Business management firm PwC has installed a gigantic digital ‘waterfall’ that runs through four floors of its new Sydney offices at Barangaroo Tower One.
It is the technical piece de resistance of the company’s push for a more flexible approach to interacting with its clients, and was borne from a desire to stay ahead of the big changes happening in office design.
But one of the inspirations for this new fit-out has come from an unlikely source – the hotel industry.
FutureSpace wanted the floors to feel more like staying at a hotel than attending a meeting at a traditional office building. Photo: Nicole England
“PwC saw the writing on the wall in terms of needing to innovate,” said Angela Ferguson, managing director of Futurespace, the interior designers and architects which designed the fit-out.
“They kind of realised that the world is really a fast-changing, crazy place.”
It’s a story replicated throughout the design of the four client-focused floors, where flexibility and technological integration abound.
PwC took the maximum cut permitted out the floor plate in order to install a central staircase which encourages interaction. Photo: Nicole England
“Their brief was they wanted to create this end-to-end client experience that was like nothing done before, they had an idea that they wanted to disrupt the way things are done,” said Ms Ferguson.
“If you think of the way you go to a lawyer’s office or an accountant’s office you’re shown to a waiting area, someone might offer you a refreshment, or you go into a boardroom which might have some technology on the wall, you’ll sit down for a couple of hours and then leave.”
But when you walk into PwC’s new office you might mistake it for a hotel. That’s the intention, said Ms Ferguson, who cited the Futurespace team’s extensive travel experiences as a key influence behind the project design.
Inside the Innovation Pool – a 360 degree multimedia hub. Photo: Nicole England
“Some of the things we loved [about hotels] were being made to feel welcome. They remember your name, they remember your preferences,” Ms Ferguson said.
“It was all about making sure that we created something that supports the variety and diversity of our clients. We did this by looking outside of our industry to create a new benchmark in client experience,” added PwC’s new ways of working partner Debra Eckersley.
Visitors to PwC won’t find a reception desk. “People will come to you,” Ms Ferguson said.
“We looked at Apple – the way their process is consistent around the world.”
Clients are also assisted by ”media fountains” on each level, interactive digital directories providing information on rooms and facilities within the company as well as opportunities to participate in polls and get information on the surrounding area.
“Say you’re visiting from interstate, you can look up local restaurants,” Ms Ferguson said.
It’s not just high tech or hotel comforts though.
“We cut the biggest hole we were allowed to in the floorplate for the staircase,” Ms Ferguson said, explaining that the central staircase running between the four levels was crucial to fostering client relationships.
The staircase subsequently has expansive landings on each level – with enough room for clients and staff to stop on the landing and interact.
“Since technology now allows us to work from anywhere, the importance of physical spaces and their role in fostering relationships and collaboration has only increased. It will be the organisations like PwC – that understand and can leverage this – that will succeed into the future,” said Ms Ferguson.