Information Age talked with Richard Baecher, Chair of the NSW Branch Executive Committee, about plans to move ACS’ Sydney offices from Carrington Street, Sydney.

IA: ACS has been based in Carrington Street, Sydney for the last seven years, what has been the motivations for a site move?

RB: ACS’ operations in Sydney have been based on level 11, 50 Carrington Street, since 2010. The current lease expires on the 30th November 2017, and so we had to review operations as part of a standard business approach.

Over the last twelve months, we have run out of physical space for all ACS Sydney operations. This wasn’t unexpected.

At the time of moving in during 2010, ACS had 39 staff in the office.  We now have 54 staff, with further plans to grow, and the size of ACS’ operations has tripled over that seven-year period. The space is no longer fit for purpose.

A reference group was established to recommend to Management Committee criteria for choosing appropriate new premises which included:

  • The President, Vice President Community Boards and NSW Branch Chair given their stewardship of the ACS members and elected members, noting the office move is a critical decision to deliver value to the members.
  • The National Treasurer as steward of the organisation’s sustainability and responsibility for oversight into what the investment appetite should be.
  • The CEO as steward of the operations, and
  • ACSF Executive Director; a collaboration partner who has have been co-located with ACS since Carrington St was occupied.

IA: How have you gone about identifying criteria that would maximise the benefit to members and ACS?

RB:  To identify the best possible lens to apply to a new location and property search, a diverse range of stakeholders were consulted; elected members (Management Committee, NSW Branch Executive Committee), broader members, ACSF and staff.

A baseline survey tool was created to ascertain the key criteria that should be used to determine the critical factors that should inform the decision-making process.

IA: Through this basis, what did you come up with?

RB: Apart from the standard financial viability questions, there was a strong belief from stakeholders that status quo or perceived lower grade premises would not be well received by members.

Outside of these, specific criteria stakeholders deemed fit for purpose criteria as being:

  • Venue and facilities that build a sense of an ACS community
  • A single ACS site for promoting a sense of an ACS community (as opposed to multiple sites within NSW)
  • A modern collaborative workspace for members and staff to enhance the ACS brand
  • Building image and quality
  • Venue as a contributor to ACS’ profile
  • Venue and facilities contribute to ACS membership growth ambitions
  • Close proximity to potential Professional Partners
  • Close proximity to public transport
  • Flexibility must be built into the design process to ensure space is maximised
  • There should be capacity for expansion

Just as importantly, there were a number of criteria excluded:

  • Highly visible venue signage
  • The requirement to hold ACS public events onsite at the ACS venue (as opposed to an alternative branded venue such as hotel chain or University)
  • Close proximity to Political and Government stakeholders
  • Close proximity to Sydney Airport.

IA: Where to from here?

RB:  The next steps from here are to use this criteria to determine the best location and venue for our operations. Applying this lens is well advanced, and we would expect to be able to provide further advice in the very near future.