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Flexible space

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The new offices of American Express are designed to encourage interaction, creativity and where possible give staff a stake in how they do their work

Flexible space


Moving offices creates new opportunities for businesses to establish an entirely new working environment by rethinking old workplace values and methodology, and applying innovative solutions to their new spaces. After 17 years in its central city-based offices, American Express moved to a new location in Greenlane, Auckland.

Interior design consultant Creative Spaces was invited to plan the furbishment of the new offices and to be involved in the workplace change management scheme. Part of this involved extensive communications with staff to ensure they were informed and engaged in the process.

Senior designer for Creative Spaces Ella Rasmussen says staff expectations were that the new offices would be innovative, vibrant and dynamic.

"Globally, American Express was also piloting alternative ways of working to empower and energise staff, and the new Auckland offices were to be one of the first examples of this," she says.

The new workplace design is based on American Express's internationally developed space standards, but it also combines local ideas designed to improve collaboration and allow the development of more flexible ways of working.


Creative Spaces worked with American Express's workplace consultants from overseas to implement a concept called flexible working environments.Essentially, this system gives team members, as much as possible, the freedom to choose where and how they will work. The offices are divided into touchdown, collaboration and quiet zones.

Public affairs manager Craig Dowling says that this means staff and team managers work together to support the personal needs and preferences of staff and balance this with the needs of the business.

"For example, some staff may choose to work flexible hours to take account of traffic issues. Staff can have a fixed desk in the open plan offices, or they may choose to select from one of a number of unallocated spaces," he explains.

Collaborative spaces are designed for brief, casual meetings between colleagues or with a client, where privacy is required. However, for a more informal setting, small groups of couches and magazines tables are available.

Dowling says by encouraging staff to take advantage of the various spaces during the day, there is far more interaction between individuals than in their previous offices.

For further information, contact Creative Spaces, Level 3, 1 The Strand, Parnell, Auckland, phone (09) 358 3777, fax (09) 358 3838. Email:, Or visit the .

For information on American Express, visit the .

First published date: 30 March 2007

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