Better Workplaces - Hatched's lively Chapel St playground

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 1 September 2023
Overview of the office's town hall area.

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.

When independent media agency Hatched outgrew its office in South Yarra in early 2022, the agency upgraded to a renowned advertising spot among top-tier restaurants and thrilling graffiti on Chapel Street, Windsor.

Hatched’s current energetic and functional workspace was the past home to BWM, Haystac and Sputnik. But going back further, Chapel Street is historically significant as one of the most impressive shopping strips developed along Melbourne's tram routes, with most buildings dating from the 1850s.

old building

Chapel St early 1900's.

A copy of a 1917 Prahran Telegraph shows shops along the street offering a range of products and services from dressmaking to diamonds and millinery. Across the road from the Hatched office was Paterson’s, a high-class pastry cook and caterer.

Before moving in, Hatched founder Jack Byrne, Hatched junior leadership team, interior designer Jenni Robin and builders at @296 Design worked together to transform the tired floor into a bustling hub for the media agency to rejoin together after the pandemic.

Hatched 10th Birthday

Hatched team at Melbourne HQ celebrating the agency's 10th birthday.

The renovated design focuses on sustainable and biophilic-conscious treatments, Byrne told AdNews, with an audit of existing furniture undertaken and items that could be reupholstered or relocated into the new office.

“We were conscious of showcasing a strong local representation of furniture suppliers, Indigenous-designed fabrics, wallpaper, and art as well as recyclable décor in addition to acoustic pendants above the banquettes and waste bins and planter boxes scattered throughout the space,” Byrne said.

The carpeted tile pattern, bright colour scheme and joyful art were chosen to create a fun atmosphere throughout the office.


furnishings - checked carpet

The injection of branded graphics and quotes including references to ‘agents of positive change’, ‘craftspeople at work’ and ‘chow down’ build on this playfulness while injecting a unique personality.

There is also a connection to Country with the welcome plaque and Indigenous elements within the space including the Totem within the waiting area and the Jimmy Pike wallpaper and fabrics.

And the commissioned artwork within the entry staircase, designed and completed by Michael Cain of Gnashing Teeth. 

“This artwork encompasses all that is Hatched with such joy,” Byrne said.

art in stairway

As most agency staff today use in-office days for meetings and collaboration, the Hatched office has been set up to accommodate multiple consecutive catch-ups of various sizes.

As well as proper staff desks, there are 24 agile work points located throughout the office, where staff can break away from desks and work in an environment mimicking the home space.

“Collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas occur when staff break from the hot desks and work in agile working spaces. This is where the magic happens,” Byrne said.

The restaurant-style booths outside the kitchen used to eat lunch are also used for casual meetings, plus there's three single-person pods for dialling into online meetings, away from the office noise.

booths near kitchen

single booth

work booth

For bigger meetings, the office has one large boardroom, two open pods, one small meeting room and two breakout spaces designed for group work such as ideation or client planning.

And for agency wide meetings or supplier presentations, the huge town hall space with stadium seating is ideal. The grandstand joinery is even powered so that staff can connect laptops.

Town Hall 2

Town hall space used for agency-wide presentations.

grandstand seating in town hall

And when no presentations are on, the town hall space is used as a large break out space, with a dozen areas for staff to work from.

couches in town hall

Overview of town hall from opposite end.

overview of kitchen

Back corner of the town hall area has the staff kitchen and of course another break out area.

For more traditional staff seating, hot desking was chosen to accommodate people working from home.

“The furniture is lightweight and moveable, some tables have castors and folding benchtops which means they can be reconfigured as the needs of the business change,” Byrne said.

“During the planning stage, we worked on establishing 60 sit-to-stand hot desks in back-to-back clusters of six by 24. These were sectioned off in a quiet work zone with enhanced acoustics including new carpet, ceiling tiles and acoustically rated S-fold curtaining."

overview of staff desks

Traditional staff desk area.

The office can expand to a further 12 workstations by relocating movable furniture ensuring the futureproof of the lease.

“We also open the office up to our media partners, clients and mates. Media reps that come for meetings are welcome to stay and work from one of our desks. We extend this invite to friends of Hatched such as start-ups and charity partners like UnLtd,” Byrne said.

Staff desks 

Staff desks

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