Councils adapting to working from home

 Sarah Gardner. Photo: ODT files
Sarah Gardner. Photo: ODT files
Working from home is the new normal for southern councils as they adapt to Alert Level 4 conditions.

Both the Dunedin City Council and the Otago Regional Council said they were implementing work from home provisions where they could.

Regional council chief executive Sarah Gardner said staff were continuing to process consents remotely, but could not undertake site visits or in-person meetings with applicants.

The council’s science department was not undertaking field work during lockdown, but was busy with desk-based assessments from home.

“We have been here before and we know that, while lockdowns can slow some work down, they also provide an opportunity to reprioritise desk-bound tasks, including processing compliance reports, analysing data and undertaking planning.”

Ms Gardner said the council was taking a “conservative” approach to working from home.

“Our staff and their health and wellbeing are important to us ... Only some aspects of our functions are considered essential work, such as public transport.”

The council would respond to environmental incidents where they presented critical risks to people or the environment, she said.

City council chief executive Sandy Graham said continuity plans were in place that allowed most staff to work from home.

Customer support officers were continuing to take calls from home, while IT staff were fielding technical questions and supporting other staff while working from home.

Staff from the finance, planning and policy teams were also working from home.

Some departments were able to bring forward project-based work that could be worked on from home.

‘‘We also know lockdowns are challenging for everybody, so staff are also encouraged to be flexible in their approach while juggling work and family commitments at home.’’

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