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Ben Coleman - Manager, Property Projects. Fonterra.
Fonterra’s vision was to bring several Auckland offices into one purpose-built building embarking on a new way of working under the banner 'One Fonterra'. They worked with the foremost global authority on activity based working, Veldhoen + Company, to help deliver on the One Fonterra aspirations for their workplace. Activity based working is a workplace strategy that gives people a choice of settings for a variety of workplace activities.
Fonterra’s aim was to design the concept for a high-trust, high-performance and values-focused way of working and physical workplace. To achieve this, it was important for them to have a partner rather than a supplier. They wanted to create settings which allowed users to work in different spaces for different activities. These were broken down into focus, process, duo work, chat, and collaboration areas, with a strong focus on technology to support this.
Ben Coleman, Fonterra’s Manager, Property Projects, who was in charge of the project, says that before they ever drew one line on paper, they asked themselves a lot of hard questions within Fonterra. What does property need to look like? What about technology? What about behaviours? What does time and place mean for us? What does ‘paper independence’ mean for us?
“We worked closely with the consultant teams to help us do a ‘deep dive’ into the business. The concept of activity based working is that it’s a bit like your home – your home is set up with different rooms for different activities. We thought that the workplace could respond in a similar sort of way. So, rather than having one desk where you do all your activities, we create the right environments for people to do different activities to their best effects. For example, if I need quiet time to focus on or study a particular document, I’ve got an environment that allows me to do that where people next to me are not on the phone or having a loud conversation. Similarly, if I need to come in and have a conversation, I’ve got spaces to do that too.”
What that means is that people are on the move, Ben explains. “So, I’ll do my activity in this one location. When I’ve finished that activity, I pack up my environment, take all my stuff with me, and move on to my next activity in the next space, leaving that environment clear.”
Fonterra presented a challenge to the furniture sector. “We said, ‘Here’s our dream, here’s our vision, tell us how we can adapt that and shape it in response’.”
Ben recalls it transpired very early in the piece that Vidak brought a position of difference to the table. “They’re very good at listening, highly collaborative, keen to explore the issues, and were incredibly patient while we looked at different options and iterations. I found that the people from Vidak became very much part of the team. They worked as if they had a Fonterra hat on. They thought about things from our perspective as much as from their own.”
Fonterra elected to provide a sit-to-stand type of functionality and worked with Vidak to explore how those desk settings would work and what kind of behaviours they would activate. The Vidak solution included various workstation settings with a range of fixed height, user-adjust and sit-to-stand adjustability, workstation divide screening, shift table collaborative work settings, TV wall-upholstered elements including meeting tables, hydro-station plant holders, meeting surrounds, and custom lockers including Vidak+Vecos locker management system and software.
“What we’ve actually landed has exceeded my expectations – I thought it would be good because we stress-tested everything but to get to that point and realise that it’s almost a step beyond that is fantastic. Undoubtedly, the Vidak furniture solutions have contributed to that sense of, collectively, this has got something quite special about it.”
Vidak worked extensively with Fonterra, RCP, Jasmax, Veldhoen + Company, Automation Associates and other technical services to create fully integrated furniture solutions that responded to their workplace vision. Their new environment enables Fonterra to work in a new way, providing the opportunity to work more collaboratively and with greater flexibility under the 'One Fonterra' banner.