A Guide For Businesses – Coming Back After The Lockdown
by Daniel Green
What a ride. The last three months have tested us in ways we never thought possible. Imagine our Victorian cousins as they battle through what is now the world’s longest lockdown with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Luckily, we’re under the Guidance of Gladys Dominic and today marks the resumption of a sense of normality. The state government has determined a multi-stage return is in our best interests, of which there will be three phases. As with every government promise these must be taken with a grain of salt because if case numbers start getting out of control then expect another lockdown. But for now construction folk, let’s take a look at our shiny new freedoms.
Phase One. Seventy Percent Fully Vaxxed.
The first noticeable detail is that freedom extends to the fully vaxxed only. Deep down we always knew this would be how they’d motivate the uptake of vaccinations and here’s the proof. The general gist is that we can pretty much return to a 2019 style work life except:
- You’ll need proof of vaccination when you arrive at work
- There’s 1 person per 4m2 density limits
- There’s still masks indoors and on public transport
- Your staff will still need to check in
- Your staff can choose to come back to the office/site or remain working from home
- Regional travel is allowed by only for work
From a policy enforcement standpoint, it’s up to us as PCBU’s to implement the government’s directive. In the eyes of the law we still have a responsibility to our workforce to protect them from harm so until we hear different we’ll need to uphold the rules.
Masks – these are required for all staff and clientele in indoor settings, including on public transport, planes and in airports. They are not however required outdoors, ie. out on site. However, retaining masks on site can be applied as a company policy if you wish.
QR Code Check-ins — Required upon entering a premises. This includes both office buildings and construction sites.
Proof of Vaccination – Required. The way it is worded paints this point as though it is the businesses responsibility to administer. This means both office and site locations will likely need to a] have this in their COVID Safe Plan and b] enforce non-vaxxed workers to remain off site.
Working From Home – Employers are to allow staff to continue to work from home if reasonably practicable.
Travel – The LGA and 5km radius rules are lifted and you can travel anywhere within the state for work. These freedoms do not apply to recreational travel.
Density Limits – There is no construction workplace guidelines that supersede this rule, so we can safely assume that 1 person per 4m2 for an indoor or an outdoor workplace will apply.
There is an exhaustive list here.
Phase One. Eighty Percent Fully Vaxxed.
Again, freedom applies to the vaccinated. There’s not much detail about those who’ve received only one injection so it appears the ruling is that partially-vaccinated = non-vaccinated, ie. fully vaxxed or not at all. according to the data this will be around October 25th. The changes from the 70% benchmark are:
- Masks no longer required in office buildings unless you’re unvaccinated
- No distance limits for any type of travel
Vax-proof, QR Codes, WFH – these are still carried over from the pervious iteration and will need to remain implemented by the PCBU.
Read more here.
Phase Three. December 1st.
There is no vaccination percentage applied to this date which unfortunately may mean vax motivation could diminish. Perhaps there will be enough momentum from the previous 70%/80% push that we’ll hit 90% by then but that’s anyone’s guess. Either way this is when the real freedoms arise, with the following major changes:
- Most venues will be under the 1 person per 2m2 rule
That’s all they’ve divulged. There’s no data to suggest any ruling around any of the previous requirements: Masks, QR Codes, Vaxproof, WFH and Travel. Strategically speaking, this gives the Premier a backdoor regarding policy changes in light of post-lockdown COVID resurgence.
Here’s eleven more things you may not have considered.
- Physiological factors. Taking a moment to walk through your office or site and contemplate ventilation, physical distancing and cleanliness points. This may go a long way towards a streamlined return to work.
- RTW. Having a Return To Work strategy already in place could really help. Planning out what the next week, month & quarter will give not only our workforce some structure after so long without it, it will also help our leadership – including us. Failing to plan and all. However, it might be wise to build in some flexibility for the inevitable changes afoot.
- Gathering the troops. A post-lockdown meeting as soon as is practically possible could really help. This could be a great time to launch your RTW plan and would also be a great tool for the reunification of the team.
- It’s still a level playing field. Yes, our businesses have taken a hit but so has our competition. Overall, no one is more in front or further behind. So let’s just worry about ourselves.
- It’s been tough. Our workforce is coming out an extremely difficult situation, one that is as unprecedented as it is for them as it is for us. The stresses are different but the manifestations of them are the same, namely anxieties and depressed states. As keen as we all are to mobilise the troops and crush our sworn enemies, easing back into things will likely prove to be better for everyone in the long term. This includes allowing them to continue working from home if they feel they need to and it is practically possible.
- Expectation management. Not only of our workforce but of ourselves. We might not be as ready for this as we think we are. We are not invincible. And that’s okay.
- It’s not smooth sailing just yet. As sure as the sky is blue there will be a spike of cases, which means like Victoria there may be another lockdown just around the corner. A good strategy here is to expect the best but prepare for the worst.
- Pulse checking. Our people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Great leaders will know when their workers aren’t okay and will take steps to make sure that they are. Interesting to note that the financial returns in these cases are far greater than in the alternative cases. So it does literally pay off.
- There are no bad crews, only bad leaders. As business owners and industry leaders the last two years have been difficult, perhaps even destructive – there is no taking that away from us. But as our people look to us for guidance now is not the time to let our foibles enter the workplace. We owe it to ourselves to be our best selves.
- Expect the unexpected. We all know what uncertainty is the only certainty.
- Monitor and review. Are we following the previous ten points? Have we kept abreast of any changes to the easing of restrictions? Daily and weekly monitoring could be fruitful.
We Will Prevail
Something like 90% of businesses fail in their first year and 90% of the survivors fail in the next five after that. We as successful business owners possess an inherent grit and determination that gets us through the hard times. The pandemic and ensuing lockdown has been challenging, unnerving, unprecedented and testing. But it has not been impossible. The success of our businesses does not alter the personal value of ourselves.
We are so much more than brands and balance sheets.
We’ve got this.