A recent move - 2degrees
New home: 136 Fanshawe Street, Auckland Central
Move date: August 2021
Area: 5,400m² leased
Interview with: Ben Blakemore, Head of Property
How long did you stay at your previous premises?
Seven years, in a 4,700m² building that fulfilled a purpose of allowing a number of functions to get together under one roof. The problem was that roof leaked quite a bit!
What were the key drivers for your move?
Mobile infrastructure requires notoriously high upfront and ongoing investment, and for many many years that is where our focus lay while we challenged the market and broke up the duopoly. The move represented a transformational shift in investment into the physical environment for our staff. We wanted to create an inspirational and flexible environment that was uniquely 2degrees, which connected our heroic people to our customers, to each other and to our purpose.
How far out did you start looking for a new office premises? Was it long enough?
Over three years out from our desired move date, and I wouldn’t want to do it in any shorter time than that.
How did you determine what your future office should look like? Did looking at other sites help?
Starting a project like this is a daunting prospect and the reality is you have to come up with some of the answers as you go. The aesthetic most definitely evolved as we travelled through the project, and we were expertly guided in that process by Warren and Mahoney. Looking at other sites definitely helped to ensure we learnt from the lessons of others. Organisations tend to do these projects fairly rarely so it is really important to soak up as many learnings as you can from other projects.
Did the move enable you to change the way you are working?
No surprise that the post COVID-19 hybrid era has done more than anything else to change our ways of working over the last couple of years. However, the move enabled us to be perfectly positioned to take that new way of working forward. Our staff come into the office for a distinct purpose now, and the workplace we provide them with supports that new purpose extremely well.
Do you provide all team members with a fixed desk? Why or why not?
No one has assigned desks. The opportunities you can ‘unlock’ by asking staff to share that type of workspace is so invaluable. It is so constraining to dedicate 4m²-6m² of real estate (and technology) to an individual for them to use twice a week – I don’t know why you would.
Activity Based working (ABW) - fad or fabulous? Why?
Good idea in theory, and regardless of whether people truly are moving around the workspace that best supports them, it ensures you have the variety of spaces that people are looking for now.
Now that you are occupying the new space, how has the feedback been from your team members? What is the biggest change?
The feedback has been incredible from our staff. I think they are most enjoying coming to a workplace that matches the culture and character our organisation has always had. Having a healthy indoor environment (assured through the first WELL Certification in NZ) is also very important these days, and people are really noticing the fresh air, great temperature, natural light and access to nature.
What piece of furniture has made the most impact with team members and how they work?
We have deployed ultra-wide monitors with single USB-C cables throughout and staff are loving these because they act like two additional screens and are so easy to plug in, charge and connect to the laptop.
What happened to your on-site storage needs? Have they changed? Are you using less paper?
We slashed our storage requirements by around 400% I would say. From over 300m² of storage, shelves for every team and under-desk pedestals, to 70m² of storage and lockers only if you need one. Hybrid working has definitely helped people rationalise what they really need nearby to get their job done, but we put a lot of effort into minimising storage ahead of and during the move, and I think it has really paid off. We also reduced from around 15 printers to just four, and this was a great move.
What are some of the things you did right with the fitout?
Sounds a bit boring, but the governance and trust through the project was probably the most important thing. We consulted where we needed to, but also trusted the experts to add their value and tried not to stifle creativity, especially for the architects. We think the fitout speaks for itself.
We also really carefully managed the schedule (which was integrated with the landlord’s works) to make sure we spent money smartly, with the right contractors and minimised rework. I think this meant that our budget went a long way in the end.
We invested in systems that help us manage utilisation of the spaces. These are already proving to be so important for behavioural change management and adapting the business needs to the space (and not necessarily the other way around!).
What is the one thing you would do differently with the fitout?
I probably would have given up even more desks to have more collaboration space, but that is a change in thinking that takes time for different people, and so I am glad that we have started!
What is the one piece of advice you would give another company looking to move premises?
Start early, and just soak up as much advice as you can, especially from tenants like you that have been on a similar journey.