19/09/2012 - 10:38

Bankwest has moves at new headquarters

19/09/2012 - 10:38

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Bankwest has moves at new headquarters
SAVINGS: Andy Weir says the new approach has helped staff deliver efficiencies in energy consumption and waste. Photo: Grant Currall

Bankwest has joined the ‘free-form’ office revolution, with the launch this week of a technology-driven activity-based office as it settles into its new premises at Raine Square.

Bankwest is the only company in Perth to fully adopt the mobile workplace structure. The other is BHP Billiton, which uses parts of the process at its new Brookfield Place headquarters on St Georges Terrace.

Macquarie Bank and the ANZ Centre in Melbourne have also switched to the new style of office.

 A new IT department, wireless technology systems and a staff innovation program enable Bankwest’s  2,700 employees over 14 floors to keep track of each other and contribute ideas to the bank’s work practices.

Activity-based workplaces (ABW) differ from open-plan offices because employees do not have their own desks. 

Instead, they have the option of working in different areas that range from conference rooms to informal lounges. 

Since moving to Raine Square in August, Bankwest chief information officer Andy Weir said employees had responded well to the new offices, with nine out of 10 preferring it to the old premises.

Total floor space is greater than that in the bank’s old headquarters, Bankwest Tower.  However, the new ABW layout has enabled Bankwest to reduce its floors from 30 to 14 and increase the number of staff from 1,600 to 2,700.

The mobile office design is useful in Perth’s tight office market because it enables companies in need of large offices to fit more employees into less space. 

The big issues facing organisations moving from more traditional workplaces to an ABW office is helping employees adjust to the change and putting effective technology in place that accommodates a mobile office environment.

 “Activity-based working involves a significant change in culture and mindset and, for it to work effectively, we needed the technology that would support the shift from a traditional to a mobile office environment,” Mr Weir said.

“The use of smart laptops with video conferencing, collaboration spaces featuring built-in AV and touch-screen technology, Wi-Fi throughout the building and FollowMe printing all enables a flexible work place. 

“It’s helped staff adjust and has already delivered business efficiencies such as reductions in energy consumption and waste.”

Mr Weir said he was anticipating a 20 to 30 per cent energy saving from the new premises.

Bankwest’s call centre experienced the most dramatic change.

In the old premises it was based in one location, with a large screen displaying incoming call statistics. Call centre employees are now able to sit wherever they like and monitor call statistics through their phones.

The IT department operates from an in-house help desk based on Apple’s Genius Bar.

The office has also adopted a new employee initiative called Innovation Timeout Program, inspired by Google’s 20 per cent Time Program.

 Bankwest encourages employees to spend up to 20 per cent of their time thinking of new ideas for the bank.

To help employees adjust to the drastic change in their work environment, Mr Weir said a ‘pilot floor’ was started in Bankwest Tower in April last year.

About 85 staff were based on the test floor and it was used to showcase the new office structure to other staff, allowing them to experience the new environment and provide feedback to management. 

ABW arrangements lend themselves to mining companies and banks because they are conducive to brainstorming and combining departments.

Mr Weir said Bankwest was “seeing a greater amount of collaboration with around 80 per cent of employees working closely with other teams”.

 

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