Back to office: what you need to know
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Why have you decided to postpone our return to office?
The decision to postpone our return to the office comes down to safety – our number one priority is to keep everyone safe.
As we have seen since the beginning of this year, COVID-19 cases and hotspots can get out of control very quickly. While the situation across the east coast is looking more positive, there still are active cases.
This allows us to make sure when we do return we do it right and in a COVID safe way.
In postponing our return there is an opportunity to provide staff exemptions to come into the office and will be assessed on a case by case basis.
Staff who wanting to return to the office sooner need to seek permission from your direct manager and general manager.
Which offices does this apply to?
This decision applies to all offices, including Access.
Does this apply to all staff?
We know that working from home doesn’t work for everyone, so there can’t always be a one-size-fits all approach. We acknowledge that some staff might need to return to the office occasionally before next year.
Some programs also have contractual obligations that might require them to return to the office to meet these requirements.
This change is about ensuring our return to office is measured and give us the opportunity to allow people who need to return first to do so.
When is it effective to?
We will be providing you with updates leading up to our return next year. At this stage we don’t have a specific return date, but we know it won’t be until early next year.
We know that the cases of COVID-19 can change in a matter of days, so, we will be constantly reviewing the risks to ensure we are keeping you safe.
Why is SSI choosing to postpone the return to office when so many other organisations in NSW are returning?
Our first priority is to keep our staff safe. As we have seen since the beginning of this year, COVID-19 cases and hotspots can get out of control very quickly.
While the situation in NSW is looking positive, there still are active cases and we also have to think about our organisation as a whole including our colleagues in Victoria and at Access in Queensland.
Other organisation’s may choose to approach this situation differently, but we want to make the decisions that are right for us and can keep us safe.
I am unable to work from home due to personal reasons that I don’t feel I can disclose to my manager. Who can I speak to?
Whilst we always encourage you to speak to your manager as the first point of call, we understand that you might not always feel comfortable sharing personal information with your manager. If you feel more comfortable you can speak directly with your general manager or Liz Pasoski from the People and Culture team.
I am feeling very isolated working from home. What is SSI’s position on small groups from teams meeting to work together from their homes or cafes?
Our preference is for those who wish to connect with their teams to meet in the office and ensure protocols of social distancing is always maintained.
Please review the clean desk policy when working from the office.
If you are conducting a meeting, please review the guidelines for COVID-19 safety.
We do not recommend group team meetings to be held in cafes or in private homes.
What is the process to get permission to come to an office?
Since March, all SSI offices have been closed to all staff members, except where some individuals had been provided an exemption by their general manager.
If you need to visit an office, the process you must follow is:
- Email your direct manager to keep them informed.
- Your manager will in turn inform your general manager asking for permission.
- When visiting the office, you must also follow the physical distancing protocols, use the sanitise station on entry, ensure you register your attendance at the front desk, and self-check your temperature as an extra precaution.
- If you are unwell with any cold, cough, or flu symptoms you must remain at home.
I know I need to get my general manager’s permission to come into an office but how is SSI monitoring total number of people allowed in one office on one day?
I am afraid that my clients don’t maintain the protocols on social distancing?
This is a difficult time for your clients, and they will continue to require your support. There are client protocol scripts that have been created for your safety as well as that for your clients. Please take time to read through these scripts, asking the right questions from your clients before they come into the office.
Only when you have pre-screened the client from a health and safety perspective using the COVID-19 Pre-Visit Client Screening Phone Guide, they will be able to enter the SSI or Access offices. These precautions and protocols have been put in place to ensure you can perform your duties as expected and provide the necessary service to your clients.
If you have concerns about working with clients please speak with your manager and People and Culture Business Partner.
How can I tell my client’s to politely follow the COVID-19 protocols?
This is a difficult time for your clients, and they will continue to require your support. There are client protocols scripts that have been created for your safety as well as that for your clients. Please take time to read through these scripts, asking the right questions from your clients before they come into the office.
Only if you have pre-screened the client from a health and safety perspective, they will be able to enter the SSI or Access offices. Once the client has arrived at the office, please greet them, and share the protocols they need to follow whilst in the office with them. Help them to understand that it is for their own safety, and for the safety of their family, that they need to follow these protocols.
If we work from home over the end of the year, will we still be required to take annual leave for mandatory shutdown?
While we might not be able to head off on holidays or visit family, it is still important to take a break at the end of the year to feel refreshed coming into the new year. All staff will be required to take leave during our shutdown even while we work from home.
We will update you with the exact dates of our shutdown in the coming months.
What if I don’t have any more leave to take in December if we have mandatory shutdown?
Can I use the extra personal leave during the Christmas shutdown period?
No, the extra personal leave is for use in the same way as usual personal/carers leave. Personal leave can’t be used as a replacement for annual leave.
I don’t have enough work to do and I want to see how I can help SSI with other projects. Who should I speak to?
There may be opportunities to support other SSI projects. We recommend speaking with your manager first and then reaching out to your People and Culture business partner.
Where can I get support?
If you need support please reach out to your manager if you are comfortable. You and your immediate families have access to a free and completely confidential counselling service through our Employee Assistance Program. You can call 1300 361 008 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to speak to someone about the service.
You can also access 24/7 crisis support by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.