Making the workplace a destination

Exit the lifts into our new Melbourne welcome area and your first impression is of immersion in rich colour, movement and openness—possibly not what you were expecting from the new offices of a professional services firm.

Gleaming white welcome pods (goodbye oversized and imposing reception desks) are visual anchor points in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

In Brisbane and Sydney, step up to the welcome wall of motion-sensitive, interactive screens and—if you’re armed with the app (launching in 2017)—they’ll recognise who you are and where you’re headed (for those clients who want to “do it yourself”).


It's clearly a working space, no question, but there's also echoes here of the very latest in hotel, restaurant, tech company and airport lounge design.


In Melbourne, hanging from the stairs in front of you is a series of boxes in lustrous red, yellow and orange; and digital artwork ‘The Flame Tree’ by Bruce Ramus flows down past these through the four-storey open stairwell. ‘The Flame Tree’ displays abstract impressions of Australia’s six Indigenous seasons and the weather outside.

It’s clearly a working space, no question, but there are also echoes of the very latest in hotel, retail, restaurant, tech company and airport lounge design.

And that’s because, as Futurespace’s Angela Ferguson explains, PwC’s new workplaces in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney are fundamentally all about delivering “a new, exceptional level of client service”.

That’s something that has been arrived at, she explains, by a canny blending of ideas from the “very best hotels with the latest technology with forward-thinking workplace design. It’s not a straightforward office layout. It’s a hospitality project, it’s a major hotel project, it’s a major technology project and it’s a major workplace project. It’s all these things combined into one.”

While there is consistency of experience between all the offices, it was also important each location showcased the nuances from the community in which PwC lives. 

Clients will notice that although the aesthetics of the various locations and floors change (from open to more intimate, vibrant to subdued, relaxed to formal, hi-tech to hi-touch), the driving forces are the same: to put the client first in a way the client wants to work.

Embedded in the new physical space is the latest in technology—both the more obvious and the unseen—all calculated to ensure the client’s experience is as simple, barrier-free and accessible as possible.

The driving vision is to create a destination: to create a range of spaces, settings and environments that meet the complex needs of a very disparate range of clientele, while also containing and inspiring a diverse range of collaborations and interactions.

“It’s about giving our clients choice, continuing to work alongside our clients at their premises but also ensuring PwC is top of mind as the destination for their next meeting with us,” explains Manuela Schmid, Clients & Strategy Director.


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Deep spaces

Watch the designers and thinkers behind the transformation discuss how the new spaces will shift PwC's working practices.

“The people we work with,” says Joseph Carrozzi, Market Managing Partner, Sydney, “cover the full spectrum from the largest businesses to innovative new start-ups. We have to be relevant to all that spectrum. Whether it’s our private clients (private businesses, families and individuals) team, our digital technology team or our audit and risk team, we have to make sure that their client’s experience and expectations are catered for in the new building.”

In Sydney, the new offices range across 12 levels of Barangaroo’s Tower One. Four of the floors are devoted to working with clients. In Melbourne, PwC takes up 12 floors of our new Southbank building, with five floors devoted to client collaboration. Unique to Melbourne is The Terrace, allowing clients to work and socialise in outdoor areas overlooking the Yarra River and the CBD.

In Brisbane, two of the four floors are devoted to the client experience. This more than doubles the space previously available to work with clients and the broader community.

“The physical design is all about reimagining the possible for our community and our clients,” adds Sammy Kumar, Head of Strategy, Innovation and Ventures. Previously, he says, PwC’s offices were “fit for purpose in their time, but there was a real formality. Now clients are looking for something else. They’re looking for a more creative, sleeves-rolled-up, problem-solving attitude that creates new value. To that end, the space and technology is really important.”

For Debbie Smith, Market Managing Partner, Brisbane, one of the biggest strengths is being able to cater for the whole spectrum of client needs. “There will always be a time when we have to have a serious session in a formal setting, and there will be a time when you just want to get into a more relaxed collaborative session,” she said.

There are places for high focus, for casual get-togethers, for formal meetings, events, seminars, brainstorming, technical briefings and for chilling out. There are low-tech environments (the whiteboard still has its place) as well as hi-tech surrounds, such as the interactive audio-visual spaces in the round.

There are barista-piloted cafes (Melbourne’s is called the Yarra Café; in Sydney, it’s Allawah). There are places you can grab a quick bite to eat or share an a la carte meal.

The people we work with

And we’re not just talking toasted sandwiches, salads and pastries (unless that’s what you’re after). The client floors feature fully functioning restaurant kitchens, with chefs blanching, searing and reducing behind picture windows (in Melbourne and Sydney) that lend a greater sense of the theatrical than most have ever experienced in a corporate environment. Openness was again not forgotten, with glass windows opening into kitchens and open cafes front and centre of the food and beverage experience.

“It’s going to be a more relaxed, informal sort of environment,” says CEO Luke Sayers, “where you’ve got more dynamism, more laughter and more warmth.”

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