George Hulbert 2 October, 2019
To resume our popular series of interviews with leading lights of the property industry, ahead of the ANZ Raranga Talk and Tour on 31 October we now offer you the insights of Matthew Clark, Head of Workplace Property NZ at ANZ.
In his current role for over five years now, Matthew oversees ANZ’s workplace property portfolio across the country. Over recent years he has led major strategic initiatives including the introduction of the bank’s Flexible Working strategy, the upgrade of numerous workplaces and the current consolidation of three workplaces into the new ANZ Raranga office in Sylvia Park.
Looking back over the year so far, what have been ANZ Property’s major challenges and achievements?
A major challenge for any large organisation like ANZ is constant change. We consistently face a huge amount of regulatory and compliance shifts that impact the bank. In one way or another, these changes flow into our property portfolio and the only way we can deal with them is by building in portfolio flexibility to allow us to respond as quickly as we can.
To give you an example: a recent compliance project meant a new project team needed to be set up. This required a significant increase in people to deliver the outcome they are after, which in turn created significant space challenges. With finite existing space to work within, we had to look at what levers we can pull to deal with this growth in a very short timeframe.
Because these challenges are project-based, and not sustained, they ramp up and then off. The philosophy we have built into our workplace property ethos is therefore around flexibility and furniture-based fitouts that allow us to adapt our spaces easily.
One achievement this year is that we have transformed the ANZ Centre with the introduction of activity-based working, which has allowed us to consolidate the UDC business of 200 staff into the building as well as introduce many new furniture settings that provide our teams with new ways to work.
Taking a human-centred design approach to workplace, we held workshops with every business to see how they worked and what they wanted in the new space, then rolled out new furniture and spaces to meet their specific requirements. Implementing this ‘furniture-based fitout’ strategy gave us new ways of working and allowed for more choice in how our staff worked depending on the task they are doing.
The feedback has been extremely positive
Flexible working is difficult to implement if not done right, and we were not that aggressive with it. We kept the flex ratios reasonable, motivated by thinking about how people work every day and empowering them to choose how they work and providing spaces that match it.
The way we look at any kind of strategy at ANZ is that it has to be people-led. We therefore spent time to understand what people wanted, to allow them to work more effectively.
What’s special about the new Raranga building for you?
It is a direct reflection of the people who are in it. We felt a real need to celebrate what our people do, and this building is essentially for them.
The spaces are really about connection and collaboration. We have three buildings coming into this one South Auckland hub, and the cross-pollination of ideas of people who share a common purpose and goals across all business units was the catalyst for this significant change.
We also recognise that the Contact Centre in particular is a strong recruitment pipeline for the bank, so having it co-located here was a real opportunity to retain the best talent and give them connections they might not otherwise get. One aspect of this is recognising the value in having those ‘bump connections’ in the common areas that are good for all our people and broadens their ideas and perspectives.
The other thing is that this building is deliberately designed to not reflect a traditional corporate office building – it is an operations building intended to celebrate the engine room of the bank, to be a home away from home for them. We want our people to feel comfortable and sense that this is their space, that they can change things around if they want to.
To focus on this aspect, we recently created a new stream in our property group to take traditional FM roles and make them much more customer-focused. They are tasked with curating staff experience, looking at all the touchpoints staff engage with throughout the day and focus on making them as good as they can be - essentially taking some of the ideas that have come out of the co-working phenomenon and applying them internally to change the way we look at property, from building services to people and experience.
This is now much more than a place to do work: we have so much more of an opportunity in terms of how we take that approach forwards to curate the workplace.
What should people look out for on the forthcoming Talk and Tour?
This building is all about the detail – that’s what really makes it. It has a nice new fitout, yes, but when you look at the level of detail in every element, that has been the thing that really has made it for me.
We spent months working with our Architects, Warren & Mahoney, to make the design speak the ANZ values, with every aspect of the design considered and resolved. And our people’s reaction has made all the work worth it. We had staff literally in tears at what we have created for them. That put the thousands of hours we have put into the space worthwhile.
Looking more widely, what challenges do you see in the corporate real estate sector at present?
The one thing I’d call out is that with this boom of co-working there is definitely a need for the industry to recognise that the old ways of doing things is shifting. Organisations need flexibility to operate effectively, so taking long term leases for space without being able to adjust your footprint doesn’t work anymore.
For us, it’s about how you build flexibility in a traditional market. Traditionally, landlords’ asset value has been built on lease tenure, however tenants are demanding more and more flexibility, so the need to rethink the model and create opportunity for both parties will be the shift that defines the next 10 years in my mind.
What opportunities are out there to be grasped? Amidst all this change is there something ANZ can capitalise on for the betterment of the business and your customers?
One of biggest challenges for us is actively managing the utilisation of our space – and 5G, the Internet Of Things and Big Data are the next focus for us. Our utilisation studies are still relatively manual – we are working to get to the point of live utilisation data across our portfolio so we can make decisions much more quickly and create better space management across the board.
Ultimately, the opportunities out there are about using this data to provide a better experience to our staff. Our aspiration is to look at automated ways of visualising and presenting these insights to not only manage the portfolio but to do it with the end goal of providing an exceptional experience in mind.
What will 2020 bring for you at ANZ?
Next year brings the same kind of strategy to Wellington. There are four office buildings there and we will be looking at driving the portfolio to be as efficient as possible whilst also introducing these new ways of working.
We are also looking to expand our satellite office network, expanding our Hub and Spoke model to utilise existing space across our retail network to act as spaces for our staff to work, meet and generally provide additional choice about where they work. The flexible working opportunities within ANZ are exceptional with a recognition that our people should be able to do their job from anywhere. So, by expanding this hub and spoke model, it will help us support them and provide a better work life balance.