Decentralised workforce dictates design of RPM headquarters
RPM Real Estate Group’s new headquarters is designed to cater for a corporate environment that is becoming more and more commonplace – the decentralised workforce.
Designed by ROTHELOWMAN, the office is spread across two storeys of a commercial South Melbourne building. The layout of the space centres around the consideration that one-third of RPM’s team members operate primarily outside of the company’s headquarters and are only in-house one day a week.
Designing a workplace for an office environment such as this, however, is not easy. “It was a logistical challenge to work out how to cater for a dispersed workforce in a way that didn’t look temporary, without creating spaces that would only be used 20 percent of the week. That would make no sense financially,” says ROTHELOWMAN associate director Andrew Wales.
The incorporation of highly adaptable and cleverly integrated breakout workspaces allows the company to manage its staff in a sensible and cost-effective way.
“The areas that are utilised by the decentralised workers all have a secondary function,” Wales says. “So what we have really designed are lunch areas, breakout spaces, informal and formal meeting areas, and client entertainment zones, all power connected, and that are suitable for short-term use by staff.”
Wales adds that the need for client meeting spaces is reduced when the entire workforce is on-site because the people who would be talking to clients are instead heavily involved in staff meetings.
“Gaining a thorough understanding of the client’s business model was essential in working through to this solution,” Wales explains.
These workstations also help encourage increased collaboration between the 60 team members who work across the 900-square metre site.
With the offices spread over two non-consecutive floors of the building, ROTHELOWMAN faced further challenges in avoiding a divide between staff on separate floors. “We had quite a few meetings with RPM and produced several test plans considering alternative solutions,” Wales says.
“In the end, the decision was to keep the ‘project teams’ on one level and the client-based areas, administration and support teams on the other. The design of each floor also shares the same concept, and both levels were fitted out to a similar quality of finish.”
In terms of facilities, RPM’s headquarters incorporates a large outdoor area, presentation room and lounge, plus meeting rooms with a full-size working bar. These spaces enhance staff experience as well as create a high customer service offering.
Curated materials and custom-made furniture pieces by Jardan and Stylecraft soften and add personality to the space. “The furniture is sitting off the ground to feel relaxed, not like fixed joinery, which was a strategic decision to help inspire a more friendly office and client atmosphere,” Wales says. “The chairs are the kind you would have in your living room.”
Overhead lamps, reminiscent of streetlights, serve as a representation of the company’s services in urban environments. Meanwhile, strong graphics and colours combine with a liberal use of black – a direct reference to the business.
“We proposed a design to RPM that effectively reflects their company values: intelligent, people-oriented, sophisticated, well-connected with unrivalled knowledge about their industry to share with others,” Wales concludes.
This article also appears in Facility Management magazine.