ANZ  is one of the world’s strongest banks. Its origins are in Australia and New Zealand, but it is now positioned as a super regional bank with significant business in Asia. It aims to source 25 to 30 percent of its revenue from Asia, the Pacific, Europe and North America by 2017.

ANZ sees workplace design as one of the keys to its ongoing success, driving greater efficiency and effectiveness and helping it recruit and retain the best people in a very competitive market for talent. This is particularly important for ANZ in Sydney, where it competes with big global investment banks for the best people.

HASSELL has been working with the bank for over a decade on a series of workplace projects in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The bank’s business strategy has been the starting point for all these projects.

The latest ANZ workplace to be completed is the bank’s new head office for the Australian state of New South Wales at ANZ Tower, in Sydney. It brings ANZ’s institutional banking, wealth management, private banking services and other business units together in one location.

ANZ Sydney is an evolution of previous ANZ workplaces designed by HASSELL. Like previous projects, it was designed to foster collaboration by different business units and teams. However, it also offers more settings for individual, focused work. It is designed to foster a range of working styles across different parts of the bank’s business. The design is flexible, making it easy to accomodate changing business requirements or individual transactions and projects that bring together significant numbers of people in temporary teams.

ANZ’s experience is that greater connection and flexibility in its workplaces creates new connections and relationships among its people, unlocking new business opportunities

Connection and flexibility is commonly achieved by creating visibility from floor to floor. At the bank’s global headquarters in Melbourne, ANZ Centre, for example, the defining feature is a large central atrium with staircase access throughout. Employees on any one floor can easily see and connect with people on other floors.

A large central atrium wasn’t the best option for ANZ Tower in Sydney due to its relatively small floor plates and the height of the building. A large atrium extending the full 20 storeys that ANZ occupies in the 42-floor building would have resulted in a chimney-like effect through the tower.

Instead, HASSELL introduced a series of more intimate, three-storey pocket atriums, connected by open staircases that provide visual and physical links between floors. Staff can see across the floors, as well as above and below, expanding the sense of where their workplace begins and ends.

The result is an office tower with connected, transparent, campus-style amenity – a new paradigm in workplace design in towers. The new paradigm was only possible because ANZ involved HASSELL from a very early stage of the project.

“HASSELL was not responsible for the base building design, but we were able to influence it,” said designer Rob Backhouse. “Because we understood ANZ’s objectives for the workplace, we were able to work with the base building architects FJMT and the developer, Grocon, to ensure the tower could deliver them. Without our involvement it is unlikely the building would have had pocket atriums.”

At ANZ Sydney, communal zones, with a mix of meeting spaces and diverse work settings, are placed at the top, bottom and around the edges of each pocket atrium, inviting staff to move up and down the connected floors and interact more widely with other employees. A mix of workspace options is provided and mobile working is standard practice. Institutional bankers, who traditionally worked in private offices, are now working flexibly ­– a first for ANZ and, arguably, the financial services industry.

Each floor comprises four distinct “neighbourhoods” with social hubs at their heart. Each neighbourhood offers different working options. Employees can choose to work in quiet, private spaces, or meet in shared areas for collaborative tasks. Staff work wherever they like, choosing the right setting for the task at hand and using mobile technology.

ANZ implemented a comprehensive change management program to introduce Sydney staff to flexible working before ANZ Tower was completed. This program was based around a HASSELL designed Experience Centre. This was a flexible workspace that different teams were based in for several weeks at a time. Business units used the centre to trial new kinds of work settings and technologies.

It allowed employees to experience new ways of working and created the opportunity for genuine feedback. Many employees did not want to go back to more traditional offices after experiencing flexible working.

Over the decade it has been working with ANZ, HASSELL has collaborated with workplace strategists DEGW, now known as AECOM Strategy Plus, on most of the projects it has designed for the bank.

The investment ANZ makes in workplace design and the care it takes in it demonstrates the value it places on its people and the quality of the working environments it provides.

Each design reflects ANZ’s global status as a leading banking institution, as well as the local environment and cultural context. Limed oak, pale timber flooring and golden marble were selected for ANZ Sydney. These lighter finishes reflect the Sydney landscape and draw on the features and palette of Sydney Harbour. They are a contrast to the bolder tones of the ANZ Centre in Melbourne.

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