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Covid Safe Plans and QR Codes Update

We have deliberately taken a conservative approach across our network for two reasons – it is socially responsible to do so and we would prefer to operate to the highest standard to ensure your owners corporation’s compliance.
Where there have been anomalies in the regulations and where there are in the future, we have and will always chose to operate to the highest standard, in line with our Best Practices philosophy.
Where the regulations have differed from the verbal advice given by various Government authorities, we will only modify our approach if the verbal advice is either confirmed in writing or is attributable to a person within the Government (ie we have a name and reference number documenting the time and date of the call).
To be clear, as outlined on the Corona Virus website controlled by the Victorian Government, as at 28 May 2021:

  • Every Owners Corporation MUST have a CovidSafe Plan. The COVIDSafe Plan applies to common areas including access points, lifts, foyers and hallways, as well as shared facilities such as gyms, pools, dining and entertainment areas;
  • Apartment buildings do NOT require QR codes upon entry, including in foyers or at a front gate. However, gyms and pools in apartment buildings require electronic record keeping at the entrance to these facilities. To be clear, visitors to your property do NOT need to register; and
  • Notwithstanding visitors to your property do not need to register, every OC MUST use electronic record keeping for any person who attends communal areas for longer than 15 minutes. At this stage, the only approved vehicle for this is the state government’s service,
Additionally, building managers must:
  • limit the number of people in communal areas by using signage that indicates the one person per two square metre density quotient and maximum number permitted in the area at one time; and
  • display signage stating the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time (as permitted by the density quotient), and any current face mask requirements which apply.
If these rules change at any time, we will adjust our response to reflect the government regulations at any future point in time.

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Are you working from home? Here are our 5 top tips...

To help keep you sane and smiling during this period, the Whitbread team have come up with our 5 Top Tips to working from home. Whether an employee or business owner, we hope you benefit from these in some way, shape, or form. Happy reading!

1. Set and stick to a routine. 
When WFH, many people struggle to get into a routine and productive rhythm. They find it difficult to differentiate between a “work” headspace and an “at home” headspace, when their physical environment doesn’t change.

Establishing a “Work from Home Routine” that mirrors your usual working day as closely as possible, is key to maintaining productivity and accountability. Below are some helpful tips to help you stay on track… 

Self-preparation morning routine – don’t let the fact that you don’t need to get up and rush out the door prevent you from making the time to get yourself ready. Physically preparing for the day ahead will help you shift from ‘relax mode’, to ‘work mode’.
Food prep – if you usually take the time before work to prep breakfast and lunch, continue the habit! Looking after yourself with nourishing meals can aid both your physical and mental health while WFH. 
Commute routine – the short commute from your bedroom to your dining table or desk can be great! What you may not realise, is how valuable that “me time” is when you’re ordinarily travelling to and from work. Whether it be in the car or on the train, this time often helps us prepare for, or unwind from the work day. If you’re struggling to switch on / off, continue your commute routine by creating space between work and home. It may be listening to that podcast you love, or simply going for a walk around the block.
Set work hours – this tip follows onto our next topic, as we believe it is one of the most important. Setting work hours is a fundamental part of establishing routine, and promotes accountability.

2. Set your work hours. 
Following on from tip #1, setting your clear work hours is paramount in achieving and sustaining an effective work from home routine. If you are in a managerial position, this practice is not only for your own benefit, but for that of your team, and their ability to operate well in a remote environment.  

Establishing work hours, including lunch breaks, allows for better communication between staff. It helps to manage expectations, as everyone is aware of when the other is contactable. It promotes accountability and productivity – alas, a more effective WFH team. article image WFH

By not physically leaving the office at the end of the day, it can be tempting to work through lunch breaks and do considerable amounts of overtime. We all put in the extra hours when necessary, however it is important to set limits in order to prevent overtime consuming your personal time, becoming overwhelming and detrimentally affecting relationships and mental health. 

At the end of the day, shut down your computer, close your office door (if you have one!). You, your team, and loved ones will be grateful!

3. Communication is key. 
Working remotely means you don’t have the luxury of popping over to a colleague’s desk whenever you like. However, this shouldn’t stop you from reaching out and starting conversations! It simply means adapting to new ways of communicating.

Continue to reach out to the same people you usually would for help. For employers and managers, ensure you are accessible to your staff, and check-in regularly. This not only ensures the team operates smoothly, but can also help to break down some of the social isolation that comes with WFH.

Some tips to help facilitate communication when WFH…

Take advantage of modern communication tools – don’t limit yourself to text based communication such as emails and SMS. Modern technology allows us to video conference at the click of a button. Alternatively, pick-up the phone and have a conversation! Talking “face to face” or over the phone can help eradicate any miscommunications that can occur via email and text messaging. It also helps keep us more connected.
Adopt a company-wide video conferencing tool –decide on one video conferencing tool or software that the business will use for both internal and external meetings. This streamline approach is important when communicating with clients from a professional point of view, and avoids the confusion of learning multiple platforms.
Click here for some tips on how you can “look your best” on camera!  

4. Don't underestimate cyber security. 
Since the Coronavirus hit Australia, cybercrime has increased significantly. With more and more Australians WFH, and relying heavily on technology to communicate, and do their jobs, cyber criminals are taking advantage. 

Working remotely can provide additional access points to a network, and thus more opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit vulnerabilities.  To read more on current scams and how to protect yourself – click here.

Reducing your risk

Hypervigilance – be hypervigilant about the prevalence of phishing emails and scams – if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Delete any suspicious emails or messages.
Security software – ensure systems, including firewalls, are up to date with the latest security software. 
Secure all devices – ensure your devices are secure and password protected e.g. laptops, desktop computers and phones.
Ensure you have Cyber insurance - Unfortunately no IT security system is 100% secure. Cyber Insurance is an essential mitigation strategy to minimise what can be a devastating financial impact to your business following an attack. Click here for more information on Cyber Liability.
For more detailed information on the rise of cyber-attacks amid COVID-19 and, risk management strategies to combat this, click here.

5. Consider limiting news and social media consumption. 
We understand that the uncertainty surrounding the current climate may be causing you angst. The situation is evolving and changing rapidly, and while it is important to stay informed, it is equally important to not become overwhelmed with too much anxiety provoking news and social media.

Find a middle ground. Below are some tips on how you can stay in the loop whilst taking care of your mental health.

Switch off – avoid the 24/7 news channels unless the information or specific topic being covered is likely to impact you directly. Make a habit to check the main news headlines only once or twice a day. This keeps you informed, but helps you avoid being sucked into the vortex of click bait and repeat information.
Social connection – use social media primarily for communicating with family and friends. Social media is an excellent tool to stay connected with our loved ones, however try avoid the suggested and sponsored posts in your feed which often contain false information and speculative stories.
Go straight to the source – avoid reading suggested and sponsored articles shared by spam or untrustworthy sources online. If you are looking for accurate information on Coronavirus, consult health authority and government websites or news sources e.g. the Department of Health, or other Australian Government webpages.

Article from Lia de Sousa


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Waiting on a tradie? You could be waiting a lot longer

24 Feb 2022

HIA chief economist Tim Reardon said record low interest rates, coupled with home buyers’ desire for a bigger property during COVID-19, had created a rush for new home builds and renovations over the past two years.

“Builders will be at capacity throughout this year and well into 2023,” Mr Reardon said. “There’s still challenges with land, labour and materials [affecting the industry].”

The Association’s figures show 125,000 houses are expected to begin construction this year across Australia following a record 149,000 in 2021.

Those figures don’t include other dwellings such as apartments, which would push residential construction numbers even higher.

Mr Reardon said while the federal government’s HomeBuilder grants, aimed at keeping house construction going during the worst of COVID-19, had created an initial spike in house builds, there had been another boost after the grants ended.

Adding to the challenges, tradies were also playing catch-up on older builds, Mr Reardon noted, with lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, and difficulties getting building materials thanks to COVID putting residential projects behind schedule by between three weeks and five months last year.

That included home renovation projects, which also boomed over the past two years, especially as more owner-occupiers bought fixer-uppers to enter the market in more expensive suburbs.

Renovators were having to wait up to two years for the necessary trades, an analysis of data showed.

“One of the unique features of this boom is that rarely do we see a renovations and housing boom at the same time – that’s also happening in all states across Australia,” Mr Reardon said.

High demand for tradies has added more pressure to those already working in difficult circumstances, especially as the Omicron strain of COVID-19 spreads.

Owner of Officer Plumbing Services in Melbourne’s southeast, Chris Hunter, said he had already had jobs affected by Omicron.

“I was supposed to do a job for a bathroom, but the stonemason got COVID, so it delayed the project,” Mr Hunter said.

Mr Hunter is working 30 to 40 jobs per week, including renovations and maintenance work, sometimes not finishing until past 9 pm.

“I’m fairly new, I’ve had this business for four years, and I’ve gotten busier - from the second to the third year there’s been a massive jump in work, and it’s busier again this year.”

With people continuing to work from home, using their toilets and taps more, urgent jobs were coming up more often, meaning it was harder for him to take on jobs where he was required for longer than a day.

Mr Hunter hired an apprentice in 2020 to help out, and is now looking for another plumber to join the business, but even that is proving difficult because of the tradie shortage.

The problem was being exacerbated by tradies who were not getting vaccinated.

Mr Hunter estimated 15 per cent of tradies had not had their required jabs to work, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus estimating that it was close to 10 per cent in 2021.

Tradie shortage issues come at a time when soaring building costs are also hitting the industry.

Timber costs are blowing out, adding to the cost of building a home, CoreLogic data shows.

New data released by CoreLogic shows that national construction costs had increased by 7.3 per cent over 2021, the highest annual growth rate since March 2005.

The Cordell Construction Cost Index showed construction costs had risen most in South Australia and Western Australia, where the cost of building a home jumped by 7.9 per cent over the year.

CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said the data showed higher costs were being driven by an increase in timber prices, with metal costs still volatile.

“With such a large rise in construction costs over the year, we could see this translating into more expensive new homes and bigger renovation costs, ultimately placing additional upwards pressure on inflation,” Mr Lawless said.

Source: Domain