So, what is flexible working – Casey style – all about?
There are side advantages of everyone having mobile devices too. In a meeting, everyone has all their notes and files right there. There’s no need to bring along a bunch of printouts, or rush back to your desk to get a forgotten document. ‘We’ve also made a conscious effort to reduce paper. I realised, as a leader, I had to let go of my own dependency. Now, I don’t produce any paper documents for my staff, and I don’t accept any paper from staff. It has to be digital,’ said Sally Curtain.
Just as important to flexible working is having multiple, effective and convenient choices on where to go within the office. In the pilot space and, from 2017, throughout the new council offices, each council employee will choose – typically multiple times within a day – which type of space they want to work in. These choices are based on the type of work they need to get done during a specific timeframe. People take responsibility and chose the right space for themselves, and respect the purpose of the space so others can work effectively too.
The 4 Cs:
A lot of thinking has gone into the pilot and the plan for the new office. One of the bugbears of anyone who has experienced old-school hot-desking is typically how filthy the shared desks get. However, at Casey, the office and all work spaces are cleaned every day, and each desk has bacterial wipes. Also, there’s no eating at desks – which let’s face it, is a great excuse to get up and move around – and the central kitchen has become a social hub where everybody interacts and gets to know each other, no matter what team they belong to. From a more general perspective, insights gleaned from the pilot are still being factored into the endgame. CEO Mike Tyler says, ‘Feedback from staff will help shape the Bunjil Place work environment.’ Sally Curtain also noted that changes are still being included in the way some technology is deployed because, ‘we’re learning more about the possibilities of the technology via the pilot. It’s inspiring to think the final setup will be even better than the pilot.’
City of Casey Mayor, Cr Sam Aziz says, ‘With a range of projects underway to improve the organisation’s operations, including a Customer Focus Strategy, Community Engagement Strategy and Digital Strategy, flexible working delivers increased productivity and knowledge sharing leading to the continuous improvement of service and facility delivery.
‘Increased mobility and access to information allows real-time customer engagement and delivers a customer service focus; streamlined business processes and greater collaboration results in more effective problem-solving; and enhanced project management and cross-department delivery of projects ensures greater efficiencies and value for money’, added Cr Aziz.
Apart from the improvements in staff satisfaction, collaboration and renewed customer focus, flexible working is supported by the numbers. Cost-effective space utilisation, otherwise known as ‘sweating the asset’ reduces property costs, which are a huge proportion of the running costs of a council. The pilot has realised a 24% decrease in desk space, and because of the move to digital, there’s been a 41% reduction in storage space required.
For a regional community that currently lacks access to arts and cultural facilities, Bunjil Place will provide an 800-seat regional theatre, studio, regional art gallery, community library and meeting rooms, civic centre and a community plaza. According to Sally, all the planning, setting up the pilot zone, and getting the staff trained and comfortable with the new working methods means, ‘we will be able to deliver services to the community at 9am on the day we move.’