Better Workplaces - Chalk, cheese and charm at Principals Agency

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 18 April 2024

Employee preferences for WFH means workplaces need to utilise office spaces as a tool to connect with staff. In Better Workplaces, AdNews looks at how agencies use office design to entice staff to come in and create a company culture worth staying for.

Branding agency Principals has always cherished flexible working and what's the best way to ensure staff come in? Creating office spaces that people actually want to be in. 

Top-notch telecommunications tech, taking the glitch out of hybrid meetings and workshops, is just the start to nailing flexible work.

syd - front door

Sydney front door.

The agency has put loads of deliberate thinking into staying connected in a character-filled space that’s lively, communal and aesthetic across its Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Open and industrial. Narrow and flowing. Their Sydney and Melbourne offices are chalk and cheese – but both loaded with charm.

Sydney - overview of staff desks

Overview of Sydney staff desks.

syd - birds eye view of staff desks

At the centre of the Sydney office is the designers – working in the round, fully connected to each other and the team at large.

Around them, conference rooms, shared offices, couches, a kitchen (that always smells like fresh toast) and collaboration spaces.

Look up, and you’ll see the writing team, XXVI, typing away in their dramatically framed loft.

Syd - overview of common area

Casual meeting area.

Don’t let the toaster or the flat screens fool you, this is a building with history says Tom Brigstocke Principals Group CEO

Erected in 1916 as a drill hall, converted to residential and commercial suites in 1996 with architect team Nicola Bradley and James Grose, it earned a well-deserved place on the heritage list in the same year, and the design received an Architecture Australia interiors award in 1997.

syd - foyer

Stairway to Sydney office.

syd - foyer

"Today, it’s a beautiful hybrid of old and new. A large open space that invites focus in just about any corner you choose to settle into," Brigstocke said.

Step outside, and you’re in a corner of Sydney that’s really finding its stride. Views of the Harbour Bridge, and a short walk to The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and Barangaroo.

Down in Melbourne, things are a bit more tucked-in-a-laneway (naturally)

Occupying level four in a five-storey building dating back to 1912, it’s typical of the buildings constructed in Flinders Lane during its redevelopment early in the early 20th century and is a significant element in the cohesive and consistent run of buildings in the street.

This fourth-level creative den is smaller than its Sydney counterpart, yet still achieves an open-air feel that makes casual conversation (and collaboration) part of every day, says Rachel Terkelsen, Principals’ Melbourne office creative director.

Melb - overview of staff desks

Overview of Melbourne staff desks.

melb - deco

There’s an open kitchen at one end, with a constant flow of tea-makers, cross-worders and snackers popping in and out for sustenance – of the food, drink and social kind.

On the other end, the creatively lit lounge space is a true all-rounder. Quiet lunch corner. Social breakout area. Casual workshop spot. Office party central.

melb - overview of office common area

Melbourne town hall.

melb - meeting room

"It wears many hats and wears them well. Three separate meeting rooms tucked behind textured glass provide privacy without breaking the flow of the space," Terkelsen said.

"Filled with natural light, you’ll instinctively track the day as it passes here.

"Mornings feel like mornings, afternoons like afternoons. Elegant design features and finishings make every corner of the Melbourne office somewhere beautiful to be."

Melb - the meeting room

Together, these two spaces have their own way of peeling people away from the comfort of home.

Bringing people together to do their best work.

And ultimately, creating thoughtful spaces that make a day in the office something to look forward to.

Melbourne - meeting room

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