We asked: How has Covid-19 impacted your business?

Hearing the stories of how local businesses have been impacted by Covid-19 and how they have responded has been fascinating and quite extraordinary, particularly given how quickly the situation escalated.

We asked Adam Green, Chief Financial Officer at Junction Australia and Julie Worsman, Human Resources Manager at Seeley International to share their thoughts and experiences:

Adam Green
Chief Financial Officer, Junction Australia

How has your organisation been impacted by Covid-19?

Fortunately, the financial impact for us has been relatively minor as mainly funded by rentals from tenants on Government benefits (which have remained stable) and grant funding. For tenants impacted we had to quickly initiate hardship responses.

We were able to fairly quickly move around 80 of our workforce to working from home pretty seamlessly and are using a range of tool to make that work including zoom, teams and conference calls. One of the big challenges is that over 100 of our staff undertake essential services for children in care, under the Guardianship of the Minister, where working from home is not an option.

How did the organisation adapt? Generally, how have your team handled the changes?

The organisation has adapted extremely well. On the Executive team, we recognised very quickly that this period of rapid change needed ‘hyper-communication’ and support of all staff and so we increased communication channels throughout the organisation at all levels. Initially this included daily Executive meetings, regular meetings with managers/team leaders, and site visits and video updates from our CEO. All lines of communication were open including an intranet site on all the latest updates. We have been able to scale this back a bit now.

Friday zoom drinks are mainstay though 😄

What are some of the measures you have taken to ensure regular communication with and between your team is maintained?

As mentioned above, communication is the key during uncertain times. The finance team has a daily touch base phone calls and weekly zoom meetings. Birthday celebrations on zoom too. We are also making sure that the technology is easy for all to use so that other meetings and face to face interactions can occur for all. It hasn’t been without hiccups but we have found our staff have remained positive throughout.

What have you personally found to be most challenging?

One of our organisational values is collaboration and we pride ourselves on effective and inclusive collaboration in and across teams. Whilst the regular meetings were easily rescheduled through zoom I realised how much I missed the office incidental interactions to undertake our daily work. Being isolated has taken some getting used to so I have had to adjust to meeting more flexibly with people to ensure that these regular interactions still occur with more upfront planning needed. This was a struggle initially, particularly when trying to get a Draft budget together, but find that we have all adapted pretty well now.  

How do you think Covid-19 will change your workplace moving forward?

I think, like many work places that people are going to want to work from home more and more. The key will be for us to strike the right balance.  

Has the organisations view of WFH changed?

I had always had people in the finance teamwork from home on occasion, but I am definitely open to this increasing. I think that the organisation is also open to this more broadly and can recognise the benefits.

What do you believe are some of the silver linings to come out of the situation?

Communication improvements, the use of technology and the caring for each other through times of uncertainty. It feels like we have a stronger culture as a result.  

What are you most looking forward to when we’re on the other side of all this?!

From a work perspective, having everyone able to meet in person again. You can beat that. Personally, seeing family and friends without restrictions and the footy of course!  

Knowing that you had a new staff member starting in your team early April when your team commenced WFH, how was the on-boarding process affected?

Blackman Mansfield helped us to fill the role of Financial Accountant just before the restrictions with Ryans first day in mid March coinciding with us all leaving the office!  As a team we really had to plan out Ryans induction which included some limited face to face (with appropriate social distancing), skype, zoom etc.. including the sharing of screens. Ryan was very understanding and has adapted extremely week and is a valued member of our team.


Julie Worsman
HR Manager, Seeley International

How has your business been impacted by Covid-19?

We experienced a decline in export orders which were cancelled as COVID hit.  This resulted in a direct impact to our sales and also production requirements.
Further ongoing issues have included delays in the purchasing or raw materials.
From a financial perspective the decline in the $AU has also affected the business negatively.
Our gas heating sales have been less affected as we head into the cooler months.

How has the business adapted?

To avoid redundancies the business asked staff to participate in a temporary salary reduction program for 6 month period as it planned for a 20% reduction in sales revenue.
All expenditure across the business has been reviewed and all recruitment placed on hold.
Increased hygiene around the business with the installation of hand sanitiser stations and split shifts to ensure social distancing on the production lines.
Employees commenced working from home very swiftly.

Generally, how have your staff handled the changes?

Employees have handled this very graciously.
Unfortunately, we don’t currently meet the JobKeeper requirements and all employees agreed to the voluntary $ reduction for the short time period.
Mostly grateful to be employed during this difficult time.
Working from home has challenged some employees mentally, we have been working closely with managers to identify these employees for further support.

What are some of the measures you have taken to ensure regular communication with staff is maintained?

The business has communicated frequently to employees via intranet and email around measures to manage COVID.
Our Group Managing Director has prepared messages for our employees via youtube uploads. Initially General Managers were meeting on a daily basis, this is still happening but less frequently now.
HR developed a FAQ which is updated regularly and we are now changing our focus to bringing employees back to the workforce. 

What have you personally found to be most challenging?

The uncertainty of the situation and what the future might hold.
The workload involved with communication, changing hours etc has increased tenfold. At times working very long hours.
Keeping a level head answering all the questions to reassure employees has been tough.

How do you think Covid-19 will change your workplace moving forward?

Flexible working arrangements across the business. It’s never really been encouraged or considered prior to now which is a positive.
Much more conscious of social distancing and hygiene measures.
Cost reduction measures may influence budgets moving forward.
Online meetings are just as effective as face to face.

Has your view of WFH changed?

Not really, I personally am not a fan of working from home but understand the requirement during these times.
Our business has managed this well and employees were moved off site very quickly with the help from our IT team.

What do you believe are some of the silver linings to come out of the situation?

The need to travel for meetings may reduce due to the various platforms available.
Reduced travel interstate and internationally which will save the company costs in the process.
Certainly flexible working arrangements will be a positive moving forward.
More awareness around personal space and hygiene.

What are you most looking forward to when we’re on the other side of all this?!

A more ‘normal’ workload!
Seeing our employees back on site and business as usual.