Prior to the pandemic, this thriving business was winning work and not anticipating a pandemic hitting the country.  When the Pandemic hit in 2020, the business found itself having to implement changes and adapt to because of lockdowns and the need for covid safe working practices. Like all business, this was the first time they were experiencing this impact. It provided an essential service and was therefore able to continue trading throughout the pandemic.  

At the start of the pandemic, the business found that there was a variety of responses from their employees.  These ranged from low levels of concern about the catching covid, to those that were very anxious and scared about this virus.  Employees were also concerned about the impact on their family.

There was high level of uncertainty for the workforce, and the business relied on its engaged workforce to work through processes to provide a safe working environment as well as supporting their people’s mental health.  The business worked with its workforce to ensure that employees were provided sufficient comfort to know that the business was doing all it could to protect them from catching Covid.  It also needed to ensure, that those employees who were not or less concerned about the virus, understood the fears of their colleagues and respected their needs.

The business initial and continuing focus was on the health and wellbeing of their employees.  They followed the health advice provided by the Government very carefully and made sure that they communicated this to their employees.

Manufacturing and Warehousing Covid Safe Plan

At all times, employees  were made aware of the government requirements and guidelines.  This meant that ensuring that all staff were informed either through team meetings or individually about any change,  this did at times prove challenging when the rules changed with little notice. The business had a very well-established communication system (toolbox talks etc and posting of information at various locations on site). There was also  a trusted relationship with their workforce. This relationship was central to implementing a successful covid safe plan.  The company did not try to reinvent the wheel.  It used existing  systems of transparent and open communication and consultation.  Employees knew that they could trust what was being told them and that the business would consider their needs in any deliberation,  At the outset of the pandemic, this was critical as changes had to happen quickly.  The business trusted their employees would comply and this resulted in open dialogue in their communications.  

Employees were also given access to  their leave entitlements and the business had a system to allow employees to take leave in advance.  This meant, employees did not need to worry about whether they were going to get paid if they fell ill.

The business ensured that they managed the number of workers in all areas initially  based on a 4 square meter rule, where possible. This was updated as the regulations varied.  The size of the warehouse and working space, provided the opportunity to appropriately social distance.

Employees who could work from home, were able to do this seamlessly , as the business already had flexible working arrangements in place prior to the pandemic.  Therefore, employees had the appropriate equipment to shift working from home when they needed to. Those employees who were not able to work from home,  worked on the basis of splitting their shifts. There were 2 groups established, with a working week of 3 days and an alternate working week being 4 days.  This ensured that there was no overlap between the teams.  This minimised the impact,  if anyone got covid.

The business applied covid safe practices which included:

  • All workspaces, particularly office areas were clearly marked to ensure maximum occupancy numbers. Appropriate social distancing was able to be achieved.
  • Employees were provided information and direction as to use of hand sanitisers and the business provided sanitisers and dispensing equipment thought out the office and other workspaces. There were portable handheld units available for desks and other workstations and in work vehicles. Additionally, wipes are made  available for daily wipe down of common  touch 
  • QR codes were placed on all entry points and all visitors were required to utilise the QR system for logging in and out. The existing employee record keeping was sufficient to ensure that the business was aware of who was on the premises at any given time.

Client sites

The business expected and the employees complied with the business covid safe plan whilst at the business site.  Similarly, they also required their employees to comply with the covid safe requirements of their client sites.  These included complying with:

  • sanitisation requirements
  • changing shift arrangements
  • social distancing requirements
  • wearing of masks as required
  • temperature testing prior to entry on site
  • requirement to not attend site if sick and getting tested if they had symptoms
  • requirements to QR code in or use sign on sheets for contact tracing purposes.
  • rat testing on a regular basis
  • being vaccinated. Some client sites provided the business’s employees incentives to be vaccinated.

The measures were complied with instantly and no employee complained.  The business did not face any issues of non-compliance.  The trusted relationship with their staff ensured this high level of compliance.  This made dealing with clients’ needs much easier during this period.

The Outcome

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the business did not have any covid exposure at the workplace.

As the country has opened and moved to living with Covid, there have been incidents of employees getting covid, but to date it does not appear that they caught it at the workplace.  Currently it is managed on the basis that employees isolate as required by the government covid measures.

Living with covid has resulted in some impact on operational plans.  Like all businesses, certain activities have had to cancelled at short notice due to staff not being available because of being ill with Covid.  The business deals with these issues, as they would if a staff were ill for other reasons. They have developed the appropriate rhythm for the business to operate and grow whilst living with Covid. Whilst the business attributes this with “being lucky”.  It is obvious that good planning, open communication and trusted relationships pay a strong part for its success

The success measure for this small business is that it avoided redundancies, retained employees and continued operating throughout the pandemic with very minor operational impacts.


This case study was produced with the support of the Commonwealth Government, represented by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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