Reinventing the office, for the good of our people
The ability to work from home was wonderful during lockdown, and we’re grateful for that. We could all keep working and deliver the projects our customers needed to weather the pandemic. But I think it’s safe to say that time has passed.
We all discovered we missed one another as well as the degree of companionship, inspiration, learning, and productivity that only comes from working face-to-face.
While we asked our team to formally recommence working primarily from the office, we also wanted them to want to come in. That was important to us. But as pragmatists, we accepted that returning to an empty office isn’t a fun or appealing prospect when you’ve grown comfortable with working from home – and that it’s our responsibility as employers to make our workspace (and workplace culture) inviting, engaging, and collaborative.
With this in mind, we embarked on office revitalisation projects in Sydney (complete), Melbourne (in progress) and Auckland (complete). In some cases, this meant a complete relocation to a better site.
In particular, the newly finished Auckland office project has been a significant success and reflects our commitment to providing our people with somewhere they want to be.
After years of languishing in a building plagued by elevator failures and leaks, we unsurprisingly wanted to find a new and special spot. One that was accessible to everyone and near the public transport hub, cafes, and shopping precincts. And we didn’t underestimate the feel-good factor of a spectacular outlook over the city and harbour. While some businesses earmark the best view for the boardroom to impress customers, we instead focussed on delighting our people by placing work areas and our ‘café and kitchen’ area where they captured the most stunning outlooks.
Why? We wanted to make sure that when our people came into the office, they had an experience they (in most cases) couldn't get at home – enjoying spectacular views while working or taking a break. But as well as views, we worked on untying people from their desks by building good collaboration spaces where they could have conversations and meetings. These fluid and flexible spaces feature leaners and couches, and we’ve dotted easy-to-move stools around to pull up for a quick chat. We have a flexible workspace policy, where our people can sit wherever they feel comfortable – desk, couch, café.
We also created ‘neighbourhoods’ – where teams who work on specific solutions or services (for example, marketing) can cluster together for convenience. These neighbourhoods are regularly rotated around the office's perimeter to keep the view fresh and fabulous for everyone.
Our objective has been to make our workspace engaging and special for our people, to reflect the culture of our business, and, of course, to provide a reason to come together.
And it’s worked.
I’m writing this article on a Friday afternoon, sitting on level 19 of the Auckland office and admiring the cityscape. Six months ago, the old office on a Friday was often nearly empty. It was difficult to give our people a good reason to come in – and we took on board that it was our responsibility to change that.
Today, there is barely a spare desk to be had, and the office is truly buzzing – everyone loves being here – and wants to be here. While some are heading home at the end of the day, others are planning to head out together and enjoy the CBD vibe.
We expect to attract even more of our employees back to our new offices in 2024 – all with a new enthusiasm for working face-to-face in a dynamic, collaborative, and exciting environment. And if the place is packed out, we’ll take that as a win.
Becky Rutherford, Country Manager & Director Operations