Communication & Quality IT

Matthew Tence , 28 January 2022

Silver Thomas Hanley Business Manager and ACA VIC/TAS Committee member Matthew Tence says good communication and significant IT investment have helped navigate and overcome the challenges of the last two years.

Where is your practice based? How has your practice been affected by the pandemic?

We are based in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Northern NSW. Our practice has been affected in many ways:

Positive – Improved communication. Investment in technology and systems, which accelerated practice improvement. Sharpened our focus on what matters. Increased the laptop roll out for a majority of staff.

Negative – Not enough time spent face to face, with reduced collaboration with team members who do not directly work together.

What have been the key challenges for your practice over the last two years?

  • Communication, getting the balance right
  • Culture in a remote workforce, or with limited people in offices
  • Reduced face to face contact with teams across the Country
  • Borders being closed to international markets.

What measures did your practice put in place in response to COVID-19?

We made significant improvements to IT systems going into the pandemic which helped. We further strengthened this in the first 3–6 months of the pandemic, which went a long way to helping navigate a challenging two-year period. Increasing our laptop roll out to over 70% of our staff was a big help.

What advice would you give to other practices based on your experiences so far?

  • Technology investment in the right areas is critical to success.
  • Communication, sometimes over-communicating, is important.
  • Ensuring you check in with staff regularly, beyond project reporting lines.
  • Implementing a clear working remotely policy – a policy that is flexible to align with the various scenarios and different reasons for working remotely.
  • Find a way to have fun and do little things and bring the team together, whether it’s a photo competition or something interesting they can engage with.

What do you believe needs to happen to support our profession and the wider building industry?

  • Better / targeted investment from the Government on longer term infrastructure.
  • Clearer roadmaps that account for potential situations we will encounter (i.e. Omicron outbreak).

What measures have you put in place to support your employees’ mental wellbeing? How is this going?

  • We have a formal EAP program that we have had since the start of the pandemic.
  • We also do a lot of work in relation to checking in with staff regularly to maintain open communication.
  • The remote working policy and implementation also played a big role in helping this at times.

How can the ACA assist you? What would you like the ACA to prioritise as we face another disruptive year?

This year will be another disruptive year, so I’d like to hear more about Communication, Culture in Practice, Change Management and Leading Remote Workforces or Hybrid Workforces.