This global financial services company wanted to introduce their Sydney employees to more agile ways of working – increasing connectivity and collaboration and setting an example for their other international locations to follow.

There were a few challenges for Morningstar, including regulations requiring physical separation between some teams to avoid potential conflicts of interest – an obstacle for typical activity-based working configurations.

The Hassell strategy and design teams helped Morningstar overcome these hurdles, tailoring a process that allowed crucial insights to be drawn from their people – and designing solutions such as buffered work zones for groups that needed it.

The concept emerged from the Hassell team’s first-hand observations and experiences while immersed in the Sydney office. They studied the way people worked and interacted, surveyed staff, took them on guided tours of activity-based workplaces and facilitated workshops to form a shared vision.

Understanding those personal experiences helped Hassell design the right kind of flexible, productive workplace for their people and set up the organisation for a smooth transition.


One of the biggest challenges was debunking myths about activity-based working, which many people equate with ‘hot-desking’. These flexible arrangements can make some employees anxious about losing a sense of ownership and control over their working space.

Careful thinking and planning for the change management process were crucial to the project’s success.


The new workplace is the perfect match for Morningstar’s needs and aspirations. Teams now work in small ​‘neighbourhoods’, while groups that require separation – due to regulations – have their own zones, buffered by support functions to protect confidentiality.

Collaboration spaces are located in high-traffic, mixed-use areas – close to the action and away from quiet spaces for focused or individual work.


A typical post-occupancy evaluation only looks at how spaces are performing. For Morningstar, Hassell took a more holistic approach, exploring aspects beyond space too – like culture and technology.

In the post-move review, Hassell and Morningstar identified ‘quick wins’ for getting further benefits from the workplace, plus medium to long term measures to fine-tune it. Hassell was also able to suggest how to translate lessons from the Sydney experience to Morningstar’s other global sites.


– The workplace achieved Morningstar’s vision for it, with 74% of employees agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement ‘I love our current workplace’

– The environment is helping the company evolve into a more nimble, innovative and tech-based business, according to 79% of employees who agree or strongly agree

– The new workplace is fostering a community built around knowledge sharing, with 72% agreeing or strongly agreeing

Project: Morningstar Workplace, Sydney
Design Studio: Hassell
Photo Credit: Nicole England