Beyond ABW: Westpac’s Future Workspace

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Interior design firm Geyer was called upon to design a new workspace for Westpac, a physical application of a new set of working principles titled WorkSMART within their 60,000m2 anchor tenancy at Sydney’s sprawling new Barangaroo development.


The activity based working module has been tried and tested – but the concept isn’t a one size fits all, and while some design elements will lift, boost and revitalise corporate process and staff morale, some are wasted or simply a bad match for certain industries or working styles. So what is the future workspace?


After having recently completed Westpac’s Melbourne HQ at 150 Collins Street, Geyer was engaged to complete a time utilisation study to determine the level of agile working that would be appropriate for Westpac to adopt, given the nature of work within the building. Underpinning this study was Westpac’s WorkSMART strategy that will see Westpac transition to agile working across all locations in the future.

From this study, Geyer and Westpac deployed a pilot that tested the recommended level of agile working. The pilot has been a key tool in the change management strategy for the adoption of WorkSMART. The resulting design solution by Geyer focused on intuitive space planning based on natural human behaviours. The idea was to focus on what Westpac needed, rather than providing a blanket solution – an evidence based, rather than trend based way of thinking.

Geyer’s approach placed significant focus on space that creates a sense of belonging, happiness and wellbeing – these elements are the cornerstone of the design. We are, afterall, naturally inclined to carve out our own special nooks, places and spaces we enjoy returning to, time and time again. Our favourite spot to read at home, sip coffee in a café, or indeed – the place we feel most comfortable and productive at work. Indeed creating a homely, welcoming feel was vital for this project, and as such Interface’s  Urban Retreat , Syncopation and Heuga  carpet tiles were selected to feature throughout the space to create warmth and comfort.


At Westpac, a sense of belonging was also encouraged via assigned neighborhoods, which accommodate team and individual activities. Geyer has been collaborating with Ergonomist, Professor David Caple, and the Westpac OHS team. The focus of the design is on encouraging physical movement that reduces sedentary work related injuries. The movement of people in turn activates incidental collaborations and connections beyond immediate team.

The Barangaroo tenancy is also currently targeting a 6-star accreditation via the newly developed Green Star Pilot Tool. Geyer is currently working with the Green Building Council to help refine and modify this tool. A part of this process of course, was choosing and specifying sustainable materials throughout the space – and this included Interface’s  carpet tiles for it’s sustainable recognition and great quality.

From a client perspective, Westpac’s environment at Barangaroo includes 8,000sqm of visitor space over 5 floors and provides a diverse hospitality suite to enabling the tailoring of a dynamic customer experiences. An immersive and flexible technology overlay was installed to specifically brand the experience as required.

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