Summer 2021

Engaging interviews, behind-the-scenes insights, news, trends and topical features that celebrate places that evolve our landscape, and the people who bring them to life - welcome to Made by FDC.

The flexi-work revolution

COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the way we live and work, so what does this mean for office life as we knew it?

There are plenty of things we could say about the Pandemic, and four-letter words would probably feature heavily. It’s ruined holidays and cancelled plans, forced parents to stay inside with their children while juggling work and domestic stress, brought words like ‘hand sani’ and ‘social distancing’ into common usage, and that’s not to mention the mortality rate. But there have been some surprising things too. Not least, the way we work. Flexibility is many an employees’ dream, but before COVID-19 it wasn’t necessarily the popular choice. Now that we know working remotely can be done successfully, the office model is changing, and some employers are adopting a more accommodating approach.

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Corporate flexibility is the new norm

Co-working spaces have immense appeal for employees who can’t face the isolation of working from home, but don’t want to commute to the office. Meanwhile, economic pressures and ongoing global uncertainties means corporate tenants are rethinking exorbitant multi-year leases. Co-working (which allows for the use of flexible or temporary space that still lets workers network and collaborate face-to-face) is expected to outperform the office sector, according to experts, which is not predicted to recover until at least 2025. As WeWork Australia General Manager Balder Tol puts it, “During uncertain times, the urge for flexibility increases.”[1]

FDC’s 2019 White Paper, Asset Repositioning Trends in Australia, reported that the number of co-working members will rise from 3.8 million in 2020 to 5.1 million by 2022. There are now 26% more co-working locations in Australia in 2019 than in the previous year[2]. And according the Flex Careers Flexibility Report 2020, “The overarching consensus from HR professionals is that the new normal is going to be more remote and more flexible, with business uptake of remote work increasing by 278%.” Pre-Pandemic, 18% of businesses allowed remote work. Post-Pandemic, it rose to 68%.[3]

Finding a happy medium

The most likely scenario is a hybrid model, where employees will share their time between working in the office and working remotely, minimising their need to commute, and reducing the number of people in the office at any one time. To date, FDC has taken on two projects for WeWork, including the full interior fitout of levels 1-14 at 66 King Street Sydney, and WeWork’s latest Brisbane location at 260 Queen Street, which occupies five floors for over 750 members. The fourth location for WeWork in Brisbane has been conceived as a relaxed and inviting environment to promote interactions between the WeWork community. A variety of space types are created to cater for collaborative work, communal lounges and events, unique presentation spaces plus private full-floor suites for larger enterprise companies.

According to a recent report in The Australian Financial Review, enquiries for space at WeWork are getting larger and longer, with full floor enterprise deals and an average commitment term in Australia of nine months – with no sign of it slowing down.

FDC is in the process of delivering its sixth fitout for Hub, a premium co-working community for growing businesses in Australia, providing workspaces, business networks, media and podcast studios and member services. The brand new fitout in Hub Civic Quarter will provide beautifully designed suites and modern meeting rooms of various sizes, with features including a commercial kitchen, a well-equipped café, high ceiling space designer workstations and bespoke furniture. The spaces offer the benefit of providing complete adaptability, with social distancing incorporated into space layouts. A variety of breakout and flexible spaces allow members to be part of a community while ensuring they can still stay safe and work productively. Affordable rates, short-term leases, attractive amenities, and an in-built culture of collaboration is an enticing offering for employers during a global pandemic.

As researchers at Melbourne University, Dr Erica Coslor and Edward Hyatt, said in their paper, Flexible Working Beyond COVID-19, the pandemic is an unprecedented experiment for the modern workplace. “To make sure we keep the good aspects of the COVID-19 flexible work experiment, organisations will need to take a multi-pronged approach – formalising flexible work arrangements and figuring out new kinds of annual review metrics.” How it pans out in the long term? Only time will tell.

[1] https://au.news.yahoo.com/future-of-coworking-235339276.html
[2] https://www.fdcbuilding.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/FDC_WhitePaper_5September2019_FINALLR.pdF
[3] https://www.flexcareers.com.au/resources/flexibility-report
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Local facilities on a post-pandemic pedestal

From public parks to suburban swimming pools, places that increase community connection are more important than ever.

A sense of community has become increasingly valuable since the Pandemic bowled onto the global stage in early 2020 and made enforced isolation a thing. After all, loneliness was already an epidemic before ‘social distancing’ became a common phrase. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness’s 2019 report, 1 in 10 Australians aged 15 and over report lacking social support and 1 in 2 (51%) report they feel lonely for at least 1 day each week.

But if the challenges of the past 12 months have had any benefit, it’s all been about making us more aware of the people around us. Neighbours who had never talked before, began checking in on each other.

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Places where people could (safely) interact, feel a sense of community and enjoy moments of ‘normalcy’ became elevated in their importance: parks, playgrounds, swimming pools.

Splashing Out

Local aquatic centres have an element of nostalgia to them; icy poles melting in the sun; burning feet as you run to dive-bomb in the deep end, the overpowering aroma of Eau de Chlorine. But these spaces are evolving. Think: less concrete pool-blocks, more community hubs and state-of-the-art facilities, in line with modern day requirements and recreation.

Visit a public pool on any given day and you’ll see an incredible cross-section of the community. There are babies learning to swim, kids being schooled on their overarm techniques, teenagers with their swimming squads, adults getting their laps in, octogenarians undertaking rigorous aqua aerobics classes. It’s the ideal intergenerational melting pot, where health and connection converge.

History remade in Ashfield

There’s no better example of this than the $44.7 million Ashfield Aquatic Centre overhaul, delivered by FDC. The facility shut its doors in 2017 for a full refurbishment after 55 years of service and reopened at the end of last year, completely reimagined.

Set to attract around half-a-million visitors annually, the new centre houses four indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, sauna, steam room, gym and café, with cutting edge features that will future proof it for many years to come. There’s a water polo pool with a floor that can be lowered from flat to 2.1 metres, allowing activities for children and wheelchair users. There’s a landscaped children’s leisure pool, complete with lush green wall; community meeting rooms and green open space with covered seating.

The centre is also home to a new public artwork made from powder-coated metal louvres by internationally renowned artist and Inner-West local, Georgia Hill. It tells the story of the site, it’s place in culture and history, and the importance of its surrounding environment.

Historian Ann O’Connell knows a thing or two about that, having recently co-written and subsequently published a book about the pool’s history called Taking the Plunge: The History of Ashfield’s Pool 1963 to 2018.[1] She says the old Ashfield pool, which opened on the same site in 1963, had up to four generations of families pass through the swim club and take lessons from long-time coach Warwick Webster, an Olympian and former world record holder.

In its new form? It will continue to attract visitors – from local and abroad, from young to old. Icy poles may still melt in the sun, and the scent of chlorine still lingers. But there’s greenery where once there was just concrete. There’s tech that enhances the swimming experience. There are community hubs where before there was just a concrete pool block, ensuring it will serve and delight, add value to the community, spark conversations and instil connections, for many generations to come.

[1] https://ashfieldhistory.org.au/taking-the-plunge/
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More than just a partnership

We had a chat with Ray Finn OAM, Vice-Chairman of Ronald McDonald House, Greater Western Sydney. FDC delivered the new Ronald McDonald House in Westmead and together are celebrating their 40 years of providing accommodation for critically ill children and their families.

The idea of giving back is something I was aware of from a very young age. I had a great upbringing. My mum was honoured with life membership of the P&C Association, and she worked with the school long after we left. My dad was very involved with charities and clubs being a life member of Masonic Club. The importance of giving back was ingrained in me as a child and it gives me great joy and pride to have spent so many years now with Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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Working as Cabin Crew with Qantas for 22 years, in the late 70’s I was privileged to secure a London base where I lived with my wife Barbara and kids, Michael, Jacqui and Ian in Guildford, Surrey, in the UK flying to Bombay (now Mumbai) every week.

Crewing the second jumbo jet into Australia, and operating the evacuation flight out of Saigon, were just some of the highlights of my career, culminating in becoming a Line Manager for cabin crew South East Asia.

From burgers to the board

My first McDonalds store, as a licensee, was my local, in Castle Hill. I’d only been running it for three months when Guy Russo, who was the boss of McDonalds at the time, paid me a visit, “I’d like you to come and be the new licensee representative on the board of Ronald McDonald House,” he said. I could hardly believe it. “In the business sense, I’m struggling to do what I’m doing now, and you want me to go and be involved with this?” I asked. He said, “Yeah, I do. Come along next week and introduce yourself.” I did – it was March 1993 – and I’ve been on the board of Ronald McDonald House ever since.

The original Ronald McDonald House was Strathmore Cottage (built 1876) a beautiful old Glebe terrace on the corner of Ross Street and Pyrmont Bridge Road, just up from the hospital. It had eight rooms and a stable which was converted to a playroom. It was all pretty rickety. I walked into a crowded little old room in the hospital and the administrator put a set of plans down and said, “This is what we’re going to build at Westmead.” I knew nothing about the charity as such but had to dive straight in and assist in raising $2.4 million to build an 18-room house directly behind the new Children’s Hospital in Westmead. It’s an incredible charity. When you see it in action, it brings it home to you; the kids and their families, the relief of having somewhere to stay, the heartache and the pain of what they’re going through. I could tell you a thousand stories.

Friends in business

When it came to building the new house in Westmead, there was a reason FDC’s presentation for the tender stood out. It was their 25-year anniversary in business. We knew they had experience on their side, but there was also a commitment that went above and beyond. They didn’t just want to build for us, they wanted to know our story. Any charity knows how huge that is; there was a genuine care and compassion that I think is quite rare.

We ended up getting so much more than a business partnership. We were building a $38million-dollar facility, but FDC made it feel at times, like we were doing home renovations. We had meetings every week, and they were constantly analysing the project, changing aspects that they thought wouldn’t be quite right, actively looking for ways to save us money. The building was delivered on time and it came in just under budget. We have 60 rooms now and we went from being able to cater for 109 to sleeping 373.

Generosity starts at the top

The kids who were staying at Ronald McDonald House watched the building going up. If a crane was coming, one of the foreman would come over and say, ‘You might want to get the kids out,’ so the kids could enjoy the spectacle. These are very sick children and seeing how FDC’s people got so much from bringing them joy was wonderful. On Fridays we’d have a barbecue at the house, and the tradies and labourers would come over and cook for the kids and their families. That generosity starts at the top, and it filters all the way down.

There are people who worked on that site that still come back and do things for us, free of charge. The kindness of people is astounding. To be part of the FDC family is a wonderful thing. I never kid myself: we would not have achieved what we did without the compassion, caring and expertise that FDC brought to our project in “Keeping Families Close”.

FDC recently donated $100,000 to Ronald McDonald House, Greater Western Sydney in celebration and gratitude of their 40 years providing accommodation for critically ill children and their families. “Giving is personal to us, many of us at FDC have families and young children and want to ensure organisations like Ronald McDonald House can continue their tremendous service to our community.” Ben Cottle, Managing Director, FDC.

FDC’s donation will provide over 600 nights’ accommodation to families with a seriously ill child who have had to travel for treatment.

To read more stories about FDC’s charitable partners, visit fdcbuilding.com.au/charitypartners/



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Retirement living makes light work of ageing

Senior Australians are turning towards community living to stave off isolation as a result of COVID-19.
Retirement Living_Side

“Ageing isn’t easy, but you can make it heavy or you can make it lighter. You have to learn how to struggle intelligently,” says 100-year-old author, artist and performer Ilona Royce Smithkin, in her book Ninety-Nine Straight Up, No Chaser (which she wrote at the age of 99). The Massachusetts-based resident may be thousands of miles away from Australia, living her best centenarian life in Provincetown, but her sentiments traverse time and space. It’s no secret the senior struggle has increased in the past year, as many older Australians, who already felt alone, were forced into isolation by COVID-19.

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The appeal of connection

For many retirees, turning to retirement living has been a way of lightening the load – increasing their social circle and boosting their sense of community support, at a time when it felt both of these things might be shrinking.

According to The Weekly Source’s Retirement Living Year in Review, traffic on villages.com.au increased 48% between May and June, as Australia came out of its first lockdown. Interest in Retirement Living continues to grow.[1] It’s not surprising of a sector, which while not without its perception challenges, has an extremely appealing offering for over-55s.

No longer simply the reserve of slipper wearers, shuffling from their homes to the dining room and back, Baby Boomers are reinventing what it means to live in a Retirement Village. They’re enjoying life to its fullest, taking advantage of amenities which might include everything from swimming pools, gym and bar complete with happy hour, while making the most of a lifestyle which promotes social interaction and engagement. The echoing refrain of so many retirees who populate villages across Australia? “I wish I’d moved in sooner.”

Safety and security take centre stage

More than 80 per cent of Australian seniors say they feel safer living in a retirement village than in the wider community during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by Retire Australia. More than 97 per cent of the survey respondents felt “safe and informed’’ and 93 per cent felt “valued and supported”.[2] Anecdotally, lockdown saw residents form little families (since they couldn’t see their own), as they’d catch up for socially distanced strolls around the village, and check in on each other regularly. Meanwhile, retirement villages are rolling out new services and initiatives to help residents feel supported and connected to the broader village community.

At Brookland Retirement Village in Queensland, (about to undergo a $28 million extension delivered by FDC), this includes twice-weekly wellness calls, meal delivery, in-home trivia and activities, and even a community pantry to ensure residents have access to essential supplies. Stage one of the upgrade will see the village replete with new bar, private dining room, swimming pool, gym, café, beauty salon and green open spaces for residents to enjoy.

Ted Wright, a new resident at Brookland Retirement Village, is already celebrating his decision to move in. “I’m so glad that I came in when I did,” he said. “My daughters are very happy that I’m living the life I am. I can isolate, but I’ve still got people around and help if I need it.”[3]

Comfort and community is key

Developers are surging forward with projects that aim to bring innovation, sustainability, and quality to retirement villages and their residents. Greenway Views, a vibrant senior community located in Tuggeranong, ACT, recently won a coveted Urban Developer Award 2020, in the ‘Retirement, Aged Care and Seniors Living’ category. The $108 million project of stage 1, delivered by FDC, includes 210 apartments offering a range of care support for those residents needing care now or in the future, from low through to high delivered into the privacy of resident apartments. The apartments range from studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom.

Inspiring artwork adorns the walls, communal areas have been designed to create a vibrant community as well as for comfort and enjoyment. Integrated technology ensures 24-hour onsite support for all residents. That’s not to mention the restaurant dining, landscaped gardens, piano bar with snooker table, café and theatre – just to name a few.

It’s the epitome of lightening the load; moving to a place designed to feel like a perpetual holiday where neighbours become friends and you have a community to rely on in times of change. It’s a simple concept, but a powerful one. Or as Ilona puts it, “A little bit of caring goes a long way.”

[1] https://www.theweeklysource.com.au/retirement-living-year-in-review-2020/
[2] https://www.downsizing.com.au/news/764/Seniors-feel-safer-in-retirement-communities-during-pandemic-survey-reveals
[3] https://www.residecommunities.com.au/retirement-village-popularity-on-the-rise/
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