Property Australia

Adapting to the new normal

PROPERTY AUSTRALIA May 12, 2020

How is WSP director Ross Harvey adapting to the new normal? As he works collaboratively to find solutions to client challenges, Harvey has some simple tips in the latest installment of #iworkinproperty.

Ross Harvey, Director, WSP

What I love most about my job… I love design and the challenge of helping architects to make their vision a reality by determining the considerations of design and constructability.

How my work has changed since Covid-19… Using digital platforms to virtually re-create the collaborative energy that would normally occur through face-to-face workshops. While we are unable to physically meet around a table and thrash out ideas on the butter paper, as a team we still need to work collaboratively to determine solutions for our clients’ challenges.

How I’m adapting to the “new normal”… Like the rest of the world, my team and I are using platforms, like Skype/Teams or Zoom to stay connected as a team. It has taken a little getting used to, but formalising social interactions on a daily basis has been integral for maintaining our team dynamic. As an organisation though, we already use these platforms to collaborate with international colleagues on projects from around the globe.

My new workday essentials are… It’s been beneficial to start the morning with a team meeting as it opens up the channels of communication for the day. My team and I end each week with virtual drinks on the Friday night to celebrate the achievements of the week and to ensure that everyone is feeling connected, particularly as not all team members are isolating with other people.

The innovative technology or idea I’ve embraced is… Maintaining social interactions in a virtual environment is key. It’s easy to fall into an agenda mindset while working remotely, but it’s so important to prioritise personal connections, both for the wellbeing of the team, and to keep up the collaborative energy that we need for working together on projects. My team has started including simple games like best background competition in our morning calls. And our Friday virtual drinks might include a short activity like a quiz and non-work based talk, to get people conversing comfortably and laughing.

My advice to others looking to implement this… Start with a simple quiz to get the ball rolling, but then ask the team for ideas and get them to volunteer to organise and host the weekly drinks, which will help with keeping the team engaged.

My most valuable skill in challenging times… Seeing the human side of work and helping people achieve what they are trying to do by being friendly, approachable and enthusiastic to make it work.

My biggest inspiration… My biggest inspiration is other people’s passion. There is nothing more exciting than working with a developer or an architect on the grand vision they want to create – that’s inspiring. It gives drive and adds a personal meaning to what we do.

One way I’ll work differently on the other side of this crisis… I expect that in the future, my team and most others will only be partly in the office, maybe three days a week, for workshops and discussions. I think the days of working 9-5 and five days a week in the office is over. 

What I’ve learned so far from 2020… The world is always changing and challenging us.

How are your people stepping up to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and finding a “new normal”? To share your stories or be featured in our #iworkinproperty series, contact news@propertycouncil.com.au