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Sep 15, 2016

It is all about choice!


Dear Chris

Reading “Wow! I never expected this from a Council!” in your response to my first Letter to the Edge made me really sit up and read your reflections of how the City of Casey is transforming itself.  To hear from a digital native such as yourself that you have never worked anywhere quite like ViBE the Council’s workplace change initiative is very interesting. Hopefully, we can build on your experiences to help a wider audiece  appreciate, like you, the impact the physical workspace can have over attitude, health, creativity and productivity. Rather than paraphrase your reflections I have re-produced your thinking in the following paragraphs – let’s see are there others who support our views?




I remember the ‘pitch’ from the interviewer when I applied for a job at the City of Casey. It was something like “we’re making big changes and taking quantum leaps forward.” Given my experience working in government departments that have been slow to change, I must confess to some doubts.


18 months on and I’m pleased to report that the pitch was, if anything, conservative. That statement undersold the breadth and ambition of the change program underway at Casey. We have simultaneously tackled several transformative projects aimed at improving our customer engagement, digitising our services, streamlining our processes and delivering more value to the community. And of course all of these initiatives are underpinned by a sensible and honest investment in our workforce, of which ViBE is a key part.


This year I have been responsible for building a new team to lead Casey’s digital program. We have achieved excellent results and having access to ViBE has been a major factor. Back in February when we were recruiting the team, ViBE helped attract and retain professionals who may not have considered a career in Local Government. The common reaction of candidates when they arrived for an interview was, “Wow! I never expected this from a Council!”


Now the team is established, having the right physical space is important. Our digital team includes a web developer, UX specialists, a content writer, analysts, data experts and an agile project manager – contemporary roles that require an environment that fosters creativity and inspiration. In ViBE, we have that environment in spades.


The benefit of sharing the space with other teams cannot be understated. Any given day someone in our team can sit alongside a landscape designer, a customer service officer, a kindergarten coordinator or an engineer. These opportunities for learning and cross-functional collaboration are priceless.


Personally, the thing I appreciate most is the choice at ViBE – every day I can choose a workspace that suits the tasks I need to complete. If I’m working on something confidential, I park myself in a small office for a few hours. If I need to work with others I can always find a team space perfect for collaboration. On a sunny day there’s nothing better (and more productive) than sitting outside where I can have full network access along with a healthy dose of vitamin D.


A lot of credit must go to the teams that maintain ViBE. They do a great job to keep the layout fresh, constantly tweaking the configuration in response to staff feedback. If we think something could be improved we just let the project team know (through several feedback channels) and they respond quickly. Their approach to managing ViBE is consistent with the way we work in our digital team – agile practices, human centred design and iterative improvements – albeit applied to a physical space rather than a digital service.


I have never worked anywhere quite like ViBE. It has certainly made me appreciate the impact the physical workspace can have over attitude, health, creativity and productivity.

Chris O’Connor

Manager, Digital Casey, City of Casey, Australia


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