A recent move

Whakarongorau Aotearoa//New Zealand Telehealth Services

New home
25 College Hill, Freemans Bay

Move date
January 2021

Area leased

Interview with
Nick Davies, Chief Financial Officer

How long did you stay at your previous premises?

We were at the previous premises for six years.

How far out did you start looking for new office premises? Was it long enough?

We had an initial look almost 12 months out to understand the market but were not driven to pursue at that time. We eventually had a small window to look at and relied on advisors to help us quickly navigate the options.

What were the key drivers for your move?

It looked like we would roll our lease but then COVID-19 struck and changed the landscape for our organisation and our landlord. The right thing was for us to move to bigger premises better suited to our needs and to help the landlord (also in health) to utilise more space they required.

How did you determine what your future office should look like? Did looking at other sites help?

We developed an initial brief that focused on the work we do. We surveyed our teams to understand what was important to them. We then had excellent advisors (agent, project manager, architect) who focused on how we would “live” in our new space, what was important to us etc.

Did the move enable you to change the way you are working?

That wasn’t one of our goals. We already had circa 50% of our frontline working from home. The new space has provided us with increased capacity for collaboration and a reason to update meeting room technology so that whoever you are connecting with, is a seamless connection.

Do you provide all team members with a fixed desk? Why or why not?

No. Our model has always been frontline hotdesk as we run 24/7-365 days of the year. We fixed-desk those who come into the office Monday to Friday traditional office hours.

Activity Based Working (ABW) - fad or fabulous? Why?

Somewhere in between. For our frontline teams which is the majority of our organisation it is the same activity either in a contact centre or WFH. We have always had a flexible working approach for non-frontline but that is a privilege and not a right.

What piece of furniture has made the most impact with team members and how they work?

Increasing sit-to-stand desk options and larger kitchen/breakout space with more and mixed furniture options. We’ve also moved to flexible furniture in meeting spaces allowing us to quickly change from a team meeting to a class-room based learning environment with the right technology in the room.

Now that you are occupying the new space, how has the feedback been from your team members? What is the biggest change?

An overwhelmingly positive response from the team once in the space. As with any change, there was apprehension about the new space (especially on a new commute) but once people got in, saw their new home they quickly realised it was a step up.

The key for the organisation was anchoring everyone to one culture and one team. We’ve grown significantly over the past five or so years. Bringing everyone in our Auckland team together to share one space has been amazing to be part of.

Are end-of-trip facilities becoming more important? Have team members changed the way they are commuting to work because of this?

We have gone from one shower shared with two other tenants to three of our own. A bigger bike shed is also a benefit. More and more people are using the facilities and I think our teams will learn new ways of commuting to balance getting to work and their own well-being.

What is the one thing you would do differently with the fitout?

We planned for today’s capacity and modest growth. That was the right thing to do but we should have also scenario planned what would we do if we shrunk and what would we do if we grew rapidly. We have the fortunate situation of being in the latter, some scenarios would have helped us move forward faster. Equally, we don’t have a crystal ball.

What are some of the things you did right with the fitout?

We started with a wish list and then challenged ourselves as to what was truly important and what could we live without. Once we knew the mission-critical aspects we never looked back.

What advice you would give another company looking to move premises?

See it as an opportunity for tomorrow, no matter the reason. There will be an aversion from some to change even when you engage everyone. If people are listened to, they will understand the rationale. Use advisors/specialists in their field.

How has COVID-19 impacted your office space?

Hugely in the role we have played in the national response. Our ability to move more people to WFH quickly is vital and this allows our office space to be the hub for support and introducing new members to the team. Our new premises were designed with physical distancing and keeping people safe in mind.

Do you allow staff to work from home? How does this typically work?

Yes. Frontline team members e.g. nurses, mental health counsellors, can work from home to help the team of five million. We provide the tech and a second line (where possible) and remote support. We onboard people in our office space(s) as we believe in creating a connection first and setting people up for success.

How has your new building benefitted you in terms of attracting and retaining staff?

Too early to tell. What we do, helping the people of Aotearoa is a huge attraction and retaining mechanism for our team.