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Cardinia Shire Council is a local government region in Victoria, situated about 60 km south-east of Melbourne. It has an area of 1,280 square kilometres and population of 91k (2015), 99k (statistical estimate for 2017) people.
Its staff has grown to almost 450 employees including full- and part-time positions, reflecting the rapid growth in the shire and the continuing need to increase resources to maintain service standards.
Cardinia Shire was in need of a re-invigoration. As a local government, its functions were often misunderstood by its constituents and as such, the capability to find new staff in the younger age bracket had become a difficult task.
Previously, the Council was operating in separate information silos – employees were spread throughout six different locations with little opportunity for interaction. Moving to the new building allowed Cardinia Shire to consolidate its staff under one roof for the first time in seventeen years, thus creating one strong culture rather than several mini sub-cultures.
Gary McQuillan, CEO Cardinia Shire Council said: “We thought that the old traditional work-station model wasn’t necessarily the way of the future. We decided to move to Activity Based Working model, so that we can create a better workplace and deliver better outcomes for our ratepayers or constituents, which is the community.
“Our main goals were to become an employer of choice, to retain staff, and to cut down on the inefficiencies associated with people working in silos. We wanted to create an environment that would foster conversations, improve collaboration, and facilitate communications, ultimately resulting in a better working environment. It was also important for us to create a strong value proposition for young people to come and join an organisation that is going to be at the forefront of the digital change that will occur over the next 10 to 15 years.”
Activity Based Working (ABW) is based on the notion that throughout the day, people have a number of different work activities to complete – some require high levels of concentration and others high levels of collaboration. Traditionally, businesses provide a single workspace for each individual to complete all these tasks.
Through ABW, employees no longer have their personal work desks. Instead, every employee is assigned a locker so he/she can pick up their physical resources and choose a work setting that suits their type of work activity.
There are three critical elements to building an ABW place: the physical environment; the behavioural aspects; and the virtual components which is the technology that facilitates the activities.
Thomas Duryea Logicalis worked with Cardinia Shire Council on the ABW project, providing key advice and consultation, support and the technology infrastructure.
Moving to an ABW environment has reduced the dependence on paper and improved customer response times.
The Council has recorded a 75% reduction in paper usage, which has resulted in savings of approximately $68 thousand per annum. Staff retention levels have also improved significantly - people leaving the organisation has dropped from 13% down to 7% in the first 12-18 months. In addition, there has been a decrease in operational energy costs through functional Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) design.
“It’s a great success for Cardinia, based on a lot of hard work, and we’re really thankful to Thomas Duryea Logicalis for helping us get this far. For councils considering ABW my advice is to be brave and make that decision, because once you’ve worked in this environment, you would never go back in the traditional way of working,” concluded Mr. McQuillan.