Navigating Disruption in the NFP Sector in Australia | TenantTalks Recap

Navigating Disruption in the NFP Sector in Australia: a TenantTalks Recap

On March 11, 2021 Axiom Workplaces hosted the latest edition of our virtual speaker series, Tenant Talks™. This time we wanted to talk about navigating current and future disruptions in the workplace, especially in the not-for-profit sector.  

Panelists included representatives from Axiom, McGrath Foundation, Legacy Club Services and RSL Lifecare. Wayne Shapiro, a well known corporate MC and public speaker, moderated the event for us. Our host was Ruben Hales with Axiom. 

Our panelists discussed the not-for-profit workplace in the current and post-pandemic world. We wanted to know: what processes have changed during the pandemic that have brought new habits to keep?

We learned a lot from the industry’s top experts! Specifically on how they are planning for the future of the workspace in a post-pandemic world.

(More of a watcher than a reader? Watch the video recording of the event here.)


First Wayne asked about workplace changes that have been made in the last year. 

Holly Masters, CEO at McGrath Foundation started the discussion with some of the changes that were implemented at her company. She said that at McGrath the majority of staff were nurses working in the field. Just 40 staff members work in an office setting. When the office team moved to working remotely, they built a more connected relationship with the nurses. 

“One of the interesting things that happened was that we all started feeling more like an equal team, because the entire organization was connecting much more regularly via zoom and other methods.”

Laurie Leigh, CEO at RSL Lifecare resonated with Holly in feeling more connected with her staff. They were on the cusp of transitioning to a more collaborative workspace and work culture. But then COVID changed those plans. Now, RSL is working out a plan to provide the right balance to her staff during this evolving workplace. Part of that balance includes team days where an entire team or department comes into the office for a particular day. She says this has made coming to the office more enjoyable.

John Hutcheson, CEO at Legacy Club Services, expanded on what Laurie was saying about having plans that were changed because of the pandemic. Specifically touching on the fact that COVID has accelerated his company’s plans for change.

“I’ve used the catchphrase that what we’ve seen is ‘ten years of behavior squeezed into one.’ Where we were going to be in 10 years time has, in turn, come to us now,” said John.

Annelie Xenofontos, Senior Workplace Strategist at Axiom, rounded off the question by jumping off what Wayne and John said about work space. 

“I think there’s been an interesting shift in talking about work happening at a ‘workplace’, to work happening in ‘work space’ – which is just about anywhere where you have internet access,” she said. 

Annelie finished by reiterating that as long we’re productive to our tasks at hand, the “where” of our work space shouldn’t really matter


Next, Wayne wanted to know about any type of technology or processes that have changed in the workplace.

Laurie started this question off with a personal anecdote. She said that her firm did NOT having laptops or mobile phones previous to the pandemic. However, just before the pandemic, they had started implementing more digitalization and every employee was equipped with a laptop and mobile work phone just in time for the pandemic. 

John brought up the fact that this alternative style of communication has allowed more people to come to the conversation. 

He also brought up an interesting point about productivity and how it correlates with communication. Many people that work from home are working varying hours – it’s not exclusively 9-5 anymore. Technology has made it much easier for employees to work at home when it’s best for them. 

Wayne then asked the panelists about how budgets have been affected by the pandemic, specifically for non-profits. 

John talked about grants and being grateful that he could use the grants to keep his program running. He said that because of the grants, Legacy Club Services was able to purchase technology to offer the same programs they offered pre-pandemic, but done virtually. 

“The government did really well at empowering us to access certain grants to be able to get the technology out to our beneficiaries.”

After advocating for telehealth for years, Holly says they were finally able to get it once the pandemic hit and it’s changed the way they operate. 

“It means a lot of learning and development investments in our nurses and doctors, but it has opened up even more opportunities for healthcare,” Holly said. 


The panelists discussed challenges around adopting new technology in the evolving workplace and how their firms have reacted. 

Laurie said that her firm has adapted wonderfully and hasn’t experienced many challenges with new technology. Even her clients, who are mostly elderly, have adapted to virtual meetings and programs. 

The biggest technology challenge for RLS Lifecare was dealing with bandwidth, and making sure all her clients had access to high-speed internet to be able to participate. 

Holly said that her firm has reacted by accepting a different level of quality. When it comes to meetings, for example.

“If you can’t do something face-to-face, then you revert to video. Or you can’t do video, so you just use voice phone calls. And that is ok.”


Wayne then asked a poll question: How many days do you want to work from home in the future?

  • 16% want to work 1-2 days per week from home
  • 63% want to work from home 3-4 per week 


 Laurie started off the discussion by pointing out that this aligns with the shift in how we view the workplace. 

Laurie said that previously, employees came in everyday, from 9 to 5 and it felt sort of drab. Now that employees are working from home 3-5 days a week, the way employees feel about the office has shifted

“Now, people come into the office and they leave feeling energized and excited about their work and things that are happening,” she reiterated. 

Holly weighed in with the topic of diversity and how different demographics have different views on the office. This is why personalization is especially important.

John rounded out the discussion by talking about personalization in his firm. He said in order to determine how many days his employees will be working in the office, he looked at each position and every employees’ personal circumstances and created a plan from there. 


The panelists talked about productivity in the last 6-12 months, and how it has worked in a remote setting.

Holly started the discussion off with the point that productivity has actually increased a lot in the last 6-12 months. As one example, she said that employees who had hour long commutes now have more time in their day to dedicate to work

Laurie said that other than one or two performance issues, their productivity has stayed the same. Furthermore, she has had to make sure that her employees keep their work life balance, even while working from home. 

“It’s also about making sure they take care of themselves as well, and making sure they dont sit in front of their computers too long in one day,” she explained. 

Annelie brought up the idea of working from home as a catalyst for people realizing how much more they can do in their work and personal life, simply by planning ahead. She has noticed that people are being more proactive and efficient in their everyday life.

We finished the discussion with a rapid fire question session.

Question #1: What’s something about office design or office experience that you think will be a must for the future?

Holly: “It needs to feed off people, rather than detract from them.”

Laurie: “There has to be something that attracts people to the office.”

John: “Having the tools that encourage people to come into the office.”


Question #2: What are your biggest concerns as we head into 2021?

Holly: “I would hate it if we as a society don’t learn from this moving forward.”

John: “Bringing the lessons we learned into the future.”


It was great to hear NFP industry leaders discuss how they’ve adapted to changes over the last year, and how they plan to re-open the office in the future. 

To listen to our panelists’ full discussion and find out what else our audience asked, watch the full TenantTalks™ video recording here.

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