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  • Adam Walter

Tales from Around the World: Australia

Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Episode 108

This week we’re chatting with Sydney’s Kevin Spanner, the owner of Sensible Business Solutions, with an amazing English-Australian accent. Although his country faced major changes and adjustments along with the rest of the world, Australia could take home the gold for how its officials put their political views aside to come up with an effective plan for fighting COVID-19. Of the 28 million people in the country, only 130 died. How did they do it?

Australia Presents: How to Handle Coronavirus 101

In contrast with South Africa’s strict regulations, Australia is returning to normalcy at roughly the same pace as the U.S.. Bars and restaurants have opened at limited capacity. Sports have resumed without an audience. Restrictions have lifted from 4-person weddings to 20; 10-person funerals to 50. The only difference between us and them? Roughly 112,000 lives. Granted, Australia has 300 million less people, but it’s still interesting to see what they did differently.

  1. Borders were locked quickly and seamlessly early on, without exceptions.

  2. 60,000 people were tested per million, putting them in the top 20 for testing globally

  3. All state and federal government officials held a weekly round table since day one, uniting to create a plan that would save their people.

While many are still worried about a resurgence, Kevin doesn’t believe the same cancellation and closing precautions would take place if a second wave were to hit. The only permanent aspect of the pandemic that he thinks will carry over into “normal life” is none other than a favorite topic of ours here at Humanize IT and Virtual C: the distributed workforce.

Kevin’s Pros and Cons of Work From Home

Currently, Kevin is facing the same dilemma as many professionals: with distancing, does that mean we need more real estate if we go back? Or, do we not return to the office and reduce the real estate, instead? He said he’s not sure which path he and his team will take.

Kevin supports permanently working from home, but is a little apprehensive about some aspects. His team’s “daily huddles” are essential for maintaining a strong culture, but he fears it’s not enough to replace the genuine interaction they used to experience on a day-to-day basis. That’s why everyone acknowledged that it’s okay to sometimes get off topic during your Zoom calls; real conversation with coworkers is key.

Kevin also noted that some people are self-motivated enough to work remotely forever, but some aren’t. His staff is hard working, yes, but could this carry on for years? He’s not sure. And, finally, when you work from home, how do you distinguish balance and separation between work life and personal life? These answers may only come with time, trial and error.

In the end, however, he said it all comes down to trusting your staff. If they can hold themselves accountable and create a comfortable, isolated space in their home where they can concentrate, permanent WFH can — and should — be a viable option.

Prioritizing the Positives

At the end of each episode in this series, we ask our guest for a positive takeaway from their experience with the Coronavirus as a whole. Kevin, Adam and Skip all agreed that relationship-building has been more deliberate. Rather than “I’ll see you when I see you,” people are going out of their way to schedule phone calls, write letters and otherwise communicate with the friends, family members, business partners and acquaintances they often overlook.

In both Australia and the U.S., many people are more wary of how those around them are feeling, more polite, and more prone to put others first. Although the virus brought many negatives along with it, it’s always a good thing to recognize the good things.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode of Tales from Around the World. We’re going to CANADA!

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