I recently sat down with Lisa Parlane, Facilities and Procurement Manager from Sport NZ to learn about their journey - moving a team of 72 Sport NZ staff and 20 sub-tenants (from NZ Recreation Association and the Mountain Safety Council) into a new, single level, collaborative office space in the Harbour City Tower, Wellington CBD.
Lisa shares some of the speed bumps they encountered along the way, what they did to overcome them and what their team thinks of the final space.
“For us, the conversations started a year or two out from our 10-year lease expiry (plenty of time you would have initially thought!). Our Senior Leadership Team started to discuss if we stay or moved on and if we stayed, how we could create an environment that was more connected and more in-line with where our organisation was heading.
We investigated, looked at ways to utilise the space better and gained a better understanding of the upgrade work we would want to do while ensuring we kept within Government guidelines. After various conversations with our current landlord, we decided we needed to explore other options.
We started looking at alternative buildings with Chris Ware from TwentyTwo back in 2016 and there were quite a few options around Wellington at that stage.
Then the Kaikoura, November 2016 earthquakes happened, and everything changed. We went from having 12 options to three viable solutions.
We came across Harbour City Tower on Brandon Street when we were shown it as a potential temporary decant space for another solution. Contact Energy were moving out of the floor, it needed some building ‘make good’ work (to put things back as they were before Contact Energy moved in), but it had the most amazing windows and natural light. It looked like a great solution for Sport NZ.
A decision was made by the Sport NZ Board that we would move into Harbour City Tower. The timeframes were tight, so it was great that we had TwentyTwo on board to move quickly on our behalf and negotiate the deal.
We hadn’t planned for temporary decant space between the move from our current building into Harbour City Tower. But as with a lot of building work, due to various unpredictable reasons, it was delayed.
The outcome was that we did need decant space. Unfortunately, because of the earthquakes, good space was in extremely high demand, with so many organisations on the move permanently or temporarily. There were talks of us having to decant into three different locations and I even started to put together a plan so that our staff would be able to work from home for a small period of time.
Lucky for us, in the end, we managed to secure some great temporary space for all of Sport NZ and our two sub-tenants in the Xero building on Taranaki Street.
We initially only expected to be in there for six weeks. We went in at the end of February and moved into Harbour City Tower mid-May – almost four months later.
Negotiations – the importance of property experts
When some of the timeframes for the project began to slip, it was a huge help to have Chris from TwentyTwo on board. He was able to go in and negotiate these issues on our behalf in a professional and efficient manner. He knew all the problems, had a clear understanding of all the documentation and was easily able to get a good resolution for Sport NZ.
At one point, we had Chris attending weekly meetings to keep on top of the dialog. There was a huge amount of negotiating done by Chris throughout the project. It didn’t run to plan (not many do!). It was fantastic to have someone like to Chris to call when we needed his expert support. Chris has a really great knowledge tool set, he understands the process and the technicalities and did a great job to independently oversee our interests.
Turning temporary space into a positive move
The Board and Senior Leaders were worried how the Sport NZ team would handle the transitional move – it wasn’t part of our original plan. We took it as an opportunity to do our big move then and to make it a positive event for everyone.
The Xero space had furniture (desks and chairs) already set up, that we were able to use while there. They were similar in style to what we had planned for the new space, so we set up the temporary space similar to what we planned at Harbour City Tower. We saw it as a stepping stone and everyone really embraced it and loved it. The vibe was incredible.
We were able to donate the furniture we no longer needed to other Government departments and use the new space (although not finished) as storage for the furniture we were keeping - it made the second move into Harbour City Tower extremely easy.
The final space – what we achieved
We wanted to achieve a collaborative space, where everyone was on the same floor, where team leaders were accessible and connected. Since we moved in we have noticed some hugely positive culture changes and staff attitudes. The acoustics are great. Everyone just loves the space.
There were concerns about the lack of meetings rooms in the new space, but the creation and adoption of the informal gathering/collaborating spaces has been phenomenal. They work so well. People just pop in and out for quick catch ups, much less formal. You only book rooms now if you need a really private conversation or have a big group."