A recent move: Interview with EzyVet

Interview with Pete Brown, Chief Financial Officer from EzyVet

Tenant: EzyVet
New home: 19 Hopetoun Street, Freemans Bay
Move date: January 2021
m² leased: 2,705m²

1. How long did you stay at your previous premises?

Approximately 18 months, it was an interim solution whilst we scaled our business.

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

Only about 6 months pre-expiry of our current lease. Maybe we were a little naïve about how busy the Auckland market was at that time. However growth businesses run out of room pretty quickly and landlords tend to favour long term leases. We were motivated to negotiate something shorter term whilst we grew our headcount so had to chance it. The short term lease enabled us to commit to a much larger space that was yet to be built, at a time in the future when we had sufficient staff numbers and cashflow to justify it.

3. What were the key drivers for your move? 

Three main reasons:
1. Room to move
2. Room to attract great talent 
3. Room to improve the health and wellbeing of our employees

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

Yes other spaces did help. Collaboration is one of our core values and we did steal ingredients from other businesses. And just like your Mums cooking, we think our space is now the best.

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

The Jury is out. Obviously COVID-19 promoted working from home at a time we were investing in space. But I have spoken to many software executives from other companies that testify to an overall loss in productivity as a result of working from home. Some people work fantastic from home. But some people don’t. As a business you must consider the net effect. Identifying those that do work well from home and awarding only them the privilege is controversial. Good Luck everyone.

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

We have room to grow in our space currently so yes we do allocate everyone a desk. Should space become an issue one day, permanent desks would be awarded to those that spend the most days in the office. Cost vs benefit. Can’t argue with that.

7. Activity Based working (ABW) - fad or fabulous? Why?

Works well at a senior/intermediate level. Maybe I’m old school but if you want autonomy you need to prove yourself first. Mental health has become a major issue every workplace. You have to wonder whether its because society has abandoned routine. Start early if you need to but I love the 5 O’clock knock off. I’m pretty sure my kids do too.

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

When it comes to kiwis no news is great news. No one seems to be leaving.

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

You can never have enough dishwashers. But the coffee machine seems to be where it’s at. 

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

Yeah I think so to a certain extent. COVID-19 has helped by influencing people to exercise outside. When it comes to showers and gyms, you will never get the foot traffic to justify the investment. What people say the want and what they actually use are polar opposites. That said you must look at the bigger picture. If it attracts fantastic talent, who cares.

11. What are some of the things you did right with the fit out? 

Internal staircase, it really helps our business stay connected. If you have to wait for a lift you may elect to send an email instead.

12. What is the one thing you would do differently with the fit out?

Just remember that any slight modification you make at a later date will likely require fire safety approval. Its not like building a shed at home.

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

Three pieces of advice:
1. Be profitable or be sure of your cashflow. It’s likely to be your second biggest expense. Most landlords are highly levered and may not split the difference during a pandemic.
2. Meet the landlord, you care more for those you know personally. Works both ways.
3. Consider public transport links.

14. How has COVID-19 impacting on your office space?

Too early to tell. Working from home may mean we can fit more people in. Jury is still out though.

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

Yes, staff have some flexibility to work from home when they need it.

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

It does make a difference, we got huge engagement in our social posts that related to our recent office move. People love things new and shiny. Human nature.