Xero has a new HQ
Today we completed the move into our beautiful new HQ – the iconic John Chambers building in Wellington, New Zealand.
Intersection of Jervois Quay with Cable and Wakefield streets, Wellington. Raine, William Hall, 1892-1955 :Negatives of New Zealand towns and scenery, and Fiji. Ref: 1/1-021618-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand http://beta.natlib.govt.nz/records/23116235
This has been a huge but incredibly fun project that’s taken the best part of two years, from scouting out this superb location, to the actual fit-out itself. We think the result is the creation of something pretty special for our team.
Here’s how we got here:
To find the perfect space that could accommodate our expanding R&D team and HQ functions such as Finance, HR, Marketing and Customer Care wasn’t as easy as we first anticipated. We also needed to consider a space that was not only true to our brand, but somewhere that ticked the boxes for important things like being close to amenities such as public transport for our commuters.
We must have looked at pretty much every commercial space in Wellington – yet we kept coming back to JCB. It was in a state of disrepair and a major job for the developer to make ready for leasing. But its history, location and the opportunity to play a part in forming Wellington’s hi-tech precinct - along with neighbours such as Trade Me, New Zealand Stock Exchange and Infratil – made JCB very attractive. So 12 months ago we made the call. Committing to a long-term lease made it possible to redevelop this architecturally unique building and embark on a project that included major re-strengthening to meet Earthquake Commission compliance.
There’s a sense of satisfaction among the team that we’ve contributed to the transformation of an iconic building and something which makes our home town just a little bit better. Xero signage yet to to be installed!
First we chose Studio Pacific Architecture to design and implement our fit-out. We involved the entire Xero team in the brief to ensure we captured the “ideal” of how we worked as individuals, as teams and collaboratively between teams. We’re a pretty diverse bunch at Xero so it was important to recognise that we needed quiet “in the zone” spaces as well as break-out areas for the interrupters among us – and there are a few!
In a nutshell we wanted our space to:
- Attract and retain world-class talent
- Encourage productivity and connectivity between multi-disciplined teams
- Accommodate future growth with flexibility
- A quality build and enduring fit-out for the length of our lease
- Represent our organisational values
- Most importantly – show financial responsibility by exhibiting cleverness and impact without extravagance
Xero works hard balancing the creativity to develop beautiful software with the rigorous processes needed to achieve operational excellence. It’s this that enables us to reliably support the business transactions of over 250,000 users in 100 countries. Not surprisingly our brief up-ended the traditional office layout by starting with our staff cafe and making this the core meeting hub that drives collaboration and serendipitous conversations. We then defined transitional spaces and casual work areas for the ‘the interrupters’ who are constantly moving between teams. Finally we placed our high concentration workspace deepest in the building to allow those that need to focus to be hyper-productive.
Like a home, our huge kitchen and cafe/dining area was a key feature. The idea was to encourage staff to break from desks and to enjoy breakfast, lunch, a coffee or dinner with a co-worker. We also have a range of meeting rooms and breakout areas that maximise the unique shape of the building. A favourite is “Milton Keynes” which is a room hidden below the stairs for those private chats. Then there’s beautiful timber leaners situated in open spaces for the less than private ones! (We named our meeting rooms after the cities Xero’s regional offices are located in – this reminds everyone we’re serving our teams around the world). We insisted on an open central stair case that connects the three floors to make it easy to move between teams. There’s also bike storage for our keen cyclists and a studio where we produce our expanding library of videos, record voiceovers and conduct webinars.
Already it’s great to see everyone using the spaces as intended. And there’s not a freestanding whiteboard to be seen! Instead we have liberally applied whiteboard paint and put up pinboard walls throughout the building.
Some may find it interesting that following our process we ended up with no individual offices. Rod our CEO and lead interrupter doesn’t even have a desk and roams the building with his MacBook Air – though we have noticed him dropping MacBook power adapters in various spots around the building. (Some may also be surprised that none of the senior team at Xero have a PA – we are a team of doers at Xero.)
Having visited some great spaces at technology companies all over the world (like Google, FaceBook, Microsoft, Ebay and even Square) and seen how they work, we believe our space will foster creativity as much as any of those we’ve seen. What is very different from the huge office parks we’ve visited is having a space of global quality in a funky and vibrant city like Wellington. We can see the water!
The space we’ve created sets us up to compete for global talent. It’s also pretty cool to do this in a capital city that historically has been dependent on a declining public sector and corporate migration to Auckland and Australia.
We welcome partners, customers and shareholders to come and visit. Or why not come and work in our new HQ? Check out our current vacancies.