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The 'placemaking' approach to doing business

HCTV visited the Optus campus at Macquarie Park to talk to Employee Experience Manager Andrew Parker about engagement and 

placemaking'. 

Video transcript below:

Anna Temple: Optus’s head office at Macquarie Park designed in a campus style is innovative in many ways, offering a very different working environment for its 6,000 employees. Employee Experience Manager, Andrew Parker explains that the campus style means that Optus must take a place making approach, really engaging with employees and acting on their feedback.

Andrew Parker, Employee Experience Manger, Optus

Andrew Parker: Campus is like a little city, so with over 6,000 people here, we have had to take very much a place making, a place management approach to how we look after it. So my team goes through a constant process that we started before we moved in and continue today, which is about consultation with our employees and then putting that into the context of how people interact with the places on campus. So rather than just maintaining the campus, it’s evolved over the years and we continue to work with each of the spaces to understand how people work with them, how they want to feel in them and then update and manage those spaces.

So we have a program called Campus Life and employees see that right around the campus throughout their day. So everything from a newsletter that comes out on Mondays to let them know what’s on, through to retail surveys which we do annually. So we [survey] about what food and retail experiences they want and through that we change the retail mix, we work with the retailers. On a few occasions we have actually swapped the retailers out.

Anna Temple: One of the huge tasks that initially faced the team was how to ensure 6,000 employees could get to and from the Macquarie Park location. But Optus grabbed the bull by the horns and put a series of large scale solutions in place.

Andrew Parker: So when we first moved to Macquarie Park, transport was one of the most significant issues for our people. And we put in place, one of Australia’s largest sustainable transport strategies to get people here in ways that were easy, fast and gave people more choice. Today that strategy continues to evolve with the local area. So as the transport services around us change, so does our strategy. We continue to run a wide range of express bus services to and from Epping in the city, which is used by well over 1,000 of our staff everyday. We have a ride sharing program with over 700 people using that each day as well, which is incredibly successful and matches people up and helps them finds ways to share their journey to work and then cycling, we have actually managed to double the new [__] average for cycling in terms of journey to work through a massive extensive program of everything from our cycle training, journey planning, we repair people’s bikes on site, we have of course everything from irons to drying cabinets and change rooms for our cyclists as well. So it’s a complete strategy and of course if you do need drive to work, we still cater for that as well.

Anna Temple: Parker acknowledges that sometimes such levels of employee engagement can be a little overwhelming, but the overall employee reaction has been positive especially to the new flexible ways of working Optus were able to offer.

Andrew Parker: It can be hard sometimes being in our role where you know all of the good and bad things do come into my team and sometimes I feel like we lose perspective a little bit, when we chase documents we do our surveys with our employees to find out they think and feeling and we do certainly find from that people enjoy the lifestyle benefits of being on this campus, the freedom, the coffee culture and the way we have it working, which is incredibly flexible. That’s another huge thing that we did when we moved here, we gave people the flexibility to work from home, anywhere in the campus through our wifi network or in hours to suit them. So being in Macquarie Park, we set guidelines to say, don’t set meetings before 9 or after 4 without consulting the people in that meeting first, that it’s about looking at different people’s journey times and what suits them most. So there is a whole package of flexibility around working here and everything we see show that our employees value that.

Anna Temple: This is Anna Temple reporting for HC TV.