New Cisco Headquarters Showcases Cutting-Edge Office Technology

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This article originally appeared in The Australian Business Review, 30 Jan 2017
by Chris Griffith, Technology Reporter, Sydney

Telecommunications giant Cisco has designed its new Australian headquarters as a way of showing clients how to combine high technology with elegance and a calm working environment.

While traditional offices have you scrambling out the door to local coffee shops and restaurants at breaks, you can get up from your desk, work a few metres, grab a coffee and sit up at a kitchen bench, just as you might working from home. Eating areas are at the centre, while open office workspaces that overlook Sydney’s skyline are scattered around the periphery.

Cisco ANZ vice president Ken Boal said the company needed to keep its staff happy. “There’s a war for talent going on and it’s very competitive,” he told The Australian.

He said Cisco wanted to show its corporate clients who buy a slew of Cisco equipment how to build their office environment around it. Mr Boal said Cisco’s architectural partners could offer advice to client on this. “A lot of our teams are out in the market helping customers envisage the possible,” he said.

Around 500 staff are moving from the old headquarters just down the road. The three floors it occupies is a hot desking environment. Staff use their employee swipe card to open a personal locker and go to a vacant workspace. Even Mr Boal doesn’t have his own office in Sydney.

One floor is pre-booked meeting rooms equipped with Cisco video conferencing screens. There’s a teleconferencing room with a panel of displays that lets a local meeting connect with other participants visually.

Apart from work desks, the other two floors have small video-equipped meeting rooms that staff can use on-the-fly to work with colleagues locally or through video conferencing.

The ability to work remotely has seen Cisco reduce the office space it needs by 25 per cent. This also reduced cost, Mr Boal said.

Cisco is working on other new technologies for the office. Wi-fi analytics, for example, lets a company see which office spaces are regularly used and which are not. It will be useful also to retail clients.

“If you’re a mall operator or retail store operator, you can really track where your customers are going, and where they spent time in your store. You can make much better use of your facility,” Mr Boal said.

The other development was personalisation. In the office, staff will be able to nominate whether they like a low or highlight environment and their preferred temperature at work.

“The building will know your preferences, and if you go into one of those (meeting) room, it will configure the room to our preferences automatically.”

He said in future a photo of your family or preferred pin-up shots would automatically appear on the meeting room display when you walked in. The room would detect you left and take the environment back to default climate settings, he said.

“Personalisation in the workplace experience is the next big thing. That and analytics,” Mr Boal said.

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