Like many businesses, NTDC is back in the office after working from home at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's been an interesting reintegration: remembering security passcodes, using your office voice, wearing shoes. Seriously, I stared into the mirror at the two ends of a necktie for a good 10 minutes waiting for the muscle memory to come back. If only I'd kept the pre-tied school one; you know the one on that elastic band that school bullies loved to snap back into your neck ... good times.
But I digress.
What Tasmanians have learned during the process of working from home was the digital transformation to work practices was rapid and, for some businesses, revolutionary.
Many provided digital points of sale and delivery options, while others used video calls for the first time for communicating with clients and staff.
Even the Luddites must admit these provided greater revenue generation options and communication methods, of which, most will remain in some form or another.
However, there are benefits for being back in the office and doing business face to face.
The obvious ones are the nuances of human interaction and attention that are lost behind pixels and artificial backdrops.
And don't we all like to digest the latest episode of Bachelor in Paradise, I mean Foreign Correspondent. Other advantages of being back in the office are more subliminal; where the communicating or sharing of knowledge is done almost by osmosis. I'm talking about the collaboration that comes with overhearing a conversation or bumping into a colleague in the lunchroom or client in the street.
For me, it was overhearing a one-on-one conversation NTDC's population coordinator Edward Obi was having with a client.
Edward works with skilled migrants needing support to break into the local job market. Among many services, he offers his expertise in CV writing, interview techniques and adjusting to the Tasmanian work environment.
Listening to him ask probing questions and providing constructive feedback and supportive responses, you realise just how much need there is in the community for his services. The person on the other end of the conversation goes from underprepared to confident they will put a compelling case forward for employment.
Edward's success rate at getting people to the next stage of their integration into the workforce is impressive.
His role is vital if Northern Tasmania is to attract and retain a working-age population.
If we do not, the region's available workforce will continue to age and retire without being replaced.
I was reminded of the great people Launceston has the opportunity to attract when reading Edward's case study on Anh Woodward who moved to Northern Tasmania from the UK a few years ago with her partner.
In 2019, Anh, who has more than 25 years' experience in bridal couture, started her own boutique fashion business in the Launceston CBD.
Despite the impacts of COVID, she has hit the ground running in making community and business connections and will offer a wealth of experience and value to the region.
As someone who grew up in Launceston and resisted the urge and offers to live and work elsewhere, for the most part, it makes me immensely proud when someone chooses to live here.
It is incumbent on us incumbents to make those connections; to reach out and form networks and relationships.
Because it is vital to economic development and adds vibrancy and different skills and views to Northern Tasmania.
Edward recently told City Park Radio about his work: "We focus on attracting workers and retaining them and creating a cohesive societal situation for them," he said.
"We are able to introduce them to the networks in the community and create an atmosphere where they can stay instead of leaving."
Edward knows what he is talking about because he has been there.
After completing his law studies and working in various countries, Edward followed his wife to Tasmania who is completing her PhD in maritime law at the Australian Maritime College where she also lectures.
There is no replacement for that lived experience, which is what makes Edward's work so valuable: he speaks with confidence, empathy and authenticity.
If you are a skilled migrant or would like to employ one, I'd encourage you to talk to Edward on what the opportunities are in Northern Tasmania.
- Mark Baker, Northern Tasmania Development Corporation chief executive