When times get tough, Moreton Bay gets tougher

When social distancing rules came into force, Australia’s third largest municipality was quick to restructure a workforce of nearly 1700.

Within a fortnight Moreton Bay Regional Council, just north of Brisbane, managed to get their office-based workforce set up and operating from home.

It was an enormous undertaking achieved mostly through the collaboration of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and People, Safety and Culture teams.

Council’s ICT Manager, Tim Gepp, was the first port of call to manage the logistics involved.

“There aren’t too many organisations who had existing plans to manage a global pandemic.

“Disaster recovery plans generally cater for data centres being shut down or buildings being physically inaccessible due to power loss, flood or fire - not virus.

“We were ready, but it meant that once Chief Executive Officer, Greg Chemello, decided we were going to work from home it meant the team had to ramp things up quickly.

“A host of software and hardware solutions such as VPN, Citrix, Microsoft Teams, laptops and home internet connections, were used to get employees into home offices, but one of the most revolutionary changes was the use of Splashtop.

“This program allowed a fleet of roughly 300 staff with high-end workstations for computer-aided design (CAD), flood modelling or other unique applications to remote into their work computers.”
The Human Resources team worked with ICT by accelerating work safety assessments and taking inventory of Council assets to ensure workers could socially distance or work from home.

Staff who couldn’t work their normal hours due to coronavirus are continuing to receive their usual salary.

Newly elected Mayor, Peter Flannery, has also committed to looking at whether those staff could potentially volunteer their time at community organisations such as Meals on Wheels, who have lost most of their staff.

With the workforce sorted, Moreton Bay Regional Council is now turning its attention to how it can improve those arrangements for the longevity of the lockdown.