Left to right: Zoe, Baker, City of Sydney; Natalie Slessor, Lendlease; Andrew Borger, Charter Hall; and on screen Luco-Campbell-Reid, Wyndham City Council

Our Happy Healthy Workplace event saw an amazing group of experts discussing the changing workplace environment.

25 May 2021: Director city design and liveability, Wyndham City, Ludo Campbell-Reid advocated the “hub and spoke’ approach to workplaces, to decentralise office space and cut down on commute times.

“At the moment it’s really everyone heading to the mothership and it’s a waste of time and a waste of energy. A more diversified more polycentric city is something I think would be very worthwhile looking at,” he said.

Charter Hall’s head of office development Andrew Borger said while there were many potential benefits to the model, beyond examples such as Parramatta, there was still limited market demand and government interest in creating more regional hubs.

Our expert panel takes on the challenge of the “strange new normal”. Claudia Barriga-Larriviere pointed to inequity between “the people who make decisions and everyone else who has to live with them.”

Chris Alcock of Six Ideas by Dexus and Bates Smart’ Kellie Payne forecast the coming “workplace wars”, with vast differences in how leadership and staff view the future of work.

Christhina Candido from University of Melbourne discussing (and demonstrating) online engagement and where it falls short in formal and informal education.

“I don’t really think we are even 5 per cent of the way towards what we should be doing in terms of teaching online,” she said, “I’m dying to have the students back on campus because that is a totally different experience from a teaching perspective.”

The atrium of Bates Smart’s 71 Harris Street was designed by Payne’s team to feel like a “dappled forest.”

“There are no spaces that are neutral. There are only spaces that promote health and those that detract from it,” Kellie Payne, director and leader of workplace strategy, Bates Smart.

Payne said she believes the “workplace wars” are coming, with a huge disparity between how leaders and staff are talking about the future of work.

Co-founder and chief executive of mwah, Rhonda Brighton Hall says when you ask workers what they miss most about the office, they answer “each other”.

“The reality is that functional workplaces are all about networks. We live in them, we work in them. The challenge is creating spaces that allow us to do that.”

The pandemic has accelerated the shift from a focus on buildings to a focus on people, said Jack Noonan, vice president APAC, International WELL Building Institute.

“I think that’s one of the things we’ve seen from the pandemic, organisations want to focus on their people and put people first,” he said.

Noonan added he believed social distancing and disease awareness would persist into the future. These factors combined are creating a surge in buildings seeking WELL certification.

Global director ERA-co, James Calder looks at workspaces other than offices. Factories, shopping centres, labs or hospitals? How much emphasis is placed on occupant wellness? “I think so far shopping centres have flown under the radar.”

Senior director and principle of workplace at HOK Architects, Kay Sargent beams in from the USA to discuss designing workplaces with neurodiversity in mind.

Kicking off our Happy Healthy Workplace event with Fifth Estate managing editor Tina Perinotto delivering an Acknowledgment of Country and introduction.

TFE managing editor Tina Perinotto delivering an Acknowledgment of Country and introduction to the event

24 May 2021: Jack Noonan of the WELL Building Standard is poised to share some excellent insights about where WELL is headed. We had no idea when we came across it years ago it would become such a far reaching tool, probing in the most interesting areas of employer-employee relationships.

Win free tickets – 10 to give away for the event and the masterclass

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Why I’d want to go back to the office – what changes I’d like to see

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Catch James Calder (pictured) will scroll through the big changes overall (our big accelerator) and what our workplace world will likely look like for retail, manufacturing, technology and hospitals. 


We just spoke to James. He was chuckling to himself working over final touches to the presentation. What could he show? What might be stretching things a bit too far? But yes he will definitely be scrolling through the big “accelerator” changes from Covid and what our future workplaces might look like OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE –  in retail, retail, manufacturing, technology and hospitals. And tech will be big, he says. Even the government is saying so! 

20 May 2021: Masterclass – A practical guide to reconfiguring your workplace, acoustics and lighting

This masterclass is ideal for our times. Our first two presenters for the masterclass are renowned experts, Chris Alcock and Daniel Quinn. Both are from Six Ideas, a subsidiary of Dexus which happens to be Australia’s biggest office owner, but their unit also consults to clients far and wide outside the company. So they come with a wealth of experience and views of how to help, creatively and affordably.

Chris and Daniel’s presentation will be to find the best blended solutions that meet employers needs and those of their staff. So an attractive healthy place to work that ticks the boxes of collaboration and inspiration, plus the flexibility to suit individual staff needs for those who want to work part of the time from home.  

Key is to work out what the right changes are and implement them without bringing in the builders.

If you absolutely do need to move, you’ll be guided on the steps you need to take to make this as practical, painless and low cost as possible.

The second part of the masterclass works on a level that will absolutely appeal to us all –  noise and lighting. How important these basic elements are to how productive and happy we feel in the workplace! 

It will be presented by the highly regarded duo from Cundall, Patrick Carpenter and Bettina Easton.

Bettina will share the tricks and traps of lighting and demonstrate great work through a recent case study of a project in Barangaroo she’s undertaken. And Patrick will reveal some of the best ways to minimise sound stress. He may also mention if we’re getting anything like “cone of silence” any time soon. One that actually works, that is.

Four excellent professional presenters, happy to share their insights and take your questions.

18 May 2021: The Masterclass – a practical guide to reconfiguring your workplace, acoustics and lighting

So, here I was chatting to someone from a top-notch company about Covid. She said: “I don’t ever want to go back to the office. I can’t get a moment’s peace in there to do any serious work.”

Whoa… I instantly related.

Who hasn’t had that loud person on the phone in the desk next door? Driving them nuts.

At one workplace I had a colleague – lovely person, but prone to very loud phone conversations every day around deadline as they nailed their quotes or fact checking for their day’s story. I confess I resorted on one or two occasions to sliding a note under that person’s nose asking if they could please tone it down. (Maybe a little more directly.)

As Covid makes it easy for some of us to stay home and work in peace, if employers want to lure their staff back to the office, this is the kind of issue they need to deal with.

That’s why in our masterclass on Tuesday, 25 May, part of our event Back to My Happy Healthy Office, we’re getting stuck into the nitty gritty of what to do in noisy offices, with a specialist’s look at acoustics.

We’re taking the same practical look at the lighting.

And kicking the whole thing off will be how to reconfigure your office without calling in the builders.

In other words, it’s a practical guide to working with what we’ve got – how to woo your workers back and eat cake too…if you get our drift.

Your hosts will be four people who are absolute experts in their field and have had a year’s experience in dealing with all the curly challenges and complexities that Covid’s thrown our way.

Chris Alcock and Daniel Quinn, Principal Consultant, Six Ideas by Dexus
Patrick Carpenter, Head of Acoustics, Cundall
Bettina Easton, Head of Light4 Australia, Cundall

14 May 2021: The need to design workspaces that accommodate the full spectrum of neurological states has become hard to ignore as the world recovers from the collective trauma of Covid, says Kay Sargent, a director of the workplace practice at global design firm HOK, who is speaking at our upcoming event on workplace wellness on 26 May.

Sargent says that paying more attention to the different needs of workers will be as essential as ever as we return post COVID-19.

Breaking down workplaces into being friendlier environments will help she says as we recover from the collective trauma of the pandemic.

Companies all over the world are dabbling in one way or another with new ways of managing their employees and according to Sargent, many of the big US tech companies have gone all in on their remote work policies.

However she suspects this is simply a tactic to lure talent, with tech talent in short supply globally, because these companies are simultaneously “gobbling up land” for new headquarters and offices.

“I’m calling BS on them.”

We look forward to hearing more of Sargent’s straight-talking at the event.

14 May 2021: Anthony Marklund principal sustainability engineer with Floth, and a panellist at Back to My Happy Healthy Workplace, shared a few insights this week in response to some questions for our blog:

Anthony Marklund from Floth at our Brisbane workplaces event in 2019

What are the most interesting trends you see in workplace design?

Increased demand for WELL certification and to higher levels, biophilic design, heritage and culture in design, state of the art EOT facilities, having more office space connected to the outside through winter gardens/balconies, dedicated co-working spaces provided by the base building, dedicated wellness space provided by the base building, additional consideration of COVID responses and smart building technologies.

What do you think building owners and occupants will be seeking in five years time

I think building owners will want to demonstrate they are addressing all possible wellbeing needs of tenants. They will seek to become a one-stop shop for occupants, whereby they can provide opportunities such as exercise, mindfulness, community connection and healthy foods to attract workers all within a pandemic responsive built environment. Occupants (tenants) would be looking to rent space that help to facilitate their own sustainability targets including wellness and carbon neutrality. Occupying a carbon neutral and WELL certified building would help them achieve their ESG targets.

What are the biggest challenges in your work with WELL

Encouraging tenants to adopt WELL initiatives similar to the base building. Tenants should also implement it and ensure strong wellness concepts are embedded in their fitout design and operation and leverage the benefits to their business and employees.  If it becomes a tenancy fitout requirement, this would synergise and further support the WELL conceptualization, design and operational response of the whole building.

Lost and Found: people first in search for new bearings in offices of tomorrow

Designers and developers are excited by talk of economics, health, safety, and even fun in ways to entice workers out of their homes and back into the big, wide world of offices.

On the demand side though, it looks like no-one much is pining for the return of office politics.

read the whole piece

11 May 2021: Our moderator and MC Tone Wheeler didn’t hold back, inciting brutal truth-telling from the panellists yesterday.

Tone Wheeler addressing Happy Healthy Offices symposium 2019

There we were holding a briefing for one of the event sessions called, Our strange/different new normal.

Tone didn’t mince words. He won’t want calm balanced analysis of our Covid-affected world at the event. He’ll want the panellists to stick their necks out. Make a call. Leaders are under threat. They’re on notice. Let’s make it clear exactly how they will miss out if they don’t radically shift.

No namby-pamby polite, he said: This is The Fifth Estate; that’s what people will expect to hear.

Tone’s from Environa Studio and he’s just won the joint sustainability trailblazer award from the Australian Institute of Architects alongside Caroline Pidcock, so…what he says.

  • TFE members get half price tix to both sessions
  • In person tickets are strictly limited (thanks to you-know-what)

Here’s the line up for our strange/different new normal panel

Chris Alcock

Principal – Consulting, Six Ideas by Dexus.

Chris Alcock, Dexus

Chris has got one of the biggest and best known CVs in the business. He’s been involved in some of the giants of workplace projects:Parliament House Canberra, Stadium Australia, Sydney Airport Terminal 2 and ground-breaking workplaces such as Campus MLC just to name a few. And he’s worked in leading roles at Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp (MGT), Bligh Voller Nield (BVN) and DEGW. Now his outfit is owned by the biggest commercial landlord in Australia so he’s a tad well placed to indicate the likely directions and pitfalls ahead.

Claudia Barriga-Larriviere

Claudia Barriga-Larriviere

Organisational Design Workplace Culture +Employer Brand , ERA-co

Tone’s take-no-prisoners approach is totally fine with this firecracker who’s been described as a surgeon for start up and change management cultures, plus Flamingo in Residence at her past gig with Blue Chilli. Claudia wants to elbow aside the clutter standing in the way of true change. There’s threatening undercurrents for those who won’t move with the times, we detect.

A/Prof Christhina Candido

Christhina Candido

Associate Professor, Director – SHE (Sustainable and Healthy Environments) Lab, University of Melbourne

One of the most respected post occupancy researchers in Australia. With a wealth of evidence based insights into what actually happens, as opposed to what we think will happen with certain design trends and what we want to happen. Anyone for hot desking still? What’s next? Christhina already has access to research on Covid-affected workplaces that has started to come through. It’s what we need to hear.

Kellie Payne

Director & Leader of Workplace Strategy, Bates Smart

Kellie Payne

Kellie captivated our audience in two of our previous workplace events so we simply had to invite her back. Kellie won’t disappoint. She’s going to focus on how to design for super smart people, (the ones that a few years ago might have become doctors or surgeons) instead now they probably work in IT. So designing for neurodiversity. And what about the creatives? There’s the new offices in the city fringe that make attending work absolutely compelling for an advertising/creative outfit. Think green internal “jungle” that’s misted every day around 3 pm just when you’re looking for your afternoon pick-me up.

Things can get animated at our events…and sometimes uncomfortable

12 Who’d like to be a landlord or a major employer with an authoritarian culture right now?

This week we’ve seen some sparks fly during our briefings with panellists for our workplace event on 25 May. But then again moderator Tone Wheeler, who’s just won a gong for sustainability leadership, isn’t exactly the kind of guy to dowse down the flames of controversy.

If you want to hear it like it is in the land of workplace, people and culture, these topics and experts won’t disappoint.

This is an event in the thick of the action right now, tackling the question of what to do with the huge gamut of workplaces in our economy and how to make sure we the people who inhabit them are happy and healthy.

Sometimes, that’s a long way from reality, especially if you’re working from home and are part of the loneliness pandemic.

Others are excited by the liberating thrill of dictating the rules to the boss and working where they want and when they want.

Big question: will today’s employment leaders be around tomorrow? Especially if they’re stuck in old school?

This is an event you can’t miss.

And because of our (strange) new normal, we’re strictly limited for in-person attendance. First come first serve.

Book tickets now.

Check out the full program.

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