As one of Australia’s leading commercial property owners and managers, Investa has prospered by creating workplaces where people and business can thrive.
In the 17 years since the company was founded however, the nature of the workplace has changed, employee expectations have shifted, and technology has emerged to offer the opportunity for far greater flexibility and collaboration without sacrificing productivity.
With a planned move to new headquarters, Investa recognised the opportunity to rethink the workplace – to design a space optimised for today’s workforce and business needs; a space that could fully leverage modern technologies.
It would be a showcase of the state-of-the-art possibilities for Investa clients – but nearly more importantly, it would ensure its own staff had access to best in class facilities and technology, with expectations of a cultural and productivity dividend.
Now complete it’s delivering on all fronts. “Our new workplace better supports and reflects our open, transparent and collaborative culture. It is a beautifully designed, functional, light-filled space that we know our people will love coming to work in each day,” says Amy Wild, Investa’s General Manager, People and Culture.
Investa employs more than 200 people, it owns and manages 37 commercial properties and provides workspaces for more than 800 businesses. Adhering to rigorous standards of environmental, social, and corporate sustainability it currently manages more than $11 billion in assets, and has carved out an enviable market reputation.
But until the opportunity to rethink its own workspace and workplace technology arose its employees had been experiencing challenges with an inconsistent work ecosystem in terms of devices, desktop configuration, meetings and office technologies. And there were mobility limitations that didn’t meet modern or agile workplace expectations.
Today’s employees expect a more streamlined, consistent and efficient working environment, they expect flexibility, tools and technology to make them both efficient and effective. Without that, companies can find it hard to attract and retain top talent.
Investa’s head office relocation provided an opportunity for a rethink. A streamlined but cross-functional space would better reflect the forward-thinking and technological focus of Investa, allowing teams to communicate and collaborate with each other, their clients, and partners.
A more flexible, open workplace design was conceived to stimulate innovation capability, spur creative thinking and encourage new ways of problem solving through closer collaboration and connection, both physically and using technology. It would burnish Investa’s identity as a thought leader, committed to a culture of respect, openness and approachability.
Extensive research was conducted at the outset to understand how Investa’s people were currently working, and to identify what facilities, spaces, technologies and behaviours would support their best work in the future.
The research showed that more than half of the work Investa staff performed was very collaborative; there was a very focused component to individual work; and there was a range of working styles across the business.
A key priority was to ensure the new workplace delivered the necessary diversity of spaces and technologies, allowing people to choose how they work, depending on the type of activity they were performing.
The research revealed that cross-functional teams collaborate regularly, with a mix of in-house briefings, workshops, training sessions and corporate and social events. The desk and cubicle layout of old didn’t cut it, and instead were limiting collaboration and innovation opportunities.
What was required was a broader range of work spaces – quiet, social, collaborative, formal and informal spaces – where people could meet and work.
Working with technology partner POMT (Peace of Mind Technology), architect Hassell and project management firm Montlaur, Investa also completed rigorous analysis, engineering and testing on potential technologies, weighing up Microsoft against other leading industry players.
Microsoft passed the test and Investa now has a fully integrated technology ecosystem of hardware and software supporting all staff where and when they need with Microsoft 365 as the secure cloud foundations for the organisation.
“Our goal was to design the technology to provide users with flexibility, simplicity and consistency. We wanted Investa’s users to have the same experience in meeting rooms and all other functional spaces that they have at their desktop,” said Jeremy Pollak, Director of Strategy and Development at POMT.
Key to the sustained success of the modern workplace is employee choice; they need to be able to select which hub to work in and which technology to use, depending on the task being addressed. But the technology also needed to be seamless and predominantly wireless – so wherever someone worked, their experience and access to information would be consistent.
According to Sally Franklin, Group Executive, Real Estate Services and Business Operations; “Our workplace has been designed by our people, with the diverse and unique needs of our team at the heart of the process.”
It means for example that some teams will communicate from the hubs using Skype, while others will use the Crestron Mercury video conferencing system deployed in some rooms.
Surface Pro and Surface Books have been rolled out to support both individual and team efforts, whilst once again, all staff being afforded their preference of choice. Collaborative work hubs can be purposed for everything from hosting team socials to becoming specialised media spaces with digital displays for signage and communications.
Surface charging docks, requiring just one cable, were installed on all desks and in meeting rooms.
As a result Investa now boasts an open and flexible environment, complemented by intelligent integrated technology, supporting staff when and where it makes sense. It has broken down the barriers of space and time allowing more flexible work practices; and it’s reinforced Investa’s status as a thought leader and innovator.
Investa is now using its experience as a template to support clients operating from Investa-managed workplaces and is also updating its Melbourne, Brisbane and other national offices in line with the Sydney HQ overhaul.
According to Sally Franklin; “The new collaborative technologies provide a simple and direct user experience, allowing our team to focus on the ‘what’ that they were working on, rather than the ‘how’ they were trying to work. The result is a truly modern and Australian work environment, which perfectly reflects who Investa is as a business and how we like to work.”