In the Geelong Regional HR Index survey, conducted by HR firm Harvest, respondents presented their road map to recovery and returning to work after COVID.

Whilst only a regional centre with a portion of the population of Melbourne’s CBD, the bulk of our employers said flexible and home working is here to stay. Companies and employees have both witnessed the benefit (beyond social distancing) of home working and the region will continue a flexible and hybrid approach to where the work will be done.

The health of employees, suppliers, clients and other visitors is also of the utmost importance with our region’s organisations showing they will “do what it takes” to shore up health, safety and wellbeing moving forward. While governed be Victorian legislation, employers don’t only want to be COVID-Safe they want to be COVID-Secure – stating that social distancing and hygiene measures are the start and others are instituting the wearing of PPE and performing health checks on staff (some daily) to ensure they are doing their best to keep their workplaces free of COVID.

The region report was a compilation of all trend data but, amongst this were industries that showed strong differences in their approach to the return to work.

The Geelong HR Index Survey has been distilled into 11 industry sectors from those for whom the return is a moot point (aside from the return of some office workers) particularly across agriculture, food, construction, engineering, manufacturing and transport who reflected that they had increased sanitisation, hygiene and social distancing measures but had also continued working with little impact from the crisis.

Client facing sectors of sport, leisure and hospitality, health, the community sector, education and professional services saw the return completely differently.

Our tertiary sector will not be returning the bulk of staff and its students to its campuses (unless exceptional circumstances) until 2021 and continues to address new ways of working. The Professional Services sector is quite comfortable continuing to provide services in a disseminated format with some stating they will never to return to the office.”

The community sector has innovated and found ways to deliver services on-line which many survey respondents stating this could remain as they return post pandemic.

Those that have been at the hands of government restrictions and regulations have scenario planned so they can run with the appropriate option based on the lifting of restrictions – this has been particularly so for sport, leisure and hospitality. This sector is looking at new ways of working to sustain itself or respond faster should another crisis unfold. Examples included diversifying service delivery options, which we witnessed when our restauranteurs moved to take away and home delivery formats and “pop-up” options we witnessed with Piano Bar at the Geelong Racing Club and Little Malop Street laneways.

In the health sector, in addition to the return of elective surgery, some organisations are addressing their internal and external communications to ensure immediate changes can be broadcast faster. The expediency of the introduction of Telehealth which came out of necessity now becoming a permanent offering to patients post pandemic.

There are some sectors – such as Government, the Public Sector and Energy & Resources – who are our largest employers with a significantly high proportion of office based workers, “that reflected the return to the office, re-establishing culture, addressing new ways of working and Agile as their highest priority.”

2020 Geelong HR Index.

Survey Findings from the Geelong HR Index – 2020 were released on 25 November 2020. Click here to access more information.

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