We understand times are tough and we are facing an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 virus. The ARA Senior Management Team and myself are here to provide support and guidance we need to successfully navigate through this period. The situation is evolving day by day, and every business faces its own challenges. These are undoubtedly challenging times.
A Pandemic Committee has been formed being comprised of myself, Brett Chambers, Tony Franov, David Sefton, Allison McCann and Steve Fazakerley. We meet regularly via videoconference. We have assessed the emergency situation and we are constantly monitoring the national and various state directives relating to the COVID-19 infection. This committee gives prompt instructions to the ARA Senior Management Team and the whole company and ensures effective and efficient responses to the rapidly changing general and business conditions. We are following the guidance from the government and our health authorities and will ensure swift and diligent action in accordance with any regulation that is mandated.
Please check this page regularly for messages to keep you informed of the current situation.
It is important that we maintain a business as usual approach. In adopting this approach we should follow the guidance that has been issued by the authorities:
- If you or a family member have arrived from overseas you need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Please advise your supervisor of your status.
- If you are aware of anyone violating this requirement, please inform your divisional Managing Director.
- If you are feeling unwell seek medical advice immediately.
- If you have tested positive, please follow the medical advice you are given.
- Please keep your hands clean at all times – see image below on instructions on how best to wash your hands to help control spread the virus.
If you feel that you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 Virus:
- Stay home and contact your Doctor and or Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for advice. When you contact your GP alert them to the fact that you may have been exposed to the COVID- 19 Virus.
- If you become unwell at work – alert your supervisor, go home immediately and seek medical advice.
- If you are unsure what to do in any circumstance, contact your supervisor or your safety advisor for guidance.
It should be noted that business continuity procedures relating to our information systems are fully active.
Please stay safe and stay healthy and help each other through this difficult period. Remember, you have access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), at LifeWorks on 1300 361 008.
It has been almost a week since the last update on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic upon ARA and our operations. We acknowledge that it is not helpful to all of us to have had mixed messages from our various government leaders during the past weekend. As best as we understand, we can keep working so long as we have the work. If this changes, the Corporate & Division leaders will let you know and we will deal with our response to you at that time.
We are pleased to inform you that except for a few locations we service, most of ARA’s work has continued. Where we have had work cancelled or shut down, we have tried and we will attempt in the future to redeploy you in a role that is equivalent to your skills if we have the work.
As indicated to you last week, the situation we are facing with this pandemic is unparalleled in our lifetime. It is so important that if you feel sick at all, or have some of the well-known symptoms of COVID-19 (such as a sore throat, a cough, a fever, fatigue and more), you follow the government guidelines.
Download the guidelines for your information.
As this situation evolves, your management team in conjunction with the corporate management team will communicate with you continually, openly and honestly. Undoubtedly, all of us may be called upon to make sacrifices before this pandemic is controlled. Beginning in April, both Edward Federman, ARA Group Managing Director and Allison McCann, ARA Chief Financial Officer, will be working without pay.
In the meantime, please let the Corporate Management Team or your Divisional Management Team know your questions and concerns.
Last evening I watched our Prime Minister address the Country with an update on how Australia will continue to approach the COVID-19 pandemic. I was gratified to hear him say “…anyone who has a job is an essential worker.” And he also made it clear that Australia is open for business. We have our health to worry about and we must take the steps necessary, as he put forth last evening, to maintain our Physical well-being, but we also have as an obligation to keep our economic health sound. We are fighting two battles at the same time.
We are extremely fortunate that we are being allowed to do our jobs and serve our customers for the most part.
It is so important that we follow all the guidelines issued by the government. Please follow the link below:
There is a lot of information on this link. Please take some time to read what the government is saying. It is critical for all of to go to work and then go home. We have to minimise the contact we have with the community outside of work and our family. And, at all times, follow the safe hygiene requirements.
Please download the poster for protecting your well-being.
Download Well-being Poster
There is no doubt we are under a lot of strain. We have to deal with the pandemic and the threat to our physical well-being. Most importantly, we have to take care of our mental health. ARA has made available our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Please use it for yourself or any family member. The phone number is 1300 361 008.
Please download the information from Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Download EAP Information
This program is for you. Please take advantage of it if you need to, do not be afraid to ask for help. As many of you know, I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for the past 48 years. It has helped me immensely in my life. If you have any interest in learning, please feel free to contact me. Any form of mindfulness meditation is extremely useful.
We have to be mindful of our financial health. Just spend your money on essentials. One area of help the government has given us is early access to Superannuation.
If you or a family require this help, please download the information.
Download Early Access Superannuation
The last item for today is our children. It has to be extremely stressful for our children to see and experience what is happening around them. My seven year old granddaughter, who lives with us, said to me this morning, “Papa, when is the coronavirus going to be all done?” It was heart breaking. It really made me think how difficult this must be for our children. They are seeing social distancing, their soccer or other sport is cancelled, more children are staying home from school and being home schooled and more. Their world is just upside down.
Some advice I have seen about talking with kids about the coronavirus is:
- Model calmness
- Ask them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings.
- Limit media exposure.
- Explain that it is normal to feel worried.
- Allow them to regularly contact people by phone or Facetime who they would normally see or might be worried about.
I will endeavour to obtain additional information to help you support your children and your family in my next update.
Believe me when I say you are all just so valued by the Senior Management Team at ARA and by myself. Stay safe and stay healthy. Remember, you are all essential workers in Australia.
ARA Group Managing Director
It has been a few days since I corresponded with you. I hope this finds everyone safe and well.
We are very fortunate thus far as we have been able to do most of our work for our customers. And, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone for hanging in there and doing your job. It is keeping our Company going in this tough time. We are also seen by our customers as being a strong, good company. That is due to each and every one of you doing your job. The future is uncertain as we do not yet fully know if we are stopping the spread of the virus well enough. As things change we will communicate with you. In the meantime, in most areas with some exceptions, it is business as usual.
For those of you still able to attend our customers’ sites or working on construction sites, I am especially grateful. You are the front line of ARA. Please remember, and it is imperative, that you follow all the safe distancing and work rules attendant at this very unique time. The first priority is for you to stay safe and stay well. Please obey all the work rules we are giving you and follow all the government guidance.
There are some wonderful things happening within the Group. The ARA Fire team at the M5 Tunnel project has a linear detection system to install. To the credit of Barrie Smith and ARA Fire, the ARA Electrical guys will be doing much of the work. Thank you ARA Fire. It came at an opportune time as some electrical work of our customers has been put on hold. And it took less than 24 hours for ARA Electrical to get ARA Fire to quote a package on a job going ahead. This action gives us the opportunity to take the work from a fire protection competitor. Really well done by Brett Chambers and the entire ARA Electrical team.
We need so much more of our ARA teams working together and giving each other work. We have not done enough of this for the past 19 years. And the responsibility for that sits with me. I have not been assertive enough over the years to insist upon sharing the work where appropriate. However, I will no longer tolerate giving work to our competitors. I also don’t care if there is a pricing problem. Please just work it out between you and come up with something that is fair for everyone. There are almost 2,500 employees in ARA and there are 165 shareholders of ARA, including many employees. There is no time like the present, in this very uncertain time, to stop giving work to our competitors and give the work to your fellow ARA teammates.
I accept responsibility for our not engaging with each other well enough in the past. I will now assert myself most aggressively that we have to work with each other. Every single one of you can help me in this regard. You are on customers’ sites, or you are talking to our customers on the phone. Find out if they need security work or security equipment or access control cards or fire protection work or electrical work or comms and data work or mechanical work or building repairs or fitouts or building remedial work or they need their premises cleaned or they need doors or if they need locksmith service and on and on. We have built ARA to be the ultimate building services company and the best building services company in Australia. By looking out for each other we can make it easier to keep things going in this difficult and trying time. As we say at the end of corporate video, “We are ARA.” We need to generate more and more ARA Dollars – keeping work and dollars with each other.
If you are uncertain about all the services ARA offers, please watch our corporate video and become acquainted with all that we offer. If you have an opportunity and you don’t know who to call or email, then please call or email me. I will get you in touch with the right person.
If you are the recipient of an opportunity from a fellow ARA teammate, do not let them down. Give your teammate exceptional service. Let’s really make a difference.
Your Pandemic Committee and the Senior Management Team have been meeting every day via video conference. When we meet, it is a bit like the start of the TV show, The Brady Bunch. Each participant is in a little square unto themselves. Then we may occasionally have someone on their phone rather than video. It is interesting and it is the new world we live in. I would like to end with a bit of humour. The following video demonstrates a dysfunctional video conference and it is funny. I can assure you, ours works much better and we are communicating well. We do use Zoom.
As I said earlier, thank you so much for all that you are doing. Stay safe and stay well and keep your families well.
ARA Group Managing Director
As the Easter break begins, and we have now continued to work carefully and abiding by all the social distancing requirements, I just want to check in and see how you are doing. I am sure it has been a challenge, but we are doing a really good job in containing the virus in Australia. You need to keep going and keep following the rules put forth by the Australian government.
The most important thing all of us can do during the Easter break is to stay at home. Enjoy the holiday with your family and stay safe and stay healthy. You are extremely valued as an important part of the ARA Group. When things settle down and we are past this horrible virus, I am looking forward to working with all of you and growing our business. I am sorry this email to you is a bit late tonight. I do all of you have a chance to see it to know that you are all in my thoughts and I remain very grateful for all that you are doing and doing your job.
A couple of information items:
Our EAP program, Lifeworks, will be sending an invite to everyone for their app before we finish up this week (I hope). It has been a challenge as they only had a small portion of all of our employees. There have been lots of problems working with IT to make sure the emails are safe. Everyone should now have the invite I keep referring to.
Second, ARA will be paying for everyone to get a flu shot, if you want one. The details of that program will be sent to you from me next week. We will be able to do it in the office or you will be given a voucher to use at a chemist near you. We really want to help everyone stay healthy.
A little humour to end this note.
As this video says, “Stay Inside.” Please follow all the rules this Easter weekend.
Finally, it could be worse. We could be completely locked down as in New Zealand and the UK. One family in the UK sang about their locked down life:
Happy Easter everyone. Stay well.
I hope that everyone had a good Easter with your family. I know travel was essentially non-existent.
Fortunately, we can continue to do our work in Australia and I hope next week sometime our New Zealand folks can get back to work.
I came across a great video that speaks to the teamwork of an organisation. All of us have a critical role in the success of the ARA Group. We have to look out for each other and assist each other whenever and wherever possible. This continues a theme that I put in an earlier email. To be a better company we really need to look for work opportunities for each others’ business units. Our Senior Management Team continues to meet each and the level of collaboration is extraordinary.
Let’s continue our focus on being a great team, being there for each other and doing a great job for our customers.
We are so fortunate in Australia and New Zealand. The leaders of both our countries have put all of us in a place where we have limited the spread of the coronavirus and have kept us working.
Take care everyone and stay well
I hope this email finds everyone well. We are continuing to work in Australia. Most areas are continuing with a reasonable work load. Unfortunately, a couple of areas are feeling the strain of work slowing down. I recognise many of you have made sacrifices to help the company get through this period and for that, I will be forever grateful to you. New Zealand gets back to work tomorrow pretty much on the same basis as we have been operating in Australia. We all remain very fortunate that both our countries have managed this pandemic well with limited serious illnesses. We need to continue to follow all the guidelines to maintain the track we have set for ourselves.
To get on the other side of this pandemic in good shape as a company will require all of us to really focus and help each other out. We may have to take that extra step for a customer or to help our workmate. There are six things I have learned over the years that I believe we can all do that will make a big difference as to how well we are as a company on the other side.
We cannot achieve anything if we do not show up for work, show up to help our customers, show up to help each other. Show up with a positive, can do attitude.
Use the power of your voice, your ideas to solve some of the problems we have today. Think about how we can best position ourselves to emerge stronger than ever before. Every one of us has ideas and thoughts on how we can do things better. Don’t be afraid to express those ideas.
Think about the good values we try to get ARA to stand for – helping each other, helping in the community. Think of defining our work in terms that represent the company well.
We cannot accomplish much by ourselves. Everything goes better when we collaborate and work with our teammates.
Never Give Up
Everything can look difficult at times. It is critical that we never give up, don’t give up on ourselves, on our workmates and our company. If we give up we fail.
Lift Others Up
All of us want to be wanted, to be recognised, to share in each other’s successes. We are in this together. Let’s support each other and positively reinforce what we are trying to accomplish to create a positive environment.
Let’s stay focused and continue to do a good job. We will all have to make some sacrifices along this journey until we get to the other side. By doing so, ARA will emerge a stronger, better company with great values. Once again, I am extremely grateful to all of you who are doing what is necessary. We are luckier than many other people and companies today. Please let’s not take this for granted. Let’s make the most of it.
Let’s end with some humour. To contrast the fantastic job the leaders of our two countries have done, we can listen to the words of the US President as mimed here: