"When you’re leading through a crisis you don’t wait for decisions to happen, you take pre-emptive action for the sake of your team."
It was a series of horrible nights.
I couldn’t sleep. I was stressed.
I had spent the last few weeks monitoring the spread of COVID19 around the world.
I had become consumed by the situation. Hooked on the latest news from WHO, CDC and ESA. Surfing between CNN, CNBC, Al Jezeera — lost in a 24 hour news cycle.
So many people to think about. So many scenarios to consider.
With the facts becoming clearer and the evidence mounting, we needed to take pre-emptive action.
The brave and difficult decisions we make during a crisis can save us.
The way we show support for each other when it matters most is what defines us.
Travelling throughout Europe in late January, I started to notice more and more people wearing masks and taking precautions in planes and airports.
When I flew back to Melbourne from Athens in late February, there were 37 passengers on an almost 300
The seriousness of the situation was veiled by the novelty of having 3 seats on a long haul flight.
By the time I touched down in Melbourne, it was clear what had to be done.
COVID19 was escalating. This was the start of what was to become a pandemic and an unimaginable loss of life.
My CEO and I had the conversation.
“We need to send everyone home ASAP,” I said.
“You know what to do,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
His words were reassuring. It was just what I needed to hear.
We immediately sprung into action and addressed the situation with our Leadership Team. Within hours of formalising the decision, we had sent every single one of our team members home.
Home to be safe.
Our priority is people.
How we support and treat each other during a crisis is what defines us.
Now more than ever, it’s important for us to show humanity and compassion and be there for each other.
Our COVID19 Taskforce with the full support of our Leadership Team and the Board have been instrumental in taking proactive action to protect the health and safety of our global team, their family and friends.
We’re driven by protecting the very same people who have helped create this successful and resilient business.
From the beginning of this crisis, we knew it was important to lead with pre-emptive actions and not to follow.
These are some of the actions we took to protect and support our team.
Work At Home
We had been monitoring the situation closely and we could see what was unfolding. We sent our team to work from home days before WHO declared COVID19 a pandemic.
Within hours of announcing the decision to work away from our offices, our team were set up and working from the safety of their homes.
Sending our team home was only the first step, we’ve taken a series of other measures to help our team stay safe, connected and productive.
We’ve ramped up communication with a fortnightly global teleconference designed to bring our team together and share latest developments.
We’ve launched designated social channels on Slack and we also have virtual coffees and water cooler chit chat sessions. These are in addition to our weekly 1:1s and team meetings all conducted virtually.
Our Leadership Team also makes time to connect with as many of our team members as we can with 1:1s — it’s a chance to be present and an opportunity to listen and intimately understand the fears, concerns and hopes people have.
We also understand during a situation like this, we may need additional support to navigate through personal and professional challenges, that’s where our MT Coach, our full time psychologist helps us manage life’s ups and downs. Our MT Coach is on hand to help our team with confidential coaching conversations and provide the support they need.
We also understood the individual challenges of suddenly flipping to a work at home model, so we rolled out a series of best practice learning and development initiatives and workshops.
Time to Breathe
We appreciate our team’s hard work and commitment so much — in acknowledgement of this, we announced a company wide Recharge Day — a day off, tagged to a weekend, to help people disconnect from work, to stop and breathe and take time to relax.
It was very well received and appreciated by our team — everyone totally deserved it!
Whilst some Governments around the world ease restrictions, we’ll continue a more conservative approach in protecting our team.
Work At Home Or Office
We recently announced that the option to work at home will continue at least until 1st September. For team members needing to return to an office location, we’re currently in the final stages of opening up limited capacity offices with all the appropriate health and safety protocol in place.
I’m proud of our team and the way everyone has responded in remaining safe and connected during the COVID19 pandemic.
The safety and health of our team, their family and friends, customers and our wider community is of paramount importance. It’s people first. It’s not just words — it’s actions. Actions and empathy.
We’ll continue to be proactive in leading the way with how we manage this. That’s how we build trust and confidence — that’s how we build a long lasting and successful team.
We’ll get through this and we’ll do it together.
Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash