Interview with Nick Shelton – Amart Furniture, Australia




Interview with

Nick Shelton
General Manager – People & Culture
Amart Furniture is one of Australia’s leading furniture, bedding & outdoor retailers. Following the flooding of their workplace in 2011 and after a lengthy duration of temporary residency, Amart Furniture’s new 50,000sqm Queensland Distribution Centre and 1,500sqm Support Office provided an opportunity to redefine their way of working.

This sparked Amart Furniture’s cultural transformation, challenging the status quo of their traditional office with divided workspaces and assigned seats, and shifting towards a dynamic and collaborative, flexible workplace.

Amart Furniture partnered with Athena Blue Global, from initial project conception and workplace strategy, through to change management and post-project evaluation. Using a data driven approach, Athena Blue Global engaged with Amart Furniture to understand their business objectives, how they worked and how they would like to work, to develop Amart’s new way of working and what this meant for their spatial workplace requirements. Business continuity and future-proofing were also key considerations when developing Amart Furniture’s workplace strategy, and 5 years on Amart has been able to seamlessly accommodate business growth and navigate through the pandemic lockdowns.

5 years on from working with Amart Furniture to transform their way of working, we catch up with Nick Shelton, General Manager – People & Culture at Amart Furniture.

What has changed since the initial workplace strategy?

Quite honestly, nothing.

The size of the workspace was a concern when we first moved in. We also thought there would be more changes needed as we settled in, such as allocating some focus rooms for executives. However, since moving in we have found there has been no shortage of space and our people have embraced the new flexible way of working. The way of working strategy has accommodated growth in our business, and the various spaces are well utilised, including breakout zones, hot desks and meeting rooms.

If we could rewind the clock back 5 years, what would we do differently?

We wouldn’t change anything. Good engagement and consultation between Athena Blue Global and Amart Furniture has meant that since we’ve moved in here, we haven’t looked back. There hasn’t been any comments saying we want to go back to our old way of working.

What opportunities or challenges has Amart faced since the start of the pandemic 2 years ago?

Our office and technology are still the same as implemented 4 years ago. Our IT, work environment and way of working in the office has supported us through significant business growth and the pandemic unchanged.

Processes around desk sharing and working from home increased throughout the pandemic, and continue as we grow.However, business growth was factored into our original workplace strategy. It’s mind-blowing to think that when we first kicked off the project, we didn’t know where the path was leading for our future workplace. The success is reflected in that very few changes to our workplace have been required over the last few years. The most significant issue in the office space is a little bit of wear and tear to glazing frosting over the years.

What does the workplace / way of working look like for Amart moving forward?

To help provide clarity and comfort for our teams, Amart defined Work From Home guidelines. Currently, 3 days in the office and 2 days working from home is the right balance for our team to maintain the social and cultural aspect of our business with the convenience of working from home. Team Members agree with their managers on which days are in the office or work from home, to ensure flexibility is managed in a way that also works for each team. 

We haven’t had to consider fully remote working as an option to attract or retain talent, as our current work environment is seen as a benefit to our team members. People are blown away by the environment when they first visit and we’ve found people want to come in and work in the office. We also bring in food trucks once a week as it’s a great way to bring people together. General rule of thumb – if you want people in, put on food.

When we first moved in, we created a role for a community manager to help foster our culture in the new workspace, connect people and assist with looking after the variety spaces. We now have a self-regulating culture, where people look after themselves and the environment around them.

“We didn’t quite know where we wanted to be when planning for our future workplace, but knew we needed to provide a modern, fresh and welcoming environment that reflected our culture. Amart couldn’t have done that without Athena Blue Global, and the fact that we’ve been here for 5 years without changing anything is a testament to that.”

Nick Shelton, General Manager: People & Culture at Amart Furniture.


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