Wednesday, 26 August 2015

#AHRINC Office design for organisation capital

I'm now in a session with Steve Coster from architects Hassell's, Kylie Bishop from Medibank and John Scrivener Fahri from Qantas.

I'm particularly interested in this session, firstly because it's great to see that although Sydney's Workplace design conference didn't involve HR, this HR one is including workplace design.  And secondly because I've got a slide on Medibank's stairs in my own presentation on social capital and the New HR tomorrow. 

Steve suggested office design can help achieve a number of business objectives, and that it can be HR's secret weapon for organisation change and culture:
  • Transparent and connected
  • Integrated and diverse activity
  • Self organising and user manager
  • Events, engagement and social capital

We looked first at Qantas' Mascot campus which looks great - much less beige than Woolworths from Sydney.  And although the session is on organisation capital, this highlighted social capital too, as John suggested airlines are about as integrated a sector as you can possibly get, so collaboration is so important, particularly given their history of silos.

Kylie then introduced Medibank's integrated model to people, facilities and technology.  The key to an integrated model is being clear what you're trying to achieve (avoid shiny HR).  For them this was their THRIVE objectives - health, collaboration, engagement and productivity, supporting activity based, output focused management.  So the project wasn't just about the workplace but also eg leadership to influence their mind sets as well as behaviours.

I talked to Steve and Kylie earlier in the speakers lounge and Steve suggested it's easier to do more progressive workplace design in Australia than it is in the UK:
  • Property owners are competing for tenants as their are fewer large companies, rather than the other way around
  • The property industry is smaller and good ideas already faster
  • There's some cultural inferiority and people want to show what they can do
  • There's more commercial land so greater opportunity to experiment
  • The economy has been stronger, especially in banking.

So there's even more need to integrated HR and Property here than there is there.  So as Steve suggested, HR needs to make friends with their Property managers - I'd agree and would suggest it's a much better basis for a G3 than Ram Charan's suggestion.

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