11. Churn management

11.1 Definition and measurement 

Churn is defined as: the relocation of people within an agency, undertaken in response to changing service-delivery and functional requirements.  

Churn is measured by: the number of people relocated per year, expressed as a percentage an agency's total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff. 

11.2 Churn drivers 

The drivers for churn can be broadly categorised as follows: 

  • organisational restructuring as a consequence of changes in ministerial portfolios and changed service delivery 
  • new styles of management such as incorporating flatter structures and cross-functional teams 
  • the demands of new technology 
  • the need for increased workplace efficiency and effectiveness 
  • changes to work patterns (e.g. distributed working, part-time working, flexible desking) 
  • the expectations of workers and the community. 

11.3 Types of churn 

Types of churn, ranked in order from least to most complexity, time, cost, and disruption, are: 

  • virtual churn, involving redesignation of tasks and reporting responsibilities, reassignment of electronic data access and electronic address but no physical relocation 
  • relocation of people within the existing number and location of workstations, sometimes referred to as a 'box and briefcase' move 
  • relocation of people, furniture and technology, and possibly requiring some workstation replanning 
  • relocation of people, furniture, and technology, and also involving changes to built fitout and/or building services 
  • moving from one location to another involving the construction of a completely new fitout, including modifications to building systems as required. 

11.4 Dealing with churn 

The key success factors for effective churn management are: 

  • accurate and timely forecasting of office-space demand through strategic planning 
  • fitout designed in accordance with best-practice principles. 

Effective approaches to managing churn include: 

  • considering alternative workplace practices 
  • adapting existing space to new uses to minimise physical changes 
  • exploiting technological solutions to churn management such as virtual relocations, wireless technology and networks (for maximised spatial mobility), convergent technology and teleconferencing 
  • designing workplace layouts and fitout generically for maximum flexibility and interchangeability 
  • constructing a centralised core or zone of multi-purpose, shared support spaces for the longerterm in preference to specialised spaces that become functionally obsolete in the short term 
  • maximising the use of mobile and/or transformable (multi-purpose) furniture 
  • identifying and 'capturing' inefficient space and then redistributing it for better workplace efficiency and savings in total space needs (and rent). 

The opportunities for best-practice churn management arise in the earliest stages of strategic planning and design. Additional information and advice is available from the Department of Housing and Public Works.  

Please refer also to the practice note Management of office churn and management of change (PDF, 117 KB), included as a supporting document in Guideline 4: Occupancy.