There was an immediate need to pivot to an online mode of service delivery. This meant refining its IT systems to ensure it would service staff primarily working from home across the country. All staff had to have appropriate equipment to be able to continue working at home. This meant the small IT team, was delivering an extraordinary service to ensure that everyone was set up properly within a short time. It also meant that they were working very hard to provide timely assistance online or sometimes by phone. Programs for upgrades and development had to be escalated.

Staff training, recruiting and onboarding were moved wholly online along with internal meetings. Zoom and Teams were platforms that were generally adopted by clients and the business alike as both ventured into this new way of working. Whilst challenging, staff and clients, embraced the change and found ways to connect effectively.

Covid Safe Plan

At all times the health, safety and wellbeing of employees was front and centre in its implementation of covid safe measures. The business developed a Covid Safe Plan for each of its offices and ensured that it followed the relevant state mandates. The issue of managing Covid took a whole of business approach led by the CEO and leadership team. It was consultative and utilised existing communication methods. Initially the plan involved:

  • A leadership that involved the CEO and Senior leaders, and underpinned by the matter experts in the organisation
  • The appointment of a Covid Safe contact to be point of contact for any staff queries.
  • Prohibiting staff, visitors and customers from entering its offices if they were unwell. Naturally, where State mandates required staff work from home where they could, this was followed, which left certain offices closed for periods of time, dependant on the mandates.
  • Staff were trained by an approved online training system, to ensure that they received the right information on COVID-19, including when to get tested, physical distancing, wearing masks, and cleaning. Proof of completing was required.
  • Staff were directed to comply with the covid safe practices, including social distancing and hygiene requirements. They were not to attend the office if they had symptoms and to comply with the state health requirements regarding testing and isolation.
  • Signage was displayed across the office to remind employees to keep 1.5 m distance, wash their hands and cover their nose and mouth when sneezing
  • Communicating regularly to the employees in the importance of remaining COVID safe
  • Limiting elevator access to maintain social distancing requirements
  • Advocating for the use of a face mask when employees are unable to maintain a safe social distance
  • Remove seating from common areas that allowed for 1.5 m social distancing
  • Working from home if they could in accordance with government health requirements
  • Conducting meetings, internal and external via virtual meeting platforms
  • For those offices with skeleton staff, ensuring appropriate cleaning procedures in place for commonly used items such as Coffee Machines, Microwaves and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule in place
  • Communication to staff of any changed requirements as the pandemic health measures changed in each state. There was regular online department catch ups, state-based meetings and whole of staff meeting. The purpose of these various meetings was to provide wellbeing check ins, allow staff to connect with each other and the business, provide information about how the business was going.

As the government’s health advice was changed, the business kept adapting the plan accordingly always ensuring that the health safety and wellbeing of its employees was a paramount consideration.

Return to offices

The business operated throughout the lockdowns with staff working from home. Results of employee engagement surveys during this time showed that staff were still quite connected to the business.

One of the outcomes from working during the pandemic was the level of flexibility that was introduced to so many roles across the business. The business made the decision that flexible work was going to continue to be part of the framework for how its staff worked together into the future. Notwithstanding this, there still needed to be times when staff needed to attend their workplace. The purpose of this was to ensure that everyone did not the connection and collaboration that comes from being together face-to-face.

The business undertook steps such as surveys and individual discussions with staff to ensure that it had a clear understanding and consideration of employee preferences and requirements in its decision making. No one was required to return on particular days or time and managers worked with employees to ensure a hybrid model of working that suited the business and employees’ needs. The decision about the returning to work in the workplace was guided by the mindset of inclusion and fairness.

To date the business is maintaining its level of flexibility by encouraging rather than mandating where people work. Technology has been used to provide a seamless mechanism, for staff to book parking spots and room bookings. There has been an increase in face-to-face meetings in recent times, but it is more common to have a hybrid model of technology and in person attendance at a meeting.


In February 2021, when the covid vaccination program was announced, the business took steps to encourage its staff to get vaccinated and provided staff with easy access to the information provided by both Federal and State Governments. At that stage, it indicated, that whilst there will be encouragement of staff to get vaccinated, the business was not going to mandate staff needing to be vaccinated.

As the government vaccination program progressed, staff were kept up to date. In mid-August of that year, as the government vaccination program was being ramped up and many businesses were already getting involved in promoting the benefits of vaccination, the business informed its staff that for every employee who was fully vaccinated (2 doses), the business would donate to charity. Within a week, 36% percent of employees were fully vaccinated which was ahead of the national average vaccination rate. By the end of September, 72% of the employees were fully vaccinated ahead of the national rate of 57.4%. The business was able to ultimately reach high levels of vaccination within its workforce.

The business introduced its vaccination policy and consulted with the workforce. It initially mandated vaccination for parts of the workforce which were client facing and where the clients were likely or did have vaccination policies that needed to be adhered to. For other staff, the business relied on compliance to the relevant state vaccination requirements.

In mid-December, with rising case numbers and the borders being open, the business assessed that to keep its staff protected, only vaccinated staff and visitors were able to access its offices. This was an interim measure, which was reviewed in January 2022. The review resulted in the interim measure being extended.

Ultimately, by mid-April the business removed its entry vaccination requirement which applied to employees and visitors, subject to their compliance to the covid safe plan. Anyone that tested positive to covid or who exhibited symptoms of illness was not allowed access to any office unless they supplied a clearance medical certificate. The only exception was where state mandated vaccination requirements were still in force.

The development of a vaccination policy was undertaken in a systematic and consultative manner. The business had set up a vaccination policy development team, earlier in the year. This team was made up of the CEO, department heads and health and safety representatives. This was the team that developed the policy, informed the senior leadership team and led the consultation process. The senior leadership team made the ultimate decision. The CEO communicated the status of the process at all town hall meetings, which were held regularly and followed up with all staff emails that contained sufficient detail to ensure that staff were well informed. Staff were consulted and they provided feedback, either through surveys or direct communication with the managers or human resources. This meant that everyone had the opportunity to feedback on the policy, as it developed, either anonymously or directly. The implementation of the business’s vaccination requirements was seamless.

The model used to achieve this was based on transparent consultation and effective communication. The business had ensured that employees were made aware of what was happening in the community and with Government requirements regarding vaccination at the earliest possible opportunity. Similarly, when the business looked at developing its own vaccination policy and mandates, it consulted with the workforce and provided time to receive feedback, before implementing any policy or mandates. Access to information for individuals was made easy, so that they could inform themselves. Staff were encouraged to seek their own medical advice regarding vaccination.

The communication mode was both on a local level between managers and their staff to whole of business town halls. It demonstrated, the business’s ability to effectively engage with its workforce, even though most of them were not working in their usual workplace.

This business operated effectively and safely throughout the Pandemic. The success was driven in part by effective and constant communication and genuine consultation as needed. This meant a seamless implementation of policies and procedures as needed and provided the means to maintaining an engaged workforce.

This service is provided with the support of the Commonwealth Government, represented by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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