An Australian Real Estate Group’s People-Focused Office

Check out the story and photos of their buzzy South Melbourne space.

Photo be Rachael Dere.

RPM Real Estate Group needed a new headquarters that reflected both their tremendous growth — 370 percent increase in revenue over the last four years — and their decentralized workforce (one-third of the RPM team spends the majority of their working hours outside of the office). The real estate group chose Rothelowman, an Australian design firm with a huge portfolio of experience in urban design, interiors, and architecture to meet the challenge.

What RPM got was an office in buzzy South Melbourne, spread across two nonconsecutive floors in a commercial building. The sleek space — defined by a palette of blacks, whites, grays, and blues — includes adaptable workspaces and open-plan workstations to encourage collaboration and provide a solution for the staff that is in the office just one day of the week.

“The aim was definitely not to squeeze as many people into the space as possible, but rather to enhance this open, cooperative, and research-driven organization,” said Andrew Wales, the head of interiors at Rothelowman.

Read on for more.

Photo be Rachael Dere.

When was the project completed?


What is the total square footage?

9,900 square feet

What is the square footage per person?

For 60 people, 165 square feet per person. For 90 people, 110 square feet per person.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

There are 60 on-site daily, but on Mondays there are up to 90.

Photo be Rachael Dere.

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

The headquarters are located on the doorstep of Clarendon Street, right in the middle of South Melbourne’s food and retail precinct. The office is also in close proximity to Kings Way, Melbourne’s central business district and the Monash freeway — plus it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the number 12 and 55 tram.

What were the construction/hard costs per square foot?

Approximately $140 per square foot.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

Most of the work stations and associated furniture was from Schiavello, which customized elements of its standard system where we needed to go just a bit further to realize the design intent.

Photo be Rachael Dere.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day every day?

One-third of RPM team members operate primarily outside of the company’s South Melbourne headquarters and are only in-house one day a week.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

Approximately 20 percent is allocated to client-focused areas, reception, meeting rooms, and utility areas. During the Monday peak period when all the staff are located in the office, some of these areas are utilized as additional work space for the transient staff.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

The fitout was designed to reflect RPM’s character and also to reference the fundamentals of their core business. RPM is progressive, professional, knowledgeable, confident, and it is a leader in its field of expertise. At the same time, the culture of the office is open, people-focused, and friendly. We wanted the design to convey these concepts to those entering the space from the moment of arrival.

RPM’s business is, broadly speaking, centered on residential estates. Rothelowman’s design referenced key aspects of residential estate living, including pathways bordered by street lamps and street trees. Furniture in the reception and client focused areas is also quite residential in scale and style.

Photo be Rachael Dere.

What was the hardest aspect of change for people?

The hardest aspect was moving from an enclosed office based environment into a more open workplace.

Please share any illuminating, surprising, or hoped-for results you might have gleaned from post-occupancy surveys.

RPM has received great feedback from their clients and have even had some of them ask if they can “borrow” the boardroom and bar area for their own corporate events. It really seems to have hit the mark with the “feel” of the space. It allows for formal business meetings to be held in the boardroom without compromising the casual, approachable, people-focused nature of RPM as a company.

The recently completed external landscaping and furnishing of the terraces on levels three and five complements and enhances the design delivered by Rothelowman, and it provides staff and clients with a relaxed and comfortable al fresco experience.

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