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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

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:

The building

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!

The brief

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

The outcome

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.


Read more about Company News, New Zealand



Steph Hinds
19 March 2012 #

Awesome! Love that no one has an office. Makes for that real team vibe. Can’t wait to visit :)

Miki Szikszai
19 March 2012 #

Looks great – hope those Snapper cards for access are working ok!

Cory Barton
19 March 2012 #

Excellent looking space! Look forward to seeing further photos, but for now I’m just really glad you all contributed in one way to the redevelopment of an architectural gem in Wellington! Congrats, and hope you all enjoy the new abode.

19 March 2012 #

woo hoo!! beautiful!!!

Adele Wardley
19 March 2012 #

Looks amazing. Well done Xero.

19 March 2012 #

The original photo is fantastic – can’t wait to pop in for a visit – nice to see some of my customers helping with the fit out!

Matt Blair
19 March 2012 #

So is there going to be a big Xero logo on the building..?

20 March 2012 #

I am proud to be an early adopter of Xero in Indonesia.

Glen Barnes
20 March 2012 #

The offices look great. Just make sure you attribute the photo properly as requested on the NatLib site:

“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.

20 March 2012 #

Congratulations – looks great guys!

20 March 2012 #

Looks wonderful. Congrats. I tried googling your address (in google maps) but 3 Market Lane does not exist in google maps. Might be a problem for people trying to find you.

20 March 2012 #

Looks fantastic! Well done.

20 March 2012 #

Awesome! I now haz workplace envy :)

20 March 2012 #

Well done to everyone involved in this project. Fantastic to see an iconic company in an iconic location. Wear it with pride.

20 March 2012 #

Looking good! Well done.

Gayle Buchanan
20 March 2012 #

agree with @steph …. open plan looking awesome and what a view!

21 March 2012 #

The original image from the Turnbull is brilliant, and the new office looks great! Glad you were able to find it in our collections.

Philip Bridgen
21 March 2012 #

Great to see such a well thought though working environment developed in an iconic Wellington building, contributing to its continued healthy and useful life! I can’t wait to attend a seminar in your new surroundings – are you going to offer guided tours?

John Gilbert
21 March 2012 #

Look forward to visiting, looks great & should be photographed for Interiors magazine

Diane Crawford-Errington
22 March 2012 #

Awesome guys, looking really good. Cant wait to visit next time I’m in the capital!

Gabor Szikszai
23 March 2012 #

I especially enjoyed seeing the new NZ flag proudly flying from the rooftop this morning. Lloyd would approve.

When will the airbridge – that provides direct access between the Trade Me and Xero pool rooms – be installed?

23 March 2012 #

Amazing work. When does your coffee contract come up for tender? We would LOVE to pitch for it!

26 March 2012 #

great space, awesome building – what happened to those amazeballs bronze rounded pendant lights that were being hung not so long ago, but are no more?

Paula Jackson
28 March 2012 #

@madelyn – good spotting! Yes we have changed them out. While the installation itself wasn’t expensive – looking at it from afar we felt it looked like we might have gone to town a bit which wasn’t in line with the brief above. For a young company we are conscious of not only avoiding extravagance but also the perception of extravagance. So the ‘amazeballs’ (great name by the way) have gone.

We have some more modest lighting arriving soon.

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