How do we look back, ponder and summarise another year that has flashed before our very eyes?

In 2020 across the globe, we had to deal with uncertainty that was thrown at us on a daily basis. This year though, living and working with COVID became the new focus. We’ve all had to shift and change our mindsets that COVID is here to stay, but we will plough through life and business.

For the GBA team, we have learnt to adapt – we’ve booked flights to meet with clients, only to have them cancelled, and ever-changing border restrictions meant we had to find new ways to work on new projects with new clients.

On the upside, we welcomed 15 new employees to the fold, but farewelled 10, and we put the finishing touches on our in-house time and expense system TimeX.

In the project world, we’ve learnt about:

  • Stronger working relationships with contractors- In a COVID environment, problem solving and working together has come ahead of enforcing contract clauses.
  • Increased communication of numeric data – It has been interesting to see the different models and communication strategies used by governments to convey COVID information. They are effectively storytelling with data to engage and inform people of situational risks - something project controllers do all the time with project information. 
  • Importance of mental health, stress management and burnoutThis has become the centre of many business strategies. There has been a generational shift in work satisfaction, life priorities and flexibility perspective among businesses and employees.
  • Global supply chains - Just how easily both simple human error and a pandemic can disrupt them. Take for example the Ever Given and Suez Canal saga where the huge shipping container blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March, disrupting global trade.
  • Live decision making and communication under stress- Which came into play from government and health agencies. There were some great examples of building trust through effective communication. 
  • "Urgent" doesn't always mean urgent - This was a hang up of everyone becoming keyboard warriors and overusing emails. Setting reasonable and realistic expectations, including learning to say NO is a must and prioritising your workload and requirements is key to avoiding burnout.
  • Reduce stress - There is no point stressing over things outside of your own control, as things will happen regardless of your stress levels.
  • Face to face interaction is still key - As convenient as Zoom and Teams has become, nothing can replace human interaction, especially in our job. Nothing beats a coffee or beer to break the ice and looking forward to doing this more often in 2022 across the country and our client base.
  • Workload is relentless and WFH is now a norm - No one takes sick leave anymore. We need to reset and take time to rest and recover from time to time as well as ensuring a healthy work/life balance. Annual Leave also needs to be taken advantage of more in 2022.

Let’s now look toward a new year and successful 2022:

  • Resource flooding / a planner's marketas borders reopen and restrictions are lifted there will be uncertainty on how many talented project specialists will be available nationally.
  • Defence / Space project ramp upas industry develops (in relation to South Australia) new demands will emerge.
  • Risk - There is likely to be a greater focus on management and modelling various options as opposed to singular situations. More businesses are now mindful of risks they are exposed to relating to delay, disruption, and cancellation. Perceptions of risk proximity have fundamentally shifted as COVID has impacted in ways people didn't anticipate.
  • Retrospective lessons learned - After COVID has passed, there will be a time for reflection on what could have been done better for many aspects of business.
  • Training of the next generation of planners- (Rail Projects Victoria training pathways for example) Let’s look at centralising schedule culture within businesses to optimise and control projects - and the benefit this approach might bring in time. 

So after two big years for our team, we’re downing tools early for a longer, well-deserved break.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the GBA Projects team.

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