NSW Telco – Whether bushfires or pandemic, NSW Telco Authority was well prepared

Company Name = NSW Telco Authority

Industry = Telecom

Number of employees = 235

“If not, why not?” Was the mantra for a flexible job offer for all positions in the NSW Telco Authority (NSWTA), the state agency responsible for the public safety net. This philosophy is one that begins with trust and understanding: trust in the way their people should work based on their needs and the understanding that flexible work empowers people and drives team productivity as well as involvement.

With a highly distributed workforce across NSW – often in remote or hard-to-reach locations – which interacts daily with industry and government agencies, NSWTA has a large role to play and it performs complex types of work. As a statutory authority in the NSW Customer Service Department, NSWTA supports NSW government agencies that use operational telecommunications for critical and operational purposes. These include emergency service organizations, vital and community service providers whose use of communications is an essential part of their work.

During the 2019/2020 bush fires NSWTA played an integral role in providing emergency coordination of telecommunications infrastructure across the country. During the March 2021 rains and floods, NSWTA concentrated mobile properties and public safety network sites under rapid surveillance under construction to support the emergency response. Drawer planning and crisis preparedness are undoubtedly a big part of what they do.

NSW Telco - Flexible in their steps: Whether bush fires or plague, NSW Telco Authority was well prepared

“Flexible work allows me to live in areas while leading a Sydney-based team. We connect online daily and I travel to Sydney to meet with colleagues and clients in person, as needed. I have young children and Talco provides a supportive environment that also includes flexible working hours to support work-life balance. “. – Christy Clark, Customer Service Manager and Stakeholders

NSWTA has implemented regular reporting mechanisms to get a clear picture of how many employees have used flexible work and what kind of flexibility. It was key, and the agency is happy to report that 100% of their people have a flexible work arrangement of some kind – including all of their senior leadership staff.

When the epidemic and extradition began last year, the organization adopted “a different approach to agile work.” Computer equipment of team members, desk chairs, etc. were delivered to homes, and virtual ergonomic assessments were completed to ensure that all staff had the appropriate resources for safe work. Additional features have been added to our online tools, health and safety (WHS) enabling the team to capture real-time events and hazards remotely. With the move online, the WHS team has used technology to complete promise activities through WHS testing and virtual leadership. A new virtual process was planned for the interview, induction and integration of a new team with 125 staff members hired during the Corona Peak last year.

In 2020, the NSW Telecom Authority places special emphasis on ensuring the well-being of their employees when working from home and away, implementing initiatives such as first aid certification for mental health, work safety assessments from home and online trivia nights and town halls.

For many of their team members, working remotely during COVID was simply an extension of the flexible arrangements that already existed. However, additional resources and support have been made available to them during the quarantines, many of which are now ongoing, including staff first aid mental health courses to acquire the skills to support their staff members.

NSW Telco - Flexible in their steps: Whether bush fires or plague, NSW Telco Authority was well prepared

“A flexible and remote job offer is not only about empowering your people, but it is also about business continuity. When your organization adopts new ways of working, you can achieve much more.” – Jane Want, Director of Strategy, Risk and Performance

For an organization with a small (but growing) team, the epidemic and the 2019-20 fire season have not slowed them down. In fact, over the past 12-18 months, NSWTA’s key programs and activities have continued to gain momentum:

  • By 2020, more than 50 new sites were added to the public service network (PSN) across NSW. The PSN is a single, integrated radio network that provides operational and mission-critical communications for emergency services organizations (ESOs), critical services and other government agencies.
  • The Agency’s Emergency Management Unit for Telecommunications has worked 24/7 for more than 175 consecutive days in support of ESO and telecommunications infrastructure throughout the 2019-20 Black Summer fires.
  • Follow the delivery of 24 new or improved PSN sites to support firefighting efforts.
  • Hired 125 new team members in 2020 and will add another 100 people by mid-2021.
  • During the March 2021 weather events, NSWTA quickly tracked down six new PSN sites to support NSW SES and NSW fire and rescue efforts during the emergency response.
  • Delivered 13 towers as part of the Mobile Black Spot program during 2019/20. To date 176 out of 201 sites have been submitted under the program funded by both the Commonwealth and NSW
  • Supported more than 40 infrastructure, connectivity and cyber security projects and BAU initiatives
  • Introduced a new environmental sustainability policy
  • Published NSWTA’s first independent annual report

Importantly, the members of the organization have adapted well to remote work and now a hybrid combination of work:

  • 80% + prefer to return to the office one day a week
  • 3% want to return to the office 4 or 5 days a week
  • 63% prefer a hybrid combination of home / office
  • 36% prefer to work mostly remotely
  • The staff enjoyed not traveling every day and found that they had more quality time with the family, although missed the face-to-face interactions with their staffs
  • A flexible work satisfaction rate of 95%. It has grown by 8% since 2019. It is also 29% higher than the industry i.e. 67%. Source: NSW 2020 Public Sector Workers Survey.

With such strong performance and people results, many may think that NSWTA’s flexible work approach is more than enough. However, the authority does not hold its breath. It is this constant dedication to best practices that has given NSW Telco their FlexReady certification from FlexCareers – one of the organizations with the highest score in our certification.

While few organizations can fully predict what challenges might develop in terms of their ways of working and their people, we know the NSW Telco Authority will be well prepared.

The FlexReport for 2021 bridges the gap in expectations between employers and employees. It examines how new hybrid ways of working have been used to enable growth out of the plague facing the plague. Growth, both in the organizational sense as employers redefine the future of work within their organizations, and on a personal level as employees redefine the priorities of different parts of their lives – inside and outside of work – and how they want to grow personally.

Download the full report Here.

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