Dec 21, 2020 / Mark Rizzuto (Livn CEO)

It All Began When the World Was an Innocent Place

Livn has a new home in Surry Hills which is only a hop, skip and a jump from our old office, but light years away from our previous concept of what an office should be and how it should be run. It all began when the world was an innocent place. When COVID hit, like most other companies, we filed straight to the bunkers as the air-raid sirens sounded. There was no real choice in the matter, we were all forced to move to a work from home format by an overnight necessity. 

I still find it completely ironic that life delivers true gold when you least expect it. Out of this accidental moment we discovered we were actually more effective and more productive working from home than we had been when we were all dutifully huddled in our 0830-1730 CBD office. 

Our new three-level terrace building provides the team with an environment where they can connect in functional working spaces, has excellent transport accessibility, is safe, comfortable and provides flexibility, while not requiring us to share any amenities with other tenants. With an abundance of natural light, an exclusive courtyard and modern interior design, the new office has some chillout areas, fun spaces and a high-tech kitchen that we are still trying to fully master. Who would have thought a tech company would have so many closet bakers! 

In making this move, we wanted to focus on providing a best-in-class flexible working hours culture that offered a genuine ‘home away from home’ experience. When our team members do choose to come into the office to work (we have formalised allowing our staff the choice to work from home), we want them to see the office as an extension of their existing work from home environment, albeit with greater social interaction with colleagues. For our customers it reflects a relaxed, but professional brand confident in what it does, while hungry to be better. 

With the work from home evolution now a firm part of the global corporate fabric, it comes with the risk of loss to company culture and meaningful human interactions. We believe companies operating solely with a work from home format will need to create cultural anchors and safety nets, or risk inevitable erosion to their existing culture, and equally concerning, offer no identifiable culture to customers or new employees they are trying to secure. 

For Livn, it’s a case of Goodbye to formal working hours; strict one-hour lunches; endless meetings; time draining and expensive commutes; and being slaves to a fixed daily clock. Hello to flexible working hours; ‘so nice to see you again family’; time back in my pocket not commuting; saved money usually spent on transport, city lunches and coffees; some time for personal errands; better structured, less frequent meetings; higher personal output; and a better sense of weekly achievement. 

At the end of the day, there’s a pretty simple base rule in play. It’s just making sure the job gets done and that you don’t throw things over the wire given the integrity of always having the next persons back. What had seemed important in our company structure 10 months ago was not actually very important at all, and even more interestingly, those structures were limiting our individual staff members potential, and therefore limiting Livn’s. 

I am a little embarrassed to admit that we had been sheep following the same business rules as everyone else and we had ‘lost’ something in the process. We had forgotten the ‘elegant art of balance’ and the harmony that work-life balance delivers in all directions. 

Given we have all been living in the same worldwide social experiment, albeit through our own individual lenses, it seemed a good idea before we made any move decisions to anonymously survey all our staff about all things work, all things life, their aspirations at work and at home, and how they ideally would like to balance those things. We took careful individual snapshots before trying to find patterns across the collective. We also looked at some broader market data. The Roy Morgan research from June 2020 shows that over one-third of Australians have been working from home, and the Transport Opinion Survey revealed that 75% of Australians want to have the option to work from home permanently. 

The future of work-life balance is changing globally, shifting towards a lifestyle with both staff and consumers in mind and the changing attitudes in the way they travel, shop, and choose to work. Livn’s move to a new home represents the willingness to listen and understand the changing nuances relative to achieving the best outcomes in all directions. I have no doubt that this year will be remembered for its warp speed shift from previous social, cultural and economic definitions. Standing still never really seemed like an option. 

We hope you will come to visit us at our new home, there are bound to be some freshly baked items on the day you visit!  

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