Tourism Australia, like so many organisations has experienced the most challenging of times over the past year, with a steep learning curve as we have adjusted to the impacts of COVID-19. During this time, the safety and wellbeing of our staff has always been at the forefront of what we do.
With the announcement of the coronavirus pandemic, Tourism Australia advised staff that they were required to work from home and that all interstate and overseas travel was suspended. In order to work safely and productively, managers ensured that staff had the technology and working environment to make working from home accessible and comfortable.
Communication plans were implemented to ensure the team stayed connected. This included daily calls and online meetings as well as regular staff updates from Managing Director, Pip Harrison, to ensure staff were kept abreast of changes or developments.
A communications hub was created (the COVID-19 portal) on the MyTA intranet, providing one-stop access to: staff updates, emails and industry communications; the working from home policy; work health and safety guidelines for working at home; COVID-19 FAQs; wellbeing support and articles; learning and development; and training modules; the return to work policy; work health and safety guidelines and procedures on return to work.
To ensure that all staff were feeling connected and supported a Working from home committee was formed. The committee set up an app that offered wellbeing initiatives as well as tips and tricks for working at home. Activities included:
- Mindfulness (e.g. Online yoga and meditation)
- Boredom busters (e.g. Livestreaming Sydney Opera House events and tours)
- Healthy recipes and meals.
Online training was also leveraged, with training courses offered twice a week to all staff. Training topics included: how to negotiate effectively, people management, and technical courses to provide greater understanding of our digital platforms.
As restrictions relaxed, our primary focus was to ensure that staff had the opportunity to return to work in a safe environment, in line with the government and World Health Organization guidelines. All offices were required to provide a localised return to work plan, ensuring:
- Social distancing parameters were adhered to
- Contactless thermometers were available for temperature checking
- Staff scheduling to ensure compliance with maximum capacity within offices
- Posters and signage to remind staff of health requirements
- Work safe procedures
- Discouraging internal and external face to face meetings
- Supply of antibacterial products (wipes, sprays and so on), in each office and meeting room.
We undertook regular reporting and assessments for use internally and for broader Government needs.