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New-look Melbourne – As good as a holiday

They say change is as good as a holiday and at Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE) we’re always looking at ways to improve and adapt innovative ways for the benefit of our clients.

But that thinking also translates to those who are the lifeblood of our organisation: Our people.

This is clearly evident in the recent expansion of our Melbourne office, which added an additional floor due to the huge growth in employee numbers since opening its doors in 2001.

Studies show that to maximise productivity levels, employees need to feel welcomed and inspired by their work environment*. Little touches such as colour, natural light and investing in technology can make all the difference.

For Office Manager Grant Holman, the fitout was about providing the Melbourne team with a high quality, flexible office space with the room to expand.

“When we moved into our current building in 2014, we had 80 people working in the office; now we’re sitting at 170,” he said.

“The fitout really was driven by our growth but it also presented a great opportunity to test the way we work and how we could improve that through the design of our space. The opportunity arose that we were able to introduce a whole new floor directly above our current floor, with a staircase linking the two spaces.”

Grant says that while, at the time of the decision, the team didn’t require the full additional floor, future growth was on the horizon and with an entire floor available it was decided to utilise the whole space.

“We were a bit bolder about our plans,” he said. “We still have a fair bit of room, but that’s because we were also smart about how we created a variety of different spaces that not only allow for future growth, but could also be used for various purposes in the meantime.”

As a result, architects Gray Puksand had to be creative with the space available. Rather than introducing large work station areas, the team condensed them and supplemented them with a variety of different spaces that could be used by staff, including a dedicated quiet space, fully equipped with technology and connectivity for people to work away from the energy of the open workstation areas.

“We also gave a lot of thought to traditional ‘closed’ meeting rooms versus open and multi-functional spaces and how much we really needed acoustic isolation for different types of meetings. One such open area is our stadium space, which has a large projector and tiered seating. We also have a meeting room which doubles as a workshop, containing equipment and suppliers’ items.”

“Engineers can sometimes be accused of being too theoretical and not understanding the practicalities of being on site, so we were committed to giving our people the opportunity to educate themselves in both the physical and theoretical.

“This workshop is a space where people can physically put together items so they understand how they work in a practical sense.”

Speaking of practicality, the Melbourne office also introduced a Virtual Reality (VR) room that contains the latest Reality Engineering technology to take clients through proposed project developments.

“Sometimes interpreting what the 2D drawings translate to in reality can be difficult, and so VR is a great way to experience what we’re proposing as Engineers,” Grant said.

But how has the introduction of the second level impacted staff interaction?

“Apart from the obvious addition of the interconnecting stair, we’ve designed the layout deliberately so that there are still common interaction spaces for people situated on either floor,” Grant said.

“Importantly, we put some of the key spaces on different floors, which encourages people to travel throughout the office.”

*References “A Workplace That Works: Designing a Productive Office”.

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