Seeing as most employees now prefer a hybrid working style, a conscious decision was made to allow one desk for every two employees in this new space.
Located right in the heart of Sydney's central business district, Procore Technologies recently opened an office space that spans 15,000 square feet over two floors. In the move, the construction management software firm revitalised two adjacent historic Sydney buildings into a commercial and cultural space — complete with a life-cycle assessment study.
Read more as Tom Karemacher, Vice President, APAC, shares with Arina Sofiah how the space creates an environment suited for employees' needs with the future of hybrid work and sustainability in mind
Q Walk us through the thought process when conceptualising this office space - what sparked the decision, and what was your vision for this new space?
Procore’s investment in the region follows significant local demand, with business nearly doubling across Asia Pacific from 2020 to 2021. At the same time, we are rapidly expanding our local teams in response to sustained customer growth across the region. With the business and team rapidly expanding, we needed a flexible and collaborative new working environment that is built for true scale.
With the understanding that most employees now prefer a hybrid working style, we made a conscious decision to allow one desk for every two employees, and ensure all meeting and event spaces could provide a great experience both in person and virtually. Our investment in a new, larger space demonstrates Procore’s ongoing commitment to Sydney as its regional headquarters.
Q How involved were your employees in this process?
We pride ourselves as a people-first company, and the foundation of our guiding principles is to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone as we adopt a hybrid work model. We had feedback sessions from the employees, as well as consultations with our leadership team to ensure the best use of space that reflects our organisational culture - openness, inclusive, and collaborative.
Q Why was this historic building chosen to house this new space?
Procore’s new office is set in SubStation No.164, two adjacent historic Sydney buildings that have been innovatively revitalised into a commercial and cultural space. The world-class office facility in this iconic Sydney site spans 15,000 square feet over two floors, equipped with automated technology to support sustainability and the wellbeing of occupants.
The substation is a special, historical development that Procore was drawn to because it celebrates Sydney’s heritage, at the same time as showcasing the vision, skill and innovation of the local construction industry. We have also acknowledged the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, by choosing native language names for meeting rooms and commissioning indigenous artwork to decorate the spaces.
Q You have introduced new facilities in this workspace, such as the abovementioned. How do you plan to sustain these facilities in the long run?
At Procore, we have a huge focus on sustainability - not just in the building process of ensuring that the redevelopment project produces less carbon footprint, but also in ensuring that building operations are sustainable and energy-efficient in the long run. Across the entire 15,000 square-ft space, we outfitted motion sensor lighting systems to ensure that no excess energy is wasted unnecessarily.
Q Overall, how do you hope this space would help with the company culture, engagement, and productivity?
There is no doubt that the future of work will be hybrid. The pandemic meant companies had no choice but to trust their staff to work remotely. Now that people have proven they can work effectively from home, reversing this decision could be damaging. Saying that, we believe that face-to-face collaboration is also incredibly important. Humans are naturally wired to operate through connection and collaboration.
At Procore, we don’t want to insist people return to the office through a policy. Instead, we want them to want to come back to a wonderful working environment. To that end, we created a workspace that is welcoming, warm, and encourages collaboration – a place where our employees and customers can come in whenever they feel the need to.
Q On a broader note - how does this office space convey what Procore Technologies stands for as an employer & a brand?
Sustainability is a key consideration for Procore, both in providing technology that supports our customers to build sustainably, and in ensuring we were environmentally conscious in the design and construction of our new APAC headquarters. SubStation No. 164 has a 5 Star Green Star Rating and 5 Star NABERS Energy Base Building Rating, which rewards the environmental and healthy design features implemented in the project.
The reuse of the heritage building; including much of the internal building fabric and elements of both exceptional and high heritage significance, is valuable not only for preserving the heritage, but contributes to a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the redevelopment. From a life-cycle assessment study undertaken by Built, it calculated the value of retaining the heritage façade, floors and column structure to be a 24% reduction in embodied carbon compared to conventional construction. We are pleased to be part of this project, and are excited to see our offices bring life back into this special heritage building.
Q What advice would you give other companies that are planning on redesigning their office spaces to cater to the new way of work?
While the bustling office we were used to in the past has become a ghost of its former self, it does not mean that the office is getting smaller. This is a misconception and many organisations prematurely downsized their offices without assessing their long-term requirements. While it is true that employees today can work productively and effectively without ever stepping foot into the office, many still yearn for a space where they can collaborate and brainstorm in-person, and build stronger connections with one another.
The redesigning of offices needs to take into account the new demands and needs of the employee and customer. Organisations can look at reducing the number of fixed desks and seating, instead opting for a hot-desking model. The additional space that is freed up can be transformed into team-working spaces that encourage collaboration and inspire creativity. Technology also needs to be adopted to allow for seamless videoconferencing with remote-working employees.
Q To end on a personal note - what is your personal favourite feature/spot in the office, and why?
It’s difficult to pick a favourite feature in the office, given that the new office is state-of-the-art and highly innovative with a strong, aesthetic design. But what I love most about the Sydney office isn’t the decor, the layout, or the technology within it, but rather how it came to be.
Located at Clarence St in Sydney, the new office is right at the heart of the city’s CBD. The building itself was a special, historical site, with decades of stories behind it. One part of it was originally a storage for spirits and alcohol, and the other half was an electrical grid power station that powered Sydney through WW1. It sat empty for the last 40 years, and the redevelopment project made sure that the character of the heritage building is respected, as the heritage of the future is created. It was an amazing opportunity for us to be part of the redevelopment project, and breathe new life to it. Knowing that our very own Procore platform was used in this redevelopment project for the office, made it even more special.
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