Case studies

If you want to get your team aligned around a new direction for your workplace, these case studies show it is possible

Top-tier law firm

Partners required an understanding of the current Workplace Experience to inform their decision about workplace location and/or interior design

Conducted focus groups and administered a tailored workplace survey

Partners confirmed the validity of the process and data

Collaborative workspace

Modernised ways of working, while improving efficiency and collaboration

Senior leaders at this Government Department knew that they wanted to shift the current way of working across their offices. They wanted people to experience greater ease and efficiency. In particular, time was being wasted in walking across the office to find people, and by staff members not being visible to their clients when they arrived. Leaders expected that less wasted time would translate to a better experience for clients in their care. Leaders also wanted a more modern workspace and way of working, where their people were more mobile within the space and able to collaborate more easily.

Their focus was on collaborative furniture initially, and they were ready to invest in a different style of office furniture, if that would help achieve a new way of working. They identified an office in Auckland as the pilot office, where approximately 60 people worked on a regular basis.

Workplace Strategy and Change consulting

Our first conversations highlighted the insufficiency of office furniture alone to change people’s behaviours. While furniture can be an aid to mobility and collaboration, it doesn’t change mindset and behaviours. A new way of working can only achieve widespread support and be fully implemented, if mindset and behaviours are also addressed.

We agreed to use the The Workspace Connection Emergent change approach to address mindset and behaviours, while simultaneously designing a new workplace model that would achieve their aims.

Our work plan dovetailed with the Department’s project team, which delivered on-the-ground support and relationship-building to support the change efforts.

Increased workplace satisfaction

Following the implementation of the prototypes, significant gains were achieved on measures important to the client: 

  • Workplace satisfaction increased by 12%
  • Feeling supported by the workplace to do a great job increased by 11%
  • Wellbeing increased by 19%
  • Stress reduced by 12%

The workplace model was tailored to maximise people’s choice of work settings and their freedom to move flexibly around the workspace. For this particular office, four main types of work settings were established: quiet work, collaboration, connection and decompression, with nine separate options. The ratio of desks to people and the proportion of space dedicated to each purpose were critical elements of the design. 

Kawa (protocols) were established to clarify and support ways of working and establish expectations about behaviour. Team connection was facilitated through fixed time co-located together, greater use of remote technologies and improved quality of communication. Ongoing and dynamic adjustment of the environment going forward was facilitated through the Core Design Group, where individuals were given an ongoing role. 

Overall we were thrilled that this client had the opportunity to see the return on their investment in such a short space of time.

Modern workspace design

This executive team needed to align around the type of workplace they wanted

Over 240 people worked for this local government employer in a 1960’s style building that was due for an upgrade. With architects on contract to provide a modernised design, the project team needed to get clear on their interior design requirements but the Senior Leadership Team had differing views. 

The Workspace Connection solution

We worked with the executive team to understand the implications of five different workplace models. This involved three workshops and two site visits. 

We involved the organisation’s middle management tier in a workshop designed to develop their understanding of the options and gather their input. 

The result for our client

At the final workshop, the executive team made a clear decision, which gave the programme team and architects the direction they were looking for. Four weeks later the decision had stuck. The programme was able to proceed with confidence. We provided a set of interior design requirements to the organisation’s architect partner so that they could proceed with their contracted work.

“Nina was able to introduce us to how modern organisations have adapted their workplace and ways of working […] the workspace design component of the project would have the biggest and most lasting impact in terms of organisational culture change, staff wellbeing and satisfaction, and modernising the way we work.”

Peter Kelly, CEO, Upper Hutt City Council

Flexible teams

This director wanted his team to work more flexibly

In this team of around 40 people, some team members were highly resistant to change. Friction arose when their approach started to hold back progress. Our client wanted to create an attractive team culture that motivated all his team members – one where everyone was encouraged to work and think flexibly. 

The Workspace Connection solution

The Workspace Connection prepared managers and teams to work flexibly through pre- and post- surveys, training, co-design workshops and a supported eight-week trial of the team’s new way of working.

The results for our client

  • Job satisfaction rose from 76% to 91%
  • 71.4% of team members reported a positive impact on their wellbeing
  • 28.6% agreed that the quality of their work was impacted positively 
  • Overall engagement rose from 72% to 85%

Our client was particularly pleased that team members who were previously resistant to change joined the journey. Several started to work flexibly themselves and anecdotally, and previous issues fell by the wayside.

“The culture around flexible work is now really positive… There are no negative connotations.”

Employees of this government employer

Executive alignment

Senior executives needed to rapidly design a flexible workplace in response to COVID-19

Take the urgent need to communicate complex ideas and the need to work flexibly and remotely. Add all the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combine that with an evolving political landscape. These were some of the major challenges faced by this small New Zealand Government Department in 2020.

The Workspace Connection solution

Working with this clients’ executive team, we quickly understood their challenge and had a plan in place before lockdown in March 2020.  We created tailored workshops to align executive and middle-managers.  We drew on our unique capability in resolving complex leadership and management challenges for flexible work.

1. Define – We agreed the vision and what was important to the client. This is when a clear commitment was made by the employer to achieve their desired outcomes. A detailed project plan was established. Outputs included: 

    1. Confirmed success measures
    2. Detailed project activities

2. Understand – We explored and defined required changes in the People and Culture and Workspace Design domains, identified barriers and enablers, clarified and communicated the above to key stakeholders and advised on the design of the site utilisation study. In practice, this involved: 

    1. Gathering workspace analytics through a pre-pilot survey and site utilisation study, implemented by the project team
    2. A Core Design group workshop
    3. A Leadership Team workshop

The pre-pilot survey identified that the highest priorities for staff members who worked at the site were:

    • Flexibility of working location
    • Safe and healthy work settings e.g. adjustable workstations
    • Concentration via fewer distractions
    • Space to decompress and ways to reduce stress

3. Develop – We worked with the Department’s project team to design a co-creation process that would generate tangible ideas and a conversation on site about their ways of working. We facilitated the development of prototypes. Practically, this involved: 

    1. A Prototype workshop with the Core Design group
    2. Working with a commercial Interior Design partner to deliver floor plans
    3. Leadership team updates
    4. Change and comms advice

The site opted for an Activity-Based Workplace (ABW) Model, once presented with options that could help to achieve their needs and the trade-offs required. The prototypes, floor plans and change work were all geared towards achieving a successful ABW model, one tailored to the work happening on and off site. 

4. Implement & Evaluate – Finally, we confirmed the results of the pilot and designed a post-implementation review that the Department could carry out on their own time. We delivered a document that defined their tailored Activity Based Workplace model We presented to the project board on the results achieved and explained how the same results could be achieved at other probation offices. In practical terms, the outputs included:

    1. A post-pilot survey
    2. The design of a post-implementation review
    3. A written Activity Based Workplace Strategy 
    4. Project board presentation

Part-way through the pilot period of six weeks, Covid restrictions locked the office down. Some adjustments in timing were required. Thankfully prototypes were in place and apart from delays, the project was able to continue as planned.

The result for our client

The executive team made key decisions and managers became informed.

  • Executive leaders came to fully understand the challenge. They made key decisions to align the organisation successfully.
  • Managers developed their abilities to lead flexible teams.

“The executive sessions were exactly what we needed. For subject matter expertise on flexible work there is just no one else.”

Manager, People and Culture, Government Department

Flexible workplace

This large employer wanted to consolidate four sites into one and adopt Activity Based Working

This large employer with city offices in Auckland and Wellington needed to consolidate several city locations in both cities. One office in each city would improve collaboration across business areas. To make it work, they needed to fit more people into less space.

The Workspace Connection solution

We defined the future direction, delivered a workplace strategy and worked closely with the supporting business areas, including People and Culture.

Our skill in quickly connecting with all members of the organisation meant we heard all issues and could formulate a wholistic approach to workplace transformation. This ensured the organisation’s vision would be delivered by Facilities, Technology and HR teams working together. 

The result for our client

This large employer was able to provide a dynamic collaborative work hub for their people, whilst consolidating their lease costs and reducing the number of desks by 35%. 

“Nina helped us steer the programme in the right direction.  She became a highly valued contributor and we drew significantly on her experience, insights and resources.”

Candy Gray, Manager Organisational Development & Capability, Kainga Ora

Talent attraction

This small business adopted a remote work model to attract talent

A ten person, self-funded membership business wanted to transition their physical office to a 100% distributed workplace.  As part of their larger business strategy, the board wanted to attract a high performing CEO who could help them position for the future. 

The Workspace Connection solution 

The Workspace Connection transitioned managers and teams to a distributed work model, through training, co-design workshops, new video technology, one-on-one coaching, Work Health and Safety checks and a policy upgrade. 

The result for our client

The client declared the move from the old model to a 100% distributed work model a complete success. All pre-existing team members stayed with the business. And when they needed to recruit a new CEO, the client called to say “I’ve got a new problem, I’ve got far too many candidates to choose from – I am having trouble shortlisting them, they’re all that good.” We were thrilled to help this business takes its future to the next level. 

“Nina has developed tools and processes to assist individuals, teams and organisations to successfully transition to an impactful, more satisfying, new world of work.” 

Chris Gandy

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