food for thought 

food for thought 


Thanks to all those who got back to us about our last newsletter, it was so encouraging we thought we shouldn't wait another year to get the next one out!
So read on, there are more adventures, ideas we've explored and some links that caught our interest you might want to check out yourself.


Recently, our Six Ideas colleagues from DEGW Italy, Franco Guidi & Alessandro Adamo, have won (and deservedly so) Best Office at the 2018 MIPIM Awards for their interior architecture on Microsoft House in Milan (Building Architect: Herzog & De Meuro).

New world of work at Microsoft's Milan Headquarters

Designed with a smooth, free-flowing layout the design encompasses both public areas and open-space workstations on the other levels. Each floor differs in layout and aesthetics in accordance with functions and requirements, a balance of the communicative and private, encouraging creativity and interaction with Italian flair.

Alessandro, explained the term 'work' actually turned out to be a reductive concept, "the Microsoft headquarters is actually a place where company staff and clients meet together and exchange ideas. It is a place where virtuality encounters and becomes reality [..] it is a dynamic, transparent and recognisable environment open to the city, a benchmark for the company and its clients and partners”. Take a further look at the range of spaces at Microsoft House.

Complimenti to our Six Ideas amici in Italy for this well deserved recognition!


It’s not often that you have the chance to revisit a project 30 years later, but that has been the recent experience of Chris Alcock when Six Ideas worked with Cox Architecture in Canberra and Richard Thorp AM to undertake an accommodation strategy and precinct masterplan for the Parliament House of Australia in Canberra.

Chris worked on the original project from 1982 to 1988 and was delighted to have the opportunity to assist the Parliament to assess options for addressing occupancy growth, changes in technology and new workplace standards in this iconic building.

Australian Parliament House, Canberra

Australian Parliament House, Canberra

It was particularly gratifying to see how the Parliament House has stood the test of time, with its sense of purpose and dignity undiminished and its spaces and places preserved much as they were when it opened in 1988. But it was also a shock to realise that this is a building that was designed before much of the technology we take for granted today became commercially available – email, internet, mobile phones. And whilst the Parliament has managed to install new infrastructure to support these new technologies, the fact remains that much of the original planning of the workspace was for a way of working that is rapidly disappearing. This remains a continuing challenge for this important building.


Here are a few adventures currently underway....

  • Developing a new Employee Experience Strategy with our friends at City of Casey
  • Partnering with our buddies Metacata in Leading Change Enablement for GroupM’s new collaborative workplace in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Working with University of Melbourne and design partners HASSELLchallenging the archetypes of academic and post-graduate workspace and rethinking the student experience for the Melbourne School of Engineering.



“Does moving from a poor workplace to a beautiful one mean we will lose the 'grit' which drives our great teamwork and culture?”

A client asked us this question recently. Their organisation has built an incredible reputation and capability for pulling together despite their scarce resources - becoming more resilient and innovative as a result.
It might sound logical to say to a client: "If your people perform well in poor conditions already, imagine what they can achieve with a great workplace!" But what if it is this adversity that helped inspire their cohesive culture in the first place? How could we avoid destroying this vital attribute?
We put the question to our global community of thought-leaders. After some debate, we discovered that its not as unusual as you might think - there were many occasions where an apparent inconvenient design feature became lost in the translation to another workplace. For example, one company moved from an old 12 storey building with appallingly slow lifts to a new one. When asked what they would miss most about the old building they said "the lifts". Why? Everyone met everyone else in the lift lobbies and the wait time gave them all something in common to talk about.

What’s the lesson here? If our environment (good or bad) has nurtured a certain culturally beneficial trait, and the time has come to ‘refresh’ or move on, take the time to unpack how these evolved behaviours and rituals might be preserved, and even used to inspire positive aspects of your new environment, beyond the all-too-common elements of superficial expression. 

Does your organisation have an “inconvenient feature” in your workplace that has had some unexpectedly positive effects? 

Join our global community and share with us!



An interesting dimension to co-working that seems currently off-trend yet also highlights the intersection of workplace and culture. How does one company's nascent culture thrive under a larger more dominant brand? Find out why
It was move or die


Want to find out which elements you need to create a fantastic workplace? Try The Elemental Workplace by Neil Usher. A deceptively simple read pitched at anyone who works in an office, but thought-provoking enough for any workplace professional. (disclosure: Neil just recently joined our growing community)


If only there was a design tool for... Luckily for us, there probably is. If you are working at the intersection of human centred design, innovation and public good, then check out the Public Design Vault, which hosts over 500 design tools, curated into neat collections, all free to use.

"You work longer hours than most of your friends, you never know where your next paycheck is coming from and there’s no HR team to mollycoddle you when times get tough". Welcome to the life of self-employment. A happier, more engaged bunch than other professionals it seems...


Are you on a journey toward creating a more agile organisation? Or perhaps you want to know what agile might look like for teams. Here Steelcase shares 10 initial insights in creating an environment where fast learning is shared and cross-functional.

How much does control of one's office environment affect employee performance and engagement? Here Economist Tim Hartford explores some psychological testing different office layouts and changes and argues why every office should scrap its clean desk policy.