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How Human-Centred Design and the Internet of Things are enhancing Macquarie's offices

With its innovative coupling of the Internet of Things and human-centred design, Macquarie's offices help employees to work smarter, says Neil Rodel.

The innovations in Macquarie's London office go beyond the striking red staircase, light-filled atrium and glass walls.

Here in Ropemaker Place in London, innovative technology and human-centred design are helping Macquarie and its people work more efficiently, flexibly and comfortably.

Leading the team behind this is Neil Rodel, Head of Business Services and Technology Infrastructure in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The London office, completed in 2011, was designed by Clive Wilkinson, who also masterminded Macquarie's sleek Shelley Street building in Sydney. The designs echo much about Macquarie.

“Our buildings represent us as an organisation, in that they are open, transparent and human-centred," Neil says.

Macquarie's offices at Ropemaker Street in London feature an open atrium where the bright red steel staircase and upper-level steel catwalks link the various floors. The cutting-edge technology is incorporated seamlessly throughout the building.

"Macquarie has always been tech savvy. We trial a lot of things early on. It's not about flashy gimmicks so much as a deep understanding of Macquarie's people and what's important to them - and then understanding what we can implement to power them to be as successful and happy as possible.”

"Being a regulated financial services organisation adds an extra layer of complexity, but we want to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and using it as a differentiator in the market."

Technology such as the Cloud and ubiquitous, high-quality video-conferencing enable Macquarie's people to work more flexibly: "We can have somebody in a meeting room in London, somebody at their home in Sydney and somebody in transit at the airport, all on a video call being able to communicate, see each other's facial expressions and share documents seamlessly. It's enables us to be a truly global organisation and connect our people wherever they may be in the world."

The focus is on seamless technology and office design that considers how people feel, think and act.

"We want to power our businesses, and combining technology with human-centred design and empathy brings innovation."

Shelley Street in Sydney is home to Macquarie's Banking and Financial Services group.

Less well known is how Macquarie is harnessing the Internet of Things to enhance life at Ropemaker Place. A recent fit out on level nine has been used to trial various technologies, and the best tech is likely to roll out in Macquarie offices around the world.

"The focus is on how we can provide the best environment for our people to perform," Neil says.

It's about much more than letting people work where they prefer. Sensors are used to monitor space utilisation, temperature and the quality of the air, including levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds.

Any problems highlighted can be fixed, and under-used areas reconfigured.

"It's not tech for tech's sake," Neil says. "We want to ensure that we put the human at the centre of everything we do. We can do clever things with the technology, such as measuring the utilisation of bathrooms, so we can adjust our cleaning schedules accordingly.

Macquarie's offices at 1 Martin Place in Sydney feature a striking inter-connecting purple staircase, a large cinema space and versatile collaboration zones. Home to Macquarie's Australia-based technologists, the concrete walls, construction graffiti and exposed pipes are used as design features in this technology-focused space.

Another system on trial uses WiFi to track devices – for instance, laptops and iPhones – to monitor human traffic around the floor. This lets the corporate real-estate team see which areas are underused.

"Being able to measure the utilisation opens up new opportunities for us as we can easily identify how the changes we make to the office space make a difference."

Every time there's an office move or refurbishment globally, Macquarie looks at how it can use what it has learnt through technology trials to make the new workplace efficient, flexible and comfortable for staff. Recent builds in Singapore, Shanghai and Gurugram incorporated some of the best technology from other Macquarie offices around the world and are now informing new office projects that are underway.

The possibilities for technology to improve working life seem endless.

"I think in the past technology has often got in the way. We almost want technology to not feel like it's there and to be seamless. We want the people to be the focus."

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