QBE Insurance Offices – Parramatta

International insurance giant QBE’s three new Australian workplaces offer insight into innovative hybrid design as businesses in locked-down CBDs grapple return to office strategies.

  • Client QBE Insurance,
  • size 161,459 sqft
  • Year 2021
  • Location Parramatta, Australia,
  • Industry Insurance,
  • GroupGSA designed the QBE Insurance offices with various work spaces and collaborative zones in Parramatta, Australia.

    Global design studio, GroupGSA, collaborated with the established insurance provider to transform their workplaces in a national roll-out over three years to simplify operations, improve collaboration and efficiency and achieve long-term sustainability goals of reducing operational emissions.

    The transformations required a rapid design response to the pandemic. While QBE’s Melbourne Docklands site was completed pre-pandemic, construction of the organisation’s Sydney and Parramatta workplaces was executed between multiple lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

    QBE moved quickly to ascertain its future workplace needs in Australia. In close consultation with staff, the firm ensured flexibility was built into their growth. A survey of its Australian staff found 10 percent wanted to work five days a week in the office, 10% wanted to work from home and 80% desired a hybrid model.

    The result is three highly immersive workplaces that curate a culture of collaboration through bespoke “team neighbourhoods,” agile floorplans and tech-enabled meeting spaces to support a diverse workforce and a new generation of emerging employees.

    GroupGSA Project Lead Liam Higginbotham said the team developed a robust “kit of parts” — elements based on the working groups from each site — to enable new working styles and set a framework for the future of QBE.

    All three major city hubs share diverse work settings to suit specific team precincts. These include a series of linear work points and workstation options, from sit-to-stand desks and quiet nooks to focus spaces and innovation hubs. QBE introduced a floor sensor system halfway through the project.

    Team huddles offer an extension of team neighbourhood settings and are tailored to local working groups, such as call centre teams. Nearly all meeting spaces are video capable.

    All three workplace designs incorporate large activated atriums to support QBE’s sustainable targets and outcomes. Individual sites also feature striking stair insertions for enhanced connectivity.

    Unique to QBE’s new 15,000sqm Parramatta workplace is an entire social floor dedicated to staff, including a large, vibrant café that opens out onto a sky terrace, client meeting rooms, and a large training facility.

    Connectivity is a prominent design feature with sculptural stairs linking the ten floors.

    Higginbotham says all three sites were selected based on their centrality to public transport and city precincts in the interests of QBE staff.

    Design: GroupGSA
    Design Team: Liam Higginbotham, Emma McGifford
    Photography: Luc Remond