Microsoft’s new Wellington office has opened for business today.

Following a karakia led by local kaumātua Sam and June Jackson, the Wellington office opened its doors to the public at 11am this morning. Local Member of Parliament Grant Robertson and US Ambassador David Huebner attended a celebration with Microsoft partners, community stakeholders, and customers.

Karakia with Sam and June Jackson

The new office puts people at the centre. The fresh design was placed in the hands of Microsoft’s Wellington staff, working with local architects Stephenson&Turner and taking inspiration from the movement towards activity based working. The goal was to make people feel great about being here.

Microsoft offices around the world have started to move to activity based working. This has been inspired by today’s technology that allows work to be done seamlessly from anywhere. New flexibility allows people to define work by what they do, rather than where they are.

At its core, the model is based on trust in people’s contribution to the team, rather than supervision of where and when they work. With devices connected through the Microsoft cloud, people can be present from anywhere.  The office becomes a hub for collaboration and meetings that is designed to suit people’s needs of the moment.

Microsoft Wellington now has three spacious zones. A blue-themed area greets visitors with a view over Lambton Quay and rooms infused with clear daylight for meetings with customers and partners. An orange themed zone caters to collaboration and open-plan work. From a public café-style area, it moves to more formal workspaces including bar-stool desks, a lounge room, and a patio-styled breakout area with an indoor trellis and plants.

Collaborative café-style area

The quiet zone has a green theme, and this is where people can retreat any time to focus intently on a personal commitment. Although the total area of the office is unchanged, the smart design that our employees teamed up on with the architects has given us extra meeting rooms, a larger reception area, and spacious accommodation of the same number of people.

There are no fixed offices, cubicles, or desks. Each workstation is equipped with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, so that people can use a single USB cable to quickly and easily plug in to a comfortable and productive desk arrangement.

Of course, employees can also work effectively from home, customer premises, or Mojo. Instead of desk phones, we use Lync for Internet-powered communications. There is secure access to the Intranet from any trusted device. Email and documents are connected through the cloud. 

All of this technology is focused on helping people to be more productive, to collaborate better, to achieve their potential.

In his speech, Grant Robertson observed that it was encouraging to see a work style that supported diversity, with all aspects of the technology and design being carefully arranged to support people and the contributions they each make. We hope to be able to share what we've learnt from our move to activity based working with others in Wellington and around the country.

Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central

Wellingtonian Mark Rees is Microsoft’s National Technology Officer. “The design of the office helps me to achieve more - whether it is the conversation zone where people can work together and share ideas or the quiet zone where people can focus on their work independently. You choose the room to suit the work you have to do and each area provides a flexible mix of technology to facilitate the many different work and meeting styles and needs. It makes the office a more enjoyable place to work and I feel like I am getting more done.”

Chatting about a new Windows 8 slate

Our employees love the flexibility, and Microsoft’s experience with activity based working around the world has shown that there are some very concrete business benefits too. We are able to accommodate more customer and partner meetings at our premises. Staff can commute outside rush hour or work from home more readily, saving time and petrol. In larger offices, we have found that we can often reduce the space we need, saving on rent and energy use.

We are proud of the work our people have done to make this space uniquely theirs. If you would like a tour of the new office to find out more about what we have done, please get in touch so that we can make the necessary arrangements. 

Article by Waldo Kuipers, Corporate Affairs Manager, Microsoft New Zealand Limited