Ambience matters: Bringing the office lobby to life

Article3 min04 July 2017By Angela Young

The average Australian spends a staggering 30 per cent of his or her life at work, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, so it’s perfectly logical that most of us would prefer employment somewhere that feels comfortable and – harder to define – where the general atmosphere is diverse and interesting.

Luckily, workplaces don’t have to be only about the work that is performed there. If there’s a sense of community in the whole building, everybody benefits – tenants, employees, bosses, neighbouring businesses and visitors. With a community manager or concierge in place, an office hub can be a thriving community, and creating the hub can lead to staff retention and happy customers all round.

The judgment from workers is positive. Comments from staff in one CBD community hub: “There’s a change to the vibe in the building, and there’s a definite sense of community now, it’s awesome!” A keen yogi begs: “Keep the fun stuff coming.”

It’s become more common for commercial property developers to try to create a more lively ambience in their buildings. They’ve started to provide group activities, or just space for special events that people from neighbouring organisations can attend.

Those large, impressive-looking lobby areas aren’t suitable only for foot traffic and front of house staff. They make terrific venues for fitness classes, or perhaps something a bit cuter, like a pop-up adoption day.

Yes, it’s true and it’s been done: RSPCA pop-up adoptions, during which bundles of cute puppies and kittens were displayed in all their gorgeous glory looking for forever homes, have brought smiles and cuddles to entrance spaces. And, of course, resulted in some very happy families.

Necta Espresso Bar at 480 Queen Street, Brisbane


Bringing together the various organisations operating under one roof is another way to rethink the office building as a community. Networking events can be hugely successful within common areas, introducing like-minded professionals and enabling connections among the employees of the many tenants of a property.

Wellbeing seems to be a growing focus, too. Yoga and boot camp sessions help workers to unwind and keep on top of their fitness within seconds of switching off their computers. In the not-too-distant future we could see in-house physios and sports masseuses completing the wellness community circle.

The simple addition of a large-screen television brought together workers and passers-by in one Sydney CBD precinct last year, drawn to a comfortable lobby to watch highlights from the Brazil 2016 Olympics Games in a communal setting.

The hub can only function successfully with effective communication between users, which is where a suitable portal comes in. Community websites and apps enable community managers to keep building occupants updated on goings-on, as well as advertising special offers such as staff-only coffee discounts, meal deals or exclusive sales. The building directory, crucial information for all newcomers to a property, can also be found in a portal, helping direct users to all the amenities on offer within their surroundings.

Bringing the outside in means an actual in-building park in the recently completed 480 Queen Street in Brisbane. It’s a boon to tenants and guests craving a little taste of the natural world. This property’s community feel was also well illustrated when its window cleaners dressed as super heroes for a day, abseiling past children in the on-site child care facility and lighting up their little faces.

It’s not only sky-scraping officer tower communities that can thrive. There’s been a growing effort to create a community feel within industrial parks, with cafes, child care services, sports facilities and BBQ areas just some of the ways industrial tenants can connect to their neighbours and feel a sense of belonging in their cluster of workspaces.

From art displays in the foyer to pop-up markets just in time for Mother’s Day, communities are shaping the modern workforce and helping tenants retain a happy workforce – surely, a win for everyone.

Networking events can be hugely successful within common areas, introducing like-minded professionals and enabling connections among the employees of the many tenants

The lobby at 1 Bligh Street, Sydney

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