Remember 2020? Those unrelenting bushfires, crazy record maximum temperatures, COVID 19 and the great Melbourne lockdown! Aren’t we all looking forward to looking back when these events are history?

We will all have stories to tell reflecting back on this time. One of the most enduring lessons for me was the reminder that the necessity is the mother of invention. We achieved so much transformation in a short time because we needed to. At Spatial Vision (SV) like so many other thousands of businesses, government agencies and community organisations, we rapidly transformed into a fully remote workforce.

There were many challenges to operating from home – technical, communications, staff health and safety – especially for the extended Melbourne lock-down. At Spatial Vision, we prioritised the wellbeing of our staff. Everyone was quickly supported to set up a safe home working environment and staff were regularly consulted and surveyed to understand and address their concerns.

Cloth masks made by local machinists were ordered just before the government mandate. These struck a note with staff as Tapaleena Bhattacharjee highlighted in a post she made after receiving her SV facemasks: “Taking care of each other”.

Taking care of each other is the biggest learning from this pandemic! We all are interconnected, like the butterfly effect. Our actions cause waves that can be felt incredibly far from where they began, and we can use that power to lift each other up.

A staff-led initiative supported by the company, “Social Vision” created a calendar of events to help keep people connected. Social Vision continues to delight everyone with their activities that been instrumental in having fun, being creative and participating. This was all the more important during the cold, dark winter days of the lock-down period. HR Manager Katie Ziccone talks about the significance of Social Connections in her post.

Of course, we also needed to take care of business. We ramped up our communications with clients to ensure they were aware that we remained available to them. As a company we have long served clients around Australia and internationally. However, a year ago I couldn’t imagine that we would now do all this work remotely. However, as everyone has been in the same situation, transformation has been a rapid learning journey for us all.

Another first for us has been keeping up with company growth by remote recruitment of new staff. We have applied the same adaptive thinking to on-boarding new staff members. We wanted to make sure that new starters are well set up at home and feel like they are connected into the company and their team. Now restrictions have eased, we recently held picnics in regional parks at four compass points around the city. Pre-COVID staff met new staff members. It is a novel experience to meet someone you have only known via Zoom on screen compared to seeing them in living 3D.

My onboarding at Spatial Vision has been second-to-none. Every step has been carefully considered to ensure I am supported to work from home whilst remaining connected to my team, and the wider organisation. In what could have been a very challenging time, I have felt at ease and at all times welcome. I am extremely grateful to be a part of such a prestigious organisation. Thanks for a great start.

What else has been important?

The dramatic factors that have shaped 2020 would appear to have now been baked into the DNA of the company. This year we have clarified and communicated our Statement of Purpose that spells out the things that matter to us and where we want to make a difference. We are inviting our clients and partners to join us in making the world more sustainable and equitable.

This year, we have also championed the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our company’s SDG Ambitions, as we have called the plan, sets out actions that relate to both internal business processes and working with clients and our long term partners. As a service orientated business, the greatest impact we can have is by empowering our clients with information, strategies and tools to contribute to the achievement of these SDGs.

Achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals is no one person, organisation or government’s responsibility, and there is no silver bullet remedy for the challenges that threaten our livelihoods and the health of our planet. Collectively, we need to seek out opportunities that contribute to change, understanding that each incremental step we take, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, can make a tangible difference. Increased collaboration with a common purpose is fundamental.

Finally, what have we learned from this year?

When confronted with challenges to business continuity through pandemics, rapid transformation to remote working, keeping staff safe and connected; if you tried to Google for answers you were sorely disappointed. There were very few relevant materials or templates to provide guidance or solutions. The last major pandemic was 100 years ago, pre-internet. We had to create our own responses to these challenges. And we did! There should be a national innovation measure for all the ideas created, tested and implemented across the country. It is this level of resilience, and wealth of creativity and self-reliance that I will remember most from 2020.

Graeme Martin
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