AGL, Melbourne

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"Smarter Working" Assessment - improving performance through Culture-infused change

AGL’s operations were consolidated into a single location at 699 Bourke Street in 2015. The workplace was designed according to a comprehensive “Smarter Working” philosophy aimed at building a high-performance culture of collaboration and wellbeing. Unprecedented growth and opportunity in the external environment put strong pressure on the building and its capacity, and Smarter Working philosophy, principles, policies and practices were struggling to keep up with the crisis of growth.

The decision was made to expand the Bourke Street accommodation through the fitout of an annexe in Collins Street to host 450+ people. Incorp was commissioned to do a thorough analysis of the performance of Smarter Working, and to capture learnings and insights to enrich the Melbourne Expansion project.

In order to understand the existing issues and enact meaningful change, key objectives for the project were:

1. Assess performance of Smarter Working in 699 Bourke Street. Capture learnings from the implementation and harness insights to enrich the Melbourne Expansion Project Plan for 664 Collins
Street (including the refresh of 699 Bourke Street and the transition of staff from 727 Collins Street).

2. Recommend ways to further evolve Smarter Working across AGL:
— Understanding of the Smarter Working philosophy
— Leadership engagement of the Smarter Working concept
— Business strategic buy-in to the property strategy
— Understanding and adoption of the Smarter Working etiquettes across employees
— Opportunities to further embed and relaunch Smarter Working into the broader AGL environment
— Future proofing for continuous evolution

Following a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the 699 Bourke St accommodation, Incorp analysed the strengths, aspirations, and opportunities for development. We combined a number of quantitative and qualitative methods including one on one depth interviews; focus groups; Utilisation Study; observation study; then a drill down analyses into selected high priority or high curiosity issues.

Incorp’s analysis of the data provided insight into both property-related business processes and performance, and insights into AGL’s cultural dynamics. Our asessmen demonstrated a dilution of AGL’s “Smarter Working” initiative over time, and detailed common issues across the board within cultural dynamics of AGL, which provided the underlying causes of performance issues, especially as they related to leadership and governance.

Our insights diagnosed several unaddressed cultural differences and conflicts across subcultures within the staff at 699 Bourke Street including an every person for themselves mentality, “Us” and
“them” turf wars, avoidant / combative conflict management, with no resolution ‘path of least resistance’, and a lack of clarity for whether Smarter Working principles were being jettisoned or simply not understood.

Reinvigorating Smarter Working
A comprehensive report detailing the issues, outcomes and opportunities from the Smarter Working Assessment, along with a set of recommendations informed by insighted gained. This report was presented to AGL’s executive team, with future recommendations socialised for implementation.

These included the following:
— Provision of ‘single source of truth’ on performance of the workplace
— Executive and leadership understanding of the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results of Smarter Working, and the reasons for dilution over time
— Decision to form a high level Governance Group, and supporting Working Group of GMs to steer the future development of Smarter Working in AGL
— A cultural evolution strategy and change management plan in support of the overall strategy, purpose, vision and mission of the organisation
— Determined the priorities for development in Smarter Working in AGL as a whole

Insights and learnings from the project were integrated into a Culture-infused Change Management Plan for the migration of AGL’s 450+ staff into the new space, plus the retrofitting of space which was vacated in 699 Bourke Street.

Incorp continued to work with AGL on a monthly basis following the report, supporting the implementation and reintegration of AGL’s Smarter Working principles. Our cultural evolution director, worked across various business groups to ensure these were being embedded deeply into the organisation’s culture, systems and processes.

size: N/A location: Melbourne, VIC