When it’s not an option to work from home

Our community businesses are working wonders with a scaled-back on-site workforce, to meet unprecedented demand for urgent delivery of high-volume essential projects.

James Herbertson, General Manager for Employment says:

Packaging and distribution, along with mowing and maintenance, is not work that can be done from home. To keep our Harris Park and Marrickville warehouses operational and our workplaces safe during this pandemic, the Community Business teams have quickly adapted, including re-positioning work stations and re-structuring complex rosters, in line with social distancing and staying safe measures.

The biggest challenge has been maintaining our service for our existing clients while taking on a number of new opportunities, related to the COVID-19 response. We’ve expanded capacity overnight at the same time as staggering on-site staffing so that no more than 20 employees are in the warehouse at any given time. Available hands-on-deck have been halved at Marrickville and reduced to 1/3 at Harris Park, so everyone is working harder than ever before to deliver the results our clients have come to expect.

Our reputation for dependability has attracted important projects, like the distribution of PPE equipment and 100 palets of sanitiser to more than 200 hospitals state-wide, for NSW Health. We package and distribute large quantities of respirators and chemist supplies for 3M and also undertake specialised cleaning of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park. This is currently the Coronavirus Operations Centre for NSW and the RFS were so impressed by our ability to develop a project scope and implement it within a three-day turnaround that they now contract us to clean their supply depot at Glendenning.

A lot of innovation is involved in keeping everything moving. We’ve re-thought our whole approach to production, rosters and managing workflow. Teams are split into morning and afternoon shifts instead of everyone doing a full day together and morning tea times are staggered so that only 2 or 3 people break at a time. We continually review production schedules to assess the urgency of each job and prioritise those supporting essential services.

Our mowing and maintenance business no longer transports groups of 4 or 5 to worksites but is limited to one person in the front and one in the back of each vehicle. Some supported workers have volunteered to self drive.

We’ve modified delivery of supports that were offered to employees in a group setting, so that they can call in for assistance outside of scheduled work days. Staff have up-skilled in specialised cleaning of public buildings, that involves wiping down door knobs, touch pads and keyboards as well as safe handling of the chemicals used, and we developed safe work method statements and instructions for detailed processes. I’m so proud of the way all team members, at every level, have taken ownership of workplace safety within their business units, like making sure sanitiser stations stay topped up.

Success with these high-level projects has put us on the radar of other government departments and demonstrated our capability to organisations that have previously shown some reluctance to engage a supported workforce. What we do puts us on the frontlines of this pandemic and it’s been a real boost to the self esteem of our cleaning team to have officials acknowledge their contribution to mitigating risk as they come and go from the buildings we clean.

It’s a credit to our professionalism that the RFS asked our staff to appear in an instructional video for briefing all of their sites on precautionary cleaning. Our ability to expedite the whole process of service delivery for them, while satisfying stringent government protocols, called for a high degree of flexibility and has given what we do here real credibility. As a result, other large contracts will follow I’m sure.


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For more information, contact us on 1300 779 270 or make an enquiry now.

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