In this webinar, our CEO and Co-Founder, Alex Birch, sat down with Joel Oldridge, the Executive General Manager – Workplace Experience at global cloud accounting software leader, Xero. The two talked through how Xero’s general approach and mindset around workplace planning has evolved thanks to Covid, and how they are using real-time insights from XY Sense to power their workplace strategy and build offices that facilitate a great experience, social connection, and collaboration for their employees.
You can watch the webinar on-demand below. Read on for additional highlights!
How did Xero’s office strategy change during the pandemic?
When Covid hit, Xero had a hole in the ground that was to become their new office in Melbourne’s Hawthorn area, with design effectively complete. Joel shared that they needed to ask the question “what’s going to change?” but had no idea of what was to come, and no behavioral data to inform a shift in design. Joel noted that the concept of flexible working was already core to Xero’s philosophy so their essential approach didn’t change, but what was important was to take steps to maintain a community atmosphere that connects people, both those working in the office and remotely.
Specifically, Joel’s team condensed people down to a smaller footprint, embraced collaborative, hackable furniture that supported flexible activity, and invested in technology to allow people to dial in and feel included. Critical to these efforts was being able to know what was working, and to capture data that enabled Joel and his team to understand if the solution worked, and whether they should roll it out more broadly.
“We are increasing the utilization of space. That’s a good thing for us, in terms of the general performance of an office,” Joel Oldridge.
The need for technology to understand utilization – Xero’s rationale
Joel noted that Xero have always had a need to understand how their offices are being used, particularly at a micro level. While technology has been available in the past, Joel didn’t feel confident enough to move forward with investing the time and money to install them. The need for this data then increased with the pandemic as the team needed to manage the experience of Xeros returning to the office, and to ensure they had the things they needed to be able to do their jobs.
Joel walked through how, armed with this data from XY Sense, his team is now able to access initial attendance indicators, live, and can start to interrogate the data. They can also see exactly how teams are using Xero’s various spaces, which enables them to start to build a picture of the work that’s being done and whether the space fits the need. They can start to have conversations with team leaders armed with good data, and deliver space solutions that give Xeros what they need to do their jobs.
“There’s a huge amount of data in XY Sense and it’s super valuable to get that data for my team so they can then have that conversation that builds a picture of intention. Then we can go, ‘OK great, well we see this particular spot isn’t working for you, we know there’s this space over here, perhaps that’s more appropriate for you.’ Then we can understand if it’s working better in that area – we can see attendance, behavior, and the utilization attached to that,” Joel Oldridge.
A shift in mindset about how we think about the office
Joel and Alex talked about the changing nature of the office, and how important it is for driving culture and connection, and ultimately making sure people feel attached to the company they work in. Joel notes that for his team, there’s been a shift in mindset about the success metrics they use – from purely increasing attendance to increasing utilization.
“When someone’s in, is something being used and does it work for them? If we’ve got lots of people in the office, but this thing over here costs us a hundred thousand dollars and is never used, well that’s a waste of money and that’s not working. So that’s what we should deal with. So that’s where attendance doesn’t always equal utilization and vica versa,” Joel Oldridge.
A big thank you to Joel from the entire team at XY Sense for joining us for this webinar and being so generous with his time and insights!
Interested in learning more about XY Sense?
If you have a question about this webinar content or would like to learn more about how XY Sense can support your workplace strategy, get in touch.