According to a recent AIBS survey, private building surveying firms and local governments across Australia say they are struggling to recruit building surveyors, and this is creating a backlog of work across all types of buildings under construction. So, we’re looking back over the last year of development in our Newcastle office where we are taking steps to create a building surveyor training centre that builds upon our connection to the University of Newcastle and the scholarship we introduced to assist young people into the construction industry.
Building connections and fostering growth
The past year has been a transformative journey for our Newcastle office and team, with initial goals and expectations evolving to foster a collaborative and inclusive work environment. We’re delving into the progress and milestones achieved by the team during this period, exploring the strategies employed to enhance team cohesion, the impact of the physical workspace on the work culture, and the unique contributions each team member has made to the overall development of the office. The proximity to the University and the Construction Management degree that is offered there means that there is something of a Building Surveyor pathway which has provided a much-needed injection of young entrants into the business. With the addition of sponsorship in the form of a two-term scholarship for disadvantaged students, MBC Group is trying to address the dire situation of attracting young people into the profession.
Initially, the Newcastle team leader and Associate Director, Matt Marks, had his sights set on establishing a strong presence in the market and expanding our local client base to create an opportunity for regional employment. When asked what had originally drawn him to the area, he speaks to his time studying at the University, of wanting to bring his young family up in a new place that felt like the Northern Beaches, with a great community and sports activities. He also recognises the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive work environment that would benefit University alumni and align with MBC Group’s core values. This resulted in a shift towards prioritising team cohesion, employee wellbeing, and the desire to establish Newcastle as a training centre for graduates entering building surveying, providing a pathway for new talent to join our ranks.
With the additions of experienced hands, Mark and Scott, the team is now a good blend of experience and youth, with vibrant interaction both in and outside of work encouraged. Two students who joined the team are Jye and Jeff who both wanted to gain a better understanding of the NCC and legislation. Although they recognise there is still plenty to learn, they have now achieved a respectable level of knowledge which has helped them with their course assignments. They were attracted to the company as their expectations were to work in a fun workplace where one of the core values of being grounded and not being too serious all the time has been proved time and time again. It is pleasing that students and graduates obviously enjoy their workplace and are now able to stand on their own in terms of work allocation.
Impactful workspace design
The carefully designed physical workspace of our new office played a significant role in shaping the team’s dynamics and productivity. With open-concept work areas and an abundance of natural light, the office fosters collaboration and idea-sharing, resulting in increased job satisfaction among team members. The workspace not only provides a conducive environment for collaboration but also serves as a training ground for the young graduates, contributing to their professional growth. The younger staff believe that working shoulder to shoulder with other building surveyors, seniors, and directors has been paramount for collaboration and productivity. A quick shout out for help or an opinion never falls on deaf ears, when you’re literally working next to your teammates.
Fostering team cohesion and organisational culture
To build a strong organisational culture, Matt and the team implemented a range of initiatives to create team cohesion. Team-building activities, such as axe-throwing contests, group walks during lunch breaks, and Friday afternoon lunches strengthened connections and built trust among team members. Regular communication channels were established to celebrate successes and recognise individual and team achievements, creating a positive and motivating atmosphere. The culture of openness and support within the team has allowed us to navigate challenges and uncertainties with resilience and adaptability. There is a feeling now that the team and office are well established with optimism growing towards moving to a bigger and better space as the limits of the existing one are reached.
Leadership that nurtures growth
According to Matt, the guiding vision and unwavering support provided by our company directors, Heath and Joel, have been instrumental in shaping the growth and success of our Newcastle office. Their transparent and approachable leadership style has fostered trust and open dialogue within the team, empowering all colleagues to contribute their unique skills and perspectives.
The past year has witnessed numerous milestones and notable projects won, including Project Remediate (cladding replacement) for CKDS in various locations within the Hunter region, the Hunter Regional Sports Centre, and the Cessnock Hospital Redevelopment for HINSW. The team’s collaborative approach has also secured projects such as a new student accommodation development and the Battery Energy Storage System for Origin Energy in Eraring. Additionally, the team has grown from one original member to a robust team of five, showcasing its remarkable progress.
Future prospects and goals
With a growing team and a strong foundation, the Newcastle office is positioned to continue contributing significantly to the overall growth and success of the business. As team members are also utilised across New South Wales, they are poised to make a lasting impact on projects and clients in the region. The location is special, as Jeff states when asked about being in Newcastle; ‘I love the people I work with. Being a smaller group, I feel we have a closer bond. We all spend time together outside of work hours. The location is beautiful too, Newcastle is so quiet and relaxed compared to Sydney’. The team’s journey over the past year has been marked by growth, transformation, and resilience. The shift in priorities towards fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment has proven to be a key driver of success. With a motivated team, an innovative workspace, and strong leadership, the future holds promising prospects for the office, cementing its place as a crucial asset within our organisation.