Managing community relations during a pandemic
The arrival of COVID-19 has compelled people around the globe to adopt social distancing to protect themselves and their communities. However, for those working in essential services, there is still a level of community contact required. This begs the question: how should companies manage their community relations during a pandemic?
Specialist in water infrastructure and essential service provider, Interflow, recognises that community relations is now more critical than ever to assist in maintaining a safe and harmonious environment for everyone.
One of Interflow’s Market Development Managers, John Weaver, spoke with 2BOB Radio, a community radio station located in Mid North Coast, New South Wales in the heart of Taree about this challenge.
Hosted by longstanding community radio presenter, John Griggs, Mr. Weaver discussed how the large family-owned business works to keep communities running by providing essential water and sanitation services across urban, regional and rural areas of Australia and New Zealand.
“Serving the needs of our communities is not just a matter of repairing and maintaining their water, sewer and stormwater pipelines,” he said.
“The work we do is about engaging with residents along every step of the journey to ensure they remain informed and that interruptions to their water services are kept to a minimum.”
Taking safety to the next level
While COVID-19 continues to evolve, so too, have the health concerns of communities since the virus has taken centre stage around the world.
“Our crews have adapted the way they manage community relations in accordance with government regulations and the advice of health authorities,” stated Mr. Weaver.
“While this is all going on, there’s a nation-wide shortage of personal protective equipment such as face masks. We’ve seen amazing efforts from our team to not only conserve their PPE to extend its useful life, but engineering new solutions to ensure the safety of themselves, their teammates and the local communities they’re working in.”
Public perceptions of essential services
John revealed that by putting community relations at the forefront of their project management, Interflow’s crews have been able to strengthen public confidence in the essential services provided and reassure the community that all works are being carried out safely and with the community’s best interests in mind.
“As soon as we say that to residents, their minds are put at ease,” he said.
“People want to know why there’s a noisy truck outside their home. They want to know if their backyards will be dug up, and most importantly, they want to know they are safe.”
John also emphasised the importance of a strong company culture in successful community engagement.
“We’re here to help people. At Interflow, we all have that belief: whether we’re in the office, on-site or underground laying a pipe, we’re excited to show you what we’re doing and how it’s going to help you.”
Keeping communication open and clear
Interflow’s response has been centered around creating open conduits for timely communication, as well as managing its interactions with both its customers and the end consumer. Some of the additional steps the Company has taken include ensuring that its worksites are adequately signposted with relevant information so that community members can remain informed from a safe distance.
By prioritising the community’s needs in the safest and most sustainable ways, Interflow strives to continually raise their standards for delivering essential service works, whilst keeping people more informed and connected than ever before.
You can listen to the full interview here: