Melbourne company ANDHealth 9 day fortnight improves employee satisfaction


From working-from-home to pivoting strategy, although all businesses, companies and workplaces were affected by COVID-19, some were able to use the upheaval to change their company culture for the better.

For Melbourne health technology company ANDHealth, this meant implementing a company wide 70-hour (or nine-day fortnight) working scheme, something they did without a pay cut.

And despite many offices being given the all-clear to return, ANDHealth have continued their remote working arrangements with reduced hours.

Speaking to news.com.au, ANDHealth’s CEO and Managing Director Bronwyn Le Grice, said this transition came after she noticed the extra mental toll of working from home.

“I was becoming quite aware of Zoom fatigue,” she says. “I had one week where I had maybe 30 hours of Zoom meetings and by the end of that week I literally felt like I had to crawl under a rock.

“What we saw was that working from home offers immense flexibility but when you’re working from home you also work with greater intensity.”

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The 70-hour fortnight became a way to help her employees balance their work and personal lives.

“It was an acknowledgment that if you want people to be on all the time, then make sure they have time to do other stuff, live their lives, and do the things that improve their own physical and mental wellbeing,” she says.

In practice, ANDHealth employees are able to choose when they want to work their fortnightly 70 hours. For some, this may mean seven-hour working days, while others may prefer a nine-day fortnight or lengthier days from Monday to Thursday with a weekly day off on Friday. The latter is how Ms Le Grice structures her office hours.

“I have long days from Monday to Thursday and have Fridays to do other things, which include hanging out with my kids who are four and 16 months,” she says.

“One of our staff uses that time to walk his son to school everyday, the other staff work nine-day fortnights or use the time to do things they want to for themselves whether that’s having dinner with their parents, hanging out with their friends or even going to the day spa. It doesn’t really matter.”

Speaking to news.com.au, SEEK’s resident psychologist Sabina Read says flexible working practices have become particularly important in a post-pandemic employment landscape.

“I’m a firm believer that flexible work practices are not just the domain of parents and that’s what it used to be. That trend has long left the station,” she says.

“We’ve all got different needs and it’s up to the employee to understand what their needs are and find ways to put them on the table and propose them in ways that will work for both them and the employer.”

Ms Read also says compulsory work-from-home arrangements during COVID-19 proved that employers were able to work independently, removing the trust barrier that might once have existed.

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“A lot of organisations and employees used to talk about trust and the idea that if you’re not seen then people don’t trust you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing,” she says. “The dial has shifted.”

While most offices have now returned to blended working-from-home and in-office setups, ANDHealth will continue largely working from home, with the wider team convening on creative and collaborative sessions, strategy days and monthly team lunches. Although she describes this working style as a “very self-empowered approach,” Ms Le Grice admits this all hinges on the trust she has in her employees.

“Everyone is trusted to deliver their outcome and many people might work more than 35 hours a week but they have the flexibility and control to design their own work week from a time perspective,” she says.

“We’re a small business but I have a relationship with everyone in the team and I think if you trust your staff, it comes back to you in spades.”

For employees, ANDHealth and Ms Le Grice, their flexible 70-hour work week has been an undoubted success. She’s noticed her team’s output, engagement and productivity has increased and she’s also reduced the “administrative burden” that came from having to approve leave requests like doctor’s appointments, family commitments and life admin.

“You don’t pay people for their hours, you pay people for what they create and if they’re creating value then who cares?” she says.

“I’d prefer to have people take the time off and come back to work fully focused than have them try to work through a pressing personal challenge.

“We all have lives, we all have friends, parents, partners, children, pets and it is just completely not feasible to say that you need to work 8am to 6pm every day and everything you do in life has to happen around that.”

This article was created in sponsorship with SEEK



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Qld Treasurer demands Morrison ‘gives us our fair share’


The Palaszczuk government has unleashed on Canberra for failing to give Queensland its fair share in the federal budget, demanding more funding for roads and transport infrastructure as the state’s population rapidly grows.

Sunshine State Treasurer Cameron Dick said the previously reported $1.6bn allocated to Queensland for roads and rail pales in comparison to the $3bn expected to be given to both NSW and Victoria, and $2.6bn to South Australia “for a single road tunnel”.

State migration added 30,000 residents to Queensland last year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics, compared to population losses of 19,000 and 13,000 in NSW and Victoria respectively.

Mr Dick said the sharp rise had placed pressure on housing, hospitals, roads and schools, and demanded Prime Minister Scott Morrison “end his rotten rip-off of Queensland” in the federal budget.

“South Australia had net interstate migration last year of just 98 people,” he told Queensland parliament on Tuesday morning.

“Why on earth do 98 people need a $2.6 billion road tunnel? I’ll tell you why, it’s called the federal Liberal electorate of Boothby with its razor-thin margin of 1.38 per cent.

“Meanwhile, lazy federal LNP members in Queensland on fat margins get nothing for our state.”

Mr Dick said the federal government had offered no financial support for the Cross River Rail major transport project while investing in inferior projects interstate.

“When we had a route, we had a business case, we had every expert in the country screaming that it was needed,” he told parliament.

“Yet Melbourne got $5 billion for an airport rail line, when there wasn’t even a map setting out where it would go.

“Sydney got $5.3 billion for a brand new airport.

“And let’s not forget Geelong, which got $2 billion for fast rail and a brand new $50 million hospital, funded by the federal LNP.”



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29yo teacher’s career tree change from Melbourne to Cape Ottway


On the tail end of his Masters of Secondary Education from the University of Melbourne, former hospitality worker Sam Wooster chose to take his career on the road less travelled.

Instead of looking for a job in the greater Melbourne area, he chose a rural position which took him to the Otway Shire in South West Victoria, a two-hour drive southwest of Melbourne. Although he had visited the region on family holidays, he saw the move as an opportunity to travel while Australia’s international borders were still shut.

“At the time lockdown was still on in Melbourne and I had planned to spend some time overseas in the 12 to 18 months after finishing my masters but international travel was not a thing,” he says.

Although Mr Wooster had secured the role by October 2020, he wasn’t able to visit the school until November once lockdowns had lifted. Just months after, however, he made the move to Cape Otway in January this year before the start of the school year and is currently working as a high school English and Indonesian teacher.

His relocation was also supported by the Victorian government through their Teach the Future campaign. Part of the costs were subsidised and the Department of Education also organised accommodation 400m from the school. Although his new lifestyle is “quieter”, he’s used the time to discover new hobbies.

“You’ve got more time in the day, you’ve got more time to take care of yourself and do things that you want to do for you,” he says.

“I think the ability to engage with the environment around you is fundamental to living down there for me – so being able to go surfing, trail running and just spending time out in nature.”

Being able to engage with the local community has also been a highlight.

“You’re in a small community and you’re teaching their children or their friend’s children,” he says. “It’s a privilege and quite a special thing to arrive somewhere and be a part of the fabric of that community in some way.”

“It’s quite a warm atmosphere.”

Navigating the transition, he says it’s the “little things” that took the longest to adjust to.

“Just having to plan a week ahead to do your shopping because the closest supermarket isn’t just a few minutes away and the access you have to amenities and resources is a bit scarcer so it takes more planning and forethought everyday,” he says.

According to SEEK data, having improved work-life-balance is a core reason why Aussies would consider a move to a regional area, with 36 per cent of Aussies willing to consider a pay cut if it meant they had better work-life balance.

For Mr Wooster, however, he also believes that his career tree change has given him a number of professional advantages and will ultimately make him a “better teacher”.

“I think people can get a little comfortable with their everyday life and it’s a very valuable experience to put yourself in new situations and develop your character,” he says.

“Ultimately it’ll make you a better teacher and fast-tracks your career because of the access to opportunities.

“The challenges you’ll face will ultimately make you a better person and teacher and it gives you more skills to take to the future.”

This article was created in sponsorship with SEEK



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What is dogecoin? And why is it rising and falling with Elon Musk?


The cryptocurrency dogecoin went on a rocket ride to the moon and back over the weekend after Elon Musk poked fun at it on Saturday Night Live before announcing on Monday that his company would accept it as legitimate payment for a mission to the moon.

If that sentence makes little sense to you, you’re not alone. But read on for a primer on what exactly is going on.

First thing’s first — what is dogecoin?

Dogecoin was created in 2013 by a pair of software developers who worked at Adobe and IBM, respectively, as a parody of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies are a type of encrypted, decentralized digital money that can be used to pay for things on a digital ledger known as a blockchain.

Named after a Shiba Inu dog that was the subject of an internet meme at the time, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and online jokesters began trading dogecoins for fractions of a penny. The first dogecoin that ever changed hands in early 2014 was worth $0.001540753 US at the time. Today that same dogecoin is worth 50 cents US, an increase of more than 32,000 per cent.  

While technically dogecoin exists as an offshoot of the blockchain that bitcoin is on, it is not as secure as bitcoin is, nor is there a cap on the number of dogecoins that can exist.

“Unlike many other cryptocurrency projects, dogecoin does not seek, or even pretend, to be anything more than the world’s most fun currency,” is how Alex Thorn, head of research at TSX-listed investment management investment firm Galaxy Digital, described it in a research report last week.

What does it have to do with Elon Musk?

Strictly speaking, nothing. But Musk, who recently became the richest man in human history, is a big fan of the cryptocurrency, just as he is a fan of a number of other digital assets. Musk jumped aboard the doge train last year, mostly as a joke, but over the course of several months, comments he made about dogecoin on social media lent it more and more credence.

His earliest mention of dogecoin came on Twitter in April 2019, when he called it “pretty cool” and “my fav cryptocurrency.”

His fondness has only grown since then.

His electric car company, Tesla, became a major influence in cryptocurrencies in general, after it announced earlier this year that it would accept bitcoin as payment, and would hold bitcoin on its books as an asset.

Last quarter, the company revealed it has already stockpiled more than $1 billion US worth of bitcoin

What happened this weekend?

Musk hosted NBC’s comedy show Saturday Night Live this past weekend, which led to speculation that he was likely to talk about the currency during his appearance.

That speculation drove the price of dogecoin to a high of about 73 cents US on Thursday, according to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.

Tech mogul and CEO Elon Musk referred to himself as ‘The Dogefather’ when he hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend. (Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

In one SNL sketch, Musk, appearing as fictional cryptocurrency expert, was asked to explain what exactly dogecoin is, and after some jovial back and forth, Musk’s character admits the whole thing is a “hustle.”

Despite Musk’s character saying elsewhere in the same sketch that dogecoin is “the future of currency” and “an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world,” the currency sold off Sunday, going as low as about 40 cents US per doge. 

So why is dogecoin ‘going to the moon’ again? 

The dogecoin in-joke got a little more serious on Monday when Musk tweeted about his space exploration company’s  next mission.

“SpaceX launching satellite Doge-1 to the moon next year,” Musk tweeted without elaborating. 

More details came in a media release from Canadian manufacturing and logistics company Geometric Energy Corporation. The company said it will launch a 40-kilogram satellite into orbit on one of SpaceX’s rocket. The release said the company would pay for the mission in dogecoin.

“This mission will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce,” SpaceX’s vice-president Tom Ochinero. “We’re excited to launch Doge-1 to the moon!”

CBC News asked Geometric exactly how much dogecoin they are paying in exchange for their space on the rocket. That inquiry was not immediately returned.

Following news of the deal, the cryptocurrency’s price increased on Monday. Nearing midday, it was changing hands at around 50 cents US per doge. 

What next?

That’s the multibillion-dollar question. (Or as Thorn put it in the style of the eponymous meme it’s named after: “Very Currency. Much coin.”) 

Feverish trading in dogecoin has pushed the value of the cryptocurrency up above $65 billion US. That makes dogecoin the fifth most valuable cryptocurrency in the world.

It’s worth more than Canadian telecom company Telus, grocery chain Loblaws and retail chain Canadian Tire are worth — put together.

And the sky may indeed be the limit. Musk’s wealth means he can afford to see what happens with doge, regardless. 

But some financial commentators question whether it is responsible for Musk to comment on the cryptocurrency, given that he has the power to move its price.

“I think he’s having a lot of fun … He can say anything he wants about dogecoin or cryptos fully aware that just him saying something moves the price,” said James Angel, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business who specializes in financial markets and cryptocurrency.

“Anyone who wants to play the Elon Musk game should be prepared to lose all their money.”

Others are as convinced as Musk that dogecoin is here to stay.

“Long term fundamentals of doge are intact. This is a buying opportunity,” said Jehan Chu, managing partner at Hong Kong blockchain venture capital firm Kenetic Capital.

“Dogecoin’s longevity is ensured so long as one truism remains,” Thorn said: “Teople love a good joke.”





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Cyberattack on U.S. pipeline linked to criminal gang


The cyberextortion attempt that has forced the shutdown of a vital U.S. pipeline was carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide, which cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity, two people close to the investigation said Sunday.

The shutdown, meanwhile, stretched on, with the Biden administration loosening regulations for the transport of petroleum products on highways as part of an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to avoid disruptions in the fuel supply.

Experts said that gasoline prices are unlikely to be affected if the pipeline is back to normal in the next few days, but that the incident — the worst cyberattack to date on critical U.S. infrastructure — should serve as a wake-up call to companies about the vulnerabilities they face.

The pipeline, operated by Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast. Its pipeline system spans more than 8,850 kilometres, transporting more than 380 million litres a day.

It delivers roughly 45 per cent of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company.

Colonial was hit by what it called a ransomware attack, in which hackers typically lock up computer systems by encrypting data, paralyzing networks and then demand a large ransom to unscramble it.

Colonial operates a major U.S. energy pipeline that sends petroleum products from Texas to the U.S. East Coast. (The Associated Press)

On Sunday, Colonial said it was in the process of restoring some of its IT systems. It says it remains in contact with law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, which is leading the federal government response.

The company has not said what was demanded or who made the demand.

Active since August

However, two people close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the culprit as DarkSide. It is among ransomware gangs that have “professionalized” a criminal industry that has cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in losses in the past three years.

DarkSide claims that it does not attack hospitals and nursing homes, educational or government targets and that it donates a portion of its take to charity. It has been active since August and, typical of the most potent ransomware gangs, is known to avoid targeting organizations in former Soviet bloc nations.

Colonial did not say whether it has paid or was negotiating a ransom, and DarkSide neither announced the attack on its dark web site nor responded to an Associated Press reporter’s queries. The lack of acknowledgement usually indicates a victim is either negotiating or has paid.

The attack on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to shut down its network on Friday. On Sunday, Colonial said it is developing a “system restart” plan. It said its main pipeline remains offline but some smaller lines are now operational.

“We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations,” the company said in a statement.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Sunday that ransomware attacks are “what businesses now have to worry about,” and that she will work “very vigorously” with the Department of Homeland Security to address the problem, calling it a top priority for the administration.

“Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent,” she said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “We have to work in partnership with business to secure networks to defend ourselves against these attacks.”

She said President Joe Biden was briefed on the attack.

The Department of Transportation issued a regional emergency declaration Sunday, relaxing hours-of-service regulations for drivers carrying gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products in 17 states and the District of Columbia. It lets them work extra or more flexible hours to make up for any fuel shortage related to the pipeline outage.

One of the people close to the Colonial investigation said that the attackers also stole data from the company, presumably for extortion purposes. Sometimes stolen data is more valuable to ransomware criminals than the leverage they gain by crippling a network, because some victims are loathe to see sensitive information of theirs dumped online.

Warning to infrastructure operators

Security experts said the attack should be a warning for operators of critical infrastructure — including electrical and water utilities and energy and transportation companies — that not investing in updating their security puts them at risk of catastrophe.

Ed Amoroso, CEO of TAG Cyber, said Colonial was lucky its attacker was ostensibly motivated only by profit, not geopolitics. State-backed hackers bent on more serious destruction use the same intrusion methods as ransomware gangs.

“For companies vulnerable to ransomware, it’s a bad sign because they are probably more vulnerable to more serious attacks,” he said. Russian cyberwarriors, for example, crippled the electrical grid in Ukraine during the winters of 2015 and 2016.

Cyberextortion attempts in the U.S. in the past year have forced delays in cancer treatment at hospitals, interrupted schooling and paralyzed police and city governments.

David Kennedy, founder and senior principal security consultant at TrustedSec, said that once a ransomware attack is discovered, companies have little recourse but to completely rebuild their infrastructure, or pay the ransom.

“Ransomware is absolutely out of control and one of the biggest threats we face as a nation,” Kennedy said. “The problem we face is most companies are grossly underprepared to face these threats.”



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