Posted on 10 Mar 2016
The Tatts Group is Queensland’s third largest listed company and in the ASX Top 100. When they look to move their Brisbane-based teams later in 2016, it will be a huge exercise in logistics, technology and most importantly, employee engagement. Ashleigh Loughnan, Executive General Manager People, Property and Procurement explores the risks and opportunities that will come with this.
“I don’t for a moment under-estimate the double-barrelled impact of our impending move – this will be so exciting and beneficial as we design and create our own customised workplace of the future, but we are at the same time causing significant disruption to our employees’ habits and routines – both pain and pleasure will be involved”, says Ashleigh.
A long time in both the planning and the execution, the move from suburban Woolloongabba (home of Brisbane’s renowned Gabba Stadium) and Albion, on the city’s north, to the glitzy Brisbane CBD, will test the mettle of the Tatts leadership and employee population as they reinvent their workspace.
“This is not a cost-driven exercise: our principal goal in this relocation is to bring all our people together in one place; to have them working together, dissolving any silos and sharing in the culture and energy we create as a group”, notes Ashleigh.
Counter to the increasing trend toward technology-supported remote work, including working from home, the Tatts leadership firmly believe that being physically co-located is critical to their ability to build an engaged workforce.
You don’t get the informal conversations and interactions that happen in the workplace when people are working remotely.
“We are not proponents for working remotely and there is a good reason for that. You don’t get the informal conversations and interactions that happen in the workplace when people are working remotely. You can’t predict them, you can’t schedule them – they just don’t happen”, she says. “Even though people often feel they are being more productive working from home, they don’t know what they’re missing out on. You cannot replace the nuances of face to face human interaction with any form of technology.”
With many organisations around the world now actively espousing remote work to create workplace flexibility, how does Tatts Group think about bucking this trend? “We most certainly advocate flexibility – I am a prime example. I have a very young daughter and work a four-day week to give me the family time I need. We know and respect that there is more to our employees’ lives than their work, and we accommodate that. Flexibility means many different things to different people and working remotely is only one form of this.”
We believe there is value in employees having a desk or workspace they can call their own.
Pushing back on remote work is not the only trend Tatts isn’t buying into. “We’re not supporters of activity-based work or hot-desking either. Whilst we will be going to a largely open plan floor layout, we believe there is value in employees having a desk or workspace they can call their own.”
Help them be more productive, more team oriented and generate a buzz that is reflective of our culture.
Employees will have their dedicated space but will also have the ability to use a variety of different environments depending on their work requirements on any given day. “We will have large open collaborative spaces designed for teams to work in and quiet spaces for when employees need to focus and concentrate. We want to encourage people to move around the workplace in ways that help them be more productive, more team oriented and generate a buzz that is reflective of our culture”, says Ashleigh. “We will be going so far as to punch holes in all ten floors and build staircases to facilitate a faster natural flow of movement amongst employees.”
What about sleep pods, arcade games, pool tables and playgrounds? “That’s unlikely,” laughs Ashleigh, “what we are more interested in is aligning our products with our employees. There is so much great imagery that links to what we deliver for our customers and this is a great opportunity to bring much more of that into our daily surrounds.”
All said, Ashleigh notes that the challenge in getting this move right is enormous. Working with a design team that understands the Tatts culture and ensuring that open communication consistently engages employees in the journey toward their new workplace is critical. “It’s a big undertaking,” reflects Ashleigh, “but getting it right will put us in an amazing new place. I’m excited!”
About The Author
Executive General Manager - People, Property & Procurement , Tatts Group
Ashleigh has over 12 years in human resources. Prior to joining the Tatts Group in 2013, Ashleigh was Executive General Manager Human Resources for the Wotif Group.