One of the most technologically advanced workplaces has been unveiled by Australian design firm Unispace at the Perth headquarters of the country’s biggest listed natural gas and oil explorer Woodside.

This latest project for Unispace comes at a time when the workplace outfitter – a business success story after establishing 30 offices globally wide in eight years – is on the radar of potential investors, indicating the growing importance of building both high-tech and more people-friendly ‘domesticated’ workplaces.

The Woodside 64,000sqm campus with a 32-floor tower is Unispace’s most ambitious project yet, showcasing some of the latest smart technology and thinking in design. For Woodside’s Perth 3000-plus workforce it means they can now enter their building with the wave of a hand thanks to a biometric security access system, choose from more than 60 different work settings once inside and, when they need a break, avail themselves of a vast array of health and wellness options.

Known as ‘Mia Yellagonga’, the campus’s interior fit-out is hailed as the first ‘truly smart and well workplace’ in the country. Designed by COX Architecture, its Unispace interior breaks new ground in the delivery of a ‘holistic environment’ that not only enhances the human experience but takes business performance to the next level, said Unispace Design Principal Dean Rikanovic.

In addition to biometric scanning and multiple work settings, other features in the Woodside campus include:

  • 100% sit-to-stand motorised desks
  • An app-based program allowing people to find each other across the campus
  • Several vending machines dispensing IT equipment 24/7
  • 24-hour-on-call digital support
  • Floors themed according to the six seasons of the indigenous Whadjuk Noongar people
  • A dedicated wellbeing floor containing a multi-faith prayer room, parenting suites, mindfulness area, massage chair, fireplace, chill-out area, a viewing platform with telescope and library with an AI assistant called Willow that helps staff find information across Woodside’s vast archive. The 24-hour floor is intentionally located halfway up the high-rise to encourage movement and ease of access
  • A 4000 sqm outdoor ‘Family Zone’ comprising a 300-seat café, a games zone with retro arcade games, table tennis, a pool and more, and 4000sqm outdoor space – all of which aims to provide both parenting options, a place for children to do homework while parents work and for staff to take breaks.

No place like home

Created with a view to becoming an ‘international workplace destination of choice’, the Woodside campus is the latest example of blending functionally advanced, high-tech workplace features with those of comfortable, domestic environments.

The ultimate aim, of course, is boosting productivity. Another company in the same arena, Futurespace, won the 2018 Architecture Design Interior Award for its Client Collaboration Floors created for PwC with similarly tangible results. These floors were arranged in a less formal and institutional way, featured muted tones, quality fittings, natural light, and fostered togetherness. PwC reported a significant increase in clientele visits, and client feedback was that they were being more productive in the new environment.

The importance of creating more inspiring office environments was emphasised in recent research by UK office outfitter Morgan Lovell which found about a third of staff had trouble concentrating in their regular areas of work. About one fifth wore headphones as a result, while others said their solution was to move away from their desk or book a meeting room in order to focus on what they needed to complete.

Australia’s office renovations market is worth around $4.6 billion and the average renovation cycle is six years. In eight years, Sydney-based Unispace has expanded into the Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the United Kingdom growing to around 500 staff, and is reportedly targeting around $600 million revenue this calendar year. The company’s client list includes Coca-Cola Amatil, PwC, Deloitte and law firm, Herbert Smith Freehill.

Mr. Rikanovic said the Woodside space was designed to foster a balance across people, place, and technology. “Mia Yellagonga’s design recognises the importance of creating a healthy workplace culture, where business performance and human effectiveness are promoted and enabled as much as social and family connection,” he said.