Designing the future workplace
Investa has engaged Montlaur to manage the delivery of its new head office, a modern workplace that looks to the future of working.
Investa, Australia’s largest office manager, has engaged Montlaur, a company specialising in both change management and project management, to deliver its new Sydney workplace.
With an impending lease expiry, Investa saw the opportunity to explore what new ways of working might be appropriate for its head office team of 140 staff and engaged Montlaur early in the consultation and design process. The resulting transformation, completed in January 2018, has seen Investa shift to an agile workplace in new premises at 420 George Street, adjacent to key CBD retail and dining hub Pitt Street Mall.
The change brings the organisation together on one floor, rather than being spread across two in the previous arrangement. They also have a far greater variety of work settings, encouraging their staff to move around the space and work where they are most productive.
“Over the last five to 10 years, we have seen huge changes in the contemporary workforce. The best organisations view their workplaces as strategic assets to help them compete,” says Montlaur change director Stuart Munro. “Investa recognised early on in the relocation process the opportunity to change the way its workplace was designed, to better align with its culture and support the way its people wanted to work and collaborate.”
Investa employs a mobile, technologically connected workforce that spends a good proportion of its time out of the office and working between the company’s commercial properties and offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Cross-functional teams collaborate regularly, with in-house briefings, workshops, training sessions and corporate and social events occurring often. Yet its older premises didn’t match this way of working, being a traditional desk-and-cubicles layout, inefficiently spread over two levels. Work was performed by teams isolated in ‘silos’ without the intercommunication that is desirable in an innovative and collaborative organisation.
Montlaur commenced by developing a workplace strategy with Investa that would align its work environment with its business strategy and vision for the future. The company wanted to reflect best-practice workplace design, inspiring its people to achieve their best every day. To achieve this, Investa engaged architects Hassell and a technology consultant, POMT.
“Before any architect can start designing, we really need to work out what the strategy is around the physical space, the technology and how people work,” Munro says. Hassell conducted focus groups, interviews with leadership, an all-staff survey to analyse how the current workplace was performing and a utilisation study to assess how the workspace was being used.
The results highlighted numerous opportunities. A complete transformation roadmap was then created; this is an unbiased assessment of a number of different working possibilities. In Investa’s case it laid out options for continuing to work in ways similar to their current arrangement; it also presented the possibilities for activity-based working (ABW) and explored a hybrid option, combining those two styles.
“It’s important in this stage of the consultation that we aren’t steering anyone in a particular direction. Our job is to get to know the business and its people and present options soundly based on what they are trying to achieve as an organisation,” Munro says.
On Investa’s choice to move to agile working, Munro highlights that this will give everyone in the team more choice about how they approach their work environment to meet their day-to-day tasks. “Rather than having just one desk, the team will enjoy different types of desks and workstations; you have collaborative areas, or quiet zones for solo work,” he says.
Building organisational buy-in is an important part of any change management process. As part of its consultation process for Investa, Montlaur created a team of ‘change champions’ drawn from all levels of the company. “We’re not the heroes of the change program – the champions team was heavily involved in the change planning and activities. This encourages internal ownership and accountability,” says Munro.
“A modern workplace respects a consultative process and our bespoke program is based on what we learn about how people want to engage with their workplace.”
Working with the champions team, Montlaur also created a series of engaging videos and events to help the wider workforce understand why the business had chosen to work in a new way, as well as the benefits of the new central city location, close to retail, fitness and dining opportunities.
A launch event brought everyone together to learn about the new workplace and highlight how it would better meet the needs of staff, enabling Investa’s strong, positive culture to thrive.
“Montlaur was an integral part of our workplace transformation project from both a change management and project management perspective. It ensured our people were fully engaged with on the project and ready to transition to the new way of working. We were very pleased to have it on board,” says Sally Franklin, group executive, Real Estate Services and Business Operations, Investa.
For Investa, the entire relocation process was made easier by the fact that Montlaur is one of the few companies to offer change management and project management services under the same roof. “There are huge benefits to the client when the project manager and the change manager sit next to each other as we are conscious to consider important project milestones while we work, to develop how we will ready the team for new ways of working,” Munro says.
Images courtesy of Montlaur.