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How offices are changing - Emily West features in The Australian

Senior Associate, Emily West speaks to Helen Trica at The Australian to discuss how offices are changing and why space malleability is key.

In the article, West outlines that while companies are reducing office space over time due to new ways of working, they may spend more money on fit-outs that suit hybrid workers accessing the office for social interactions.

Working on an office space for global identity software provider Okta in North Sydney, West describes it as a “behaviour-based” design customised for remote and in-office employees. “Behaviour-based design is all about the work and it’s much more people-focused,”says West. “It’s not just about needing more meeting rooms but about finding out what will make the work experience more meaningful.”

How offices are changing - Emily West features in The Australian section

West also acknowledges that even as the office evolves into more malleable space, the need for a sense of ownership of your “territory” remains strong. People still need to have a sense of neighbourhood. She shares how at Okta, all fittings are on wheels so they can be moved about, but the sense of familiarity is created by home spaces that operate as meeting points as people come into work.

West says firms will have smaller footprints in the CBD in future but hybrid work will create peaks and troughs of workers in the office, requiring more management through technology to book desks and manage staff flow.

She shares how Australian commercial buildings create big challenges for designers trying to build flexibility because of a need for convenience power. “Our buildings are pretty inflexible and not really set up for great open-plan and changeable arrangements. In Australia all the power has to be reticulated along the perimeter or it comes from the ceiling”, she says.

How offices are changing - Emily West features in The Australian section

West emphasises that the trend of the distributed workforce is top of mind. “The footprint might be decreasing but the capital you put into renting space will be injected into the fit-out because all those collaborative spaces are more expensive to create and equip with tech and lighting and infrastructure.”

She shares, “The office is here to stay. It will be a very tailored space and depends on the people using it and what they need to do their job day to day”.


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