“Working through COVID-19”
Since the middle of March, Australia has been dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Unsurprisingly this has had significant knock-on effects across all businesses, industries and functions, especially those in HR and WHSE.
Speaking to many of our clients over the past 12 weeks, we noticed a commonality in pressure points and issues that had arisen due to the forced lockdowns and the role that HR and HSE professionals were required to take in order to establish BAU for businesses and their workforces.
The coronavirus has become the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. How we work, learn, communicate, and of course, where we work, has changed forever! Today more than ever, the future of work is the future of worker wellbeing.
The discussion was conducted with a group of Heads of HR and HSE clients within the Hospitality, Construction, Food Manufacturing and Education industry sectors. The topic for the first virtual roundtable in this series was “Working through COVID-19”.
The discussion focussed on the following key topics: -
- Balancing a safe and engaged workforce
- Considering the long-term Mental Health issues arising from COVID-19
- The ‘new’ post COVID workforce and workplace
Here are the key take-aways:-
- Some businesses have introduced more frequent cleaning of office spaces, with one client commenting that their sites were being cleaned every 3 hours
- Other business implementing new workplace practices to maintain social distancing including removing hot desk options, spacing of employee desks in open workplace settings or reducing numbers of employees in the office per day, as well as encouraging sanitary workspaces including wiping down of desks, keyboards, and phones daily
- Businesses are currently addressing concerns of employees who don’t feel safe returning to the office, and those who may have a medical or family situation that prevents them from doing so
- Public transport and office building elevators are the biggest (spoken) barrier to returning
- Some people now want to work from home 100% of the time. Real challenge for MD’s and CEO’s who were reluctant to have any remote working prior to COVID so finding the middle ground is very challenging. Some people have valid reasons whilst others are just refusing
- It’s also balancing individual needs, company needs and worksafe obligations
- “We are committed to helping build our people’s wellbeing and we define this to include their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being”.
- The question was raised about how far ahead people are setting objectives and expectations on performance. Most agreed with 6 months
- Many believe that a hybrid working model is what is sought after by most employees and that the hallway conversations (watercooler moments) are needed for creative collaboration
If you are interested in being part of the conversation and would like to join one of our Virtual Round Tables, please get in touch with one of the Frazer Jones team here.