CSIRO has adjusted its workforce response to the coronavirus pandemic with updated return to sites advice and the roll out of a major initiative to support staff continuing to work from home.
Meanwhile, Staff Association representatives continue to lobby CSIRO Executive to develop site-specific Covid Safe Plans.
With new infections in Victoria continuing to trend down and low cases numbers in New South Wales and Queensland, the Executive Team has reviewed and updated the national advice stepping out the organisations plans to gradually return staff to CSIRO workplaces.
While the original plan called for the reopening of sites in late September – subject to limitations and strategies to maintain social distancing – this has now been adjusted to allow for varied application across different jurisdictions.
“Considering the varied circumstances across our states and regions, we have decided to take a staggered approach to this next phase,” CSIRO Executive Director Katherine Paroz said.
Victorian sites will remain at phase one until further notice, with most staff working from home with the exception of staff with approved priority for onsite work that meet the requirements of the State Government’s permitted worker scheme.
Metropolitan Sydney sites will remain at phase two or ‘soft close’ for the immediate future – with staff encouraged to continue to work from home – with a decision on whether to move to phase three reserved for early October.
As for the rest – CSIRO workplaces located in the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Queensland and regional NSW – these sites will move to phase three. This includes essential access for staff, affiliates and students, subject to assessment and approval from Business Unit leaders, with monitoring of site density and balancing of attendance numbers through continued access to remote working arrangements.
Resource roll out
CSIRO has stepped up efforts to support staff working remotely with the launch of a highly anticipated suite of equipment and resources for working from home.
Designed by the Business Transition Team, the new work from home package ‘provides our people with the equipment, resources and support to work more seamlessly between their home and a CSIRO site. This will enable us to continue this flexibility into the future.’
CSIRO staff will be able to order a range of kit and equipment to support working from home including a laptop, keyboard, mouse, headset, webcam and USB hub, height adjustable desk, an ergonomic chair and a computer monitor.
The program involves a centralised ordering platform and national delivery, however staff access to the scheme will be scheduled according to location; starting with Victoria (7 September), followed by New South Wales (14 September), Queensland (21 September) before all remaining sites (28 September).
Covid Safe Plans
Staff Association representatives continue to lobby CSIRO’s Situation Management Team (SMT) for the development of site-specific Covid Safe Plans (CSP).
While the SMT maintains that the organisation wide, iterative CSP satisfies Victorian Government requirements; the Staff Association remains concerned that this approach is too generic and fails to outline site-specific information and measures into consolidated plans for each work location.
Union representatives will meet with the SMT later this week and present suggestions for specific CSPs for the Werribee and Clayton sites, both located in areas currently subject to stage four restrictions by the Victorian Government.