Just before Christmas it was announced that Vodafone would move out of its offices in the city and now they’ve said they will move 1,800 staff to Smales Farm on the North Shore.
Vodafone is leaving its office in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.
The telco has announced its plan to combine all its Auckland operations in one place, in one of the biggest corporate relocations in New Zealand.
Its 1800 Auckland staff are currently spread across four locations, including Smales Farm on Auckland’s North Shore and the high-profile Viaduct location.
From mid-2017, they will all be based in a refurbished building in Smales Farm.
Vodafone and Smales Farm are investing a combined $200 million into the redevelopment of the Vodafone building and the creation of a Vodafone-branded precinct.
The building will have one of the largest digital billboards in the country on its facade.
Alongside the Vodafone building, Smales Farm is also developing a new hospitality zone with working greenhouses and a laneway of boutique eateries where people can meet and eat.
I immediately had a few thoughts about this that are relevant to what we discuss on the blog.
- Unless they live on the shore I imagine that for many staff this move will be very frustrating. If they prefer to drive then they’ll still have to battle traffic – either to the city before it frees up after the bridge or if they come via Upper Harbour then they’ll have rush hour traffic on the North Shore to contend with. The move could however be good for the Northern Express given one of the big advantages Smales Farm has is a busway station at its doorstep so perhaps this will lead to an increase in NEX patronage.
- Perhaps Auckland Transport and/or the Council should try to work with Vodafone to collect data on the travel patterns and mode choices that staff currently use. It could make a fascinating case study to compare how mode use and travel choice changes based on workplace location. My suspicion is it will lead to more staff driving
- In Vodafone’s press release they talk about making an “innovative, sustainable and interactive precinct designed to foster business and community growth”. It will be interesting to see how far they take the idea of sustainable and whether it’s a bit of greenery. For example at present the Vodafone building in Smales Farm doesn’t even a bike rack
- Having worked in them before, one thing I loathe about suburban office parks is the isolation such as the often limited choice in food, retail and other activities. I guess the hospitality zone that will be developed might partially address the food aspect but I guess time will tell.
- The intersection of Taharoto Rd and Northcote Rd is already a pretty horrid location, I guess the addition of a giant digital billboard will only serve to reinforce that. Related there is currently a water feature and grassy area leading out from the building to the intersection. I wonder how many people have ever actually used it to relax or walk thought like they suggest will happen in the future.
- I wonder what impact this will have on Auckland Transport. They currently have offices and a number of staff based in the Vodafone building at Smales Farm.