National Australia Bank has decided not to install desk phones on around 40 percent of the workstations at its new Melbourne office as staff increasingly rely on mobile devices for communication.
Some 6000 staff have access to the new building, which was opened in June, with 4500 staff working across ten floors at any one time.
The building is the latest in an ongoing workplace transformation program that has seen the bank replace end of life desktops with Windows 7 laptops, explore work-from-home call centres and enable staff to work across any of its three major Bourke Street buildings.
“In the long term where you are is becoming more and more irrelevant,” said NAB project director, Roger Macmorran.
“We now have 15,000 people without an allocated desk…this is not about us testing something new.
“We’ve ingrained flexibility into the individual, it’s now about ingraining it into the business.”
While NAB has invested in the technology and fittings to enable activity based working, Macmorran prefers not to use the term.
“There’s no doubt you walk around these floors and you would say principles of activity based working have been applied, but we just feel that it’s a term that’s almost become like a product you buy off the shelf, which is not what activity based working is about," he said.
“It’s a platform for transformation. It’s not about fluffy coloured furniture. It’s firstly about our people and about empowering our people to work the way they want.”
Macmorran said the bank spent about 18 months testing one floor at 700 Bourke St to see if the setup would work, in particular the integration between the technology and the furniture.
“We didn’t try and come up with any great new gizmo to wow people, we thought that was doomed to fail. We just wanted to make this as functional and as simple as possible,” Macmorran said.
“I think you’ve got to be very careful with technology not to overpromise or overcommit to something until you’ve really tested it.”
Which is why, Macmorran said, the bank did not decide to get rid of desk phones entirely. It is however encouraging people to disconnect their desk phone if they don’t use it.
A spokesperson for NAB also confirmed the bank had finalised an internal bring-your-own-device trial, which is likely to see a significant mobility rollout next year.