Back working face-to-face

Back working face-to-face

By Rhonda Dredge

Work teams are back at Riverside Quay and they’ve gone to a bit of trouble to break out of Zoom habits.

The auditing team at PwC has seen each other every day but not in person for months.

They arrived at 8.30am and by 9am they were out for a coffee together at Workshop Bros.

“I was keen to get out of the house. We’ve been there since late July,” Max Wills, one of the team members, said.

Architect James Pearce was looking smart in a J Lindeberg jacket and a button-up white shirt as he arrived for a takeaway at the Bond Store Cafe.

He’d been expecting rain and was due for a face-to-face meeting in the afternoon.

“It’s with builders so it should be okay,” he said.

In the old days this little square at Riverside Quay was a cool place to hang out but during the last lockdown just one café was open.

Andy Bonnici, the barista at Bond Store, is a bit of a hero for never shutting his doors during the pandemic.

He worked six days a week and admitted he had a few bleak moments early on, especially since he’d recently renovated and signed a 15-year lease.

“Right at the beginning of the lockdown I was standing here, staring out for hours waiting for someone to come in,” he said.

A good position opposite the Eureka Tower helped and he was eventually serving 200 people a day, with 60 per cent from the one building.

“I had the same people in every day at the same time,” he said. “It was so predictable it was ridiculous. Coffee became the highlight of their day.”

Takeaway sustained many businesses early on. The Bond Store kept a full menu for the duration. People still talk about the café’s smashed avo with chopped hazelnuts.

Andy said he worked on his conversational skills and getting to know people on a personal basis and that helped.

“I was very shy before. It’s important to be yourself. You learn the skills of making conversation over the years,” he said.

Things got so informal at one stage that customers were coming in wearing slippers and pyjamas. “It got really casual,” he said.

By 11am on the first day back for office workers, he’d sold 300 coffees and he was feeling good about the future •


Caption: Work team from PwC. From left: Max Wills, David Lieu, Cal McDonough.

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