A Closeness In Distance


As March draws to a close and we begin a new month……….I talk with Simone Oliver, Principal and Sector Leader Interior Architecture at Architectus, about their transition to WFH and the future of their culture.

With a workforce of 450 people across Australia Architectus is one of Australia’s largest Design Studios. When tasked with moving their community online from home their first priority was safety of their people……..within 2 weeks they were pretty much done – which is a massive undertaking. Not only did they migrate each individual to their home offices, but they ergonomically surveyed each individual setup, and supplied where necessary screens and taskchairs.

An incredible task, with no interruption to individual teams performing ongoing client deliverables and online presentations during the transition. As a studio already adept in working globally in significant project collaborations, it was now time for the whole business to adopt these measures using amazing technology and sharing platforms (more on the next week).

Simone believes that the situation has driven her to be even closer to her team. Steering a large design force online hasn’t been as hard as first thought.

With a team of 40 interior architects in 5 different locations, each led by a local Principal, their Vision has always been that of ‘One Team’. That wasn’t always so easy but in this circumstance they have galvanised their vision – one team in many locations coming from the same place to deliver one exceptional result.

The notion of geographic displacement has been eliminated in what they do.

In all truth, Simone believes our industry has been cast 10 years into the future. “We are finally truly walking the talk, we are agile and paperless, and connected”.

Besides the team being set up correctly, delivering on their mental health and wellbeing and happiness at home is high on the priority list for Architectus. ‘Checking in with each other daily, making sure we as a team are ok, e-coffee-presentations with suppliers or run team fitness such as online yoga is happening.

The world of creativity tends to lend itself to face to face contact, crits, meetings, coming together of minds. However, it would seem that they have the right focus to be able to keep the cultural juices flowing, fuelling the creativity. Albeit in their own isolation but as a group online.

Oliver definitely feels that as an industry we are banding together to deliver to clients and to each other. ‘We are keeping the conversation going, we can deliver online, present workshops, take briefs, its really is not so strange.’ In fact, they are even managing to onboard people in this new way of working.

So you see, there really is a closeness in distance and one that it would seem has been embraced by not just the leadership team at Architectus but the whole company. All of them.

By Sue Davies


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