An Inside Look at Sustainability and Dynamic Work at Okta’s Sydney Office
At Okta, we never stop innovating and we love to invest in our people. When COVID-19 hit, many of our workplace projects were put on hold, as we shifted to a fully remote workforce. This pause gave us the opportunity to re-imagine how we build our offices and bring forward our plans for Dynamic Work. One of the areas identified for improvement is sustainability. We want to come back from the pandemic building smarter and more responsibly while creating workplaces with our employees’ wellness top of mind. As part of our ongoing climate commitment, we have committed to both WELL Silver and LEED Silver certification for all of our new offices, globally. The WELL standard focuses on the health of building occupants while the LEED standard focuses on the energy, water, and waste reductions in the building. Pursuing both certifications allows Okta to reduce our GHG emissions while focusing on the wellness of our teams.
Okta partnered with M Moser Associates to design and deliver our Sydney, Australia office as our latest Dynamic workplace and our first WELL Silver and LEED Silver certified project. Okta’s focus for this office centered around five key areas: dynamic workplace, wellness, energy efficiency, indoor light, and air quality, and waste.
Our Sydney office is home to Okta’s latest dynamic space. This design is uniquely different from traditional workplaces. The new design shifts the floor plan to focus on collaboration and focus spaces, reducing the area for traditional desking. Assigned team neighborhoods will provide a sense of belonging for teams with both desks and soft seating collaboration space. All furniture is on wheels to provide agility and has been intentionally selected to maximize flexibility while being mindful of health and ergonomics. Technology is fundamental to connecting our dynamic workforces to foster innovation and connection between our employees both in the office and across geographies. With this in mind, we have mobile smart whiteboards and A/V carts that quickly turn any area into a collaboration space. In the Sydney cafe, we added booths with screens, moveable tables, an abundance of power outlets for maximum flexibility, and added a mural wall to honor the diversity of the surrounding community, and to infuse our office with the vibrancy and creativity that makes Sydney so unique.
A key piece of the WELL certification is occupant wellness. In our library focus space, we provide an office wellness guide that walks through the sustainability and health features of the space, as well as subscriptions to health and wellness journals. Our OktaFit program inspires and rewards employees for incorporating activity into their daily lives. In fact, our workplace is designed to encourage people to move around the office to different work vignettes. It keeps you active, walking, and engaged with the environment, another key to employee health and happiness. In our cafe, we have signs to encourage healthy eating habits and selected food and beverages based on specific WELL guidelines. For example, beverages can not have more than 1g of sugar per 16mL. We have a filtered water tap, and all the drinking water is tested for inorganic, organic, and agricultural contaminants. Our Sydney office is within walking distance of a major transit stop as well as many dining and entertainment options to encourage employees to walk, bike, and use public transit.
Okta is committed to having all of our operations supported by 100% renewable energy by 2022. For our 2021 electricity use, our Sydney office will be supported by local energy attribute credits (EACs). Starting with our 2021 greenhouse gas inventory, we will be accounting for our employee home energy use to better understand the emissions footprint of our entire workforce. To facilitate sustainable work-from-home set-ups, we have an online shop with products selected for their recycled material content. In our physical offices, we’ve implemented a number of energy efficiency measures. We added daylight sensors to our daylit workspaces, and occupancy sensors to 90% of spaces to reduce electricity from lights while reducing our lighting power density by more than 25%. All of our kitchen appliances and more than 90% of our IT and AV equipment have Energy Star labels. In Sydney, we also reduced water consumption by more than 45% with low-flow plumbing fixtures.
Indoor Light & Air Quality
Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen increased concern from our employees regarding air quality. As a workplace team, we’ve always aimed to deliver workplaces with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In Sydney, we tested the air to meet all of the WELL and LEED standards, going above typical building commissioning. Throughout the office, natural light is plentiful, with more than 75% of spaces having views to the outdoors. We’ve incorporated biophilia throughout the office space - from bookshelves dividing spaces to the hanging plants in our cafe. When occupants are close to nature, they have less stress, improved cognition, and enhanced mood.1
We worked closely with Facilitate to create a construction waste management plan. We diverted more than 85% of construction waste from the landfill. We also saved more than 50% of the existing ceiling during construction. As our offices become occupied, we’ve switched from individual waste and recycling at each workstation to a centralized waste and recycling program. Centralized bins with clear signage leads to less cross-contamination and an increase in landfill diversion.
Sydney is just the beginning for us, a case study on the intersection of Dynamic Work and Sustainability. Our commitment to LEED and WELL Silver certification is simply the start of Okta’s sustainable workplace journey. In the coming months, we will continue to develop our workplace sustainability strategy in alignment with our company climate strategy, to lead our peers in creating healthy and sustainable workplaces for our teams. Stay tuned for where we head next as our global expansion continues.