Solutions for Working from Home in the Mining Industry
Work from home! Just log in with a VPN! Simple they say!
The Governments are changing the advice on a daily basis, it is nearly impossible to stay abreast of the changes. Especially since I have stopped listening to the news. Except for the 6.00am news that seeps through my partial sleep after the alarm goes off. I had to stop listening, as I was getting overwhelmed and neurotic. Continuously asking myself ‘is the virus on this’.
Then the employer says work from home!
Just use Zoom for meetings, Trello for setting tasks and VPN into your work computer and LIN for distributing phone calls. Which sounds fine, I just need to organise a work station out of the wife’s way (so I am not murdered) who has been recently unemployed because of Covid-19 and is continually neurotically cleaning.
Working from home (WFH) options for staff has been a mainstay of LandTrack Systems for a long time. Given that the scenario is now here to stay, here are a few tried and tested tips and techniques that might assist you in the transition.
Finding a space to work comfortably and efficiently is important you need to set up your desk, workstation and screens etc. safely and ergonomically. A good internet connection is vital so that you can use the video conferencing and collaborative tools available such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp.
Video conferencing will be your main communication with clients and fellow employees so it is important to be presentable. Other than changing out to the PJs, try to have good lighting. Try not to be back lit with your face in a shadow, but have soft natural light on your face preferably from the side to bring out a 3-dimensional image.
Logistics and Mindset
Working from home is still working – it’s not free time. However, it is very convenient and there are many benefits such as the absence of a commute thereby allowing a better work life balance, dressing casually and comfortably and being able to water your plants and cuddle your dog (or cat).
But there are drawbacks such as the supposed lack of routine, difficult remote collaboration, lack of colleague interaction and a plethora of distractions like the kids, dog, spouse, household chores that you’ve been putting off – no need to continue, you get the drift.
A good strategy to overcome this is to maintain some semblance of a routine. You want to keep those good habits that allow you to be productive such as a consistent wake up time, a pre-work routine, taking regular breaks, clarifying your availability and office hours, and fitting in some exercise. Setting some boundaries and rules for roommates and family is also of benefit.
It is vital that you and your colleagues agree on rules for establishing one’s availability. Everyone should be in agreement on these rules and assume that everyone will be sticking as much as possible to their availability. Sharing what you are working on with your colleagues, including your daily wins…and losses will keep engagement high.
Using cameras for remote calls will help keep you and everyone else on the call alert and engaged. Remember, you are still working so keep it decent and professional but also light and casual where required.
Technology is your friend but it can be obnoxious and rude at times, so keep it on a tight leash.
Tenement Management issues
The government is continually changing the rules relating to accessing tenure for mining and exploration. The have removed the ability to conduct heritage surveys, effectively removing the ability to conduct exploration over new areas. Also, it is increasing difficult to move through the State to conduct exploration.
At this stage, the biggest mistake is to just do nothing. In the future you will need to apply for exemption from expenditure conditions or to renew a licence or lease. To do either of these you require evidence to present to DMIRS. Therefore, it is essential to diarise all government’s actions that affect your company’s function, and gather and create evidence to show that your company attempted to undertake exploration. For example, if you have any exploration tenure make sure a Programmes of Works has been lodged with DMIRS.
On the 3rd of April the Government gazetted the following Ministerial Statement of Opinion by Minister of Mines.
DMIRS on the 8th April 2020 released this following advice
The Minister is granting nothing that is not currently not available under the Mining Act. However, he is providing assurance there is a reason for an exemption under s102(3) of the Mining Act “any other reason which the Minister …considers sufficient to justify an exemption”. However, as it is written as a ‘statement of opinion’ and can be withdrawn as easily as is gazetted, relying on the opinion is risky. Also, if a person objects to the exemption application, the Warden’s decision must be within the law stated in the Mining Act and Regulations.
The other issue that raises it head, is obtaining witnessed wet signatures for statutory declarations, affidavits, and securities, while everyone is confined home in separate locations. My normal goto Justice of the Peace who all volunteer their time (and are over 70 years old),and the professional Statutory Declaration witnesses, don’t want to the know me anymore. My only solution is to drive to the Mining Registrar, fill out a questionnaire proving I am at low risk of being infected by Covid-19 and get the mining registrar to witness my signature.
I hope these tips assists you working from home in the mining industry.