Sheldon brings R/GA’s connected office to Sydney

Connected office design is the interplay of technology, design and flexibility to inspire creative collaboration and a successful working space.

“Seeing how New York digital agency R/GA created this connected office concept really showed me that you don’t design a space to hold people, you design it to facilitate people’s work,” says Sheldon’s Head of Design Michael Hala, who travelled to New York with Sheldon’s Account Director Roxane Kourakis after winning the contract to design and construct digital agency’s R/GA’s Sydney office.

“Sheldon has always taken a human approach to office design so it was great to see us being selected to work on the Sydney execution of a global concept.”

Digital journey screens showcasing ever-changing messages throughout the connected office anchor visitors and workers alike in the purpose of R/GA.

R/GA chief creative Bob Greenberg created an 18,580 square metre connected office initially in Manhattan – making a documentary about the process – and commissioned Sheldon to design and build the concept in Sydney, in a CBD building designed by Harry Siedler.

“Sheldon has always focused on beautiful office fitouts that deliver workspaces that help businesses function more effectively,” says Kourakis.

Sheldon designs and constructs unique workplaces, including reception areas, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces that enable business to make workflow processes more efficient and engage employees.

“Greenberg saw that in Sheldon’s portfolio and invited us over to see his showcase office design in Manhattan,” Kourakis says.

So what is a Connected Office?

The R/GA connected office has several key features:

  • Open plan design: the large space has quiet zones for people who need to concentrate as well as private meeting spaces. The design features multiple work zones with conference rooms, training areas, huddle rooms, training spaces and collaboration spaces.

  • Technology: digital screens in the office update employees on relevant client and internal news and fully integrated audio-visual facilities enhance technology utilisation.

  • Apps and tools: responsive room booking systems and App technology allow employees to more work effectively in the space.

  • Flexible Workstations: there are mobile workstations with Bluetooth connectivity to allow fluid seating arrangements and all furniture can access technology through cabling and wifi.

  • Lighting: Most people want access to natural light but in a large office, this isn’t always possible. Circadian lighting is a system that best mimics natural light.

Sheldon’s expert designers ingeniously embraced R/GA’s circadian lighting concept by using the atrium between levels 9 and 10 on the site to flood the area with Sydney’s natural light, with the addition of strategically placed programmable uplights.

Sheldon not only embraced natural light but used clever floor planning to create distinct work, collaboration, training and meeting zones.

“Each employee had a sit-to-stand work station that can be moved and plugged in at a different location if they wanted to move,” says Hala.

Brainstorming spaces and collaborative meeting areas were set up at natural collision points in the space to encourage collaboration.

Sheldon’s in-house manufacturers, Co-design, built the sit-to-stand workstations on special castors, supplied with mobile digital lock-up caddies, so workers could move their desks around the office as required.

“Our manufacturing division really was amazing, delivering a connected office workstation at almost half the cost of the New York version, and including Bluetooth connectivity to allow people to use their own phones to move and customize their workstation,” Kourakis says.

Sheldon’s in-house design and construct services made the project efficient and more cost-effective, without any corners being cut on aesthetics or functionality.

The sit-to-stand workstations created by Sheldon’s in-house manufacturing team were mobile enough to allow R/GA employees to move their desk to where they wished to work. They also had Bluetooth connectivity to allow each employee to control their workstation settings or override and use manual settings.

The atrium in Sydney’s R/GA Connected Office enables a visual connection between the two floors and facilitated natural breakout work areas and meeting spots.

“It’s amazing how quickly and efficiently Sheldon’s designers, trades and manufacturing can make a global connected office happen,” she says.

“In a massively tight timeframe, Sheldon was able to deliver the project – which is now used as an R/GA credential – in two phases over six months.”

The project also included ergonomic and acoustical treatments with special rubber flooring, sound absorbing wall panels and ceiling features.

Sheldon’s in-house electrical and data team were experts at facilitating technology adoption in new office areas.

“Our team were great at facilitating multiple timelines for highly specialist AV and tech items that all had to work together seamlessly for the connected office,” Kourakis says.

Hala says the AV-integrated huddle room furniture and the ‘plug and play’ collaborative meeting tables were a joy to design and create.

“I love that design and technology make it easier for people to connect and enjoy working together.”