Guide Dog NSW/ACT new flagship premises sets a new standard in accessibility and sustainability. The award-winning space, located in St Leonards, Sydney, is a template for the disability-inclusive future workplace, designed for people who are blind or vision impaired.
As well as a double win at the AFR Boss Most Innovative Companies awards, the organisation won an ACT Chief Minister Inclusion Award in 2023.
The new office features hallways wide enough to accommodate two dogs with two handlers walking past one another, or two wheelchairs abreast and furniture and wall bends with rounded corners. There are hard, carpeted and tiled floor surfaces to differentiate areas and rubber strips of flooring to assist with navigation. Braille, tactile signage and the latest assistive technology has been installed in all areas. Guide dogs are catered for as well with resting, play and training spaces, with water bowls located throughout. A collaboration lounge can be closed off with puppy gates to provide a safe space for dogs to play.
Sustainability aspects include recycled glass soundproofing and advanced water saving systems with extensive consultation from people with low vision or blindness and the organisation’s accessibility experts for the design-fit out.
“This is far more than an office space”, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT CEO Dale Cleaver said. “It is an important step to strengthen our commitment to serving our clients and deliver services in innovative ways.”
The office can accommodate up to 100 employees and about 10 per cent of the current workforce has a disability. “We want a diverse employment base and plan on hiring more people with disability in the next year,” Cleaver said.