Executive Director, Head of
Project & Development Services - VIC/TAS, JLL
Alan McKay believes the future is flexible. At JLL, Alan helps buildings and workplaces adapt to the future, and believes that the opportunity for hybrid work lies in buildings operating more like luxury hotels, by providing highly curated experiences. As part of the team working closely with 101 Collins on future projects, Alan ensures that the building continues to be more than a workplace, by providing quality, location and community now and into the future.
How long have you worked at 101 Collins?
I’ve been with JLL for 13 years. I started in the UK working on projects in hotels and hospitality, before returning to Australia. One of the first projects I oversaw in Melbourne was JLL’s move to 101 Collins from Bourke Street, five years ago. At the time, we were looking at other options, but none of the other buildings met our requirements and being a property firm in a premium grade building on Collins St was right up there.
When the option to sub lease at 101 Collins came up, we jumped at the chance. We were happy to pay the premium to be at 101 because working here brings an unspoken esteem, prestige and status. And it’s an excellent recruitment tool; it’s a place where people want to work, especially with the exceptional views!
What is the experience of working at 101 Collins like?
I love working here and it just gets better and better. When completed, the end-of-trip facilities were a real statement. Accessing the building by car or public transport is easy, so the coming to and from work is great. As you enter through the lobby, there’s a certain calmness – the expansive volumes in the building are unlike anything you would get in a new building, the unique and classic architecture is breathtaking. And for us to have the views from level 40! From every aspect, you can see what’s going on in the city – the sports precincts, the bay, the Botanical Gardens, all the construction activity in the CBD – and the air space is protected so the views are here to stay.
What are the everyday things you enjoy most about working at 101 Collins – do you have a set routine or favourite spot for coffee?
Whether arriving by car, bike or tram, the arrival experience is first class. Before the pandemic, I was riding to work every day and the end-of-trip made it so easy. There’s no messing around in the loading dock traffic, the bike entrance accessible from George Parade. I love stepping out of the elevator and grabbing a coffee on my way up to the office and never having to wait too long for a lift. It’s a seamless experience so I can focus on what I need to do that day.
My go-to places with clients are Garden State, Il Solito for coffee and all the new restaurants on Flinders Lane. Our team always seems to end up at Jack and Bones – the owner, Jack, opens early for us every Friday!
How can the buildings we work in help us do business better?
We have spent a lot of time working with the owners thinking about this question, especially in regards to placemaking. Trying to understand who occupies the building, what drives them, what they value and the future demographics – I think that really helps. We are about to go through an evolution in worker expectations and needs as we move past the pandemic. Building users will redefine what they want from an office space and it’s our job to be one step ahead and support their future needs.
We have started to touch on the need for additional shared spaces for food, beverage and wellness; creating an experience in almost the same way you would curate a luxury hotel. The arrival experiences, the things outside of the footprint of the office, those are the things that can help businesses do better because they remove pain points for occupiers.
Post-Covid, when you’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty and tenants not knowing how much space they need, buildings must allow tenants to be flexible. A lot of companies are grappling with how to get their workers back to the office and we have seen a distinct flight to quality and location to help attract and retain the best talent. The workplace still plays an important role in this; particularly when it comes to community, culture, and collaboration. Buildings need to earn the commute. There must be a reason to come to the office.
How does JLL differentiate in a crowded market?
JLL differentiates by being client centric and working across a diverse portfolio of industries and areas from construction, to building management and occupier strategy. This diversity gives us a deep understanding of our clients – understanding their work, their workers and ultimately the workplace needed to support their organisations. Now that it’s clear work can and will continue to happen anywhere and everywhere, the purpose of the workplace will evolve. It will be become a place where teams come together to collaborate, connect and where a unique culture is cultivated. We help our clients define their workplace aspirations aligned to their business strategies and deliver spaces that enhance their organisations.
How important is it to work somewhere that you feel proud of?
It’s incredibly important. As the leader of a large team, it helps me create culture because it’s somewhere people want to be. From an attraction and retention point of view, a lot of our team feel a sense of pride working here, entering through the expansive lobby, and coming up to level 40. It’s got a lot of status.
101 is always striving to be the best. We spend a lot of time agonising over fine details and planning; we want to exceed the market. 101 has stood the test of time and so much of it has influenced the entire market and now there’s a race now to outdo us. When our other interstate and international clients come to Melbourne, they often say “What’s going on with Melbourne and the end-of-trip facilities?”. That’s because 101 redefined the benchmark and the rest have tried to follow. 101 will continue to evolve and set the benchmark for the next 30 years.
When we look at the last 18 months, what needs to change in city building models?
The future is flexible. Flexibility is key and buildings will operate more like hotels – highly curated experiences. Hybrid work is here to stay so we need collaborative meeting hubs. The city will become that meeting place. People’s desire for connection with nature, natural light and getting outside will heighten and the spaces in between buildings – and even within buildings – will be more important than ever. Ensuring buildings are open to the outside rather than closed off, with a lot more precinct development, will become essential.