Healthy Work Trips

In this post-COVID lockdown era, travel is starting again, and so we’ve started to look at how we deal with that here at Gaia Resources. The aim is to have healthy and happy staff even when we’re on the road for work.  We have always tried to look after our people here at Gaia Resources (we talked about this about a year ago as well), and after a recent work trip for a few of us, it seemed timely to talk about how this plays out in practice.  

The return to undertaking work travel still feels strange.  After COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions, we’re still very aware that there are plenty of viruses out there, so we do suggest to people to do what they need to in order to feel as safe as possible.  Gaia’s procedure “don’t come in if you are ill” is something we’ve been doing throughout and we want to keep, so that we don’t end up taking out the whole company with an outbreak of the flu – this used to happen in the past.  But for work trips – this means being aware of different people’s needs and requirements, and making sure that our clients are happy to accommodate during the meetings and workshops, which is, frankly, super easy these days. 

When we plan for work trips we try to make the people side of this paramount from the start. The team choose the flight schedule that works for them, so that they can be in the location we need in the best shape possible.  This also means that it creates the least disruption to their families and other commitments outside of work.  Of course, there is a need to be on site at a certain time, so there are parameters to consider here, but this flexibility is important for our team. You don’t want to start a work trip anxious that you’ve had to compromise on things like family!  

After travel and settling into the accommodation, we met up for the first time in person since COVID for some of us while we have brekky and get ready for the first workshop (L-R Megan, Piers, Mieke, Grant and Gail)

Accommodation is also an important choice for our team. We want somewhere close enough to the client site that you don’t have a hassle to get there.  A benefit of being within walking distance is that you can then also have some active recovery (non strenuous aerobic of physical activity) after the workshop as you walk back to the accommodation.  The key is that it needs to be spacious and nice enough that you don’t feel bad about living in a shoebox for a few days (we do provide accommodation for our team that extends across weekends either side of work trips if they want to hang around and explore a bit).  These little things can all go a long way towards making the whole time away from home just that little bit better.  All these little things add up.

So you’ve gotten to the workshop in the best possible state of mind – now we need to keep it that way, and that’s going to be different for everyone. I’ll use a recent trip as an example of how we do that.

Heading into the John Gorton Building in Canberra where our client is located – the basement was part of the intelligence efforts during World War Two (they have a small exhibition right underneath where we are walking)

For this trip five of our staff from different cities headed to Canberra to do some planning work for the Biodiversity Data Repository, a project we’re working on with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

I tend to recharge with solitude and exercise myself, so for me, I made sure to have at least one night that was free so I could go for a run around Lake Burley-Griffin as part of my active recovery.  For other people the way to recharge was to go and do some social stuff – and of course because we have our own Pickleball champion in Gail, that means that there was the option to go play in a local pickleball team, which a few of the gang took up.

Playing pickleball for the first time for some – Sarah wearing our #stayathome t-shirt we organised during COVID lockdowns

We also wanted to have some time together as well, so we managed to organise a team dinner, where the local team from Canberra (Sarah and Rhys) as well as the travellers (myself, Grant, Megan, Gail and Mieke) could get together and have a bit of time just chatting.  As an almost fully remote team, it’s super important to make the most of the time that we have face-to-face. We went out for a nice low key dinner, so that we could let our hair down (yes, metaphorically for at least two of us).

Team dinners with (L-R) Grant, Mieke, Gail, Sarah (back), Megan (front), Piers and Rhys

There was a lot of good work done in Canberra on this trip, for both the client and Gaia, but also we have some really good memories of the things we did as well – playing sports, catching up as a group, or getting some time out to recharge in nice surroundings.  

We even managed a quick pre-airport catch up with our colleagues from Hudson Molonglo (who are based in Canberra) to have a drink and chat about our work together on the Queensland State Archives project.

So, as the sun set on our trip to Canberra, we had made the time for us to be the best versions of ourselves – for our clients, colleagues and most importantly for our families when we got home.

The sunsets in Canberra can be really amazing (not shown: amazing autumnal colours in the trees around the Lake)

As we have previously spoken about looking after our people, that continues, and we evolve as the times change around us. We are focused on making sure that we have a supportive environment that means that we can be at our best when we work with our clients, and that we can look forward to the next trip as well.  While we might be remote, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to consider our people – in fact, it means we have to consider them even more and be proactive about how we do that.

If you’re interested in working with a company that does look after our people, then why not drop us a line at to see if we have an opening for someone with your skills?  We’re always looking out for people who want to be part of our team and to help us make a positive impact on the world.




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