5 steps to workplace success: how to make a measurable difference to business performance

Angela Ferguson


Getting the funds approved to build a new workplace can be a painful process, whether it be for privately owned companies or local branches of overseas conglomerates. Costs for new workplaces are usually in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of Aussie dollars, depending on the size of the organisation.
Did you know though that the biggest expense of any business is its staff, no matter what the size? When you consider salaries, entitlements and other benefits, 80% of the ongoing operational costs of a business are its people. Conversely, the cost of a fitout usually runs at about 1% of an organisation’s operational expenditure. Yet this 1% is what most project teams shortsightedly focus on.
Here are 5 proven ways to influence the people in your business and to create a workplace that meets your organisation’s unique cultural, business and functional objectives, no matter how big or small the company is;

  1. Become an anchorman or anchorwoman. Make like Karl Stefanovic or Oprah and never stop talking. Engage staff early through communication and change leadership – communicating often and early, particularly when there is even the hint of change in the air, means that staff are armed with information that addresses their concerns and provides a level of comfort around any change. What is the big secret anyway?
  2. Be Authentic. Are you happy with a one size fits all workplace? Or is your organisation a unique blend of people, service, strategy and culture. Get clear on what you really want to achieve with your new workplace. Is it about jamming bums on seats or is it about growing your business for long term success? A workplace brief must be both intelligent and part of the bigger business plan of an organisation.
  3. Choose your beverage. Aligning aspirations and budget from day one (champagne taste on a beer budget anyone?) means you won’t get into a tricky governance situations later on. Quality control of budget and spend is critical in order to manage expectations across all stakeholders for the project.
  4. Stock up on Joss Paper. Be prepared for the future. If its not in the budget now, design inherent flexibility into the Day One design so that as the organisation’s needs change across the life span of a lease, adapting the built environment to suit future needs will be easy, non-disruptive and cost effective.
  5. Get out of the way. Leave it the experts you’ve hired to do their job. Would the average person do their own dentistry? Cook their own meal when out at a restaurant? Service their own car or wire their own home? Hire a crack team who you are comfortable with and let them do their job well.

Thus, as people have the most impact on an organisation’s success, wouldn’t you want to accommodate them in a work space that ensures they are as productive, profitable and engaged as they can be?