Rethinking the roster

/Rethinking the roster

We delivered a major Queensland police complex safely, efficiently, and four months early - but we kept our weekends to ourselves. How did we do it? The Chief Executive sits down with the Contract Administrator to find out!

Seth Dunn
also by Seth Dunn|Contract AdministratorContact Seth via email

July 18th, 2019

BADGE is proud to enable people to take a flexible approach to their work.

Our Sunshine Coast team recently delivered a major new police station in Caboolture, and this hugely successful project came together with a twist. The team set themselves up with a Monday to Friday roster, eschewing the Saturday work that is synonymous with the construction industry.

We have systems in place to drive project efficiency and best work practice. Here, the principle was that staff could embrace those systems with the added objective of having more free time for themselves – which has the potential to benefit the project in new ways.

Seth Dunn, our Contract Administrator on the Caboolture Police Station project, sat down with our Chief Executive Roger Zammit to talk through how it all worked.

Roger: Let me start by asking you – what was the motivation for the team to increase their productivity from Monday to Friday and keep their weekends clear?

Seth: Caboolture is about halfway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, so we decided it’d be beneficial for everybody to do nine, ten or potentially eleven-hour days from Monday to Friday and maintain the program within that time. This would allow everybody to have the weekend off and not worry about driving. When you’re driving an hour and a half each day on top of your normal work hours, you can get quite burnt out and tired, and that was one of the biggest factors for us.

So the incentive was to keep the weekends clear for time to rest and recuperate, and you guys did that by rostering to keep the site open for longer…

Absolutely, and then that way everybody not only has a bit of a chance to recharge and catch up with household duties, but most importantly spend time with their family.

Aerial view of Caboolture, QLD

Police helicopter view of Caboolture, with the construction site at the bottom right

Some subcontractors see the weekend as a chance to earn overtime income. How did you overcome that?

There were some subcontractors who came in wanting to work Saturdays, so we just had upfront conversations with them about the program. For this to become common practice it’s very important to make the program clear to subcontractors at the time of contract award – that way everyone is on the same page, and they can allow for adequate resourcing in their final offer to us before we engage them formally.

Once the works started, we monitored the status closely. Some subcontractors kept ahead of the schedule, so there was no need for them to work on a Saturday anyway. And if anyone fell behind, we’d just give them a nudge to catch up and maintain the Monday to Friday program. But we did end up working a few Saturdays – more so in the second half of the project.

OK, so it wasn’t a blanket ‘no working on the weekends’… it was an objective not to work weekends, but you would if you needed to?

Yeah, and when we did work Saturdays, we rotated that roster so it wasn’t always the Site Manager who had to be there. Between our team of four, we agreed to take turns or share half-days.

That’s very good. So when you first raised with management that you weren’t planning to open the site on a Saturday, what was the reaction?

Andrew Lanskey (Manager Sunshine Coast) was good about it. He’s accommodating – a lot of the time he’ll leave it up to the project team to determine their own roster, and he’s happy to gauge how things are tracking as long as there’s monthly project reviews and regular opportunities for him to visit the site. We just need to show management that we’re flexible with it in return. For example, sometimes you get wet weather up here in sunny Queensland which can blow your program apart, particularly with external works. So if that happens you need to be ready to change plans.

What were some of the benefits you saw from this approach?

Team morale, for sure. The energy was great coming back to work on a Monday after two days off to reset and refresh, and it was the same with the subcontractors too. You could see it flow through the site – you’d walk around and chat to people about what they got up to on the weekend, instead of anyone saying “back here again, feels like we didn’t leave”. That extra day made a massive difference and created a better environment.

We also had 352 LTI-free days on the project. Not one single lost day from an injury on the whole project over 14 months, and we had over a thousand inductions too. You’d have to factor in the lack of fatigue from having weekends off. I can’t put any science behind that, but you’d have to think that it’s a factor. Especially when you get a break from driving on the highway for long periods of time, day in and day out.

Police Minister Mark Ryan looking inside the Caboolture Police Station construction site

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan visits the site in November 2018

How did the roster help with family commitments?

The project I was on before this one ran for 16 months, and I’d have to work every second Saturday – so there were times where I’d come in and bring my daughter with me to sit there and colour in, instead of going to the beach! So not having to deal with that sort of thing is just gold for your family.

I find that if you’re working on site on a Saturday, week in week out, there’s a lot of household things that creep up on you, like mowing the lawn or other maintenance you need to do. If you only have the Sunday off, you spend the whole day doing that, or you might spend it on family time and then the chores just don’t get done. Having the Saturday off means you can do both, or something else.

That’s a fair point – there are things outside the workplace that people need time to take care of.

Yeah, I don’t want some other bloke coming over and mowing my lawn!

So culturally, you all understood the program obligation regarding completion – but how you actually achieved that, with the hours that you worked and the resources that you used, was left up to the team to take accountability for.

That’s right. You couldn’t do it on every project, because there are some jobs with extremely tight deadlines and you need to stretch to reach your completion date, but we saw that we could make it happen with this one.

Everybody performed very well, and we actually finished four and a half months ahead of the contractual completion date – which is a record for the Sunshine Coast team.

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2019-07-18T17:44:39+00:00July 18th, 2019|