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Leadership approach proves pivotal in the move to flexible working at DIA

The Government Property Group (GPG) recently met with Emily Redmond, Director, Change and Workplace and Kristen McCourtie, Design and Fit-out Stream Lead at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) for a glimpse of how moving to flexible working has reaped early benefits.

DIA moved to a modern flexible working environment at St Paul’s building in 2018.

Workplace design has been on a journey to be more flexible to meet the modern needs of people, business and technology. It is more than fixtures and fittings. It’s about culture and people and how we embrace more modern mobile ways of working. It encompasses GPG’s eight principles of workplace design; open plan working environments, shared collaborative and quiet spaces, utilisation of technology, mobility and adaptability, consistent design, choice of work settings, safe and secure environment, and the concept of space-less growth.

“The theory of flexible working is easy, the application is what can be difficult,” reflects Kristen McCourtie. A focus on practical application of their change strategy and strong support from leadership was fundamental to their approach.

Our move to flexible working called for bold leadership prepared to invest in change and a high level of trust in the team.

Emily Redmond

Human Resources at DIA were engaged, from the outset, to create a leaders development module, with the imperative to provide their managers and leaders with the tools to lead through change. Lifting the capability of leadership across the business was important to DIA, not only focussed on those at St Paul’s. ”Increasing the capability of leaders to lead through change ensures staff will be supported and change well managed. This was a significant step in ensuring a robust leader led approach to change for DIA.” says Emily.

The strategy for St Paul’s was shared through visual month-by-month agendas for the project team to work from and included key messages, monthly outcomes, activities for leaders and a magnitude of supporting collateral in the shape of toolkits, videos and back-to-back workshops.

We showed up and answered questions in a series of staff workshops, we listened to staff experiences, especially following the earthquakes and we took it all on board.

Kristen McCourtie

The flexible environment is working well to support workflow changes, such as taking on challenging new projects, natural growth and movement of teams and welcoming visiting agencies into the office space as required.

“We’ve had two restacks (movements of teams within the existing office space) since our change to flexible working and this is where we really noticed a positive effect,” says Kristen. “The restacks happened over-night, with people rather than furniture moving, some teams even preferred to move themselves. Time, effort and cost were reduced significantly.”

A focus group, led by DIA’s Head of Property, ensures the work towards supporting flexible working for the entire spectrum of staff working styles, not just the majority, continues. “It’s not one size fits all. We are doing work here still to ensure we provide an attractive environment for everyone to work in – present and future,” says Kristen.

Emily agrees. “Feedback has been hugely positive so far. The most common feedback we get is the increase and ease of collaboration across teams.” says Emily, “We are now taking our experience from St Paul’s and looking to establish flexible environments in other DIA locations.”

For more information on principles, standards and guidelines for the management of office design and fit-outs contact our government property team.