Home office tower on the agenda

Rhonda Dredge

Residents of the two existing towers at Melbourne Square, most of whom are working from home, have to make do with second bedrooms for work space or find a gap for their desks elsewhere.

Max Baibakov moved in two years ago just after the towers were complete because the apartments had bigger bedrooms than he could find elsewhere.

And Nikhil Narindranath has converted one of his bedrooms into a study for himself and his partner but space is tight.

This is the story of post-COVID Melbourne as office workers figure out how they’re going to arrange their lives.

With life after a once-in-a-generation pandemic still uncertain, Melbourne Square developer OSK Property is taking steps to visualise what work in a post COVID-19 era will look like.

The next residential tower to go up at Melbourne Square will be more adapted to the needs of residents who work remotely, according to OSK Property marketing manager Scott Jessop.

“It’s exactly what we’re looking at,” he said. “Most of the options have studies or flexi-space, a blend between a second living area, study area or a kids’ play area.”

Two years ago, the company visualised an office tower with a greater “technological backbone” to allow for remote working.

Now they are looking at how the next apartment tower will accommodate these at-home workers.

Two residential towers were completed in 2019 and the company was swift off the mark in responding to the pandemic.

“We managed in 2020 to put in wellness factors, air circulation pumping and water purifying,” Mr Jessop said.

Some buyers had already settled, and it was too late to update their apartments for the pandemic.

The third tower will be launched later in 2022 and the design will acknowledge the move towards remote working.

According to residents of Melbourne Square, most of those living in the existing towers are working from home and could do with more flexible office space.

Nikhil Narindranath, a management consultant, lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his partner.

 

“We’re sharing one bedroom and a study,” Mr Narindranath said, “It would be better to be more flexible. We’re squashed up in the office space and it’s a problem if we have meetings at the same time.”

 

Max Baibakov works in IT and moved into a tower two years ago.

“The apartments are really good,” he said. “They’re really well built out of good materials.”

He said they have bigger bedrooms than most other buildings. “That’s one of the reasons I chose it because they don’t have separate studies.”

The home office issue is on the agenda for many developers, according to industry sources.

It remains to be seen how ideas for office towers develop during this period. Two years ago, OSK Property, was ahead of the game in promoting connectivity with the outdoors, limited shared spaces as well as a greater “technological backbone” for its 38,000 sqm 29-level office tower.

Melbourne Square Commercial was looking to reduce contact in close quarters such as lifts, and limit crossover between different businesses in communal facilities.

During that period COVID-19 has accelerated workplace trends towards remote working •

Home workers Nikhil Narindranath and Max Baibakov on lunch break at Melbourne Square.

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