demonstrates our understanding of vibrant, productive workspaces for our employees and our customers.