ComCom Montage 2 blog

Commerce Commission

Creative thinking delivers value for Commerce Commission

14 August 2016, by Dean Croucher

Faced with a rapidly growing Auckland team and a new strategic focus on Auckland, the Commerce Commission had to make a choice about exiting early from a lease and relocating within the CBD. Geoff Williamson, GM Organisation Performance, explains how engaging TwentyTwo helped him deliver a highly cost-effective solution in a hot market. This is his story…

As GM Organisation Performance, my job is to ensure that we can deliver the best possible support services to enable the Commerce Commission to be successful in achieving its goals. It’s about how we can help people in the organisation excel in what they do and realise their potential. There are many aspects to this work including IT, HR, Finance, Communications and, of course, Property.

When we think about accommodation, we want to provide good spaces that people feel comfortable working in, that they’re going to be productive in and that they’re going to enjoy coming to work in.

Over the last two years, we’ve had three significant property challenges to deal with, each very different in nature. I’ve tried to look at those challenges as opportunities to deliver better value for the Commission and taxpayers and to create more productive working environments for the Commission team.

We’ve exited our small Christchurch office and, in Wellington, we’ve worked with other state sector tenants in our building to negotiate new lease terms, along with a seismic upgrade for the building and tenant fitout. That project will be completed later this year. We’ve also just relocated our Auckland office…

Reflecting Auckland’s growth

The Commission made a strategic decision to focus more of its resources in Auckland. A lot of the work the Commission does is oriented around New Zealand’s centre of commerce. Many of the fair trading and consumer matters that we deal with are located there. We were looking to increase the number of commissioners and staff based in Auckland to be closer to this key market.

But this greater physical presence in Auckland couldn’t be served by our existing 350m2 office in the Auckland Council building. We had already done everything we could to make that space more efficient and get more people in there. But with more people arriving, we needed more meeting spaces for them to have conversations, conduct interviews or make calls away from their workstations. It became unworkable and, on balance, we made the call that we couldn’t delay a relocation until our lease expiry in February 2018.

Engaging TwentyTwo

While we have general property capability internally, we needed Auckland-based expertise. I’m based in Wellington and we don’t have any property-related people in Auckland. Without local market knowledge, we didn’t feel confident that we could explore and exploit the best opportunities so we engaged TwentyTwo to help us.

We’ve been working with TwentyTwo on our Wellington project so we know them well. Engaging TwentyTwo’s Auckland team meant we had people on the ground who we could trust to be our ‘eyes and ears’.

From initial briefing to RFP

Through an initial strategic briefing process, TwentyTwo helped us determine a space budget based on growth in our Auckland head count, the kind of premises that might suit us and the locations that would work for our stakeholders and partners. In respect of location, we had to factor in a number of requirements:

  • We wanted to be reasonably close to some of the key partners we deal with – agencies such as the Financial Market Authority and law firms, for example
  • We also needed to have good transport connections for staff and visitors. This naturally pointed to a central location
  • Set against that however, was the requirement to find a cost-effective solution in a ‘hot’ market. Did one exist in the CBD?

TwentyTwo developed a search strategy and then we went out to the market with an RFP seeking space.

A smart solution

We reviewed and evaluated a number of options returned in the RFP. The option we chose might not have seemed immediately obvious, but it was quite creative in as much as it represented very good value and gave us good future options.

We picked up a tail lease for space in the Forsyth Barr building on Shortland Street that expires in September 2019. Two things that really make it work for us – first, it’s difficult right now to accurately predict the future growth path of our Auckland-based team. With this option, we weren’t getting locked into a very long-term lease only to find that the space was not flexible enough to allow for the growth. And, secondly, we didn’t want to end up taking additional space that we didn’t really need. This property gave us the right amount of space at the right price.

Although we don’t have a right of renewal, TwentyTwo initiated discussions with the building owner about what might happen at the end of the lease term and they know that we’ll be coming to speak to them a bit closer to the time when we know more about our future requirements.

We might find that the office is not big enough for us or it’s too big. So we’re comfortable with the idea that, by the lease expiry date, we may need to look for something else. It’s likely that some of the heat will be out of the market by then so we might have an opportunity to deliver better long-term value.

A better working environment

TwentyTwo helped us negotiate with the existing holder of the lease on fitout costs. We reached a deal that allowed us to create a good space that can accommodate up to 40 people.

The new office feels like a good place to work. We made some deliberate decisions around the type of office environment we want to create and the facilities we provide. We installed sit-to-stand desks for all our staff because employee health and wellness is important to us. Many of the team are making use of this flexibility.

Better productivity

With more space and a better environment, we’ve already seen an improvement in productivity. It’s always hard to pinpoint or isolate the exact drivers, but the office provides collaborative spaces and meeting spaces that take noisy work away from the workstation areas meaning there are fewer distractions.

I think the changes we’ve made do have a positive impact on people’s mood – how they feel about coming to work and obviously on retention. We think people are happy with their surroundings and generally feel better about coming to work. That’s good for hiring too.

Better value

TwentyTwo have really helped facilitate things for us in Auckland. Being there on the spot, with knowledge of the market, knowledge of what the best strategy is to procure premises that are going to work for us… that’s been really valuable.

In addition to working on the procurement strategy, running the RFP process and evaluating the options, TwentyTwo also helped oversee some of the design elements and conducted site visits while the fitout construction was going on. By making sure everything was on track, they made sure that our interests were being looked after and I trusted them absolutely.

If I imagine what would have happened without engaging TwentyTwo, it would have meant me doing a lot more basic research, a lot more of the leg work and spending a lot more time in Auckland. That would have made it a lot less cost effective.

When we engage outside advisers, we have to think very carefully about getting value for the taxpayer, about the spending decisions we make overall and on particular items in a project. Everything must stand up well to public scrutiny.

I’m confident we’ve got extremely good value in our solution. It’s cost effective because we’re paying a competitive rent for accommodation which is really fit-for-purpose and which people enjoy working in. We may not have found this solution without TwentyTwo. Our expectations have certainly been exceeded.

Geoff Williamson
GM Organisation Performance
Commerce Commission

TwentyTwo is currently helping the Commerce Commission and other state sector tenants with the Wellington project. It represents another complex challenge but it’s on track and we look forward to telling the story on completion.

...

About the author

Loves anything blue. Avoids routine and making plans. Dreams of playing golf on the senior tour. Should have been a chef or writer. Fond of chardonnay and food (any kind).

Dean is one of NZ's leading property advisers with 25+ years’ consulting experience acting for major tenants and owner-occupiers. He specialises in property strategy, tenant representation, project leadership and major transactions. He also continues to provide peer review advice across all major projects.

Other posts by this author...

12 September 2017

We are hiring a Marketing Communications Coordinator

Marketing Communications Coordinator (Part Time/Wellington or Auckland based). TwentyTwo is a leading professional services practice providing strategic property advice to government and corporate clients, from offices in Auckland and Wellington.

Read more...

07 April 2017

TwentyTwo appointed to five categories of Government Property Panel

TwentyTwo has recently been appointed to the Government Property Panel, an appointment that recognises our deep understanding and experience of working for the main Crown/Government agencies over the last 27 years.

Read more...

21 December 2016

Advocating for the Tenant at PINZ Government Property Event

At the recent Property Institute Government Property event in Wellington, TwentyTwo’s Dean Croucher joined David White from Government Property Group, Peter Dow (deputising for an unwell Maurice Clark) and Steve Maitland from Colliers to discuss...

Read more...

07 December 2016

Team TwentyTwo's Xmas parade

Team TwentyTwo celebrated the end of another fantastic year last weekend by heading up to Auckland to see Coldplay live at Mt Smart Stadium! The previous night, our team got together for a few quiet red...

Read more...

21 November 2016

Auckland CBD transformation takes shape

Major transformation of the Auckland CBD continues at pace with the demolition of the former Downtown Shopping Centre now complete (above left).

Read more...

02 November 2016

We're hiring! Full-time Property Consultant in Auckland

We are seeking outstanding professionals to join a growing team, making a difference to businesses around the country.

Read more...

08 September 2016

TwentyTwo's Paul Mautz is Property Advisor of the Year

Paul Mautz, Associate Principal at TwentyTwo, is the inaugural winner of the Property Institute of New Zealand's Property Advisor of the Year award.

Read more...

09 May 2016

Procurement solution fuels major step towards biodiesel in NZ

Z Energy’s customers in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty will soon be able to fill their tanks with ‘Z Bio D’ – a sustainable diesel which will be manufactured at its new bio-fuel...

Read more...

31 March 2016

Wellington Airport runway extension – unleashing potential

We're passionate about the success of Wellington and its contribution to the economy. Our business contributes to that success by helping organisations make better property decisions that help them unleash their potential.

Read more...

21 January 2016

Rise of the independent – why independence is better

Independence was a founding principle for TwentyTwo because we believed it was a critical differentiator that mattered to clients.Today, in our sector, we think it matters even more.

Read more...

18 December 2015

After a big year, a big day out

It's been fantastic year for TwentyTwo thanks to our hard working and talented team.So we decided to celebrate and reflect with a big day out.It was a cracker.

Read more...

15 December 2015

22 = 25

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s time for some reflection.It’s been a year of positive change and big progress for TwentyTwo.

Read more...

28 September 2015

Part 3: A journey from greenwash to best practice

In Part 3 of a series of blogs on the New Zealand Green Building Council, we review the future of NZGBC and what it offers organisations, particularly tenants and owner-occupiers…The NZGBC is 10 years...

Read more...

22 September 2015

Part 2: NZGBC builds on firm foundations

Following Part 1 published last week where we introduced the NZGBC and outlined our early involvement and renewed commitment to the Council, Part 2 gives a brief history, along with our experience of tenant/end...

Read more...

14 September 2015

Part 1: NZGBC gets the green light

TwentyTwo has recently renewed its commitment as a member of the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).And since World Green Building Week is all set for 21-27 September, we’re marking the occasion with a series of three blogs over three weeks to highlight NZGBC’s role in working to improve the quality and sustainability of NZ properties, as well as our involvement over the years.

Read more...

24 August 2015

Wellington projects make progress

Great to see some real progress on site last week with two of our projects… Cuba Central On Monday morning, I attended the ‘ground breaking’ ceremony for Cuba Central – the new Creative Technologies and Arts Centre being developed by Willis Bond for WelTec and Whitireia.

Read more...

18 August 2015

TwentyFive years of disruption for TwentyTwo

‘Disruption’ is a buzzword in the business world at present and, here at TwentyTwo, we also talk about being disruptive.About being a challenger brand.Challenging convention.

Read more...

12 August 2015

David Lambie joins TwentyTwo

Well-known and respected property adviser David Lambie has joined TwentyTwo as a Principal and Director.

Read more...

29 July 2015

Take it from the top

A recent issue of boardroom, the IOD’s bi-monthly magazine that keeps members informed of relevant governance and business issues, includes a feature written by Managing Partner Dean Croucher.

Read more...

16 June 2015

New Tenant Briefs page outlines client requirements

A key part of our unique end-to-end process is to intimately understand each property market and ensure our clients have visibility on the the widest range of accommodation and property options.

Read more...

15 June 2015

Independent advisers vs leasing brokers: Who gets you a better deal?

As a tenant thinking about leasing new premises, you have an important decision to make.Do you:.

Read more...

15 June 2015

People aren't your biggest cost – premises are!

A few months ago, I was taken back by a statement made by an industry insider – "people aren't your biggest cost – premises are".

Read more...

04 June 2015

Corenet Auckland Symposium 4

This is the last of my four blogs about the Corenet Auckland Symposium - Location, Location, Location that I attended in June.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Another great new signing!

TwentyTwo is delighted to announce our new 2014-15 season player partnership with Andrew Durante, Captain and No.

Read more...

04 June 2015

TwentyTwo appointed to advise Callaghan Innovation

TwentyTwo has been appointed to undertake a National Property Strategy for Callaghan Innovation.This work will involve some more detailed planning for their Gracefield Site.

Read more...

04 June 2015

TwentyTwo appointed to advise NZQA

TwentyTwo has also been appointed to help NZ Qualifications Authority make better use of their premises in Wellington.

Read more...

04 June 2015

TwentyTwo's workplace makeover

Following our re-brand in 2012, we decided to take some of our own medicine! To align with our strategic intent and values, Duncan and Dean developed a 'brief' in the same way we do with clients.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Phoenix Sponsorship Launch

On 24 September a number of clients joined us to celebrate the start of our sponsorship for the 2014/2015 season with Andrew Durante, Captain of the world famous Wellington Phoenix! Andrew was a real hit and...

Read more...

04 June 2015

Shaping our city skylines: Part One – Wellington

There’s a lot of positive news and activity at the moment across our three major cities, particularly in the commercial property space.

Read more...

04 June 2015

National Property Strategies: Observations from the frontline

We've completed quite a bit of work over the last 18 months helping Government Agencies with their Property Strategies.Together, we've learnt some good things which we've outlined here.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Thanks for your support this year – have a great Christmas

It's been another great year for TwentyTwo with fantastic projects and the start of a promising relationship with Exis Global Tenant Representation.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Office moves for the better

Office moves for the better is an interesting article by the UK's Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on the roles and responsibilities around workplace procurement and design.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Conflicts of interest – a “spreading cancer in corporate real estate”

A robust, well-researched white paper released by Gail Corder Fischer of US tenant representation business Fischer explains how corporate tenants might be “leaving more money than they realise on the table when they place their property portfolios in the hands of large real estate brokerages that serve multiple stakeholders”.

Read more...

04 June 2015

Workplace design and productivity: are they inextricably linked?

In a recent rummage through some old research papers, we unearthed a brilliant paper from the RICS Property in the Economy Series entitled 'Workplace Design and Productivity: Are They Inextricably Linked?'.

Read more...