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Karen Boyte - Project Synergy Executive. Trustpower.
In 2011, Trustpower said to their organisation, “Hey, we’ve been really successful for the last 20 years – what are we going to be for the next 20?” Through that introspection and reflection, they created a new vision, strategies, their ‘DNA’ and a story about what Trustpower was going to be in 2031. Their new workplace strategy was co-created through a process run with activity based working experts Veldhoen + Company and called: 'Synergy New Ways of Working'.
Karen Boyte, Trustpower’s Project Synergy Executive, explains that they came up with their aspirations for the organisation’s new three-storey Tauranga headquarters based upon their new workplace strategy. “The building is about connection and collaboration, energising and fun. And these aims are also parts of our leadership charter as well,” she says.
The essence of activity based working is that you find a place that suits the sort of work you are going to be doing each day. So, for example, it might be that you need to be in a process area where you can be perfectly happy chatting away to your mates – or you might need to focus, in which case there is a variety of different places.”
The interior, designed by architects Warren & Mahoney, is inspired by bold landscapes. The 6,900sqm of office space is built around a large, light-filled atrium which forms an energising heart to the building. The atrium floor connects physically and visually with the upper levels, encouraging vertical movement through the building with interlinking stairs and connecting bridges. There are no individual offices, instead each staff member has a locker where they can store their laptops, business and personal effects, and there are informal collaboration areas as well as focus areas.
Karen says you can see people anywhere in the building. “People are connecting with people that they never did in the old place because there was a whole lot of ‘mod-coms’, or people were stuck in an office remotely because we were just trying to make it work.”
Transpower’s 500+ staff are able to interact better and can easily catch up with their team members. They can even encounter the ‘free-ranging’ CEO, who doesn’t have a fixed desk or assigned office, to share thoughts and ideas. Non-assigned seating allows employees to choose the most suitable workspace without having to worry about a noisy neighbourhood, paper dependency or unavailable meeting rooms. Previously, paper-based processes had kept staff tied to their desks. However, a change initiative called ‘Paper Intelligence’ saw thousands of documents digitised and many processes converted to a digital platform. This initiative allowed staff greater freedom to roam and collaborate on projects, and it reduced the need for so much storage.
There are a range of meeting settings, tele-working areas, communal kitchenette and terrace, and a range of furniture solutions to support a flexible workstyle. Timber brings warmth and tactility, rich ceiling textures mark out functional zones, floor finishes provide contrast and grain, and strong colour palettes lend a unique identity to each floor.
Vidak supplied the majority of soft fit-out furniture for this project including workstations, meeting tables, task and meeting chairs, lockers, meeting pods, mobile whiteboards, individual and collaborative seating, and workstation screening and accessories. Trustpower chose 100% electric sit-to-stand workstations with integrated software to support the health and wellbeing of its employees in the workplace.
Karen was impressed with Vidak’s flexibility, turnaround speed and ‘can-do’ attitude. “As an example, manufacturing and planned delivery staging for the soft fit-out of the main three floors of the building were well underway when we had to go to them and say, ‘Can you do another entire floor of furniture?’”
Trustpower’s very rapid growth meant they had to take on an extra floor. To make this more of a challenge, it had to be delivered prior to the three floors already programmed. This called for a very quick planning session with the Vidak team to lock down the furniture design. It also demanded a major re-shuffle of programme timing and resource planning. Karen was blown away with the result. “It was just absolutely amazing. That sort of thing you just can’t find every day.”