Scattered staff issue for QLDC

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is juggling logistics issues with its Queenstown council staff spread over seven different buildings.

QLDC finance manager and deputy chief executive Stewart Burns said much would be gained from gathering staff in one location.

"Feedback from staff indicates we could increase efficiency greatly by having the different departments under the same roof."

"It is not so urgent that we cannot work under the conditions we have today, at all.

But a review and possible solutions are part of our ongoing effort to increase efficiency, affordability, staff satisfaction and customer service," Mr Burns said.

He pointed out better customer service was the "key driver" behind the wish to group the staff together.

"About 80% of all queries from the public are handled by our customer service staff. But for the remaining 20%, members of the public can be sent around to staff in different locations, which is not ideal," he said.

In all, 42 employees in areas such as infrastructure services, policy and planning work from the six "satellite" offices, out of a total staff of about 140 people, which includes employees at the libraries and holiday parks.

The council had hoped to increase work efficiency and customer services by concentrating all staff from the six leased buildings, in Turner St, Gorge Rd and Athol St, in the main council building.

To do so, it had proposed to move the library from the lower level of the main building to a new location at Memorial St, which used to house the Pulse Fitness gym.

The lease of this building was set to be roughly the same as the council today pays to lease the six buildings.

The library area would then be converted to office space.

But the cost of refitting the new building and the extra staff cost to operate a larger library over three levels caused the council to withdraw its proposal from next year's annual plan, after negative feedback in 29 submissions relating to the library.

Mr Burns said the council was not looking at alternative locations for the library.

"Most of the leases for the six offices will come up for renewal within the next 12 months, so we will have to consider if it is worthwhile to renew them or find alternative solutions which will work better in the long run," he said.

In the meantime, council staff get by the best they can.

QLDC human resources manager Rachel Reece said while the situation was "not ideal", staff were making the most of communication tools such as email in their co-operation.

"Much of our staff work across departments, and often go to the other offices or the main building for meetings."

"As the other Queenstown offices are within walking distance, we encourage employees to use the main lunch room in order to interact with colleagues, or to join in on morning tea or other staff functions," Ms Reece said.

She said the twice-yearly staff satisfaction surveys showed the council employees were generally happy with their working conditions.

She acknowledged the council would have to work on staff relations, even if the council operations could be consolidated under one roof, as staff at, for example, the Wanaka office, the holiday parks and the libraries would still be away from the main office.


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