To our customers and community across Australia:
As the spread of COVID-19 has made its way across the globe we have witnessed the varying degrees to which leaders throughout government and business have reacted to the crisis. There has been a myriad of information and interpretations, which have led to confusion and the general sense that very few people understand exactly what is required of them and where this pandemic will end. Last week we finally witnessed the beginning of Australian action that aims to actually deal with the public health crisis, however we believe that there still a gap between the response of our government and what is right for our community of staff, clients and friends.
Today we made the decision to move our entire staff of researchers, designers, producers and technologists into working from home arrangements as of Tuesday the 16th of March. This is by no means an easy decision. As documented in our Redesigning Work Report in 2018, work is not just a physical place but an organising principle that shapes our identity and our sense of wellbeing. Suddenly changing that relationship for over 45 people means a disruption and adjustment that goes beyond the walls and meeting rooms that we spend the majority of our weekly lives. It impacts our families, our clients and the local businesses that surround us and rely upon our patronage each week.
To many of you reading this, the idea of closing an entire office and shifting staff to their homes may seem like an overreaction. Many are saying that right now we should wait for the authorities to direct us, and that taking unilateral action just creates panic. I’d like to dispel that notion here. As a company and a group of individuals, we work with social impact at the forefront of our mission. Portable has a clear set of values and a mission that guides us when others are unable to act, or to bridge the gap of policy failure or social need. We firmly believe that right now, the best course of action for all of us is to self isolate in order to reduce the impact on our health service providers and those members of the community to whom exposure could be life threatening. Closing access to our borders is the remit of our governments — choosing to practice social distancing is a powerful tool we can all use to protect ourselves and our communities.
At Portable, optimism has always been one of our core values and that’s something we intend to bring to our work over the coming weeks and months. From our earliest inception with the Portable Film Festival, which took cinema for the first time into the bedrooms and yurts of people across the world, we have become adept at hosting and delivering innovative work online. Our team has been developing our practice along the way: physical post-it notes are quickly becoming a thing of the past. This new crisis offers us an opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise of delivering online workshops, interviews and insight sessions to our clients. Already we have rescheduled existing programs of work with our clients to online settings and it has proven to be both a supportive and empowering process.
Over the coming period, we look forward to working with you all to help support your work and to come out on the other side of this crisis with new knowledge, better practices and a more rigorous and engaging way of connecting. We encourage you to use the time to reflect on your work practices and your impact, and bring some of those reflections into the new world of work on the other side.