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New Heights For The Agile Workplace : Davenport Campbell’s KPMG

KPMG proves why agile working is becoming such a successful business model.



BY David Congram

July 18th, 2014


KPMG is in the business of helping other companies thrive through its financial services. So, when the lease came up on its Sydney offices, CEO Martin Blake decided it was time to relocate to a new space that would make his own company flourish. And he already had his eye on the perfect location – across the road to International Towers, in the new harbour side development of Barangaroo.

However, it wasn’t just a physical change the company required, but a cultural one too. To remain competitive in the commercial market, as well as the employment market, Martin knew they needed a fresh adaptive, connected and collaborative business model, which would help attract and retain the highest calibre of employees whilst also getting the best out of them. And so he turned to the experts, architects Davenport Campbell, to execute his vision – providing a brief for a more flexible and innovative practice that optimised their use of technology and worked towards becoming paperless.

The building itself, with spectacular 360-degree views across the city, was perfect for achieving an enhanced sense of connectivity: Its ovoid structure features a promenade down the middle to create clearly delineated zones, with connecting stairs generating a ‘vertical village’ feel and enhancing fluidity and interaction. No easy task given the firm now occupies 12 of the tower’s floors!

The 10 middle floors are dedicated work areas whilst level 38 (the hospitality floor) houses KPMG’s reception area, meeting rooms and events rooms.

Level 26 (the Connect Floor) has informal spaces for teams to collaborate with clients and also features a Toby’s Estate coffee shop, an events space, open-plan meeting areas and an innovation Lab and Insights Centre.

The working floors, in particular, represent the biggest shift in how KPMG employees now operate. Gone are the traditional private offices and fixed desks; rather it is all about zones – a Focus area for thinking, Collaborate zones for teams and tech-enabled meeting spaces (called Spark areas) for brainstorming. Moreover, meeting rooms and breakout areas are all equipped with the latest video conference technology. The end result is the ultimate, agile, activity based working (ABW) environment where each zone supports a different type of behaviour; empowering employees to use their work environment in a way that supports what they need to do at any given time.

Of course, simply moving staff who were used to working in offices, into an office-less environment was never going to be straightforward so a ‘change management programme’ was implemented. “In order to pull people into this new way of working, we had to first demonstrate that they didn’t actually use their offices all the time – only one-third of the time,” explains Peter Dollin, KPMG’s head of corporate and real estate services. “The other two-thirds of the time they are on the road or mentoring.”

Thus, a pilot site was set up with employees cycled through every 10 weeks and a team of change managers, sponsors and champions appointed to ensure the cultural change was not just directed from the top down. This helped assimilate staff into the new way of working and, according to Dollin, proved highly successful.

With more people working remotely these days, agile, ABW offices such as KPMGs’ new model are on the rise. And, consequently, so is the demand for day lockers. For, as companies look to minimise and optimise their physical footprint on the back of initiatives such as flexible work hours, workspace choice and shared resources, never has providing a space in which employees can store all their person items been so important. In addition to freeing up workstations for someone else at the end of the day, it also means that employees’ belongings are quickly and easily accessible when they do come into the office. To this end, lockers are becoming an integral part of modern workplaces as they help to revolutionise workflow management.

For its new Barangaroo and Melbourne offices alone, KPMG specified nearly 6500 electronic lockers from CSM – Australia’s leading supplier of commercial storage solutions. This ensures that every, single employee has somewhere to store their devices, files and personal belongings. What’s more, they aren’t just the simple, key-operated lockers of yesterday. These lockers are sophisticated designs supported by CSM’s official locking partner TZ, who offer state-of-the-art, customisable solutions that are integrated with existing HR and security infrastructure systems, to accommodate companies’ specific workflows and enable multi-site, remote access control!

Nearly every KPMG employee across the country has now been allocated a CSM locker and the installation of day lockers continues to be a huge trend in today’s workplace. No longer just an afterthought or ‘final touch’ to an office fit-out, lockers are now a vital element within the corporate world and are being specified early on in projects to help support and enhance the modern, agile workplace.

Indeed, the financial services giant is already reaping the rewards of its agile new workplace model, which gives staff the freedom and choice about how they work. Blake says he has seen notable changes in behaviour and work patterns, with people and whole teams moving freely between floors and finding collaborative spaces in which to huddle and check in on projects. For a company that solves complex problems for its clients, encouraging collaboration in this way is critical. Not only will it result in improved performance for the clients but for KPMG itself.


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