Alcatel-Lucent opens new HQ in building with telco history

Former Telecom head office now headquarters for Telecom network provider

Alcatel-Lucent has established its new local head office in a building long associated with Telecom.

The global communications technology company has moved into the eight upper floors of the green-tiled block in Manners Street, known to many Wellingtonians as “Kermit House” after the Muppet frog character.

It was Telecom’s early head office when the company was established as a private entity in the 1990s, but the part now occupied by Alcatel-Lucent has had other tenants in the meantime.

Wellington’s mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (pictured below on right with Alcatel Lucent director brand & communications Bryony Hilless), officially opened the office on May 30, though staff had been in the building for about three weeks beforehand.

The workspace has been set out in “hot-desking” style, economising on office floor area and allowing staffers a change of environment every day if the so wish.

Staff clear their belongings from the desks every evening and put them in individual lockers; they are taken out again when their owner next works in the office and placed on the desk they prefer from those still unoccupied.

The office will be the base for Alcatel-Lucent’s 450 Wellington staff. Besides the working desks, there are a number of “pods” (semicircular seats with tables) designed for meetings.

The office has a restricted number of parking places to encourage staff to use public transport and has other features to remind staff of environmental responsibility, such as segregated bins for different kinds of rubbish.

This reflects an attitude among Alcatel-Lucent and other technology companies of building equipment for efficient operation and low power consumption, says Alactel-Lucent NZ chief technology officer Martin Sharrock.

Brett O’Riley, CEO of ICTNZ, spoke at the opening ceremony, emphasising the industry’s reliance on skilled people and encouraging those with children to open their minds to ICT as a possible career.

The mayor recalled her early career in the industry, beginning with banking computer service organisation Databank in 1983. She also served on the first council of the Internet Society of NZ, now InternetNZ.

Alcatel-Lucent employees were encouraged to make predictions for ICT-influenced developments over the next 10 years (see box). These were sealed in a tubular “time-capsule” to be placed in the foyer and opened in 2021. Wade-Brown drew one prediction at random, winning an iPhone for solutions marketing manager James McInroe.

“In 10-years’ time,” McInroe predicts, “personal commerce will be completely transacted online. The storefront will be a window-shopping experience where we will touch and see the products. However we will transact the purchase from the comfort of the couch over the internet, more than likely via an e-bidding process to get the lowest price.”

Other predictions by Alcatel-Lucent employees:

• A merger of cellphone and wallet, with the same handheld device used for all financial transactions.

• A small personal device about the size of a matchbox that projects a hologram image that is the interface to computer/communications devices.

• A world without keyboards. Computers… will be able to predict human thought processes. All we will have to do is click Yes, No or Maybe.

• We will be able to link all our brands of household appliances to our cellphones and operate them from a distance. All cellphones will become universal remote controls for all our appliances, DVD, TV, stereo, garage door etc.

• Speech recognition software will, after all these years of being despised and best avoided, finally work like we want it to and become popular. You’ll be able to talk to your car, phone-iPod-GPS thingie, oven, microwave etc as if it was another intelligent being.

• I will be using a jetpack to commute to and from work… the mayor might want to think about planning ahead for landing pads, parking spots and flight storage places!

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Tags alcatel-lucentcelia wade-browntelecom

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