Featured Workspace: Inside Cisco Australia’s New Uber-Inspired Office

When Cisco decided it was time to move on from its Australian and New Zealand head office located in North Sydney, NSW, the company took suggestions from its staff on what they would like to see in their new workspace.

Cisco had been in its old office since 1999, which was separated between different floors. The workspaces were quite closed off and insular. Having received feedback from staff, the networking giant wanted to make sure the new office would be much more open and connected.

“In the competitive market we live in, retaining our talent through employee satisfaction and empowerment sit at the heart of everything we do at Cisco, including our workspaces,” Cisco ANZ vice-president Ken Boal told Lifehacker Australia. “With this in mind, when it came to designing our ANZ Headquarters and exploring how we could make it a mobile, collaborative working environment that both makes our staff happy and gets the best out of teams.”

Cisco has now taken over three floors in another building in North Sydney with stunning views of the Sydney CBD and the Harbour Bridge. The floors are all connected by stairs and the office space has an open-plan layout.

Hot desking is encouraged at Cisco’s office. Staff can choose from a range of different workspaces within the ‘hoods’ of each floor. These include touch point desks, standing up desks, quiet rooms and casual meeting places.

Cisco has introduced a policy of non-bookable rooms on two of its three floors to ensure the space is utilised effectively and to stop ‘meeting room hoarding’. Bookable, multi-function boardrooms and larger meeting rooms for external meetings are available on the other floor. Every meeting room is equipped with Cisco’s Spark technology, an iPad and full teleconferencing facilities.

“We also discourage staff from camping out for the day in casual meeting rooms and audio privacy rooms by not providing power outlets,” Boal said.

As for the communal areas, there are plenty of them littered around the office with bookshelves and sofas. There are even soundproof pod chairs and small private rooms for those who want to work alone or hold a video conference call away from the hustle and bustle.

To encourage employees to have internal meetings at the office rather than go to a café, Cisco has a café-style meeting area and nice kitchen. A barista-style coffee machine is situated on every floor.

There is an on-site tech support in the form of a ‘Genius Bar’ where employees can take their devices when they have issues or questions with them.

Cisco admits that it took a lot of workplace design cues from Uber. Boal said:

We wanted to apply an ‘Uber’ like approach to office resources; sharing communal assets in an efficient way. At the heart of this Uberisation, and what enables it to work with confidence and ease, is technology.

We believe that digitisation of the workplace, and the technology that supports it, is a critical enabler to a positive, productive and efficient workplace; working in harmony with a great built environment that staff enjoy spending time in. This is something that we’ve worked hard to achieve in our Sydney office.

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