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Seamless adoption and delivery of flexible working model at the Treasury

New Zealand’s lead government advisor on economic and financial policy, the Treasury, has smoothly transformed to a flexible, modern and agile work environment.

Collaboration and alignment across the elements of workplace, technology and people helped transition the organisation to a flexible office environment in a short timeframe to deliver the benefits of a more effective Treasury.

This project also supported the strategic goal of embedding new ways of working.

The Government Property Group (GPG) talked with three of the Treasury workstream leads that helped deliver the new office fit-out, optimise sensible Information Technology (IT) solutions, and achieve a successful people and culture change as they adopted new approaches to working.

Project manager, Peter Anderson; Change manager, Michelle Ewing; and IT Project manager, Barry Osborne, explain how they worked together, taking a problem-solving approach and employee experience view to the three key elements of the move to flexible working.

The project to move the Treasury to new office accommodation began in 2016 from a facilities perspective. The project team was fully established in 2017, and adoption of new and flexible ways of working began prior to the move to the new office space, which took place earlier this year. Focus on embedding the new and flexible working approach really gained momentum following the move.

treasury reception
The Treasury reception area.

Four key themes or elements defined the journey and influenced the fit-out design: welcome for all; wharenui as the heart; a connected whole; and our shared workplace.

Peter Anderson  Project manager

Early on there was a vision to bring together the project management requirements for a shift to a refurbished office space, and bring in IT early in the planning, along with people and culture, Peter said.

Governance, senior manager-led sponsorship, consistent and frequent communication, staff change champions, and a strong collaborative approach from the project team members, ensured the 600 or so staff were taken on the journey towards flexible working from design through to delivery.

Michelle said an important step was refreshing the flexible working framework along with tools, resources and good communications before they moved. This enabled all staff to have the right support and information to start to explore personal and team working preference early.

“We had an engaged and solution focussed employee champion group who represented our people from across the organisation. This group made a substantial difference to ensure our people’s experience and input was front of mind during this transition. This group provided valuable input to all three workstreams and facilitated the connection between the project team and our people,” Michelle said.

Of course, IT was a key enabler to successfully adopting flexible working.

We made a decision to have a fleet of uniform laptops that could dock into stations on any desk. Desks have fixed keyboards and screens and common docking stations so that makes logging on and off and moving around quick and efficient. We accelerated existing plans to consolidate devices before the building move so that the IT element was not new for staff. Wifi mostly removed the need for wires. So, moving around was made efficient and easy.

Barry Osborne  IT Project manager

The next step as part of the lead-up to the move to the refurbished office was to shift the mind-set of fixed desk seating. There had already been a gradual move over time in the Treasury to smaller, sit-stand desks, and open plan working. The existing desks were used at the new site, so they were already familiar to staff. New technology solutions were piloted prior to the move, to test that they would work and to build staff familiarity.

It was critical that there was authentic and transparent communication throughout this change. Thinking about the employees was forefront of our minds, for example, we wanted to do all we could to make Day One as good of an experience as it could be. Our facilities team made a significant contribution in this space.

Michelle Ewing  Change manager

On the day of the move, staff arrived with the laptops they were already familiar with, they knew which neighbourhood their team was anchored to and were familiar with what the new ways of working would be in the new environment. Leaders greeted people as they arrived and floor walkers from the three workstreams and the facilities team were on hand to assist.

Early bedding in of the changes, including support for the flexible IT solutions available in meeting spaces was important. Collaborative working approaches also helped transition staff to using unassigned desks, connected meeting rooms and the collaborative working spaces.

The Treasury’s wharenui – Ngā Mokopuna a Tāne - on the Reception level is a central point of design that establishes the flow of the office. It is a place to meet and a source of pride. Peter said it is the strong beating heart of the Treasury.

An open stairwell, combined with fewer larger floors, has enhanced and encouraged collaborative working by offering free movement between levels and encouraging better visibility and flexibility to move around and find people.

The leadership team recognised that the opportunities that a flexible work environment, with enabling technology, would offer were many. These include enabling collaboration with more ease and the ability to work anywhere to deliver outcomes.

The critical success element of the smooth transition to the new space and flexible working was bringing together the three strands of workplace, technology and people as part of the project planning and delivery. It was led from the top, in partnership with staff, to deliver the intent of a more effective Treasury.

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