The future of workplace is now

Workplace of the future
  • 19 Jun 2024
  • by
  • Tom Mackellar
  • CEO, Development, Lendlease

It’s fair to say the role of the office has never had greater scrutiny than over the past two or three years. A once-in-a-century global pandemic forced people and companies to radically rethink how they work for the first time in a century. As the world slowly resumed ‘business as usual’, it became quickly apparent there was no going back to traditional methodology. Where we worked, how we worked, when we worked – and even why we worked – were questions driving workplace strategy in virtually every contemporary enterprise. What would the future of office look like? And when will it be here?

It’s quite likely you’re living the future of work today. While it’s true people (and organisations themselves) are demanding greater flexibility in the when and how of work, one thing that remains certain is the ‘why’ of work: there is simply no substitute for what can be achieved when people come together. The most consequential question of our times is where people come together, which has fuelled a flurry of new leasing activity in the central precincts of our major cities.

“The conclusion is quite clear – people, and organisations, want to be in new, high quality, premium workspaces located in the city,” says Tom Mackellar, CEO, Development, Lendlease.

“The data also suggests people want to be part of the CBD. They gravitate to the energy, diversity and dynamism that can only be found in the centre of our cities. They want to come together to have shared, authentic experiences.”

While the term ‘flight to quality’ has become a ubiquitous descriptor of recent workplace trends, it also happens to be a true indicator of what organisations across the country are prioritising when it comes to the form and location of their future workplaces. The ‘holy grail’ is for companies to earn the commute – to establish a workplace that inspires collaboration, innovation, wellness and productivity, one that is safe and easy to get to and enjoys a diversity of supporting amenity and conveniences.

Tom Mackellar believes our cities fuel the economy. “Australia’s largest cities have generated almost 70 percent of out total economic output over the past three decades. In order for our growth industries to attract the bright minds and skilled migrants that will generate real value, we need to ensure our workplaces are easily accessible, and the location, quality and experience offered by them is one that supports the wellness, convenience and flexibility that underwrites the productivity and efficiency needed for our future growth and prosperity.”

When the Melbourne operation of multinational real estate group CBRE embarked on a search for a new workplace – the company’s first move in a decade – they left nothing to chance when it came to securing an environment that addressed every need of their people, and the business itself – and had the flexibility to support the growth and evolution of the business in the future.

Jarrod Frazer, Executive Managing Director – Victoria, CBRE explains: “We undertook significant research to understand what our business needed and what our people wanted. From an extensive survey of our staff, to multiple team workshops, to having a specialist research team embedded within our business for an entire month to get an on-ground understanding of how we do things, we wanted our decision to be as informed as possible, because we, perhaps more so than most, are acutely aware of the profound role a workplace can play in a company’s success. We absolutely wanted to get it right.”

For CBRE, the choice to relocate to Town Hall Place at 25 Swanston Street, in the heart of Melbourne, was all about their employee experience – which starts with the arrival experience itself. “Our research told us that the commute to and from work is the “killer” when it comes to workplace attendance, so one of our mandatories in selecting our new office was its proximity to transport. Town Hall Place sits above a future metro line, is across the road to Flinders Street station and has direct access to the CBD tram network. It simply couldn’t be easier or more seamless for our people to arrive at work each day.”

Authenticity was also a key driver for CBRE. A key theme from internal workshops was the significant desire and aspiration of their people to enjoy genuine experiences as part of their every day. Whether it be the diversity of local cafés and eateries, or the quality of local bars, restaurants, retail and opportunities for cultural enrichment, their team placed just as high a value on what surrounded their workplace, than the workspace itself.

Once again, Town Hall Place delivers. “We see Town Hall Place as being ‘very Melbourne,” says Jarrod. “While it’s an emerging part of the CBD for business, we see this precinct as the future of the city. It’s highly connected and completely surrounded by truly authentic Melbourne experiences. We feel quite proud to be part of a place that will earn its rightful position amongst the indisputable cultural icons of Melbourne itself – Flinders Street station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s a place that celebrates the past but is absolutely moving toward the future.”

Naturally, carbon reduction and sustainability are also major considerations in the future of workplace, and a key motivation for many organisations choosing to relocate to modern offices that support the highest standards in environmental sustainability.

While the nature of how we work continues to evolve for many organisations, it’s evident that the quality of a workplace is the defining factor in helping organisations attract and retain the best talent, nurture greater levels of flexibility and wellbeing, support higher performance and build a thriving culture. For those choosing to work in progressive, highly accessible and sustainable precincts and workplaces such as International Towers, Melbourne Quarter, Town Hall Place, and the many offices within the Lendlease office portfolio, the future of work has arrived.

Workplace of the future