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We’ve been saying ‘post-pandemic’ but the frustrating reality is that although we are post-lockdown, we are definitely not out of the woods when it comes to COVID transmissions. 

The highly transmissible  BA.4 and BA.5 variants have been making their way around the country, with hundreds of thousands of people reporting positive tests in just one week. Thanks to the cold weather and rapid infection rate, the government has issued updated advice so as many people as possible can stay healthy. 

Some of the latest covid updates include: 

Face mask recommendations

There are no formal mandates in place but officials are strongly recommending that people get used to wearing face masks in crowded, indoor environments and on public transport once again. 

It’s up to you as an individual to make the choice but you will probably notice face masks are on the rise when you are at work and out and about. If you’re worried about catching COVID, it’s of course best to err on the side of caution and wear a face mask in public.

The Prime Minister has been reported as saying he has sufficient trust in Australians to act responsibly without being told they must wear a mask by their respective leaders.

As shared by SBS in a recent covid update, Anthony Albanese said that, “We do want to encourage that behaviour. People have been incredibly responsible during this pandemic. People have done it tough. People have looked after each other, and I’m confident that they’ll continue to do so.”

At your workplace, the policy you have in place in regards to face masks may need to be updated, depending on the way people interact with each other. You could leave it up to individuals to decide but make a recommendation that’s in line with current health information. 

Working from home

As the Sydney Morning Herald reported last week, State governments have not moved to reintroduce work-from-home mandates, leaving employers to review risks and make their own decisions.

Some companies that were previously asking people to return to the office at least a few days a week are winding back this requirement now the risk of infection has risen. These businesses are asking people who can work from home to do so, and telling them to wear a mask when they come into a populated space. 

Again, it’s up to each organisation to make and enforce its own policies. You may decide one contact day in the office is enough, and on a rotating basis, or tell people they can work from home if they prefer to do so. 

Covid update: Booster shots

Many Australians are now eligible for their fourth COVID vaccine. 

Anyone who hasn’t had their initial booster (the third dose after the initial two) is strongly encouraged to do so, while the number of people adding an additional fourth ‘dose’ is rising steadily. If you are over the age of 30, you can now get your next vaccine. If you are over 50, you are strongly encouraged to do so. 

If you have children who have turned five in recent months, now may be a good time to book their first vaccine appointment. 

In terms of employing people who are not vaccinated, certain industries like healthcare still require people to have had their shots. However, a recent ruling found that “an employer can introduce a mandatory vaccination policy, even in the absence of a public health order requiring mandatory vaccination in respect of the employer’s industry or the location in which the employer operates.” There are thresholds to be met in relation to this ruling: take a look at this article to find out more

COVID update: Isolation orders

You still have to isolate at home for 7 days if you come down with COVID. 

According to current policy, “The people who usually live in your house with you can stay there if they are unable to live somewhere else during this time. If they stay, they are contacts and need to isolate too.

If you have a household contact who has a weak immune system, is elderly or has another risk for severe COVID-19, contact your state/territory health department to see if they can help with finding them places to stay.”

Dealing with delays

Delays have become part of life and we can expect more in terms of travel, freight and deliveries while this latest wave works its way through the population. 

The best course of action is to take precautions, plan ahead as much as possible and have a few ‘Plan B’ options in place. This will help to minimise disruption to your business. 

Need help to find a shipping company during the latest COVID surge? Speak to EFS today.

And now for something completely different… 

We talk a lot about packaging, freight and shipping so when we came across this story it was too good not to share. 

It’s not exactly industry news but this man’s tale is a reminder to always pay attention to those ‘This way up’ stickers. 

The story of the Welshman who shipped himself to London

What would you pack to fly from Melbourne to London?

In 1963 here is what young Welshman Brain Robson packed for his trip:

  • a hammer 
  • a suitcase 
  • a pillow 
  • a litre of water 
  • a flashlight 
  • a book of Beatles songs (it was the 1960s)
  • an empty bottle

Apart from the hammer, it seems like quite a reasonable list of bits and pieces to bring along on an international flight. However, Brian’s cross-continental journey was a little out of the ordinary. 

Brain decided to ship himself by crate to his destination.

A novel way to travel

Brian crossed oceans for a very reasonable cost… but nearly paid heavily for it.

The year was 1963. Young Welshman Brian Robson was working in Melbourne for Victorian Rail Yards. All was going well enough but Brian was understandably homesick. 

After investigating the cost of airfare, it became all too clear that he would not be able to afford the trip back to the UK. 

That’s when Brian had his brain wave. A seat on a plane is expensive… but shipping a crate is a fraction of the price.

The crate

Brian acquired a crate, addressed it to London, had two workmates nail him inside with his meagre belongings (you see why he had a hammer and you have probably guessed what the empty bottle was for), and waited to be shipped.

Squeezed into a 91 x 76 x 86 centimetre space, Brian knew he was in for a rough experience but figured he could manage the 48 hours or so that it would take to get to the other side of the world. 

With the ‘This Way Up’ label firmly affixed and his supplies, he assumed it would be unpleasant but bearable.

Best laid plans…

As anyone who deals with shipping and freight even occasionally will know, things do not always go according to plan. Brian did make it to London, but not in one flight.

The plane he was shipped on, intended to be non-stop to London, ended up being diverted through Los Angeles. 

After nearly five days in his crate, Brian was still in the USA.

“It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Terrifying,” he told the BBC, many years later.

“I spent most of my time, I think if I be truthful, in trying to control myself, calm myself down. And then in between all that, of course, I couldn’t breathe properly half the time. I couldn’t move. Certainly after perhaps the first 36 hours, my muscles were all seizing up.”

Brian’s time in the crate

Not only did Brian have to suffer intolerably cold temperatures (it isn’t considered necessary to heat cargo space on planes because nothing that’s alive is supposed to be there)… he also spent much of his travel time upside down. The label on the crate didn’t prove any help (and we know parcel handlers are much more careful these days).

After five days in a box, Brian was near death. Some workers spotted him when he switched on his flashlight. They assumed he was already dead because of the state he was in.

Poor old Brian had to spend time in hospital before he was finally deported to London. He may have made it home but he was very lucky to not have wound up in a very different kind of box.

Don’t be like Brian

If anyone has ever attempted this since, they haven’t been as open about sharing their story as Brian was. Years later, he wrote a book about his adventure called The Crate Escape and his story went viral for the second time.  

If you need help getting yourself to London…. speak to Qantas. And if you need help transporting large packages within Australia (but without people inside) speak to EFS today.

Which carriers do you recommend?

This is a question we are asked a lot by new and existing clients… and it’s not always a matter of comparing apples with apples.

The answer depends on a number of factors. 

Before we make a recommendation, we need to know the following: 

  • Your budget
  • Your location
  • Ideal turnaround times
  • Pick-up and delivery locations (not all providers operate in every area)
  • The goods to be transported
  • Volume of goods to be transported

Knowing this information allows us to identify the freight solutions provider that is best for the job. 

We definitely have preferred companies that we recommend. The reason we prefer some suppliers is usually because of: 

  • The seamless technology they offer
  • The communication they provide to their clients
  • The feedback from our clients about the provider
  • The end-to-end customer experience

There are so many freight companies out there and yes, some are definitely better than others. 

Don’t waste time trying to figure out which ones are reliable as well as offering value for money — enlist our support as your trusted partner today. 

Is overnight delivery a thing of the past?

Yes and no. 

Prior to the pandemic, it was common to order goods and receive them the next day or even the same day. Then COVID hit and wait times blew out. If you had Christmas gifts on order last December and November, you’ll remember parcels taking weeks rather than days to arrive. 

Where an express parcel was almost certain to arrive within 24 hours, next-business-day delivery is now less of a sure thing. Regular post and commercial deliveries often require a couple of extra sleeps as well. 

In some cases, rapid turnaround on parcel delivery is still possible, but you will probably pay a premium for it. 

If you’re B2C, even if you have previously offered free shipping, the people who need goods urgently may have to start paying a premium for the convenience. If you communicate this clearly, you shouldn’t receive much resistance. 

Otherwise, it’s all about managing expectations and making sure people have a clear idea of when their delivery will show up. 

In these times of changing benchmarks, this is something we encourage our clients to make a habit of. Keep in touch, let people know what’s going on and they will be more likely to stay loyal to your brand. 

We are used to checking in and out of venues with QR codes now but have you thought about how this tool can help your business? 

The technology has been around for a long time but truth be told, many of us ignored it until the pandemic. Now, brands are realising how helpful these odd-looking graphics can be. 

A few ways to use QR codes include: 

👉 To identify parcel contents

👉 To share information about how to recycle the packaging

👉 To share information with customers about your company

👉 To share an opt-in or special offer, which you can use to improve customer loyalty

👉 To share a link so the customer can share feedback about the ordering and delivery experience

 

This handy tool can be used in so many ways to make life easier for the parcel delivery team and encourage better engagement with your clients. 

Not sure how to create a code? Google ‘QR code Generator’ and a range of options will come up. 

Let’s talk quickly about supply chain issues and workarounds. 

If you’re not aware, COVID put a spanner in the cogs of what was previously a reasonably well-oiled supply chain machine. 

The initial outbreak of this world-changing virus in China saw setbacks in manufacturing and delivery times. 

When the pandemic hit the rest of the world, excess funds went towards online shopping rather than dining out and travelling. This slowed things down even further. 

Worker slowdowns and absences added to processing times at shipyards, while the pressure on delivery drivers blew timelines out further. 

And just when the effects of the pandemic began to subside in the Western world, China experienced a new round of lockdowns in 2022. 

This is not even factoring turmoil in Eastern Europe into the equation. 

So things are unbalanced… but what do we do about it? 

Being realistic about timeframes and expectations is the first step. 

Next, it’s about transitioning away from a ‘just-in-time inventory’ mentality to a more forward-thinking approach. For some businesses, this means ordering in bulk and investing in storage, rather than expecting to be able to get what they want from China with only a few weeks’ lead time. 

If you make purchases in lower quantities, it may also be worth partnering with other businesses. This will allow you to fill shipping crates/trucks and get better value for money. 

There’s no simple solution but creative thinking and innovative problem solving will help while we wait for this situation to play itself out. 

Don’t forget that we can connect you with the providers who have the best availability, communication and turnaround times within Australia.