An example of an instant team in action is the Transport COVID-19 Taskforce. Created in March to coordinate Transport’s immediate response to the pandemic, the team has been keeping our people and customers safe, making sure essential goods are still reaching communities, and is now looking to the future to plan for our ongoing recovery.
Mark Hutchings, who headed up the COVID-19 Taskforce said the success of the team comes down to having a very strong purpose and culture, along with enabling the right people to each play their part.
“We literally pulled the team together overnight and hit the ground running to deal with the myriad of challenges we faced, the way we adapted quickly was miraculous. Now we’re looking at what comes next,” Mark said.
Mark believes the lack of a formal structure in the Taskforce shows what can be achieved when the right people work together to solve problems with the backing of their leaders.
“It didn’t matter what grade someone was or what their role was, everyone in the Taskforce was included. There’s been a strong sense of people looking out for each other, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Connecting us at home so we could keep delivering essential services for the people of NSW, stress-tested our IT systems like never before. It also fast-tracked an entire program of software and network upgrades originally planned for later in the year.
Adrian Buxton, who leads our IT Infrastructure Strategy and Architecture team, said when the NSW Government requested non-essential staff to work from home it was like ‘throwing a hand grenade at the plan.’ He said we had to treat it like a technology emergency and no longer had time for a structured rollout involving project teams, consultation and communications campaigns.
“At the time, Microsoft Windows 10 software hadn’t been scaled up to allow everyone to connect remotely to our network at once, so our IT team had to figure out how to get the capacity we needed for so many people to work at home,” Adrian said.
Our tech troopers
What our IT team achieved in such a small time was remarkable. The number of people who could log in remotely to our network at once went from around 1,500 to 12,000. The number of people using Microsoft Teams skyrocketed and almost 3,700 laptops were set up and sent out. A planned nine-month rollout of Teams Telephony was done in just two and a half weeks so we could call each other using a computer instead of a land line. MODE salutes the army of unsung tech troopers behind these incredible feats.
Melinda Young and the Digital Experience and Adoption team took on the task of teaching over 10,000 people how to use Microsoft Teams for collaboration, meetings, livestreams, workshops and just staying connected, all while working remotely themselves.
“Normally we would have trained about 15 people per session in a training classroom equipped with plug-and-play technology. Instead we held webinars several times a week for between 200 and 250 people,” Melinda said.
Melinda says now people have had a taste of the great tech tools available they’re coming to her and saying ‘give me more.’ The team welcomes this thirst for learning, and invites you to visit the online learning platform to check out the tools and training available.
The challenge facing the End User Services team was how to equip thousands of people with laptops that would allow them to do things as diverse as conducting heavy vehicle inspections, running our payroll and putting together complex train timetables.
Director Carl Morton said, “There were moments where we’d spend two days building and testing a solution with little to no sleep and it didn’t work. But the team stood up the next day and asked, ‘What’s next?’ It felt amazing when we found a solution.”
One workaround was the pizza box strategy. “Some people who lived in COVID high-risk areas didn’t feel comfortable coming to the office, so we delivered laptops in a box, directly to people’s homes just like a pizza delivery,” Carl said.
The achievement Yaohan Yapit and the IT Enterprise Collaboration team are most proud of from the early COVID-19 period is how quickly Microsoft Teams Live Events was made available for our leaders and others to livestream meetings, briefings and consultation sessions – making us more connected not only during the initial shutdown but also as an ongoing option.
Yaohan said that overnight, everyone could connect with leaders from the Secretary and Deputy Secretaries to the frontline, all from home. “Now people can stay informed with what’s happening across Transport, ask our leaders questions using interactive Q&A and shift workers can also watch recorded team briefings when it suits them. It’s bringing all of us together.”
Live Events are also allowing us to conduct virtual community consultations for important road and rail infrastructure projects, so the community can still have a say even while things aren’t business as usual.
How will we work in future?
Watch a video about how we’re making Transport offices COVIDSafe.
If you’re still working from home, you’re probably wondering when you might be heading back to the workplace, what that will look like, and whether it’s safe.
To make our workplaces COVIDSafe for those who need to use them now and also for the future, we’ve developed a Workplace Guide for all Transport offices and workplaces across NSW.
We’re also taking a closer look at which flexible and remote working practices we might want to hold on to for the long term, once the pandemic has passed. The New Ways of Working Pilot Program is currently underway to explore this and test concepts related to teams and leadership, digital tools and the physical workplace to give our people more choice around how, where and when they work.
One of the pilot locations is our new Macquarie Park office that offers fantastic work spaces, integrated technology and all the facilities we need to support new ways of working. Over several weeks, pilot participants have been testing a range of workplace scenarios, new tools and systems, and participating in discussions to explore their experience of working in new and different ways. Based on the insights and experience of our people, we’ll shape our new ways of working. A range of pilots with regional teams commenced this month.