Safety First and New Ways of Working
As State and Federal government and international restrictions rapidly rose, our project teams
needed to assess the risks and implement new measures and ways of working to ensure the
continued safety of our people while minimising disruption on works.
From early March, our teams were confronted with numerous challenges, including:
Aligning with continually evolving government quarantine and travel restrictions
Shifting and enabling more than 180 office-based workers to work from home
The continued health and safety of more than 350 field-based team members deemed as
Accessing the short supply and distribution of available PPE and sanitizer
Maintaining a connected workplace between the virtual office and field team members
Limitations on travel and physical site visits borne from strict quarantine requirements
On top of these challenges was the inability of a key Project Team member to return home from a
European holiday due to international travel restrictions, resulting in her working through the
pandemic from Germany.
In responding to these risks, our project teams were required to lean heavily upon their key project
management skills, embrace available technology, and become more reliant upon alternate
corporate and team resources.
The Embracement of Technology
With quarantine restrictions implemented, our office-based team members had to adapt to working
and communicating remotely quickly. To smooth the transition, team members were consented to
take home monitors and keyboards to allow for a more ergonomically home set up.
Traditional face to face activities were quickly modified to accommodate remote situations through
a larger reliance upon technology applications, including Skype, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
Team connectivity and comradery was maintained through virtual coffees and drinks, trivia sessions
and casual lunchtime catch ups.
Technology was paramount in shortening the distance for our stranded Project Manager in
Germany, who then only had to contend with the eight-hour time difference between the two
Technology also played a key role in enabling facility commissioning operations to continue, linking
field technicians in Queensland, with Melbourne based engineers, and Sydney based Project
Essentially, while the embracement of technology was unavoidable, even more important was the
breaking of norms and “Traditional Mindset,” achieved mainly through strong leadership and
Frontline Health & Safety
While our office-based workers were able to be confined to working from home, our field-based
workers became our frontline required to continue working on-site.
Foremost, the safety and wellbeing of these essential workers was our main priority, and required
the swift introduction of a number of new COVID-19 measures and safety protocols, which included:
The rapid introduction of fitness to work protocols
Physical distancing measures employed on our worksites, including confined spaces
Increased cleaning of sites and fleet
The procurement and distribution of Covid-19 PPE items including masks, sanitiser and
Restrictions on site visitors, non-essential travel and health assessments of Sub-Contractors
Staggered field crew break times and outside meetings
The introduction of these measures was also crucial in instilling the confidence in our field teams and
their families that we were creating a safe working environment for them to work daily.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
While the initial focus on health and safety was on minimising the exposure of Coronavirus, we also
had a focus on the psychological wellbeing of all our team members.
We were mindful of the additional pressures on people born from the need to isolate from their
extended networks, necessities to home school children, and the varied impacts of COVID-19.
Additional measures implemented to help emotionally support our team included:
Discussions on the importance of maintaining personal mental health
The continued promotion of our Employee Assistance Program available to employees and
immediate team members
Encouraging team members to virtually connect with others for social interactions
The establishment of a COVID-19 Nurse On Call service for our frontline workers
Increased stakeholder communications
With team members in isolation and field crews on the frontline, stakeholder communication also
became paramount. To allow for an end to end flow of key information we increased
communication to all through:
COVID-19 business communications
Daily and weekly stand-ups with teams and contractors
People Leader Calls
Regular Field Updates
Increased Email communications
A Reliance Upon Others
As a part of a larger corporate group, it was fortunate we could lean upon the resources available to
us from the wider team.
A COVID-19 Response Team (CRT) was established to ensure the company developed protocols and
safety alerts aligned with evolving state and federal restrictions and sourced the necessary PPE and
materials as a group. To ensure relevance to our teams, a subordinate COVID-19 Task Group (CTG)
was established to ensure that individual business unit and project needs were met accordingly.
From a micro level, with limitations on-site visits, it became necessary for our Project Managers to
also become more reliant upon the help of Field Supervisors to become the ‘eyes and ears’ on-site
and help troubleshoot issues. Positively, strong bonds of trust and acknowledgement of our roles
have become even more apparent.
Our teams are looking at how we can start implementing a return to work and work within the ‘new
normal.’ Taking a slow and steady approach, the lessons learned during the initial stages of the
COVID-19 pandemic will become instrumental in establishing a way forward and building new
efficiencies and ways of working.