As I embarked on my maiden journey of blog posting, I realised that this is quite a herculean task. I have successfully published the first blog post on numerous occasions, but to post the second post? That’s the real challenge. I want to develop a habit of posting on a daily basis and this is even more challenging. In any case, my wife made this task easy for me today. She took me to her brand new offices that will be unveiled to public on Tuesday the 26th April 2016.
I am one of the privileged few who has had an opportunity to visit the offices, even before most MYOB employees. The place is under a final clean process, and reminded me of the hours spent pre-opening the rooms, common areas and food and beverage (F&B) outlets at the Shangri-la’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa and Shangri-la’s Qaryat Al Beri.. that seems like a different life now!
For those that aren’t familiar with the company, MYOB which is a cunning acronym for Mind Your Own Business (Really!), and it is the leading Accounting Software Provider in Australia. Other than having a really cool name, the company does a lot of things right. The company has been headquartered in a quiet suburban area of Glen Waverley for several years now. Based on my knowledge of Corporate Real Estate Decision Making and Strategy, I thought this was a really unique choice taken by the company. Locating an IT Company in a suburb, that is over 20 kms from the city must have added many challenges to the business, the greatest being that of talent sourcing. Professionals that reside close to the suburb, had a clear choice when choosing MYOB as it offered an unparalleled opportunity of living close to work, free parking and cycling to work on not so busy streets. But those living on the Western side of Melbourne may have always been the tough ones to attract.
The company went public last year and as expected many things began to change. The culture in the company that my wife used to rave about, became even better! Being married into this company, I really appreciate the kind of people that work here. I cannot mention all the details here, but the support that my wife received during our pregnancy and in the postnatal period, can only be called “LEGENDARY“! The management at MYOB rewarded my wife’s loyalty, hard work and commitment, with zero negativity for the time she took off. For someone who has worked across the Middle East, Europe and the Indian Subcontinent, this dedication to ensure employee growth was new to me. There was however no surprise when I read that MYOB has been consistently awarded as the Employer of Choice and as One of the Most Innovative Companies in Australia..
When MYOB decided to relocate to Richmond, the Real Estate Professional in me started weighing in the Pros and Cons. For a company that has been in a Suburban location for so long, it is definitely a challenge to pack up and move to a central location. Imagine living in a sprawling house in the East only to move to a Small City Apartment (one of the decisions that we are currently mulling over). However, this is not what has happened at MYOB. They are relocating but to a kickass new “Innovation Hub”.
As we drove in the search of this new Innovation Hub, I couldn’t help but poke humour at my anxious wife. As you drive down Swan Street towards the new office, you pass old industrial buildings and small forgotten houses. It is almost a 800 m drive from the Main Street and I could see my wife get more concerned. I was having a merry time, telling her that she will now be like a factory employee, eating lunch when the big siren rings (like old industrial era factories). The greatest shock was when we arrived at the end of the street, and there was a tiny exit straight onto the M1 Toll Way. Our GPS said we have reached the destination and promptly shut herself off. And an Innovation Hub was nowhere to be found. I agree it was a Sunday afternoon, and that too the middle day of the long Anzac Day Weekend. Therefore finding the area deserted was normal. But because the move to this new location was going down this weekend, we had expected some more activity!
My wife saw some of her colleagues who pointed us to the entry. The place was still with the contractors, with final paint touches, and cleaning under process. We were lucky to be allowed through, mainly because the contractors noticed how gleeful and excited my wife was to see her new workplace. As we entered the campus we were amazed at the size of the property. An entire mezzanine floor of a warehouse has been converted into an Advanced Technology Lab. Not new for a company that completely changed the rules of the game when they took up the entire 3rd level of The Glen Shopping Center! The company hasn’t downsized in any way, rather this move is a clear indication of the strength in MYOB’s future. The neatly arranged desks, the well appointed work stations, are all waiting for their users, to come make magic at this new Innovation Hub. There are so many places to collaborate, to interact, and to just “Love Your Work!”.
There are some challenges that I noticed from a Corporate Real Estate perspective, and I am certain that the company has thought of overcoming them. The first is the lack of food and beverage outlets around the new office. MYOB employees have been spoilt by the presence of the food court within The Glen (where the current office sits) boasting of options such as Schnitz, Nandos, McDonalds, KFC, Salsas, Sushi Sushi, etc. Additionally, the large range of restaurants available a short walk away at Kings Way, Glen Waverley will be hard to replace. The Precinct Hotel certainly has a golden opportunity to get all the MYOB crowd in for a meal or some after work drinks. I hope that the employees get their tiffin boxes on the first day or they are going to be hungry.. (May not be true as MYOB is known to throw parties to celebrate every occasion, they just had a huge going away party at the old office on Friday!). I also realised that there weren’t’ any additional facilities woven into the layout, such as those common at Google and Facebook. A little more greenery is also required, maybe vertical gardens and water elements that make employees feel they are in a natural environment. I am told there will be green artificial grass patches in the centre of the office, however additional greenery can certainly add to the ambience. Another thing I noticed is the absolute lack of Purple in the office. The current office boasts all Shades of Purple, but the innovation hub certainly seems to lack it. This could also be an important strategic decision in influencing the way employees conduct their work. I am sure most employees will feel like they are in a new organisation all together. What better way to jumpstart Innovation!
I love the overall Industrial look of the asset and the large windows that throw in light. I am certain the area will have bright natural light all day long, as the windows are placed at the perfect angle. My favourite space however, has to be the Large Wooden Staircase at the entry that can double into an amphitheater. Working with large teams of sometimes over a 100, I am aware how hard it is to get everyone together. And getting everyone together is an important part of driving the team in a single direction! The next favourite area is definitely the extended long windows overlooking the (Freeway first) and then the Yarra River. Beyond that, some of the most expensive real estate hiding behind the small South Yarra Hills. The planners at MYOB have installed Walk-Work Stations, an in-genius way to beat the mid afternoon urge to siesta. There are also exercise bikes, with screens. I am not entirely sure what will be playing on them, but just having an opportunity to break monotony at work is welcome! Another favourite zone in my opinion is the mother’s room, and a nurse room (maybe). Another simple yet effective way of encouraging more women to join the workforce and stay employed during the initial years of their children’s lives. From meeting rooms that welcome you when you arrive to trendy lockers so you don’t have to carry large backpacks, or store the bicycling gear. An amazing feature, which may be more attractive for the women than the men, are the scores of dresses hanging below the office. A leading clothes manufacturer / distributor still leases the space under the MYOB office, and offers unique views of their storage. My wife joked that she will now get inside information on the upcoming seasons’ trends, by simply observing the styles warehoused below.
‘The new office and the company itself offer an opportunity for employees to deliver to the best of their abilities. It would be really interesting to see how this change affects the software delivery at MYOB. Will the Innovation Hub excite the developers to create better Software for Business Management? How will the Senior Management measure the success of this move? My wife snaps back, not everything is about the bottom line she tells me. Be Agile, she tells me. Well, I don’t know how to respond to that!
I wish MYOB and all those involved All the Very Best and I hope more companies invest in the space for their employees, where new ideas, new products and new processes can be developed, in the most enjoyable way. Tim Reed and team.. you are doing Great! I am certain this new work space will win accolades. I look forward to revisiting in a few weeks to see how the final set up looks like. 🙂
Some of the First Photos of the Office