FIRST LOOK: Inside NAB's Newest Flexible Working Building In Docklands

NAB is about two months away from finalising its move into 700 Bourke Street, putting an end to almost three years of planning and construction.

Since July, staff have been moving into the new building, which features an unusual, triangular floor plan and is designed to house a total of 6,000 employees.

Staff share a total of only 4,500 workspaces. Like in Commonwealth Bank Place, they don’t have pre-allocated desks and move between meeting rooms, desks and casual settings depending on the task at hand.

Activity-based workplace advocates say desks in traditional offices tended to be underutilised because of the number of staff on leave or working remotely at any given time.

But for NAB project manager Roger Macmorran, the most significant aspect of 700 Bourke Street is its flat structure – in terms of management hierarchy, not physical height – and its ability to link about 15,000 staff across NAB’s three Bourke Street buildings.

NAB has so far moved about 4,500 people into the new building by reorganising 500 Bourke Street and 800 Bourke Street, where staff have been adapting to the flexible, deskless culture for the past 6 years.

Here’s what the new workplace looks like:

Ground floor

The ground floor atrium - which is really on level 2 of the building - is open to the public and features a cafe and a new tech-heavy 'Smart Store' branch.

Customers in the atrium are visible from the all staff levels, 4 to 14, although it takes guts to peer over the chest-high glass divider and railing on higher levels.

The entrance of the building is a stone's throw away from the Southern Cross train station.

Check in

You'll need a staff or visitor badge to get past the 12 gates separating public areas from the office on level 3.

Macmorran told Business Insider that a great deal of planning, including a year of data collection and modelling, went into details like the number of entrance gates, elevators, meeting rooms and other spaces.

Workspaces for guests

NAB plans to invite business customers to use meeting areas and workspaces in the non-staff sections of level 3.

Here's a casual meeting area that's located across from the check-in desk and is open to the public.

Invitation-only lounge

And here's the 'Customer and Community Lounge' that NAB will make available to certain customers - for example agricultural businesses that may need a Melbourne office for the day.

Like the staff-only areas upstairs, NAB's Customer and Community Lounge features a range of workspaces including meeting rooms and desks of various sizes, and a small washing area for food and drink.

There's free, public wifi throughout the building (NAB runs a separate network for staff) and a catering service within the lounge.

NAB has yet to determine the selection criteria for customers who will be invited to use the lounge, which will run as a pilot program for the first 12 months.

Customer auditorium

Selected customers will also be able to host events in this auditorium on level 3.

Macmorran says NAB could easily have filled the space with its own internal events but chose to dedicate this area to use by business customers.

Staff only

Once through the staff-only gates, you type your destination into a touchscreen elevator booking system, and are allocated an elevator based on the floor you're going to.

Staff had some initial teething problems with the system, but Macmorran said feedback on the new building has been very positive and enthusiastic so far.

There are only two sets of stairs and one set of elevators throughout the building, compared to four in 800 Bourke Street. Macmorran says the elevators have become a key, central spot for serendipitous meetings.

'At any given day, I will bump into everybody that I need to talk to,' he says, noting that he bumped into Cameron Clyne during one of the CEO's visits. Clyne usually works from 800 Bourke Street.

'There is a visual connection throughout the building; no one can hide.'

A typical floorplan

Here's the floorplan of level 8, which is near-identical to that of 9 other 'typical' floors in 700 Bourke Street. (Macmorran describes levels 1, 2, 3 and 14 as non-typical.)

Each typical floor is designed to accommodate about 500 people, with about 8 zones of 50 people each.

Personal space

People aren't expected to remain within their allocated zones, nor even check in for any particular period of time, as long as they get the job done and are accessible enough not to hold anyone else back.

There are no executive offices throughout 500,700 and 800 Bourke Street. Even Cameron Clyne works in the communal workspaces, and it's up to individual executives to coordinate with their assistants on where and how they will work on any given day.

Within 700 Bourke Street, staff are allocated these electronic lockers close to their teams' zones, to store their personal effects. Macmorran said many people returned their lockers as they adopted deskless, paperless working habits.

Team huddle

Most teams are based around one of these furniture settings, called a Huddle.

Huddles are designed for collaboration, with projectors and whiteboards.

Typical floors

Here's a multi-level view of NAB staff hard at work today.

Although the building is theoretically more than two-thirds full, many more desks are unoccupied because it's the school holiday season and as Macmorran points out, some 30% of staff are on leave.

Only about 60% of desks have programmable fixed phones. Macmorran says NAB's strategy in designing 700 Bourke Street was to keep things 'functional and simple'. Most people simply prefer to use their smartphones, he says.

Small meeting room

Here's a small, private room on level 8, designed to be used by one to two people who need to work in a quiet space.

Rooms are currently allocated on a first-come, first-served basis but NAB will soon implement a booking system so that people who start work later - for example, parents who drop their kids off before work - aren't always missing out.

Larger meeting room

Rooms have whiteboards, big screens, and of course power points, to facilitate collaboration.

Creative meeting space

Here's project director Roger Macmorran in a large, unusually shaped meeting space designed to boost 'true creative thinking'.

Ceilings and a lack thereof

Only about 30% of the office space within 700 Bourke Street has been fitted out with traditional ceilings. A majority of the ceilinged space is in meeting rooms.

Macmorran says NAB chose to leave the rest of the space without ceilings to give rooms an 'industrial' style, and a more open, brighter look and feel.

Staff kitchen

There's typically one staff kitchen per floor, located in the central elevator area.

Some people even choose to work in the cafe-like setting of the kitchen, which isn't an issue, provided they aren't sitting there for long.

Macmorran says the workplace settings within 700 Bourke Street are designed for three types of use: a 'drop-in' of 1 hour or less; short-term work of 1-3 hours; and long-term work. The latter type is when staff are encouraged to use more ergonomic workspaces.

Casual work

Here's a small, casual setting for relaxing, dining or working on the beautiful level 14.

Level 14

Level 14 is the highest level of the building. It is home to the largest cafe in the building (although staff seem to prefer an external cafe on the ground floor called Story), tech support, and a rooftop garden.

Tech support

There wasn't much demand for tech support during Business Insider's visit.

Macmorran says staff have generally adapted to the new building with ease, especially as NAB has been moving towards flexible working in its two existing Bourke Street buildings for 6 years.

Rooftop garden

True to its 'functional and simple' aim, NAB hasn't installed pool tables or ping-pong tables like some of its competitors, but there's still no shortage of places for staff to gather around in 700 Bourke Street.

The rooftop garden is particularly popular on sunny afternoons. Macmorran says about a hundred NAB staff have gathered here during peak times.

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