Incentives drive high-tech office design

15/03/2016 - 13:45

Big incentives in Perth’s office leasing market are resulting in world-class, high-tech fit-outs for tenants willing to take the plunge and move buildings.

open: Ken Anderson says technology played a big role in Brookfield Multiplex’s fit-out at Brookfield Place. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Big incentives in Perth’s office leasing market are resulting in world-class, high-tech fit-outs for tenants willing to take the plunge and move buildings.

The next generation of offices is emerging in Perth’s CBD, with a growing focus on flexibility and future proofing blurring the lines between home, hospitality and the workplace.

Meanwhile, the market is stacked in favour of tenants planning a move, with depressed leasing conditions meaning landlords are willing to foot the bill for increasingly high-tech office fit-outs.

A recent report by commercial agency Colliers International showed office-leasing incentives in Perth had reached 46.5 per cent of the aggregate value of the lease.

Those incentives, which are most commonly put towards a fit-out, are offering unprecedented opportunities for tenants looking to improve their office accommodation.

Current office market conditions are also proving to be a boon for interior design firms, which are enjoying increased levels of inquiry.

ON THE MOVE: Flexible working areas are a feature of MercyCare’s new office fit-out in West Perth, by MKDC.  

However, Woods Bagot senior associate Ken Anderson said while his firm was busy working on new fit-outs, he wasn’t entirely sure the market had embraced the fact that landlords were willing to pay for furniture and technology to get them to move.

“I’ve been in Perth for 12 years, and I can’t remember organisations ever willing to pay you to move, to pay for your fit-out,” Mr Anderson told Business News.

“It’s almost a golden opportunity. Perth should get on that bandwagon and go crazy – it’s virtually free.”

Mr Anderson said those firms that had committed to a move in recent months were committing not only to new technologies throughout their new offices, but also new ways of working.

“Agile workplaces are attuned to lifestyle and how we actually live our lives, and it’s trying to mimic that back into the workplace as opposed to forcing a foreign workplace on many of the new, younger workers who just don’t do it that way,” he said.

“We’re working more at home, therefore why can’t the office look more like home rather than rows of desks?

“The workplace itself is changing with technology and organisations can’t afford not to do it, they can’t be left behind.”

Mr Anderson said a recent Woods Bagot-designed fit-out for Brookfield Multiplex was a good example of what firms are able to achieve in their office accommodation.

Brookfield Multiplex recently shifted into the second tower at Brookfield Place, with the latest technology a large component of the new fit-out, which is designed to reflect the culture of the construction giant better than its old digs at The Old Brewery on Mounts Bay Road.

In the reception area, 12 video screens display live camera feeds from Brookfield Multiplex construction sites across the city, allowing staff to check in on progress remotely.

Mr Anderson said the Brookfield Multiplex fit-out was also totally open plan, with the executive team no longer having offices and instead sitting alongside the rest of the staff.

“They’ve come from a very clunky, quiet, bank-like office,” Mr Anderson said.

“You saw doors, walls and long dark corridors of mystery and misery, and although it was plush and it was beautiful, they weren’t happy there.

“It wasn’t team based, even though they all work in teams, and it was quite different to how they work on site, which created a bit of an ‘us versus them’ situation, which was a little bit negative.

“They really wanted to change that and blur the line between how they operate on sites and how they operate in the office, and they wanted to make sure that the guys from site were welcome and felt comfortable in the office.

“They are lighter and faster on their feet, they can respond quicker, staff are more comfortable, and it breaks down the hierarchy in the office.”

MKDC director Kathleen Kusinski said her firm was enjoying an increased level of inquiry, with clients focused on creating offices that adapted to changing work styles.

Those changing work styles require an office designed for easier worker collaboration, with firms committing to providing a range of different workplace environments while also reducing individual workers’ footprints.

A recent fit-out by MKDC for Colliers International included formal meeting rooms with ‘smart glass’, walls that can alter opaqueness according to needs, as well as informal meeting pods and individual work spaces that can also be tailored to requirements.

BRIGHT: Colliers International’s fit-out by MKDC is flexible and driven by technology. 

Ms Kusinski said that sort of open-plan or agile workplace environment gave firms the opportunity to provide additional benefits for their staff – lounge areas, resort-style end-of-trip facilities, cafe-style eating areas or grooming rooms.

COLOURFUL: Cafe-style eating is a key benefit for staff. Photos: MKDC 

“If you get it right, it’s an important business driver,” Ms Kusinski told Business News.

“What you are doing here is you’re demonstrating that you’re really looking after your staff and you’re thinking about not only attracting young graduates, but also retaining your older, more experienced staff.

“If you get your footprint right, in-build your technology and in-build your flexibility, that will give you future-proofing for years to come.”

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