Workers adjust to new regime

Workers adjust to new regime

By Rhonda Dredge

The quiet evacuation of Docklands’ workforce was completed by March 23, leaving construction sites, supermarkets and a few open cafes as the main signs of life in the suburb.

The workforce of 32,000, mostly young professionals, were left to begin the fast learning curve of working remotely.

Some were getting ready for their isolation at home by stocking up at COSTCO.

One video editor had 30 bagels loaded on top of his trolley while a NAB worker was trying to stay healthy by sticking to her fortnightly shopping regime.

The forced evacuation of NAB’s Bourke St office grabbed the headlines two weeks ago but the more mundane issues of daily life and looking after others were preoccupying these workers.

Dominic Van Dyke from Yarraville was doing the shopping for all of his five siblings, aged between 25 and 50, who have moved in together.

“We’ll have more family time. Life’s pretty busy. We don’t see much of each other as we’ve got our own schedules. It will be pretty nice,” he told Docklands News.

The mood was less jovial at the Docklands Residences construction site at The District Docklands where work appeared at first glance to be going on as usual.

The construction company has introduced staggered shifts and hired a full-time cleaner to sanitise surfaces.

Productivity has only been marginally affected but workers are worried about their futures, despite extra safety measures.

A worker told Docklands News that the State would probably call a halt to construction soon.

Many adjustments to COVID-19 are occurring behind closed doors as companies develop systems for dealing with the crisis, both economic and social.

Employees are still working at Channel 7, but the newsroom is in lockdown to protect it from crews still out in the community.

“Journalists and camera crews are not allowed inside our Docklands’ studio, as we are obviously most at risk of contracting the virus due to mixing with the public,” police reporter Teegan Dolling told Docklands News.

“Our morning meetings are carried out over Skype, meaning we don’t have any face-to-face contact with anyone in our office. The changes are huge, and obviously in our absence, it puts a lot of stress on those behind the scenes to make it all run smoothly.”

Some corporates have been more proactive than NAB which publicly evacuated its building two weeks ago after an employee was supposed to have tested positive, giving workers no time to say their goodbyes.

Collins St publishing company Pearson sent its global workforce of 40,000 home three weeks ago. The company has an office in Milan.

Pearson permission manager, Alice McBroom, said that working from home in the corporate sector was a sensitive issue.

“There’s a work station assessment and it has to be in a safe environment,” she said.

“Even if you’re living in a small apartment you can’t just make do with a chest of drawers or a kitchen bench. We’re meant to be following OHS to make sure we are sitting properly.” •

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